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Using and Troubleshooting Memory Card Readers (Windows 8)

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This document pertains to pre-installed memory card readers on HP and Compaq computers with Windows 8.
Many HP and Compaq computers come with memory card readers pre-installed. Memory cards are used primarily for importing pictures from digital cameras, but they can also be useful for sharing pictures and files.
NOTE:Not all types of memory cards are supported in all computers. Check your computer specifications for supported memory card types.
Common types of memory cards include:
  • CompactFlash I
  • CompactFlash II
  • Microdrive
  • Secure Digital (SD)
  • miniSD
  • Memory Stick
  • Memory Stick PRO
  • Memory Stick Duo
  • Memory Stick PRO Duo
  • SmartMedia
For memory card specifications, see the HP support document, General Information About Memory Cards .

Using a card reader

Choose a topic to learn more about using a card reader:
CAUTION:Do not insert or remove memory cards while the light on the card reader is flashing. Doing so may cause loss of data on the card or may permanently damage the card reader.
The following steps explain how to use memory cards in a card reader:
  1. Insert a memory card.
    An AutoPlay window appears. If not, access the card through File Explorer.
  2. The memory card has a drive letter associated with it, just like a CD/DVD drive or hard drive. Use the memory card as you would use any other drive on the computer. For example, double-click the memory card icon to open a new window showing the files on the memory card.
  3. The default memory card removal policy in Windows 8 is Quick removal, which allows you to disconnect the device without needing to use the Safely Remove Hardware feature. When you have finished working with the files on a memory card, remove the card.
    The Quick removal setting can be changed for enhanced performance. To view or change your memory card Removal policy, use the following steps:
    Move the mouse pointer to the lower left corner of the screen, right-click, and select Device Manager from the menu.
    Figure 1: Device Manager
    Image of lower left corner menu with Device Manager selected
    In the Device Manager window, double-click to expand the Disk drives list. Memory card readers are seen as drive devices in Windows.
    In the list of drive devices, right-click the device (for example, SD Memory Card) to display a drop-down menu. Click Properties in this menu.
    Figure 2: Memory Card Properties
    Memory Card Properties
    Click the Policies tab in the Properties window.
    Select either Quick removal or Better performance, depending on your preference, and then click OK.
    Figure 3: Memory card Removal policy
    Memory card Removal policy
    If you selected the Better performance memory card removal policy, use the Safely Remove Hardware feature to remove memory cards. This feature appears as an icon in the notification area of the taskbar in Windows desktop.
    Figure 4: Safely Remove Hardware feature in taskbar
    Safely remove hardware feature in taskbar
    Click the Safely Remove Hardware icon and select Eject to remove the memory card.
    On some computers, you can use the eject feature in the Computer window to eject or safely remove the memory card.
    Move the mouse pointer to the lower left corner of the screen, right-click, and select File Explorer from the menu.
    Figure 5: File Explorer
    Image of lower left corner menu with File Explorer selected
    In the Computer window, right-click the memory card icon, and select Eject.
    Figure 6: Eject Removable Disk
    Image of Eject Removable Disk
Before storing anything on the card for the first time, format the memory card using your digital camera, or by using the following steps:
  1. Insert the memory card into the memory card slot. If an AutoPlay window opens, close it.
  2. Move the mouse pointer to the lower left corner of the screen, right-click, and select File Explorer from the menu.
    Figure 7: File Explorer
    Image of lower left corner menu with File Explorer selected
    The Computer window opens.
  3. Under Removable Storage, right-click the memory card icon representing the card type inserted.
  4. Select Format.
  5. Enter a Volume label name into the label field. This is the name that will appear next to the drive letter in Windows.
    Figure 8: Format window
    Format window
  6. Click Start.
  7. Click OK on the Format Complete window.
  8. Click Close to finish.

Resolving issues with memory cards

Read a section below that matches the issue you are experiencing:
Inserting an SDHC card into an incompatible memory card reader might cause the card to stop responding or lock up the computer window. To immediately fix the lock up, double-click the Safely Remove Hardware icon (in the notification area in the lower right corner of the screen), select the USB card reader, and then click Eject. The card reader may not work until the computer is restarted. You can now safely remove the memory card and use the computer for other activities.
To use your higher-capacity memory card without locking up the computer, do one of the following:
  • If you are using the card in a camera or other device, attach the device to the computer using a USB or FireWire cable. When connected, most devices appear in Windows as a Removable Disk and can be used in the same way as the card reader.
  • Buy a USB memory card reading device that plugs into an open USB port. Make sure the USB device can read SDHC cards. These devices are inexpensive and can be used in any computer that has a USB port.
    Figure 9: SDHC to USB card reader adapter
    SDHC to USB card reader adapter
Make sure the card reader specifically supports the SDXC format. You can access the SDXC card by using an SDXC compatible USB reader or adapter. Look for an SDXC logo on the device or check with the device manufacturer for information.
CAUTION:Never format an SDXC memory card in a non-compatible device. Doing so will make the memory card incompatible with SDXC devices because it will erase the data on the SDXC memory card and format the card for a different file system.
If you cannot access the memory card, or the drive is not listed in the Computer window, use the following steps until the drive displays:
NOTE:When there is no card in the reader, Windows 8 does not list the drive in the Computer window.
NOTE:If you are using a card reader that did not come with the computer, contact the manufacturer of the adapter for help.
  1. Remove and reinsert the memory card.
    If an AutoPlay window opens or if the memory card is now listed in the Computer window, you are done. Otherwise, continue with the next step.
  2. Restart the computer:
    Press the Windows + I key.
    The Settings charm opens to the right of the screen.
    Click Power, and select Restart.
    If an AutoPlay window opens or if the memory card is now listed in the Computer window, you are done. Otherwise, continue with the next step.
  3. Reinstall each memory card device using Device Manager:
    1. Remove all memory cards, and unplug all USB storage devices from the USB ports.
      NOTE:Make sure you remove all USB devices.
    2. Move the mouse pointer to the lower left corner of the screen, right-click, and select Device Manager from the menu.
      Figure 10: Device Manager
      Image of lower left corner menu with Device Manager selected
    3. Double-click Disk drives to open the category.
    4. Right-click a Generic card reader device name, if any are listed, and select Uninstall.
      Figure 11: Uninstall memory card
      Uninstall memory card
    5. Wait until Device Manager updates the list, removing the name of the Generic device.
    6. Continue uninstalling Generic card reader device names until they are all removed from the list.
    7. Restart the computer:
      1. Press the Windows + I key.
        The Settings charm opens to the right of the screen.
      2. Click Power, and select Restart.
    8. After Windows loads, reinsert the memory card. If problems persist, continue to the next step.
  4. Try another memory card of the same type in the same slot. If this memory card works, the card reader is working correctly. Replace the original memory card. If the second memory card does not work, continue using these steps.
  5. Turn off the computer, disconnect the power cord, and press the Power button on the front of the computer for five seconds. Reconnect the power cord and turn on the computer to test the card reader.
    If the AutoPlay window opens or if the memory card is now listed in the Computer window, you are done. Otherwise, continue with the next step.
  6. Some memory card readers also support USB devices. Insert a USB device into an open USB port to test whether the card reader can read from the USB device. If the device works correctly, continue to the next step. If the USB device also fails, there is a problem with USB. Please refer to the HP support document Troubleshooting USB Connections (Windows 8) , or Performing an HP System Recovery (Windows 8) for further troubleshooting.
  7. Turn off the computer and disconnect the power cord. Then shine a flashlight into the empty card slots in the card reader to see if any pins inside are bent. Straighten any bent pins with the end of a mechanical pencil. Replace the memory card reader or have the computer serviced if a pin is bent and is touching another pin.
    If you fixed any bent pins, reconnect the power cord, turn on the computer, and reinsert the memory card. If the AutoPlay window opens or if the memory card is now listed in the Computer window, you are done. If there were no bent pins, continue to the next step.
  8. Reset the cable connections and memory card firmware using the following steps:
    1. Remove the side of the computer case by unscrewing the two retaining screws on the back of the computer and sliding the side panel towards the rear of the computer. Set the panel aside.
      WARNING: The edges of metal panels can cut skin. Be careful not to slide skin along any edge of the computer's interior metal.
      CAUTION:Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) is the release of static electricity. ESD can damage components inside the computer. To reduce the chance of ESD damage, wear an ESD grounding strap, and work on the computer over a hard, non-carpeted surface.
    2. Find and disconnect the cable from the back of the card reader, and leave it disconnected.
      Figure 12: One type of connection on the reader (your computer might be different)
      One type of connection on the reader
    3. Make sure that the other end of the cable is correctly connected to the motherboard or to an electronic card connected to the motherboard. Make sure that the unconnected end of the cable is not touching any electronics or components inside the computer, particularly the fans.
      Figure 13: Connector on the motherboard (your computer might be different)
      Connector on the motherboard
    4. Replace the computer side panel and turn on the computer.
    5. After Windows starts, wait about five minutes for Windows to make the necessary hardware changes.
    6. Turn off the computer and remove the computer side panel.
    7. Reconnect the cable into the back of the card reader, replace the side panel, and turn on the computer.
    8. Check to see if the drives appear in the Computer window.
      • If the memory card drives appear in Windows and work correctly, you are done.
      • If the memory card drives do not appear in Windows, the drive might need to be serviced or replaced.
If you are having problems reading and writing data to memory cards, use the following troubleshooting tips:
  • Try a different memory card of the same type in the same slot. If this memory card works, the card reader is working correctly. Replace the original memory card.
  • Some cards have a read/write security switch on the card. Make sure the switch is set to Write Enabled before trying to write data to it.
  • Make sure that the amount of data you tried to store has not exceeded the capacity of the card.
  • Inspect the ends of the memory cards for dirt or material closing a hole or spoiling a metal contact. Clean the contacts with a lint-free cloth and small amounts of isopropyl alcohol. Replace the memory card if necessary.
  • Make sure the memory card is supported by the card reader.
  • Make sure the memory card is fully inserted into the slot.
  • Remove the memory card when the light is not flashing and shine a light into the empty slot to see if any small pins inside are bent. If the pins are slightly bent, turn off the computer and straighten them with the tip of a mechanical pencil. If two of the pins are touching, replace the memory card reader or have the computer serviced.
  • If errors continue, replace the memory card.
Card reader drivers can become corrupted or stop functioning correctly, and new drivers and firmware are occasionally released to address issues. New firmware for your memory card reader might be available that could resolve the particular issue you are having.
To be sure you are using the latest driver and firmware, periodically check for updates on the HP Consumer Support Web page for your model. Type your product name/number on the Web page to view a list of available updates for your product.
NOTE:If you are using an adapter for a type of memory card not supported by the reader and the memory card does not work, contact the manufacturer of the adapter for support.

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