How to format your memory card

How do you get rid of photos from your digital camera memory card? Erase them or format the card?

Format menu

Format your memory card in the camera, not on the computer.

According to memory card manufacturers, formatting your memory card in camera using the format menu is the best way to do it.


  • Formatting is different than erasing.
  • Erasing leaves traces of the files on the card.
  • Formatting clears all data from the card – erasing files doesn’t do that.

One of my YouTube subscribers “Peiselkopp” adds this:

You need to format your card in your camera because the camera not just simply formats it with the right file system but it also adds the right structure and folders.

If you take photos or shoot videos it also adds management files. So, if you delete single photos/videos within your camera, the camera also deletes the linked management files. If you delete them with your computer from card you do not delete the linked management files because the computer does not know how they are linked.

Also, never ever erase your photos automatically when downloading files to your computer or photo lab kiosk. You may lose photos if you do this.

In this video I show you how to format your card “in camera”.

Format your card today

If you haven’t formatted your card in a while – or ever, do it today.

AND – Very important: Format new memory cards before using them

Very important – Backup your files first!

Just remember to take all the photos off the card first and back them up, preferably in two or more places.

Canon G9 formatting menu

Canon G9 formatting menu