Last night my android phone said it can't read the SD card and it wanted to format it. I pulled it out, put it in a card reader and tried to mount it on my desktop pc:

$ sudo mount /dev/sdb1 tmp
[sudo] password for ivan: 
mount: /dev/sdb1: can't read superblock

Tried to fsck it:

$ sudo fsck.msdos /dev/sdb1
dosfsck 3.0.12, 29 Oct 2011, FAT32, LFN
  Contains a free cluster (2). Assuming EOF.
FAT32 root dir starts with a bad cluster!

And to see if there is actualy anything to mount:

$ sudo fdisk -l /dev/sdb

Disk /dev/sdb: 3951 MB, 3951034368 bytes
122 heads, 57 sectors/track, 1109 cylinders, total 7716864 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdb1            8192     7716863     3854336    b  W95 FAT32

Now I'm doing a dd image before I've broken something else.

I know EXT filesystems have superblock backups across the device that can be used in such a moment. Does FAT have backups?

Do you know any method for recovery?

I've tried photorec and it did manage to retrieve data, but without any file names or directory structure. It doesn't do any good except to restore my pictures, and they are my least concern.

  • Actually dd failed with Input/output error after copying 2.7 GB... Is it possible that the card hardware is damaged in some way? Commented May 10, 2013 at 5:56
  • If dd fails it is in 99.999% of the cases a hardware failure.
    – Bobby
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 6:54

2 Answers 2


testdisk did the job!

>Create a new log file
[Choose Disk]
>Intel/PC partition
[Choose Partition]
>Repair FAT
[Accept Defaults and Write]
>(Q)uit until exited

From here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2103994

  • 4
    This was a life saver, thanks! Two things: 1) In my case, I had to choose "Rebuild BS" before the "Repair FAT" action was open to me. As a comment in the forum thread you linked points out, more info on that (and TestDisk generally) is here: cgsecurity.org/wiki/… 2) You should accept your own answer, I believe that's the protocol. Hopefully it helps people turn up this solution, because it's a common problem!
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 3:47
  • 1
    I'm glad it did a thing for someone. Yeah, probably you are right - accepted the answer. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 12:00
  • 1
    This worked for me however I experienced partial data loss. Thanks. Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 3:00
  • 1
    Saved 80GBs of my data! Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 19:24
  • This did the job. But testdisk says it's very dangerous though. I had tried writing partition first, but it didn't work.
    – thuyein
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 6:51

My problem was today an usb-HDD-FAT32-Partition G: with "can't read superblock" in Windows XP and OpenSuse 12.3. The solution was: Windows XP Command cmd chkdsk G: /F /R


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