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So, how often do you format your cards?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by dissembled, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. dissembled

    dissembled Mu-43 Veteran

    285
    May 2, 2013
    NJ
    A. Quia
    How often does one have to format their card in camera to avoid any card-related issues?

    I have a Nex 6 whose card I never formatted and it works fine. I recently acquired a GX7 recently and formatted it once to initialize it. Do you suggest for me to go to the other direction and format the card more times to avoid any potential issues? Is it healthier this way?
     
  2. TassieFig

    TassieFig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    534
    Oct 28, 2013
    Tasmania, Australia
    I'm not really sure what's best practice here but I format every time I empty my card. I import (copy as DNG) into Lightroom after each shoot but keep the images on the card. After a month or two or so, when I feel like it I copy everything from my card to my backup disc. At that point I reformat in the camera. I never had any issues (not even when I forgot to empty my pants once before washing them and the card). If I'm not wrong, cards are supposed to last a certain number of formatting which is why I don't format after every shoot.
     
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  3. Levster

    Levster Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I format mine fairly regularly as a quick and easy way to delete all the photos on the memory card after uploading. Either that or the delete all option, it sort of depends how I feel!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. dissembled

    dissembled Mu-43 Veteran

    285
    May 2, 2013
    NJ
    A. Quia
    Cards can only withstand a certain number of formats, you say? Interesting. I'll keep that in mind.
     
  5. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    You are wrong :))
    Flash cells have limited number of cycles to change their state and formatting the card does change less cells than deleting individual files, thus extending card's life.
    In real life, with modern cards this doesn't matter at all, though - common limit for SD cards cards is couple thousands (10,000?) or roughly up to 30 years of daily deletes/formats.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I format every time that I've downloaded a card. I've been doing that for the last 12+ years and never had a problem; however, I did have problems at the start when all I did was empty/delete the card. Yes, the quick format is important so that file scraps won't corrupt the card.
     
  7. TassieFig

    TassieFig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    534
    Oct 28, 2013
    Tasmania, Australia
    Great :smile:
     
  8. listers_nz

    listers_nz Mu-43 Veteran

    255
    Nov 22, 2013
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Simon
    While it is true that flash memory has a limited number of writes, most (if not all) modern flash memory has wear levelling to minimise the number of writes to each area of the card - basically even if you have formatted the card, the first file you write to it probably isn't written to the same place on the card as the last time you formatted.

    Unfortunately, most people seem to associate formatting and erasing with what we used to do with floppy disks, and it doesn't quite work that way any more. Erasing files individually or in groups has no more effect on card wear than formatting.

    Erasing files doesn't actually erase the data itself, it simply erases the entries in the "file table" that point to the data and marks them as spare.

    Formatting a card in your camera does pretty much the same as "erase all" - it wipes the "file table" and recreates it. It does not go through each memory location on the card and erase it. If you have ever formatted a card in Windows, you will know there is the option to do a "quick format" - this is what your camera is doing, it simply doesn't take long enough to be doing a "full format". If you want a full format you will need to use a PC, and if your card is having errors such that it needs that, it is time to buy another card.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 Top Veteran

    694
    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    After I dump the content onto my computer, and then back it up, the card gets formatted once it's placed back into the camera (or formatted in the camera, then taken out if I have multiple cards to dump that day).
     
  10. xxjorelxx

    xxjorelxx Mu-43 Veteran

    248
    Dec 11, 2012
    MD, USA
    JohnRae
    I use a 16gb memory card that gets filled fast so I format everytime I import in LR.
     
  11. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    Yep, me too :2thumbs:.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
  12. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 Top Veteran

    694
    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    Cuz nothing is more annoying than running out of space, and not wanting to format off the last 30 you shot new for the day.
     
  13. Nam-in-Sonoma

    Nam-in-Sonoma Mu-43 Veteran

    436
    Aug 23, 2012
    Penngrove, CA
    Nam
    I noticed that when after I format my card by accident in camera and before starting to take picture I used ImageRescue from Lexar or any data recovery program for that matter to get back all my images on the card.

    As a practice, I always format the card each time I put it in a different camera.

    Remember to NEVER format the card on your computer or even delete pictures.
     
  14. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 Top Veteran

    694
    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing

    Well even if the card only does a quick format, it does erase the FAT headers, which is more than enough to prevent fragmentation of new data. The goal is not to wipe the actual data but to simply prevent corruption introduced by fragmentation or pre-existing reserved data (ie: the data may be there physically, but if it's simply ignored due to having no file table reference and overwritten that's more than enough to avoid most software-based issues).

    Though while I'll never say "Never" format in the computer, there are times where you may want to, to resolve a problem with the camera being able to do so, just so as long as you go ahead and format it in the camera once the camera doesn't see a problem with the card (if it persists from there, it may need to be replaced).
     
  15. Theo

    Theo Mu-43 Veteran

    318
    Aug 26, 2013
    Canada
    Theo K.
    A related question. If I format or erase all files before the card gets full, would the next writes reuse the same sectors, resulting in some sectors getting overused?
     
  16. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Yes, unless the card has decent wear-leveling.
    Leveling is not part of he SD spec, so it is up to each manufacturer.

    Barry
     
  17. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    I never format cards, because I only use them once. They are so cheap that after they get full, I mark them and throw them in a can as a backup to the files on the computer.
     
  18. Matero

    Matero Mu-43 Veteran

    455
    Jun 22, 2013
    Finland
    Well, I don't understand the delete -part here. I've been using same procedure years never running to any issues at all:
    - formatting in camera
    - reading files from memory card to computer disk AND
    - same time erasing automatically from the card

    And then import to whatever tool I'm using to edit and catalog the images.

    Maybe I'm just lucky then :)
     
  19. Nam-in-Sonoma

    Nam-in-Sonoma Mu-43 Veteran

    436
    Aug 23, 2012
    Penngrove, CA
    Nam
    You might be right, but having read horrible stories from people that did it and half way on their trip to find out that while trying to take picture got a message saying that there is a problem with their cards. Plus I am a mac user FAT32 or exFat is not native to my OS, I know I can open DiskUtility and pick MS-DOS compatible...it's faster to just format in camera.
     
  20. Theo

    Theo Mu-43 Veteran

    318
    Aug 26, 2013
    Canada
    Theo K.
    Whenever I deleted from my Mac, the files though disappeared but the space didn't get reclaimed in the cards. Had to format in the camera at the end.