Research reveals that frequent formatting can extend memory card life.

Research reveals that frequent formatting can extend memory card life.

Most digital photographers seldom re-format their memory cards; preferring simply to delete images when they’ve been uploaded to a computer. However, extended research reveals this is a bad habit that can lead to cards becoming corrupted.

Reformatting a card ensures that the file structure on the card will be free of residual (and unwanted) data and that image data subsequently loaded onto the card will be clean. The longer a card is left unformatted, the more residual data will accumulate. Over time, this will start to reduce the number of images the card will hold. After a couple of months without reformatting, a card that formerly stored 100 image may hold 90 or less.

It’s a good idea to adopt the habit of formatting memory cards each time they are put into a camera. In this way, the card is formatted in a way that suits the camera and you can expect it to be error-free.

You will need to use the Format command in the camera’s menu system. Different brands put this control in different places but it’s usually easy to find – although you may need to toggle to the end of the Setup menu with some brands.

This advice applies equally to owners of compact digicams and DSLR cameras. Get into the habit of reformatting cards each time you load them into a camera. In that way you ensure they can reach their promised lifetimes without corruption and provide you with the storage capacity you paid for.