How to resolve SD Card issues (For Windows and Mac)

I ran into an issue this week when I attempted to format an 8 GB High Capacity SD Card inside of a camera and it failed to format. I then put the SD card in a pc and attempted the format only to have the format fail in the pc as well.

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The pc would report that the SD card was not formatted and needed to be.  When I attempted to format on the pc, I would get an error that said “Failed to format the device”

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In doing some research on this issue I discovered that there is an SD Association and they have a free Program specially designed to format SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.  The program called SD Formatter has the following advantage (From the SD Association Page)

This software formats all SD memory cards, SDHC memory cards and SDXC memory cards that comply with the SD File System Specification. SD Formatter provides quick and easy access to your SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards.

The SD Formatter was created specifically for SD/SDHC/SDXC Cards. It is strongly recommended to use the SD Formatter instead of formatting utilities provided with operating systems which format various types of storage media. These generic utilities may result in less than optimal performance for SD/SDHC/SDXC Cards.

So I downloaded the program called SD Formatter 3 and tried it on ,my SD card and it worked.

Here are the steps for using SD Formatter

Once installed the application initialized with just one small screen.

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First, select the drive containing the card you wish to format. Likely, this will be E or F for most Windows users. Notice that when you select the drive, the size of the SD disk appears just below the selection. For the 4GB card used in this example, the size is recognized as 3.68 GB. (No Matter what size SD card you use, the size will report just a little bit smaller due to formatting requirements).

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Next, click Option to select how you want the SD card formatted. A dialogue box appears with a drop down menu listing three “format type” options.

  • The first, Quick, is simply a standard wipe of the disk—all data currently on the disk will be erased.
  • The second, Full (Erase), will put the disk into a proper SD format, be aware that even though this lists as Erase because it does a simple delete vs. overwrite, it may still be possible (It’s not easy but could be done) to recover the files that were on the drive.
  • The third option, Full (OverWrite),—is the option you will want to use most often, as it formats the card properly, while giving it a fresh start with no old data left on the disk at all. Not all cards support this, but if you choose this and the card does not support the option, the formatter automatically reverts to the second “erase off” option during the formatting process. (NOTE: With this option, when its gone, its gone!)

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Under the Format Type drop down menu is a second menu called “format size adjustment” that asks if you want to try to increase the amount of space on your SD card or not. Turning this option on will allow you to use the maximum space possible on your SD card. Once you have made your selection, click OK.

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You will be brought back to the original formatter screen where it should display the options you just selected:

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Click Format. If you select Quick you will be informed that “Data may be retrieved after quick format. Meaning that it will not completely overwrite what is on the card. (However, you will need special recovery software to retrieve files from the card as all the pointers that would show you the files when you look at the drive will be removed, so the card will appear blank) Click OK

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Finally after that you will be asked one last time if you are sure you want to do this. If you are sure, click OK.

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A new dialogue box then displays the status of your formatting efforts. For the options selected above, it first erases all files from the disk, then formats it. If you are using a larger disk, as in this example, this process will take a few minutes. Do not turn off your computer or remove the disk until the entire process is complete.

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When complete, a dialogue box appears telling you the results of the formatting process.

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With that you should now have a very usable SD card.

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