Fixing common problems with large capacity Memory Cards

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    The most common problem with large capacity SD cards is they fail to be recognised in the host device. This problem stems from the original specifications of the SD format. Originally devices manufactured to be compatible with SD cards were only required to support 1024 MB of space. The standard has since been updated and now cards are manufactured that are considerably larger than this. If you are having problems with a device not recognising the card there are several options available to you.
If you have access to a memory card reader, or the ability to plug the camera into a computer and see the card as a mass storage device there are a two of solutions available to you. The first is simply to reformat the card with a different file structure. New cards are formatted with a FAT file structure for maximum compatibility. Many cameras such as the Fuji S2 Pro are unable to use FAT32 file structures and as such cards are all purchased with FAT formatting (sometimes known as FAT16).

In order to reformat the card simply locate it under My Computer -> J Drive (yours may be a different letter) and right click on it. The option will become available to "Format..." You will need to ensure you do a FAT format (File System option) first and don't choose "quick format". If this fails to resolve the issue you can do a FAT32 format and see if you get a better result.

The next option is to use a program called Kill-Disk to reset the card. Kill Disk is available in a free version that will be more than sufficient for your purposes. You can get it from h++p://killdisk.com/downloadfree.htm. Download the version listed at the top of the table. Once you have downloaded this you will need to open the archive and run the KD_WIN.exe. The program will allow you to select the volume (drive) you wish to reset and erase all the data from it. This includes the partition information. Plenty of online help is available for a more in depth usage instructions if you need but the program is pretty simple - just be sure to select the correct volume before typing ERASE-ALL-DATA!

Once the card has been reset unplug it (don't format it in windows) and put it in your camera. The card should be formatted by your camera when you turn the camera on. If this process fails to resolve the issue you can repeat the kill disk but format the card in windows with FAT, then again with FAT32. (NTFS will not work).

If you have the ability to read a card in your host device formatted as a FAT32 file system rather than a traditional FAT type I strongly recommend you keep the card in FAT32 format. The FAT file system is only designed to operate up to 2gb capacity and becomes unstable at that size, often volumes will report disk write errors and read failures apparently linked to a physical problem. Unfortunately these are the hallmarks of a failing FAT file structure rather than a problem with the disk; when the disk is empty this problem is rare, but as it reaches capacity the chances of them occurring increase. While no one can not guarantee against a failed FAT file system, the killdisk process will attempt to read and write of every byte on the card in a non file system specific approach, similar to resetting the card with killdisk, as such if you don't encounter errors in killdisk chances are that the card is physically sound.

Finally test the card by copying 1.5gb of small files to it, verifying the checksums, copying them back and rechecking the checksums. This can be done simply buy copying a large files not more than 1.5gb into a folder onto the desktop and checking the Md5 checksum, then copying the file over to the memory card and rechecking the checksum. If you don't know how to check MD5 checksums the easiest way for Windows XP is using a tool called md5fly that can be found by typing "md5fly.exe" into google and downloading the zip file (h++p://aluigi.altervista.org/mytoolz/md5fly.zip) then unzipping it and copying the file md5fly.exe into the folder C:\Windows\Documents and Settings\"your user name"\Sendto\ where "your user name" is the name you log on with or you see at the very top of the start menu when you click on the start button.  All you need to do to use it is to right click on a file and choose Send To > Md5Fly.exe and a pop up box should contain the md5 checksum. If you use Linux you should already be familiar with Md5 checksums and a quick search will find several Mac tools very easily.
 
Finally if you have got this far and still your card is playing up but has passed every test it might be the device you are using it is. Check the contacts of the battery in you camera/pda etc and double check that the device is actually capable of using a card greater than 512mb. If this is a success I will post a more in depth camera trouble shooting guide for memory related problems.


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