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How to format SD memory cards

Updated February 21, 2017

There are many different types of external storage devices used to store digital media. One of the most common is secure digital cards (SD). These are small, portable cards that fit into electronic devices like cell phones or digital cameras. Formatting is a process in which a memory device is cleared and a new file system is imposed. This is usually done to prepare the memory card to be used or to fix errors associated with the card. You can format your SD card using your computer without the need to download or purchase any third-party software.

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  1. Insert the SD card into the SD card reader. This is an external disk drive that connects to your computer through the computer's USB port.

  2. Plug the SD card reader into the USB port of your computer and wait a few seconds for the computer to recognise the card.

  3. Open the "Computer Management" utility on your computer. Click "Start," "Control Panel," "System and Maintenance," "Administrative Tools," and "Computer Management."

  4. Click on "Disk Management" in the left column labelled "Storage." A list of available drives appears including your SD card.

  5. Right-click the SD card and select "Format." You are prompted to select a file format to impose on the SD card. Choose "FAT 32" because nearly all secure digital media uses this file system. This makes your card compatible with most electronic devices.

  6. Click "OK" to complete the formatting process. Your SD card is formatted.

  7. Tip

    Back up any data you want to save because formatting removes all of the data from your SD card.

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Things You'll Need

  • SD card reader

About the Author

Art Corvelay is a freelance writer for demand studios who has been writing and editing for five years. He holds a Ph.D. in technical communication and teaches courses in writing and editing at the university level.

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