Formatting New Memory Cards & Data Recovery

When you get a new memory card for your camera, whatever you do, DO NOT format the card in your PC or Mac. Always format the card in the camera in which it will be used.

The format command generally will be found under the view images or playback menu, but this will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. It's best to read the manual before doing this. Also, you may be presented with a choice of format to undertake; normally quick or low-level. Choose low-level everytime. It may take longer, but you know the card will be formatted correctly. A quick format will only erase any data from your card.

There may be other occasions when you need to format your camera memory cards. When you do, be sure to use your camera and not your computer as this may render the card unreadable once image data has been written to it.

If you accidentially format a memory card or if a memory card becomes corrupted/unreadable, all is not lost. With specialist software you may be able to recover some or all of the image data.

There may be circumstances where you can't read a memory card at all - this may take to form of a card not showing in My Computer with Windoze or not appearing on the desktop of your Mac. With a PC you'll ultimately get an error message along the lines of "Card unreadable, I/O error" which in English means your card is dead and needs replacing. Check your paperwork, as the card may still be under the manufacturers warranty.

I have had great success with Image Recall. This software is available for both Windoze & Mac platforms. The evaluation version will only let you recover and save the first 10 images on a card, so I recommend that you invest the full version for £24.99 and load it onto your laptop or MacBook. I've been using this recovery software since version 1 and it's now up to version 3 and it's saved my skin on more than one occasion.

I use Sandisk media and some of my cards have been supplied with something called Rescue Pro 3, which I must admit I haven't used, but would be pleased to hear from anyone who has. Also, if any of you have any experience of other data recovery software, it would be good to hear from you. Rescue Pro 3.3 can be downloaded here, and it recovers more than just image data files.

One last thing before I close. Always check you pockets before putting your clothes in the washing machine - compact flash cards will endure a cool wash but not SD or other media. And no, putting your media cards in the wash doesn't clean up the whites (joke for old for tranny film types!). Likewise, mobile/cell 'phones aren't too keen on 40 degrees with soap suds - just ask my young daughter;-)

Keep on snappin'



  1. A question: Can not formatting a memory card lead to digital images not being in exact sharp focus. I am having trouble with a Nikon D40X just purchased & soft images. I did not format initially. Thanks in advance.

  2. There is no direct relationship between the imaging sensor and the memory card you use for recording the data. The imaging sensor records the image and the memory card the data processed by the camera.

    Do send me one of the images and I'll see what's going on. If you go to the contact page at you'll find an email address for me.

    Good luck!



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