Troubleshooting microSD Card Problems

In the early days of digital cameras, memory cards were extremely expensive and many cameras had internal memory areas for storing photos. Fast forward a couple of decades, and memory cards are inexpensive and easy to use. That doesn't mean that they never fail though. For example, you may experience microSD card problems. Fortunately, many such problems are easy to fix with these simple tips.

Memory Cards Explained

Micro SD card and adapter
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First, though, a quick explanation of these tiny storage devices. Memory cards, which typically are a little larger than a postage stamp, can store hundreds or thousands of photos. Consequently, any problem with the memory card can be a disaster ... no one wants to lose all of their photos.

There are quite a few different types of memory cards in use with cameras today, but the most popular model of memory card is the Secure Digital model, normally called SD. Within the SD model, there are three different sizes of memory cards -- the largest, SD; the mid-sized cards, microSD, and the smallest cards, miniSD. With SD model cards, there are also different formats, including the SDHC format, which allows you to store more data and transfer data more quickly.

Although most digital cameras use the SD memory card size, tiny digital cameras can use microSD memory cards on occasion. Cell phone cameras also tend to use microSD cards.

Fix microSD Card Problems

Use these tips to troubleshoot your microSD and microSDHC memory cards.

  • One of the biggest problems you'll encounter with a microSD sized memory card is simply misplacing it. If you are someone who often throws your memory card in a camera bag or shoves it in a pocket when you're done with it, you're probably going to lose this tiny card at some point. Keep a hard plastic container or sleeve handy and always keep the microSD cards inside so they're easy to find later.
  • If you have a problem with your microSD memory card failing to record some of your photos on occasion, it might not have anything to do with the memory card at all. Instead, make sure that you have enough battery power. If the battery exhausts all of its power while in the middle of the process of copying a photo, you’ll lose the photo.
  • Having a fully charged battery is especially important when you’re shooting video because it takes the camera longer to write data from video to the microSD card than for still images. A low battery could end up causing a write error to the microSD card.
  • With a tiny microSD card, you’ll often be inserting the card into a sleeve or adapter to use it with a card reading device that is designed for larger SD-type cards. Be sure you always properly fit the microSD card into the adapter. If the card doesn't fit tightly, it could come loose as you insert the adapter, jamming inside the device and causing a significant problem.
  • Sometimes when using microSD adapters, you’ll find that not all adapters are compatible with every microSD card. In this case, your computer might read that an adapter has been inserted, but it might not be able to access the data on the card. Do not reformat the card if this happens -- even if the computer asks you to format it -- because formatting will erase all of the data on the microSD card. Just try another adapter or see if any updated software drivers are available for the adapter you have.
  • Keep in mind that devices designed to use microSD cards cannot read some microSDHC cards. Even though microSDHC and microSD cards are similar in shape and size, the newer microSDHC format isn’t always compatible with microSD devices. You also may find that by downloading the latest version of firmware for your camera, the manufacturer may have added support for microSDHC.
  • If you receive an error message stating that a directory or file cannot be created, you’ll probably need to reformat the microSD card. First, however, copy all of the files to your computer. Then reformat the device in FAT32 ... keeping in mind that reformatting the card will erase all data on it.
  • If you accidentally delete photo files from your microSD card, you sometimes can recover the files using data recovery services or data recovery software. Just be sure to try the data recovery as quickly as possible after the accidental deletion for the best chances of success.
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