CF Card - Format or Delete?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Michael Touchette, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. Michael Touchette
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    Michael Touchette New Member

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    Hi, when I purchased my camera a year ago the salesman told me that with the CF Card I should never just delete a single picture and instead that I need to format the card in order to delete pictures. Recently, I've head from people that they simply delete pictures all the time with no repercussions, and I even heard from someone that they reckon formatting the card that often could be bad for it. Is there a general consensus here on what is best to do?
  2. ANDS!
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    ANDS! New Member

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    I format because what the hell, do you really want to hand delete 500 or so shots off an 8GB card? I'm just lazy that way.

    There really is no distinction between the two that anyone doing this as a hobby (and isn't some computer geek - sorry computer geeks) is going to notice.
  3. Michael Touchette
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    Michael Touchette New Member

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    Alright, is it better to format than "delete all" though..
  4. ANDS!
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    ANDS! New Member

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    One aint any better than the other - thats what I tried to convey in that post.
  5. chrisburke
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    chrisburke New Member

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    yea, formatting and deleting are the same... delete is a one by one process, while formatting will clear the whole card... you might delete a photo after you took it because it doesnt turn out how you hoped, but you would format the card after you've imported all the photos to your computer
  6. Michael Touchette
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    Michael Touchette New Member

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    Alright, thanks guys
  7. ANDS!
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    ANDS! New Member

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    A format is not the same as delete all. Formatting the card literally writes zeroes to the card. Anything on the card is basically gone. Poof. A delete simply allows the camera to "write over" sectors that actually contain data. So while the card can be written to, data is still there until new information has been filled in.

    So the end result is the same, however for "recovery" purposes, a Delete All is obviously more desirable.
  8. MikeBcos
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    MikeBcos New Member

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    A format will map out bad sectors on a card so the camera won't write to them, my daughter was getting a few corrupt photos on her camera, I told her to format the card in the camera and that solved the problem, the camera stopped using the sectors causing the bad images.

    I always format in the camera once the images have been downloaded.
  9. Katier
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    Katier New Member

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    The big point is however NEITHER will damage the card. If it goes partially faulty a format might allow you to continue using it ( at reduced capacity ) but all that's doing is avoiding using a faulty part. It's not physicially damaged by deleting or formatting.
  10. gsgary
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    gsgary Well-Known Member

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    +1
  11. ksmattfish
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    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Sometimes I delete a photo or two while shooting, but it's my standard operating procedure to format the CF card when I put it in the camera (after I've checked to make sure it's old photos).

    The only exception is with my G7, which I use the CHDK hack with. Formatting that SD card would erase the CHDK software, so I just delete there.
  12. ShutterSpeed
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    ShutterSpeed New Member

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    do you guys not have your pictures automatically deleted when downloading?

    when i take 300 pictures before downloading - (which takes a long time to download and convert, btw) - i just have them automatically deleted from the card.
  13. Village Idiot
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    Village Idiot Well-Known Member

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    A quick format shouldn't. If it did that, formatting a 4gb CF card would take more than 5 seconds.
  14. MikeBcos
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    MikeBcos New Member

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    No, I don't, I want to make absolutely sure the images are downloaded to my computer and backed up to a file server before I take them off a card.
  15. inTempus
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    inTempus New Member

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    I format memory cards when I get them, then delete from there on out. You gain nothing from formatting all the time, other than it typically takes a little longer than just "delete all".

    I can't speak to how other cameras work, but the 40D/50D allows the user to "delete all" so you don't have to sit there and manually delete each individual picture. It would be kind of odd that other cameras (relatively modern ones) don't have a similar feature.

    The 50D takes things one step further than the 40D in that you can create sub-folders. Then you can "delete all" in one folder without touching images stored elsewhere. I like that feature a lot.

    As already mentioned, formatting sets the memory back to zero (literally). Deleting only marks the files as no longer needed by the OS but the files are still there until something else writes over them. Should you decide later you do want something off of the card, the data can be recovered (although I've never had the need to do this).
  16. andrew99
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    andrew99 New Member

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    I'm a big believer in formatting the card every time I put it in the camera, or whenever I download the photos over USB. This prevents corruption of the file system. When you connect your camera to the PC, who knows what Windows will do to the card...add a thumbs cache file, re-write the directory structure, or your PC may have a virus you don't know about, etc., any of which could potentially confuse the camera or corrupt the card. Formatting the card in the camera prepares the card to be used by the camera, so everything is as it should be.

    Also I don't format my card until I know that all the photos are downloaded cleanly.. Delete as you download is asking for trouble.

    (when I mentioned viruses before, I've never heard of one that can infect the camera, but a virus could potentially corrupt the file system on the card while it's connected to the PC.)
  17. ksmattfish
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    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    No way. If they are on my hard drive and the CF card then I have two copies. I don't reformat the card until I put it back in a camera, and I don't use a card until everything has been backed up again.
  18. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    Me too.
  19. inTempus
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    inTempus New Member

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    I don't know what Windows does to a CF card, but with OSX it does nothing to it but read it. I don't have to worry about viruses, but I suspect most viruses you might get will do little or nothing to your camera as it doesn't run on the XP kernel. It might store it there, but that's of little consequence since we're talking about having gotten it from an infected PC anyway.

    Memory has a finite number of times it can be erased and written to before it starts to fail. This depends on the storage media, single layer cards my have 100,000 read-write actions while a multilayer card may only have 10,000 (per layer). When you format your card, you're in essence writing to every block, resetting its value. If you only delete your files, it only flags the files as deleted but leaves the state of the memory the same (doesn't write to it). Doing things this way, the memory is only written to when you actually store a new file. This is a relatively minor issue though since most memory cards will work fine through their normal expected service life (several years). But you do shorten the life span of the memory card each time you fully format it.
  20. Village Idiot
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    Village Idiot Well-Known Member

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    No no no no no no no.

    No.

    And....no.

    Cameras use a high level format. It removes the pointers and "reintializes" the card. It does not empty the card it does not write 1 & 0's to the card. If it did that, then the data recovery software available couldn't retrieve files from the drive.

    It takes like 5 seconds to format a 4gb card. As slow as the camera is, it would take several minutes for it to completely do a low level format to write over all the data on drive.

    It's like putting it in a Windows machine, right clicking, and choosing format. Quick format makes it look empty and takes seconds where as full format writes over the data on the drive and makes it actually empty. That takes longer.

    That's why a drive is never truly empty.

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