Format vs. Erase

Here’s a common question:
**When I’m preparing my memory card for a new shoot, should I format or should I erase?**

And the answer is— Format!

Need more details? Imagine for a moment you have a book where you can only turn to a page if you already know the page number. This is basically how a memory card works; there’s a table of contents describing where everything is, and pages scattered about the book willy-nilly. Some pages may even be in pieces scattered throughout the book.

When you do a quick format, you’re simply generating a new, blank table of contents. This process (as you might expect) is very fast.

In most cases, telling the camera to erase all images is more akin to ripping the pages out of the book one by one. The camera runs through the table of contents, tears a page out, and then removes it from the table of contents. It continues this process over and over for each entry in the contents until it’s done, and will generally take several times longer than simply formatting.

A quick format gets the some job done faster—and in most cases is actually easier on the memory card.

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