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Most media cards come from the factory already formatted, but it's still a good idea to format a new card with your specific camera. More importantly though you'll use your camera's Format command any time you want to erase your card. So after you've pulled your images into your computer you'll need to put the card back into your camera and format it there. Now it's a very important that you choose Format to do this rather than using the cameras Erase or Delete function. Repeated use of those functions can leave your card unreliable and result in you being unable to get images off of the card.
You can usually use special file recovery software to get to unreadable images, but it's better to just avoid that problem in the first place by always formatting your card. Now if a card does get messed up, formatting it should put it back to normal. Since Format is a command that you're going to use very regularly it's good to learn exactly where it is. It is of course in the menuing systems. So I'm going to hit my menu button to bring up the menus and work my way over to the tools section. Most of these utility type functions are in one of the tools menu and sure enough here in the first tool menu third item down I get Format.
So I'm going to scroll down to Format and hit Set. Immediately, I get a big warning Format card All data will be lost! And I get a little thermometer that shows how much of my card has been used and I've an option here called Low Level Format. We'll get to that in a second. To format the card I would simply go over here choose the OK button and hit the Set button and that would set about formatting. Low Level Format is a much grislier formatting option and to activate it there is a little trashcan next to it. So I know that that means that I just hit the trashcan button and that checks it.
Low level format will take longer. It's something you'll use if you ever notice that your card seems to be slowing down. If it's taking longer to read and write data from it, might be time to do a Low Level Format. Honestly, I have never encountered that. I've never had to do that. I usually get along just fine by doing a normal format. So I'm going to turn that off by hitting the trashcan button again and hit OK and it gives me a little progress indicator. When it's done I'm back to my menuing system. Now that went very quickly, because it didn't actually erase any data from the card.
It just reset the part of the card that says whether there are pictures there and where on the card they are. That means that if I accidentally format, it is possible to use special software to go and recover the images. This is the same sort of thing you can do with your hard drive at home, although you don't want to use the same file recovery software that you use on your computer's hard drive. You want to use some special software designed specifically for recovering photos from a camera media card. I use something called PhotoRescue by DataRescue.
That's the format command you'll be using very regularly.
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