Miss Info

A friend and student, the other day, would not let me format her memory card. “Nooo”, she almost shouted. The reason? Some Internet-famous wedding/family/baby photographer said, on her blog, that formatting is harmful for memory cards.

That is spectacularly bad advice. Let me assure you that not only is formatting a card not harmful, it is beneficial for you. Without formatting each time, eventually, memory errors such as lost clusters, excessive fragmentation, and so on will creep in and destroy your content. natural degradation will not result in areas being mapped out, as would happen if you formatted. Of course data loss can happen anyway (see yesterday’s post), but the chances are greater if all you do is delete rather than format. Bad, bad idea.

Where did this photographer get the idea that formatting is bad? What qualifies her to give opinions on technical issues like this? Now, I do not know this photographer; I do not even know her name,. What I do know is that her advice is bad. Perhaps she has an electrical engineering degree, like me, but that does not mean she cannot be wrong. And here, she is.

Which brings me to today’s subject: the Internet is a dangerous place, full of misinformation. Read, but read more, and read counter-opinions, and check out the writer’s qualifications. I would ask Sandisk and Lexar, or canon and other camera makers. And I am pretty sure they’ll recommend that you format a memory card after, or rather before, each use.

Yes, formatting wears out a drive, as does every type of writing to it. But only after many write cycles—think millions. If you format a card hourly for half a century, you may perhaps see degradation. But that is hardly likely, is it?

My moral: careful whom you believe. Hesitate before you take legal advice from me, dental hygiene advice from an obstetrician, or electronics advice from a baby photographer of some repute. Just sayin’.

Oh yes, and format those cards. Frequently. Every time.


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