A FireWire® CompactFlash (CF) reader is an external accessory which allows the user to connect and use a CF card with his or her computer or other compatible device. FireWire® is Apple's implementation of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 1394 interface standard, which is used for data transfer. In order to use a FireWire® CF reader, the user will need to have the necessary components available on their computer, usually a simple FireWire® port. CF cards are frequently used in digital cameras, and a FireWire® CF reader can be a quick, convenient method of transferring one's images to his or her computer.
Users should be aware that there are multiple versions of FireWire®, and in order to use a FireWire® CF reader with their home computer, the interfaces will need to match. For example, a 400 FireWire® was the original release of this kind of device, and has a different connector than an 800 FireWire® cable. With this in mind, a user should confirm what kind of port and compatibility a computer has before purchasing a FireWire® CF reader, although adapters are available for 400 FireWire® to 800 FireWire®, and vice versa.
CF technology was first developed in 1994 by SanDisk Corporation and is now used as a data storage method in a wide assortment of equipment, such as digital cameras, global positioning system (GPS) navigation devices, or portable music players. A FireWire® CF reader will allow the user to access the data stored on this type of card. It is important to note that the user should take care not to confuse a CF card with an SD card, which is another kind of very common storage device used in cameras and other devices in which one might expect to find a CF card.
Photographers using digital cameras that store pictures with a CF card can use a FireWire® CF reader to transfer images and other data to their own computers. The process is usually relatively simple. The user plugs the FireWire® CF reader to their computer. After confirming that the device has been recognized by the machine, the user can remove the CF card from the camera and insert it into the reader. After a moment, the user should be able to manipulate the data on the card at high speeds. This process is usually very similar for devices other than digital cameras.