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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EOS Digital Cameras
Thread started 14 Dec 2011 (Wednesday) 10:32
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SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card formatting (Important)

John ­ from ­ PA
Cream of the Crop
7,573 posts
Joined May 2003
Southeast Pennsylvania
Dec 14, 2011 10:32 |  #1

There seem to be a proliferation of topics about formatting of SD type memory cards (where, when and how) so I thought I would post some comments from the actual SD Association, the governing body on the design of the cards referenced.

The SD Association, the regulating body on the design and manufacturer of SD cards states "The SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards have a "Protected Area" on the card for the SD standard's security function. The SD Formatter does not format the "Protected Area". Please use appropriate application software or SD-compatible device (comment by OP; that's your camera) that provides SD security function to format the "Protected Area" in the memory card."

This is at the link​/downloads/formatter_3​/external link and the recommended SD formatter is also available. The fact of the matter is the first initial format of the card, should be done in camera or at best using the Association's SD formatter so that the "Protected Area" is properly established. Now, I recognize that I will get flamed by people that never do this but the point of the matter is that people that format in camera report far less issues and the source is the SD governing body!

3,365 posts
Joined Aug 2010
Dec 14, 2011 11:23 |  #2

That's all good information, but it leaves out the explanation of what this "protected area" is for, other than the vaguely-stated "SD standard's security functions."

So, what are those "security functions"? "SD" stands for "secure digital", but this is not a reference to the reliability of the media, but rather to DRM and other copy-protection schemes. Among the "security functions" provided by the SD standard is copyright protection of DRM-protected files (such as music files), preventing the user from copying those files off of the SD card to another computer, etc. Also included are password protection security, that some devices provide the facility to take advantage of. Also, manufacturers can use the security functions of the SD standard to lock a card to the specific device it was first used with, making the card basically useless on other devices unless the user has access to a low-level formatter than WILL format this "protected area" .... you can find these, but the SD standard association's formatter won't do it.

So, basically, this "protected area" has no functional use with Canon DSLRs and I doubt it would matter to proper operation in a Canon DSLR if it was overwritten by a card formatter. It may, in fact, free up this "protected area" for use as general flash memory.


John ­ from ­ PA
Cream of the Crop
7,573 posts
Joined May 2003
Southeast Pennsylvania
Dec 14, 2011 11:36 |  #3

RTPVid, thanks for the insight into the SD cards. It remains however that it is a recommendation of the SD Association to format using the SD Formatter for digitals cameras...

According to a SDA Help Desk reply to an email inquiry by Digicamhelp:

“The SDA does recommend using the SD Formatter to format SD Cards rather than the formatting utilities provided in SD host devices such as digital cameras. The formatting utilities in SD host devices may not format SD Cards correctly, causing operability issues.”

Extracted from Digicamhelp at http://www.digicamhelp​.com ...-format-a-sd-memory-card/external link

Cream of the Crop
Keyan's Avatar
Joined Mar 2011
Dec 14, 2011 11:44 |  #4

at the end of the day, i wonder if it even matters. Regardless, I just do a LL format in the camera once I'm ready to get on with the next set of pics.

Cameras: 7D2, S100
Lenses: 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM, 18-135 STM, 24-70 f/4L IS USM, 50 f/1.4 USM,70-300L IS USM
Other Stuff: 430 EX II, Luma Labs Loop 3, CamRanger


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SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card formatting (Important)
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