sformatter

Have you ever had a SD card seem to go bad?  Perhaps it’s acting flaky and there seems to be no signs of physical damage.  I had just that happen with some cards that wouldn’t show up (turns out they were improperly formatted using Apple Disk Utility by an assistant being overzealous).

I found a great program that’s both free and official. It’s SD Formatter 4.0 for SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.  It’s actually created by the SD Association that oversees the SD Card format.  You can get it here — https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/

This tool can format all SD memory cards, SDHC memory cards and SDXC memory cards. It ensures that the cards are fully compliant (especially for things like card speed and buffering). The association states that:

The SD Formatter was created specifically for memory cards using the SD/SDHC/SDXC standards. It is strongly recommended to use the SD Formatter instead of formatting utilities provided with operating systems that format various types of storage media. Using generic formatting utilities may result in less than optimal performance for your memory cards.

The free utility is available for Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP as well as Mac OS X (10.9—10.5). Download it from their website for free — https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/.

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Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. I format in my camera before each use by choosing format card. Is that wrong?

    Reply
  2. Will the card perform better with the camera if you format in camera after using the SD Formatter mentioned above?

    Reply
  3. Why? While this utility might adhere most closely to SD/SDHC/SDXC standards how can I be sure that my camera expects close adherence to the standard. It seems to me that the camera format process would be what the camera software is designed to support and what was probably used during the camera QA process. Am I missing something here?

    Reply
    • Yep… the card spec is absolute… this utility ensures compatibility. try it.

      Reply
    • To me, you are seeing things the wrong way, *the camera* is supposed to comply to SD/SDHC/SDXC format, not the other way round. So, if a card formatted with this tool does not work in a given camera, the camera is to blame. Of course, from a photographer/user’s point of view the result is an unusable card and/or camera, but still, it’s up to camera makers to make sure their products comply with the card standards they advertise for. Imagine if all camera makers customized standards to their needs/whim? It would be a lottery every time!

      Reply
      • You’re missing the point… I’ve seen cards come out of the package and not match the speeds or specs that were promised. Reformatting helps.

        Reply
        • Sure, that’s possible too, then, the card manufacturer does not ship cards which are usable to full specs out of the box. And that’s pretty lame, IMHO… For me, the right procedure then, to be on the safe side would be:
          - re-format card with SD Formatter 4
          - format card in camera prior to using it.
          Should solve most problems.

          Reply
  4. Good info, thanks.

    Reply
  5. Huh. Thanks. What about CF cards?

    Reply

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

Category

Gear, Gear, Software