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Why can't I format the memory in my camera to empty it?


My camera is an Agfa Photo DC-302. The memory inside is full but I can’t
format it because every time I try it writes “card protect.” When I connected
it to the computer and tried formatting it, it writes “write-protected” and
even notifies me of numerous virus alerts. What do I do?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #97
I look at ways to erase pictures from a camera memory card
and reformat.


Emptying a camera memory card

Well, normally formatting a memory card in a camera is not the way to make more room. The way to make more room is to delete the pictures that are on the camera.

Now of course, before you do that, you want to make sure to copy all of those pictures off to your PC or to wherever you want to store those pictures long term. But normally, you should actually never have to “reformat” a camera’s memory card.

Formatting the card

It is available however. It should be an option; and in fact, reformatting it while it’s in the camera is probably the best way to do it.

My guess is you have an SD memory card that has a little write protect tab on it – but that should also prevent you from taking anymore pictures so I’m a little confused as to exactly what’s going on with the camera itself.

Connecting it to the PC and trying to format it that way is not the way to do it. You don’t connect the camera to the PC and then try to reformat the drive that shows up. The only way to do it with the PC would be to actually take the memory card out of the camera and put it into a compatible memory card reader that’s on your PC. Then you should be able to format it and make it empty.

Faulty memory card

In that case, if this continues to happen. In other words, if you can’t format it even in the camera, I’d actually be really, really tempted to replace the memory card. I’d be really, really tempted to think that there’s a problem with the memory card itself and that it’s time for it to be replaced.

But like I said, the very first thing you should be doing is copying off all of the pictures from that camera, putting them someplace safe before you go out and try to erase anything.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

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4 comments on “Why can't I format the memory in my camera to empty it?”

  1. Be wary about re-formatting your camera’s (SD# Memory Card – you may find that itstarts numbering the photos from the start again, ie you could end up with different photos having the same names – UNLESS you take steps to change that situation.

    Regarding the Write-Protect Tab on SD Cards, it is very small, “hidden” on/in the left-hand edge, when the label is in the conventional #eye-ball) reading position.

    It can be moved to the Protect position all too easily when inserting the card in the cameraa.


    Also be careful to distinguish between the memory on the SD Card from a smaller amount actually built-in to most digital cameras.

    That internal memory is usually quite small, so will accept only a small quantity of photos.

    There is usually a Menu selection to allow copying/moving of such photos on to the SD Card.


    Although I and Leo have referred to SD Cards, there are other types – but generally the comments apply to all.

  2. “Connecting it to the PC and trying to format it that way is not the way to do it. You don’t connect the camera to the PC and then try to reformat the drive that shows up.”

    Really? Ooops! I messed up then because I reformatted my camera’s SD card through Windows at least once and maybe twice. Oh well, live and learn. Won’t do that again. Camera still works great, though. ;-)

  3. If you want to do a total erase of a camera’s memory or card, like if you want to eliminate the possibility of anyone recovering deleted pictures, it takes a bit of effort. Delete all the pictures, then take pictures of something like blue sky until the memory/card is full (Nikon’s suggested method). If you’re really paranoid about it, delete the blue sky pictures and take pictures of a black surface, though I don’t know if that would be necessary.

  4. Don,

    If I were that paranoid, I would simply destroy the card. They’re cheap enough to replace.

    Or, I’d put it into my computer and use a program like CCleaner to securely wipe the card.


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