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How many times can I reuse my Olympus Panoramic xD-Picture Card?
Memory cards are a renewable resource—they can be reused again and again. Unlike film, they are not susceptible to the effects of extreme weather or airport x-rays. People have even reported accidentally running their memory cards through the laundry with no adverse effects. Memory cards can be reused thousands of times if you follow the following tips:
Keep the Contacts Clean
Avoid touching the metal contacts on memory cards that have exposed contacts—xD-Picture cards, SD cards, and microSD cards. Skin oil on the contacts can reduce the connectivity with the camera memory card slot or a memory card reader. Contacts should be wiped clean with a dry, soft cloth—such as a microfiber. Do not use solvents.
Format the Card Occasionally
Memory cards should be formatted to maintain top performance. They should only be formatted using the camera—never format using a computer as it may render the card unreadable by the camera.
Formatting clears the directory structure of the card and removes any artifacts that might be left behind by erasing. Repeatedly using the ERASE and ERASE ALL camera options and not formatting can result in a buildup of file artifacts that may eventually cause the card to fail. Be sure to download and save any images on the memory card before formatting.
If the memory card is accidentally formatted in the camera, all is not lost—you may be able to recover your images. Formatting clears the directory from the card that is used to find and manage the image files and creates a new directory. The images are still there, but there is no way for the camera or imaging software to find them.
Do not shoot any new images if the card is accidentally formatted—the new images will overwrite the old images. There is a very strong probability of retrieving images from a formatted memory card using media recovery software, which can be purchased at a camera store or online. There are also free versions of media recovery software that can be downloaded on the Internet. The software can find the files and then the files can be saved to a folder.
Memory Card Corruption
If you get an error message on the camera LCD screen that says CARD ERROR or FORMAT CARD, the card has probably become corrupted. Memory card corruption has many causes, but these are the most common:
- Returning an edited image to the memory card: If an edited image is returned to the memory card and the card is put back in the camera, the camera doesn’t understand the modified file information and doesn’t know how to deal with the file. The most common symptom is that the camera can read images in playback up to point and no further. This is because it can’t get past the modified data. Never return an edited image to a memory card. Become familiar with the procedures in the image editing software for saving files.
- Disconnecting the camera or removing the memory card from a card reader with a file still open: When a file is open on the computer, the computer is communicating with the image file information—the file header on a Windows computer or the info fork on a Mac computer. If the camera’s USB cable is pulled from the computer, or the memory card is pulled from a card reader or printer with the file opened, the header or info fork may become corrupted. The thumbnail of the image will appear scrambled or there will be a partial image with the rest of the image being gray. Here, again, the camera will be unable to read the corrupted data and be unable to get past the corrupted image. Media recovery software may be able to save the card and images, but the chances are less than if an edited file is returned to the card. To properly disconnect a camera or remove a memory card from a card reader or a printer, first close all files and imaging applications to be sure the computer or printer is no longer communicating with the file. Then shut down the USB connection with the camera or card. Computers see cameras and memory cards as drives. On a Windows computer use the Safely Remove Hardware function in the Taskbar in the lower right corner of the desktop screen before unplugging a camera or removing the memory card. On a Mac platform, either drag the drive icon on the desktop to the Trash, or use the EJECT button before disconnecting the camera or removing the memory card from the card reader or printer.
Caring for and using a memory card properly can help avoid the calamity of losing precious memories which often far outweigh the monetary value of a memory card. Employing the methods above will give your memory cards a long and healthy life.
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