Using flash memory cards

A flash memory card is a removable storage device capable of holding digital photos, music, video, documents, and other files. These small, removable cards are used to store files in a wide variety of mobile devices, such as digital and video cameras, mobile phones, and portable music players.

There are many different types of flash memory cards. Here are some of the most popular types:

  • Secure Digital (SD)

  • CompactFlash (CF)

  • MultiMediaCard (MMC)

  • Memory Stick

  • xD-Picture Card


  • There are several different variations of SD cards, including SDXC (SD Extended Capacity), SDHC (SD High Capacity), miniSD, and microSD.

Most flash memory cards plug into a device or computer through a custom port (an SD port for SD cards, a CompactFlash port for CompactFlash cards, and so forth). Some computers come with ports that allow you to plug in many different types of flash memory cards.

When you connect a flash memory card to your computer, Windows will automatically recognize it and allow you to transfer files from the card to your computer.


  • USB flash drives are similar to flash memory cards, but aren't shaped like a rectangular card. Most USB flash drives are about the size and shape of a thumb, which is why they're often called thumb drives. USB flash drives plug into devices and computers through a USB port.

Transferring files to your computer

There are two ways to transfer files from a flash memory card to your computer:

  • Remove the card from the device and plug it into a memory card reader connected to your computer. Windows will recognize the card and offer you options for transferring the files on the card to your computer. Some memory card readers are installed in a computer, while others are portable and can be plugged into a computer through a USB port.

  • Leave the card inside the device and connect the device to your computer, usually with a USB cable. Then, transfer the files from the device to your computer using the connection cable that came with the device.

If you connect a flash memory card to your computer and nothing happens, then Windows isn't able to detect the card. Windows 7 might not recognize some SD cards that were used on a computer running a previous version of Windows.

To check if Windows can detect your card, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click Computer, and then look under Devices with Removable Storage for the flash memory card.

If the card isn't listed in the Computer folder, then it might not be compatible with Windows or might need to be reformatted before it can be used with your computer. Many devices have the ability to format a flash memory card. Check the instructions that came with your device. (Reformatting a flash memory card will delete all the files on it.)