How To Fix the Lenovo X1 Yoga MicroSD Card Disconnecting

Close-up photo of a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 3rd Gen keyboard

Important Note: Try this at your own risk! While this worked for myself and others, please only try these tips if you understand what you're doing!

One of my favorite features of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 3 is adding a microSD card for extra storage - so much easier than upgrading to a new SSD! The problem is, the drivers cause the microSD to keep disconnecting, even while you're using it! It's most noticeable when File Explorer is open and the list of drives suddenly refreshes, interrupting your work. It's more than a nuisance, the disconnections have caused data loss on my microSD card. Good thing I keep backups!

After much searching on the Lenovo forums and elsewhere, I found a workaround that works for me. The solution: swap the Realtek MicroSD Card Reader drivers for the default Microsoft Windows drivers! Ever since I did this, the microSD card has never disconnected again while I was using my Lenovo ThinkPad X1.

How To Switch Realtek MicroSD Drivers to Microsoft Drivers

  1. Launch Device Manager - press the Windows key and start typing "device manager" until you see the Device Manager Control Panel.
  2. Find the Realtek USB 3.0 Card Reader in Device Manager. It will be listed under Universal Serial Bus Controllers.
    Windows 10 Device Manager window, highlighting the Realtek USB 3.0 Card Reader device

  3. Right-click on the Realtek USB 3.0 Card Reader, and click on Update Driver.
    Right-click menu on Windows 10 with Update Driver option highlighted.

  4. Choose Browse My Computer For Drivers.
    Windows 10 dialog window for How Do You Want To Search For Drivers

  5. Choose Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer.
    Windows 10 Browse For Drivers On Your Computer window

  6. When you see "Select the device driver you want to install", the Realtek USB 3.0 Card Reader will probably be selected. To change the driver, click on USB Mass Storage Driver and then click Next.
    Windows 10 Select Device Driver window with USB Mass Storage Drive option selected instead of Realtek USB 3.0 Card Reader

  7. All done! The screen should now say "Windows has successfully updated your drivers".
    Windows 10 driver update window showing USB Mass Storage Device installed

  8. The microSD card icon in File Explorer should now look like this, with a red Lenovo logo icon.
    microSD drive on Windows 10 with the default Lenovo / Microsoft driver icon.

A Catch: Lenovo Vantage Keeps Switching Back...

A problem with this workaround is that Lenovo Vantage (the automatic driver updater from Lenovo) insists on reinstalling the Realtek drivers whenever a new version is released. (I've tried the new drivers, in 3 years the problem has never been fixed). So you might need to follow these instructions again every couple of months. You'll know you have to do it again if the icon for your microSD card changes back to the ugly Realtek icons again, looking like this:

Purple and white SDXC Realtek microSD drive icon

Thanks Paul!

A big thanks to Paul Gerbino who originally discovered this workaround for Realtek MicroSD card reader problems on his Surface Pro 3, and posted it on the Microsoft Community Forums. Looks like the problem is caused by the Realtek drivers, and still hasn't been fixed by Realtek!

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11 June // ©2021 Kohan Ikin.