I’m writing this post because another one of my friends had a problem with his pictures being deleted by a virus on his SD Card. Yes, many of my friends have encountered this and it’s highly probable that either you or one of your friends had already encountered this. This can easily be prevented if you know how to use a simple tool that would change your life.
Disclaimer: I do not like writing a technical post here but there’s been a lot of my friends having this problem with their travel photos so I’m writing this one here. Don’t worry, Lakas ng Trip is still a travel blog.
The standard issue SD Card
This is your usual SD Card which many digital cameras use to store your photos.
You see that yellow switch on the upper-left side of the SD Card? That’s what I call a Lock Switch. All standard sized SD Cards have them. They also come in different colors.
If the Lock Switch is on the up position, just like on the photo below, then the SD Card is on Read/Write mode. What this means is that the device that is using the SD Card can READ/ACCESS the files inside and WRITE/DELETE/FORMAT the files inside.
Therefore if you insert the SD Card when the Lock Switch is up (Read/Write Mode) on a computer with a virus, the virus will be able to modify the memory of your SD Cards. This makes the SD Card Unsafe to insert to a computer.
There was also a time that one of my friends accidentally deleted the photos on his SD Card inserted on his computer, making him a living human “virus”. This could be prevented if the SD Card was not on Read/Write Mode.
If the Lock Switch is on the down position, just like on the photo below, then the SD Card is on a Read-Only Mode. What this means is that the device using the SD Card can ONLY READ/ACCESS the files inside and CANNOT write/delete/format the files inside.
Therefore, if you insert the SD Card when the Lock Switch is down (Read-Only Mode) on a computer with a virus, the virus will not be able to do anything to your SD Card. This makes the SD Card Safe to insert into a computer.
Even my friend, the living human “virus”, cannot delete the photos inside the SD Card if it’s on Read-Only Mode.
Read-Only Mode is also called Write Protected Mode on some devices.
Rule #1: ONLY insert the SD Card on a computer when the Lock Switch is down (Read-Only Mode).
Hey, I’ve done what you said, now my camera says that it could not write to the memory card. This is because you have to put the Lock Switch back on the up position (Read/Write Mode) for the camera to be able to Read and Write on the SD Card.
How about for MicroSD Cards?
I’ve checked a lot of MicroSD Cards unfortunately, I have yet to see a MicroSD that has a lock switch. Fortunately, the MicroSD adapter has a Lock Switch on it.
I do not insert my MicroSD Card directly toÂ a Universal Memory Card Reader (UMCR). I first insert it into the MicroSD Adapter then Lock it before I insert it into a computer or a UMCR.
How about CF Cards?
There are two reasons why I do not buy cameras with Compact Flash (CF) Cards.
- I do not have the budget to buy another camera.
- CF Cards cannot be switched to Read-Only Mode.
Yes, CF Cards are prone to virus attacks.
Virus infected SD Card
I have a virus infected SD Card, will my camera be infected by it? Most digital cameras are designed only to read your photos and to write new photos onto the memory of the SD Card. Digital Cameras are usually not designed to run a program. Viruses are programs that are run by computers to annoy users. Therefore it is highly unlikely that your camera will be infected by a virus.
Unfortunately, if you have a virus infected SD Card even if you put the Lock Switch to down position (Read-Only Mode), it would still be able to run the virus and infect the computer. Therefore, if you do not need anything in your SD Card it is best to format it on your Digital Camera than to do it on your computer. If you format it on your computer, most likely the virus will infect it again after you format it.
Rule #2: Only format your SD Card on your Digital Camera.
What if I still need to get some photos from my virus infected SD Card? I suggest that you look for a computer with a Mac or Linux operating system. Most probably the virus on your SD Card will not affect computers running on Mac or Linux. Then after you get your photos, format the SD Card using your camera.
Broken Lock Switch
It is true that since the Lock Switch is mechanical, through frequent usage it can be broken. If the Lock Switch is broken then the SD Card will only be in 2 states, either (1) Read/Write Mode or (2) Read-Only Mode. Which means you can still access the contents SD Card and save it to your computer.
Just make sure if the SD Card is stuck in Read/Write Mode that you will only use a safe computer. If you’re paranoid that every Windows computer has a virus then use a computer that has Mac or a Linux operating system. After that throw away the SD Card properly and buy another one.
What?!?!? An SD Card is expensive?!?! Okay… Go back to the place that you traveled and have all your friends be with you and do all the same poses all over again (most likely it will never be the same). Tell me which one is expensive? Doing it all over again or buying a new SD Card?
The oldest SD Card I have is a free 1GB SD Card from a camera. I had this since December 2008 and up until now it’s still working. There are 2 techniques that I apply to prolong my SD Card Lock Switch life.
- I handle my SD Card Lock Switch delicately. I only apply the minimum amount of force to nudge the Lock Switch to another position.
- I use about 5 SD Cards and I rotate the use of each one of them. This would mean that I would use the Lock Switch less frequently, because I have to use the other 4 SD Cards I have before I could use the same SD Card again. (Usually not followed)
Rule #3: Be delicate with your SD Card’s Lock Switch.
Your blog post is too late!!! My photos are already deleted!!!Â Here’s what you should do.
- Do not add or do anything to your SD Card. Remove it from your computer and camera immediately.
- Find a computer that has a Mac or Linux as its operating system and insert the SD Card. There’s a high chance that a virus placed the photos on a folder that is invisible to Windows. But a Mac or Linux can see this clearly. I’ve done this a million times.
- If #5 does not work. Remove the virus from your computer then find a good File Recovery Software to extract your photos from the SD Card. Keyword: File Recovery Software.
I’m afraid that if I do something, my precious travel photos will be gone forever!!! Here’s what you should do.
- Look for a friend to help you with recovering your photos.
- If #1 does not work, look for another friend… and another… and another… and another…
- If #2 does not work, find a new friend who will do it for you. #UserFriendly
- If #3 does not work, go the cheap way… DIY.
Keyword: File Recovery Software
P.S. I’m an Ubuntu (Linux) user and I still Lock my SD Card before I insert it into my computer. Prevention is better than cure.