Delete or Format The Flash Card?

category: Cameras • 2 min read

You’re done! You’ve copied the photos from the memory card to your computer. Should you:

  1. Delete all the photos?
  2. Format the card on the computer?
  3. Format the card in the camera?

My preference, and that’s what I’ve been using for a while, is none of the three alternatives. I move the photos to the computer. Done, finished. One simple operation is that’s it. I have done it for thousandS of times. Never had a problem.

Now there are some people, the anal retentive, paranoiac, that will copy the files to their computer, and keep the files on the card, in case the copy didn’t work or there was a corruption. It’s possible, especially is you do something stupid like:

  • Disconnect the card the computer before the copying is finished.
  • Removing the card without asking the OS the eject the card and flush the USB port.
  • Turn off the computer without a proper shutdown.
  • Run out of disk space and do nothing about it.

In other words, you have to work at it. In today’s modern operating system, all copying of files are validated by a checksum, so your computer will report an error if there’s a problem.

  • With any USB, you never know when the actual write happens. You must ask the operating system to eject/remove the card. At that point only, all the buffers are flushed to disk.
  • Please note that copying or moving your photos from the card to your computer doesn’t release you from doing proper backups.
  • I always do my backups. But they are independent of the copying/moving the photos.