Frequently Asked Questions About SD Card Formatting

Categories: Tips & Tricks

Proper maintenance and care must be taken to keep your Flash Memory In optimal condition and give it the longevity it was created to posses. The SD Association Has Answered some Frequently Asked Questions about SD Card Formatting to help you maintain your cards.

What types of SD memory cards can be formatted?

You can format both standard size SD memory cards and microSD memory cards based on the following capacity types:

  • SD/microSD card: FAT12/16 up to 2GB
  • SDHC/microSDHC card: FAT32 more than 2GB and up to 32GB
  • SDXC/microSDXC card: exFAT more than 32GB and up to 2TB

What are the benefits of using the SD Memory Card Formatter?

The Formatter offers:

  1. Data portability of SD memory cards among SD host products like computers, digital still cameras, digital video camcorders, broadcast recorders, set top boxes, drive recorders, smartphones, drones and many other devices.
  2. Formatting within FAT parameters optimized for flash memories in SD memory cards for better performance and endurance.

Is there an End User License Agreement (EULA)?

Yes. When downloading from SDA website or installing the SD Memory Card Formatter onto your Windows PC or Mac, the EULA will be shown on the screen. The EULA is the SD Memory Card Formatter software license agreement between SDA and you. You must accept the EULA to install and use the Formatter.

What is the SD Memory Card Formatter Version Check? (Version 5.0 or later)

If your Windows PC or Mac is connecting to Internet, when you run the SD Memory Card Formatter you installed on your Windows PC or Mac, it will check for the latest version of the Formatter in the SDA website. If your Formatter is not the latest version, the Formatter will ask you to upgrade by downloading the latest version from the SDA website.

Is the old SD Memory Card Formatter (Version 4.0 or prior) available?

No. Previous versions of the Formatter are not available. The old Formatter may not work properly with recent Windows and Mac OS X/macOS versions. You should always use the most current version of the Formatter from our SDA website.

Can an SD memory card be reformatted with other than SDA standard FAT file systems?

This is not recommended because you will lose the ability to use the card to reliably transfer data between devices SD host products.
Some SD host products reformat SD memory cards other than SDA standard FAT file systems. This process may restrict the data portability of cards with other SD host products and create other issues. SD host product manufacturers should only reformat cards using the defined SDA standard FAT file systems.

Is the SD Memory Card Formatter available on websites other than the SDA website?

Do not use the SD Memory Card Formatter s found on other websites. The SDA does not allow the copy of SD Memory Card Formatter to be hosted on other websites. SDA download is free on our website and always provides the latest version of the Formatter.

Why are the displayed capacities different in Windows and Mac applications?

Windows uses a base-1024 to calculate capacities while Mac uses a base-1000, e.g. in Windows, 1MB = 1,024K kB = 1,048,576 bytes, while in Mac, 1MB = 1,000K kB = 1,000,000 bytes.

Why is free space after formatting within between the SD Memory Card Formatter and macOS Disk Utility or Windows Drive Properties dialog? 

The SD Memory Card Formatter formats the card without consideration of the operating system’s own file system driver. Once the formatting completes, the operating system’s file system driver mounts the card and creates hidden directories and files for its own purpose. The difference of free space right after formatting as reported by the Formatter and as reported by the operating system’s own dialog comes from those hidden directories and files creation.

How many characters can be entered into the volume label field? 

You can enter 11 ASCII characters or 5 characters in Japanese double-byte character.

What is the difference between Quick and Overwrite format methods?

Quick format deletes all the file/directory entries by initializing file system parameters of the card, but it does not delete the data written in files. Overwrite format deletes file/directory entries by initializing file system parameters of the card (same as with Quick format), and erases all data by overwriting the user data area completely. The Overwrite format takes more time to complete than the Quick format method.

What types of adapter are supported by the SD Memory Card Formatter?

The following SD interface devices are available to access SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards:

  • SD memory card slot on Windows PC or Mac
  • USB2.0, USB3.0, USB3.1, USB-C SD Memory card reader connecting to Windows PC or Mac