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Need to format SD memory card?
Old 08-10-2010, 09:43 AM   #1
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Need to format SD memory card?

I've had a Canon powershot digital camera for several years. When I got
it, I read the basic instructions in the beginning of the thick manual in detail and then skimmed the rest of the manual. Evidently I missed p.141 which
suggests you format each new memory card you install.

I've only used the starter Canon memory card which evidently comes already properly formatted and a PNY 2 GB SD card which I, in my ignorance, did not format at all. To my knowledge, everything seems to working ok ........
but perhaps it is not.

Is it really necessary to format each card? Do some brands work and some don't w/o formatting? Does it matter if you switch from SD to SDHC or some other types? How do I know if there is a problem? If I stick to 2 GB SD
(which is what the PNY in the camera now is), but switch brands , do I need to worry about formatting? Does the answer depend on what brand of camera you use?

In the ancient days of PCs, you used to have to format floppies. Later , AFAIK, they came already formatted and you didn't need to do it regardless of what floppy or PC you used. Is the camera/memory card story the same or different.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:53 AM   #2
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Your should format the SD in the camera your using it in, no matter what the SD brand. Formatting assures you'll get complete access to the SDs full capacity. If you don't format, the SDs fat table may, but not necessarily will, be broken or incomplete. It doesn't take much time to reformat the card each time. I do it every time after I've uploaded the pictures to my computer.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:30 AM   #3
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we format our cards (CF and SD) in camera as well (DW has a small professional photography business). while i'm not in tune to all the science, my understanding is that it reduces the chance of the cards being corrupted and it takes less time from what we have seen (if not, about the same amount of time).

brand (camera and card) has nothing to do with formatting.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:38 AM   #4
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I reformat cards rather than deleting photos. It is faster. I have also formatted cards on the computer and had them unrecognizable in the camera. So I always format them in the camera.
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Old 08-10-2010, 12:52 PM   #5
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One reason for formatting them is that over time, some blocks may go bad. All flash memory and hard drives have 'extra' blocks on them to account for a few bad ones. During the formatting process, the bad ones get mapped out.

-ERD50
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:16 AM   #6
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I'm glad I read this thread. I have never formatted my SD cards but I did have one go bad with 200 pictures on it and had to use recovery software to retrieve them. Maybe my failure to format contributed to that problem. Formatting now...
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:29 AM   #7
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It may be that the camera uses a different file format than a PC or Mac. My camera manuals (Nikon) specifically warn to not format the SD cards on a computer, I assume for that reason.

When I looked at the camera-formatted card on the computer the card had a couple of directories and files that a PC-formatted card would not have had.

Formatting a new 8 GB card took about one second in the camera anyway.
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Old 08-11-2010, 09:05 AM   #8
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Thanks all for the replies. Donheff ......glad you benefited (hopefully).
It just seems strange to me that if formatting is that important that it's
not discussed somewhere in the early pages of the instruction manual instead of pg 141. I was worried about not being able to remember something on an overseas trip that I only do once every few yrs........I think I figured out that I should do it at home as soon as I buy the card so I don't have to remember anything. Also document that I did it.

My intent is not to reuse the card but to use it as another storage place for the pics in addition to the computer and eventually a CD. My understanding is that none of those lasts forever but is storing pics on an
SD card any worse than any of the others. (w/ or w/o formatting).

Also, if I don't format it, is the problem obvious and immediate or subtle and delayed. What are the symptoms of incorrect formatting. My guess is that they are formatted in some fashion at the factory so there shouldn't be any bad sections when new. If I don't reuse them, then there wouldn't be a problem even if bad sections develop??
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Old 08-11-2010, 09:46 AM   #9
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I don't understand your aversion to formatting the card. Yes it is formatted when you buy it, but it take less than a couple of seconds to format a card. It's not like it is not going to be usable for several hours while it formats. It's free, takes little time, does not hurt the card, may help. Where is the down side?
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:06 AM   #10
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I have an Olympus C-750 camera that uses XD cards. I had an issue 2 days ago where I got a read error trying to access the memory. I couldn't format thru the camera, kept giving me the read error message. I popped it into my pc and was able to format it. Checked it thru Norton for errors and bad sectors and it came back clean. Put it back in the camera, came up clean and was able to format it using the camera format option too. Whether it's xd,sd,cf, even hard drives and flash cards are similiar when it comes to formatting and errors.
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:15 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaneohe View Post
Thanks all for the replies. Donheff ......glad you benefited (hopefully).
It just seems strange to me that if formatting is that important that it's
not discussed somewhere in the early pages of the instruction manual instead of pg 141. I was worried about not being able to remember something on an overseas trip that I only do once every few yrs........I think I figured out that I should do it at home as soon as I buy the card so I don't have to remember anything. Also document that I did it.

My intent is not to reuse the card but to use it as another storage place for the pics in addition to the computer and eventually a CD. My understanding is that none of those lasts forever but is storing pics on an
SD card any worse than any of the others. (w/ or w/o formatting).

Also, if I don't format it, is the problem obvious and immediate or subtle and delayed. What are the symptoms of incorrect formatting. My guess is that they are formatted in some fashion at the factory so there shouldn't be any bad sections when new. If I don't reuse them, then there wouldn't be a problem even if bad sections develop??
i don't understand...are you trying to backup your pictures? if so, there are much more reliable and cheaper ways than storing on an SD card.
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustic23 View Post
I don't understand your aversion to formatting the card. Yes it is formatted when you buy it, but it take less than a couple of seconds to format a card. It's not like it is not going to be usable for several hours while it formats. It's free, takes little time, does not hurt the card, may help. Where is the down side?
I'm just trying to understand how I got away w/o doing it the first time ....
and since I did.......yes, some trepidation about the great unknown. I'll be
trying it soon but the instructions were a little bit confusing.....won't find out till I try , I guess, but will it ask for some (not sure of terminology) resolution level.......like high/medium/low or is there some default. The manual talked about using a low level if space was getting low. All I know is that whatever I'm using now seems to be fine but I don't know what that is..........
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:04 AM   #13
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OK,, to be clear, I don't automatically format new SD cards. In fact I use them right out of the package. As I said, however, after copying pictures to another drive, I reformat rather than erase.
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:03 PM   #14
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OK,, to be clear, I don't automatically format new SD cards. In fact I use them right out of the package. As I said, however, after copying pictures to another drive, I reformat rather than erase.
Rustic.....thanks for this input. I didn't think about it earlier but I called Canon customer technical support and it kind of sounded like it would either work out of the package or it wouldn't(for the most part). There was some small (not quantified) risk that some other issue would arise but he could not say what that would be. Would be interesting to see how many people do or don't do this on a new out of the package card.
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:04 PM   #15
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i don't understand...are you trying to backup your pictures? if so, there are much more reliable and cheaper ways than storing on an SD card.
R........I'd be interested in your thoughts regarding this.
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Old 08-11-2010, 02:38 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Rustic23 View Post
OK,, to be clear, I don't automatically format new SD cards. In fact I use them right out of the package. As I said, however, after copying pictures to another drive, I reformat rather than erase.
+1 on this... don't format new cards, but when it is full and all pictures copied over... format to delete them all and refresh...

Someone mentioned the directory... I think the camera puts that down when you start taking pictures... we moved a card from one camera to another without formatting and we had two directories, one for each camera...
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