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by Phil Ball

Q. When I download my pictures from my camera to my computer, an option is to delete them from the card at the same time. I find it very convenient to simply download and erase in one step. My friend says I shouldn't delete them but should fill the card and then format it in my camera. Is it really a better idea to format the card or may I simply continue to delete them?

A. I see two questions here. First, should you delete images while downloading? I would strongly recommend that you do NOT delete when downloading, for security’s sake. If something should go wrong during the download, you still have them on the card. Photos seem to mysteriously disappear or the computer itself can go bad; it isn't common but it happens. I'd hate to lose my images so I like to have my photos in two places, just in case. For now, that's the card and your hard drive. Later, when you copy the images to a third place like a CD, DVD, USB drive, or external hard drive, then you can think about taking them off your camera card.

The second question is whether to delete or format the card to erase those images after they have been backed up. Most of the time, it doesn't matter. Just let your camera do the job since it knows how to set up the card to work with itself. But the real advantage of formatting is that it gives the card a fresh start on life. It creates a new filing system on the card so that any small problems in the previous format do not affect the card now. It is as close to putting a brand new card in your camera as you can get. I like that. My cameras format the card within just a few seconds so it is easy to simply format the card when it is full. It is well worth doing to protect my images in my camera since that is the only image until I download them to my computer for backup.

Published: Courier 8/5/12 - Page 4C