A memory card reader is used to transfer images from a memory card to your computer. It can be a stand-alone reader that connects to the USB port on a computer or one built-in to a computer, laptop, netbook or tablet. Even some printers and computer monitors have a built-in reader.
Upon inserting a memory card into its slot, images are transferred from devices such as digital cameras, video camcorders and MP3 players.
Depending on your operating system, you may have to install a driver for the card. For some operating systems, no driver installation is required. If a driver is required, install it from the CD that came with the card reader. Drivers also can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.
Stand-alone memory card readers come in two styles:
- those for a single type of memory card – some are quite small and require no cables, making them very portable
- multi-card readers with two or more slots that accept different types of cards
When purchasing a card reader designed for the USB 2 or the newer USB 3 ports, make sure it is backwards compatible to the USB port on your computer. When using high-speed memory cards, there is a noticeable speed difference between USB 2 and 3. However, when using slower cards there will only be a slight speed advantage using a USB 3 unit.
Advantages of using memory card readers
The main advantage of using a memory card reader, rather than the camera cable, is that you will not put additional drain on the camera batteries. Using a card reader can also reduce wear and tear on the hinges and the terminals within the cameras memory card compartment.
In addition, some card readers transfer images to a computer faster than transferring from a digital camera.
Use a memory card reader correctly
Always check that you are inserting the memory card correctly. You shouldn’t have to use force to get a card into a reader. If a card is inserted backwards or upside down, it can cause damage to a camera, card reader or the card itself. If using a Secure Digital card, make sure it’s unlocked.
Never remove a memory card, or disconnect the reader or camera cable, while images are being transferred to your computer or other storage device. Besides possibly losing images, you may also corrupt the card.
Note: if your camera uses xD picture cards, make sure a memory card reader matches the type (eg. Type M, Type H).