3 Steps to Format Your Memory Card for Digital Cameras

There is a huge difference between erasing all the photos on a memory card and formatting it, that most people don't understand. It's a good rule to format your memory cards at least twice a year depending on how often they're used. But, why should you format the card as opposed to erasing all the pictures?

When you're constantly using the card, you're going to gradually wear down its performance. Erasing all the photos does not help. You need to format the card occasionally to start over with a fresh slate. It takes a little longer than erasing, but it is a great maintenance habit to get into. It's also very easy. Here's how to do it:

1. Transferring All Your Photos

Formatting the drive erases everything on it permanently and then reestablishes the directories. Before you begin the process, you must make sure that everything on it is backed up on a hard drive because once you format the card, it will be gone forever. 

2. Choosing to Format in the Camera

You can format your memory cards with your camera or with your computer. It's a personal preference. Every camera's operation is different, but they all follow the same general structure. Put the card in the camera, turn it on and switch it into playback mode. Open the menu and navigate to the option that allows you to format the card.

When you buy a new memory card, you should always format it in your camera before using it. This way, the cards system will be in sync with the camera, giving it a little boost in the efficiency department. You should also do this when using a card that was working in another camera too.

3. Formatting in Your Computer

If your computer has a memory card reader, then you can directly format it in your computer. Otherwise, you'll need to buy an external card reader that plugs into your USB drive. They're not very expensive any more. You can find universal ones for under $15. When you plug the card into your computer, it will be treated as an external hard drive. 

Open 'My Computer' and you will see the drive. As a safety measure, you should double click it so you can examine it's contents one last time to confirm that this is the right drive that you wish to format. If you make a mistake, you can't reverse the process.

When you're positive it's the right car, right click the icon and choose 'Format'. Leave all the options untouched. Again, make sure that you are really ready to format it because once you do this, you can't reverse it. When you're sure you're ready to format, click 'Start'. Depending on the size of the card, formatting could take a few minutes.

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