Compact Flash cards or CF cards as they are generally known are compact devices that can store large amount of data in a machine readable form. CF cards use flash technology or non volatile storage solution. This means that without using any battery it can store data indefinitely. CF cards are available with various file systems and capacity. The capacity varies from 2 MB to 128 GB. These are one of the oldest card formats compared to xD picture cards, multimedia cards (MMC), or secure data (SD) cards, which are much smaller than CF cards, but offer comparable data storage and speed.

Applications of Compact Flash cards

Though SD Cards and MMcards are widely used, CF cards are still popular with many manufacturers of digital camera, high definition video cameras and video recorders, personal digital assistants (PDA), music players and gaming devices. Reliability, interoperability, performance and cost make CF a popular storage device in comparison with other cards.

Security of data in Compact Flash cards

CF offers high data reliability. However, it is not completely immune to data loss. This is because there are many ways of losing data from a device. Some of the most common ways of losing data are as follows:


  • Selecting wrong options- some of the digital cameras have many options including low level format. If low level format option is enabled, it will lead to formatting of the CF card, thereby erasing all the data.
  • Accidental deletion- the data will be completely erased if it is deleted from the camera, PDA, or video cameras.
  • Transferring data- while transferring data from camera to a lap top or to any other storage device, if the cable is unplugged before the transfer of data is completed, the data will not be stored in the destination, nor will it be available in the source.


Data thus lost cannot be recovered unless with the help of specialized hard drive recovery experts.

Steps to be taken to prevent data loss from CF cards

Photos and videos are very special to each one of us as it helps to freeze or relive the memories forever. To professional photographers, each photo is priceless and irreplaceable. Some of the steps to be followed to prevent loss of data are:


  • Do not be in a hurry while using the digital camera or other devices. This could lead to selecting wrong options that could make your data inaccessible
  • Transfer and store the data from the CF card to a storage device periodically. This will avoid the necessity of deleting photos/videos or music files to make space for new photos
  • While transferring data from the device to laptop or PC, ensure that the cable is properly connected.


Recovering lost data from CF cards

Depending on the device and the application, data is stored in CF card with different extensions such as bmp, png, jpg, jpeg, gif (photos), avi, amr, mp4, mov, mpeg (videos) or mp3, mp4, midi (music). Irrespective of the type of file extension, file recovery software helps to retrieve lost data from CF cards. There are many data recovery software like photo recovery software, file recovery software, undelete software etc available in the market.

When data is deleted or formatted, the data is not completely lost from the CF card, but the pointers to the data are erased. Though it still remains in the card, it will be in accessible. Data recovery software is equipped to trace these data that are available in the CF cards. It recovers chunks of any available data from the CF card.

Selecting data recovery software

The ideal way to select data recovery software is to check for its capability. This is possible by evaluating the demo version. While selecting the software ensure that the software can recover different type of file extensions like jpg, jpeg, mp3, mp4, avi, mov, or amr. The preview option in some of the recovery software is very useful while recovering photos. Another aspect to keep in mind while selecting the software is to check whether the software can recover files by reading the data. Other parameters to consider in recovery software include options to store the recovered data to another drive or storage device, file systems it will support and reliability of the customer support offered by the software publisher. Troubleshooting or calling the customer care will help to get a good idea about the support offered by the company.


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