Thought My SD Card Was Hosed; a Free Utility Proved Me Wrong

sdformatterSo I took delivery of that new Canon EOS Rebel T1i this week. I bought the DSLR, because it supports high-definition video recording. Yet, you haven’t seen any sample videos just yet. Have you wondered why?

For some reason, the 16GB SD memory card I was using suddenly got hosed. I’m not blaming the new camera because I’ve had this same problem with the older XSi that the T1i replaced and I’ve even seen it happen with my Kodak Zi6. I can’t determine the exact cause, but at random times, the cameras simply can’t read the card. They know the card is there, but the files can’t be seen nor can I format the card using the camera. Essentially, the memory card becomes utterly useless…and so does the camera I’m trying use.

I formatted the hosed card a number of times on both my Mac and PCs. The formatting always did what it was supposed to: the computers were able to read and write to the card with no issue. However, the camera still couldn’t see the card. I tend to swap and use this card on all three cameras plus I’m mounting the card back and forth on PCs and a Mac, so I’m likely causing the issue.┬áRegardless of the cause, I was all set to make a Best Buy run for a new card, when I tried one, last-ditch solution. And it worked.

I hit up the official SD Association web site looking for any help and I found a free utility called SD Formatter. The software is supported on Microsoft Windows 2000, XP and Vista, but I used it on the release candidate of Windows 7 without a hitch. All the software does is format SD memory cards but it “complies with the official SD memory card requirements.” That was enough credibility for me to try it.

I’m assuming that based on the options I chose (Full Format, Erase On) that the application does a byte-level format based on the real-time status, and because of the lengthy amount of time it took to format the 16GB card. I didn’t time it, but I’d guess that it ran for at least 45 minutes. Once completed, the card finally worked again in my Ti1. Going forward, I think I’ll only use this card in the T1i and in a card reader with my MacBook. I do my photo and video processing on a Mac, so I’ll take the PC and other cameras out of the equation to see if I gain some stability.

While I can’t guarantee that SD Formatter will “save” your hosed SD cards, it’s free to try and just might save you from tossing out that memory.

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