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How to fix Steam Deck error formatting SD card? 

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Steam Deck is Valve’s answer to the rise of handheld gaming PCs. It’s a pretty neat device, but just like every other piece of tech, it has flaws that can sometimes hamper the user experience. 

In this article, we’re talking about SD card formatting errors in the Steam Deck, their reasons and what you can do to fix the problem.

What causes this error?

The error is mainly caused by a file system mismatch between the SD card’s native file system and the one used by Steam Deck’s Linux-based SteamOS. By default, most SD cards will carry either FAT32 or NTFS as their default file system, which should work fine with the Steam Deck. 

However, if the card you’re trying to use is already in EXT4, formatting it using the Steam Deck’s inbuilt formatting tool will overwrite it with another EXT4 file system, possibly bricking the card. 

Also read: How to fix error code e84 on Steam?

How to fix this?

Here are four fixes you can try out. 

Try reconnecting

The first thing you should do is take the card out and try inserting it back in again. Improper contact between the card and reader terminals can often cause such problems. If you’re using an external card reader, try using a different USB port.

Format the card before use

Before using your card in the Steam Deck, you must format it using Steam Deck’s desktop mode. Follow these steps to do so:

Step 1: Enter desktop mode and insert your card. You should see a microSD card icon in the top right corner of the screen. Highlight it and select Settings.

Step 2: Scroll down to the System tab and click the Format SD Card button.

Wait for the format to finish, and the card should run as expected. 

Also read: How to fix Unknown error executing clflush?

Format the card to FAT32

One quick solution to the problem is to use another PC (or even smartphone) to format the card to FAT32 or NTFS if you’re dealing with a particularly big memory card (256GB or above). 

This ensures that the card is in its native format before it goes into the Steam Deck so that the inbuilt formatting tool can work without any problems.

If you don’t have a second PC or device on hand, you can boot into the Steam Deck’s desktop mode and use the KDE Partition Manager installed on Linux by default to format the card. 

Clean the inside

Dust or debris inside the card reader can also cause improper or even prevent contact between the card terminals and the reader. Make sure to use a brush or a can of compressed air to clean out the insides, and try connecting the SD card again.

Also read: Steam Deck error pulling from repo: 4 Fixes


Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: