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Formatting a memory card

and what to do if you can't format it


It is always best to format or reformat a new memory card in your digital camera, not your computer.
It is always best to format or reformat a new memory card in your digital camera, not your computer.

FORMATTING A NEW CARD

You may need to format a new memory card before you can use it or it will not record images.

Formatting is generally done in the camera when you insert the memory card for the first time. Your camera should recognize that it is not formatted and will prompt you to either format it or simply agree to let the camera do it.

You will likely be warned that formatting will delete all data on the card. Since you haven't yet used the card, there will be no data on it to be concerned about losing. Simply press OK, or agree to let the camera proceed with formatting the card. It will take only a few seconds and the card will then be able to record image files.


REFORMATTING A CARD YOU HAVE ALREADY USED

Your camera may notify you that the memory card needs reformatting. If you removed or tried to remove a card while it was recording an image or transferring data, or just while the camera was turned on, you may have damaged the files or the card's formatting. Reformatting will usually set things straight again.

Warning - You can format a memory card at any time, but be warned that formatting destroys all data on the card. You will lose any images you recorded on it. Be sure you have already downloaded and saved all files from the card before reformatting it.

Removing and reinserting the card a number of times cleans the contacts, permitting formatting.
Removing and reinserting the card a number of times cleans the contacts, permitting formatting.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU CAN'T FORMAT A MEMORY CARD?

If your card will not format, remove it and check to see that it is the correct kind of memory card for your camera and that it was properly inserted. Be sure it is fully inserted.

If it still won't format, the contacts may need cleaning. A short blast of compressed air to remove dust or grit may do the trick. If not, use a clean, dry tissue or lens cleaning cloth to gently and carefully clean any dirt from the contacts. Don't touch them with your fingers or attempt to scratch them with your fingernail or an instrument that could cause damage.

If that doesn't work, remove and reinsert the card a number of times, which may "polish" the card's and the camera's contacts sufficiently to allow formatting.

If the memory card still won't format, the card may be faulty. If you have another blank card, insert it to check to see if it will format. If not, the camera itself may be faulty, and should be serviced by a qualified technician.