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4 Causes of GoPro SD Card Errors (And How to Fix Them)

A camera is only as good as the card inside it -- seeing "SD ERR" pop op on the LCD screen is a common problem for GoPro users. GoPro SD card errors are frustrating at the very least and at most could even corrupt your files.

So what's the deal with that GoPro SD ERR? There are a number of things that could cause an SD card error, and thankfully, most of them are an easy fix. Here are four of the most common ones, and how to fix those SD ERRs on a GoPro.

What You'll Need:

Depending on the nature of the card error, you may not need anything besides your GoPro to fix the problem. Other errors may need a bit more in the way of materials to correct, such as:

GoPro SD Card Error #1: Card read and write speeds aren't fast enough

One of the most common reasons for an SD card error on a GoPro is from simply not using one of the recommended cards. SD cards have two speed ratings, one for reading or accessing the information and another for writing or recording the information.

The higher the video quality is, the faster the SD card speed needs to be. If the speed of the memory card can't keep up with the large GoPro video files, you'll see that SD ERR on the screen.

GoPros need a Class 10 microSD card, which is one of the fastest options. But, not all Class 10 cards are the same, different brands may have a slower read or write speed than another. That means you could see an SD card error even with a class ten card.

Sometimes, these errors can occur even after you've used the card a few times. Sound like that could be your problem? It's an easy fix:

  • Step 1: Check your card to see if it is among GoPro's recommended cards for your model by using this chart on the GoPro site. If you don't see your current card on the list, proceed to step two. If you see the card on the list and GoPro says it's compatible with your version, this isn't the cause of your SD card error, so try another fix.
  • Step 2: Get a recommended SD card. Sure, buying a new card, and one that's fast enough for the GoPro, may not be a free fix, but it's a much better alternative then potentially corrupting your videos—which could happen if you don't use the right card.

GoPro SD Card Error #2: Card not properly formatted

Sometimes, GoPro card errors are a result of an improper format, not the speed of the card you purchased. Often, this type of error occurs after you have used the same SD card in another camera.

This is a simple fix, with one catch: Make sure you save any files that are on the SD card to your computer, because you will lose the files on your card when you follow these steps.

  • Step 1: Transfer any files that are on the card over to your computer. You'll lose these files, so this step is important if you have videos you want to save on the micro SD card.
  • Step 2: Format your SD card using the GoPro.
    1. With the SD card in and the camera on, enter the setup menu by pressing the front power button until you see the gear icon in the front LCD screen.
    2. Press the top button to select the setup menu. Navigate down to the format option -- you can do this by pressing the front button until you see the trashcan icon selected.
    3. Once the trashcan button is highlighted, press the top button once to select that option.
    4. Select the "ALL/Format" option by pressing the front power button until you see it highlighted and then press the top button.
    5. Navigate to the "delete" option by pressing the front power button until the it's highlighted, then press the top button to select.
  • Step 3: Wait for the screen to indicate that the card has been reformatted. Turn the camera off, then back on, the screen should now show "00", indicating that there are no images on the card. To ensure that the card is properly formatted, take a test photo or short video.

Alternative: Formatting the SD card on the GoPro is the best option because the card is formatted specifically for use with the GoPro. But, if your are seeing a NO SD instead of an SD ERR, you likely can't even try to format the card with the GoPro. If that's what you are experiencing, follow the steps for formatting the card with a computer detailed in the guide to fixing a NO SD error on the GoPro.

GoPro Card Error #3: Firmware update needed

Some SD card errors can be fixed with a firmware or software update. A firmware issue is more likely to be the cause of your SD card error if you are using a newer SD card with an older GoPro version. Firmware updates can also solve a number of other common GoPro issues. To conduct a firmware update, you'll need to connect the GoPro to the computer or use a blank SD card, depending on the GoPro model that you own.

The exact steps to update your firmware vary based on what GoPro you own, so use these links to locate the firmware download as well as the instructions for installing:

GoPro Card Error #4: Dust interfering with connection

Sometimes, micro SD cards that have worked for months and even years with a GoPro suddenly stop performing and that SD ERR pops up on the screen. Often, the issue is that dust or a film buildup that occurs over time has simply stopped the camera and card from communicating with each other. Thankfully, the solution is simple and inexpensive.

  • Step 1: Start by cleaning the contacts, or the metal pieces of the micro SD card. Take a toothbrush (an old one that has been cleaned or a new one) and wet the bristles with isopropyl alcohol. Then, use the wet brush to scrub off the contacts. Wipe dry with a towel. If you still see dust of film on the metal contacts, repeat the process.
  • Step 2: Once the memory card is dry, put it back in the GoPro. If the SD card error is gone, you don't need to continue with the next steps.
  • Step 3: If cleaning the memory card didn't help, it's possible the card slot within the GoPro itself is dirty. First, use a can of compressed air (don't have one? Get from Amazon) to remove any dust or dirt that may have gotten inside. Don't blow inside—the moisture from your breath can cause more harm than good.
  • Step 4: If the can of compressed air and the memory card cleaning didn't work, there are also a few dedicated tools designed to clean the tiny space of an SD card slot. Try inserting an SD card cleaner like this one.

Tried all the options but still getting an SD card error? Try replacing the SD card with a verified one, like SanDisk Extreme (recommended by GoPro). Then, if you still get the error, you know there's an issue with the GoPro itself and not the card, and can work with GoPro directly for a solution.

GoPro card errors can be frustrating, but they can often be fixed with a minimal investment, if any at all. Checking your card speed, formatting the card, updating the GoPro firmware and cleaning the card connection are all simple DIY fixes for GoPro SD card errors.

Enjoy this tutorial? Share with us in the comments section below on which solution fixed your SD card error.

Image courtesy to Baz

About the Author Hillary Grigonis

Hillary K. Grigonis is both a tech writer and photographer. As a reviewer for Digital Camera HQ, she gets hands-on experience with dozens of different cameras and camcorders every year. She owns both a GoPro and a few Nikons and she’s lost without without her iPhone.

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