HELP, My Memory Card Is Asking To Be Formatted!

Memory cards come in many forms, SD cards (Secure Digital), CF cards (Compact Flash), MMC (Multi Media Card) to name a few. They have become the primary storage choice for digital cameras, camcorders, phones and a host of other devices utilising internal removable memory.

The devices themselves use a technology known as flash memory which is named after the way the devices operate *link to flash article, and are a relatively inexpensive. They do however, like all storage devices fail from time to time.


Memory cards have what is known as a controller chip which as the name suggests controls how data is stored. When this fails your computer, digital camera or other device sees that there is a memory card present but because the controller chip is not working it cannot provide access to the data the computer, camera etc. treats the cards as though it is not formatted and gives you the message that the cards needs formatting before it can be used.

When a memory card fails in this way your computer wouldn't even be able to format the card if you were to select the option to do so!

Can I do anything?

When the memory card has failed in the way there is no trick for getting the data back. If the data is important and you do not want to just forget about what is stored on the device the only solution is to seek assistance from an experienced data recovery professional.

Someone told me that they have a program that can help.

Whilst there are some very good applications available from the internet that can help in certain circumstances when memory card controller chips fail there are no applications free or otherwise which can restore the lost data. The controller chip is a physical link between a device and the data; software will not help.

How Do you Get my data back?

Memory cards of all types be it SD, CF or others use a certain type of memory chip to actually store the data called nand chips. Nand chips are non-volatile memory chips which work in a similar to how RAM works in your computer although they retain the data they store after they are powered down. We have the ability to dismount these chips, read them directly using in house specialist hardware to read their content. After this is done we then undertake the process of piecing back together the data into a useable format.

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