How to Format a SD Card for a Camera

By Max Cooper

Formatting your camera's SD memory card is an easy way to improve performance and clear the way for new photos and videos. Allowing hundreds of images to build up on your SD card slows your camera down and increases your risk of lost data. Cards should be formatted often, either in the camera or from your computer. But be warned that formatting a card permanently erases all of its photos, so make sure your important images are saved on your hard drive.

Backing Up Your Data

Step 1

Insert the card into your card reader.

Step 2

When the autoplay dialogue box appears, choose "Open Folder to View Files." If it does not appear, open "My Computer" via your Start Menu and open the "Removable Disk" drive.

Step 3

Copy the contents of your card by right-clicking the folder called "DCIM" and choosing "Copy."

Step 4

Open to your "My Pictures" folder by accessing "My Documents" in "My Computer." Once inside this folder, right-click the background area and choose "Paste." Your pictures may take a few minutes to copy, and once the transfer is complete you may rename the new "DCIM" folder by right-clicking it and choosing "Rename."

Step 5

Return to "My Computer" and eject your SD card by right-clicking "Removable Disk" and choosing "Eject."

Formatting Your Card in the Camera

Step 1

Insert the SD card in your camera and turn it on.

Step 2

Open your camera's menu and select "Setup" or "Utilities."

Step 3

Choose "Format." The camera will ask if you're sure you want to format the card, advising you that all data will be erased.

Step 4

Choose "OK." Formatting takes a few seconds depending on the size of your card.

Formatting Your Card in the Computer

Step 1

Insert the card into your card reader and open "My Computer."

Step 2

Right-click the "Removable Disk" that represents your card and choose "Format."

Step 3

Choose the following options in the dialogue box that appears: Under "File System," choose "FAT." Under "Allocation Size," choose "Default Allocation Size." Leave "Volume Label" blank, and do not choose "Quick Format."

Step 4

Click "Start" to format the disk.

Step 5

Eject your disk: Right-click "Removable Disk" and choose "Eject."

Tips & Warnings

  • Format your card before important events to ensure a "clean slate." Amassing hundreds of photos on one card is a recipe for corrupt files.
  • Double check that any important data on a card is backed up to a secure location before you format the card.