Format CompactFlash?

Started Feb 14, 2008 | Discussions thread
just a web geek Senior Member • Posts: 1,039
Agree with Lenny

Voyager, I think your intent was more to attack Lenny than to ask for further information -- but if I'm wrong about that, here's a link that explains FAT32 in detail (but briefly and not too technically). If you read it closely, you'll understand that Lenny's explanations are cogent.

I have to jump on board with Lenny and say that although I haven't bothered to figure out what the 40D does specifically when formatting or mass-deleting, his assumptions quite valid in my experience. I've recovered images from in-camera formatted cards using computer forensics software (cameras included a 400D and a KM7D). The data doesn't get overwritten, just "unlinked." (That's because of the same principle that allows you to recover files from your hard disk even after emptying them from your Recycle Bin -- if there's no pointer to the file, it's not "there," so it doesn't really matter what bits are on the media, so why bother taking the time to overwrite them?) So the file can still be completely intact on the card, even though there's no pointer to it.

From a computer geek's perspective, a lot of what people say on boards like this one about handling CF cards seems superstitious. If you're not very comfortable with computers and media, there's nothing wrong with using the camera to format your cards all the time -- but there's really no compelling need to, unless your camera doesn't implement well-established file system standards faithfully.

Personally, I trust my computer more than my camera, because computer operating systems have been formatting FAT32 media for a dozen years -- a lot longer than DSLR firmware. But I work with computers day in and day out -- majored in Computer Science and wrote operating system code to handle file systems -- and am confident of my ability to recover as much data from a card as possible in the unlikely event that something should go wrong. This doesn't apply to everyone here, of course, but the point is that how you format your media is more a case of comfort levels than anything else.

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