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What is a Memory Card Reader?

R. Kayne
R. Kayne

A memory card reader is a device that can read flash memory cards and transfer their contents to a computer. Flash memory cards come in various types and formats, providing removable storage for digital equipment like camcorders, cameras, MP3 players and cell phones. There are single and multiple card readers, and while the former can only read a single memory card type, the latter can read a variety of formats.

Without a memory card reader, a person has to directly connect the physical device that uses memory cards to the computer. This is usually done with a Universal Serial Bus (USB) or Firewire cable. The advantage of a reader is that memory cards can be read directly on the computer without attaching the device. This greatly simplifies using, storing and organizing the cards. It also saves batteries and wear-and-tear on the camcorder or other digital device.

A memory card reader.
A memory card reader.

It is common for people to own more than one device that uses flash memory cards, with each device using a different type of card. A multiple card reader will accept a variety of formats, making it useful for all of your memory card needs. These readers commonly feature two or more slots to accept different sized cards.

Some memory card readers are extremely compact, barely larger than the cards they read. These plug directly into the USB port and are about the size of a memory stick. Others are designed to be internally installed into a free bay on desktop computers, with an array of choices between these two models. One advantage of the external model is that it is portable, able to be used with multiple computers and/or laptops in the household.

Memory card readers can read flash memory cards and transfer their contents to a computer.
Memory card readers can read flash memory cards and transfer their contents to a computer.

Many newer computers, including many laptops and notebooks, have a card reader built-in by default. Printers and even some monitors may have them as well, so that the information on the cards can easily be printed or displayed. Anyone who has been thinking about replacing an aging desktop, laptop, printer or monitor, might look into these options first.

Memory card readers often connect via a USB port.
Memory card readers often connect via a USB port.

When buying a reader, consumers should be sure it supports the type of card(s) required. This includes the card's capacity in addition to the format. Some models might not read flash memory cards larger than 1 GB, for example. Shoppers should also bear in mind too that a more flexible card reader that supports additional formats might make the device a little more future proof in the event that hey acquire more digital devices later, or replace the ones they already own.

Memory card readers are typically extremely affordable, and they can be found at many online retailers and local suppliers of computers and digital equipment.

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Discussion Comments


I have an ekes usb2.0 card reader and I need to know what the capacity is.


The easiest way to download photos from a cell phone to a computer is to turn on Bluetooth on both devices, sit them next to each other, and answer all the prompts. This also works for transferring photos from cell phone to cell phone.

A friend and I did that at a restaurant last week, but there were too many other bluetooth devices in the immediate vicinity. As we were leaving, we sat in my car for a few minutes and made the transfer easily between the only two bluetooth devices available.


Just bought a card reader but other than tell me it was recognized, I cannot see anything has happened as far as downloading pictures. What is wrong?


I inserted my memory card with pictures taken with my canon powershot sx200is into the zeikos memory card reader that came with the camera package. When i insert it into the usb of the macbook, a red light comes on but the computer doesn't recognize it.

I have installed the software cd that came with the camera and i see the camera window, camera window dc and image browser on the dock but they don't recognize the device either.

Am i doing something wrong? Thank you


i have a phone and i'm wondering if i can use a memory card reader to download my pics from the phone to my computer. is that possible?


My computer is windows 98, I got a new camera, but I could not get my pictures to come up on my computer, It was saying the camera was not compatible, Camera is Canon A470 power shot... I was told to get a card reader which i purchased, when i plug it into the usb port nothing happens, what am I doing wrong?

Thank you.....


I need help with my mp3. I was able to transfer music from my computer onto my memory card, but when I tried to play the music on my phone, only half of the songs that were transferred showed up on my phone. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do in order to get all of the songs to play on my phone. *Please help*!


I have a new digital picture frame and it loads images by inserting your camera memory card into it and transferring the images. BUT I have images on my imac that I want to load into the picture frame...can a memory card reader load digital pictures from my imac to the memory card so I can load them onto the picture frame??


Yes, you can transfer files from one memory card type to another. A memory card reader will allow you to take files from the card and place them on your computer. You can then insert a different type of card (assuming the memory card reader supports more than one type of flash card) and drag or copy files to the new type flash card.

So lets say you have a digital cam that uses flash cards, but not the same type of flash card as your digital picture frame. Transfer the camera's pictures to your computer, then copy those files again from the computer to a flash card that the picture frame supports. You will need a flash card reader, either external or internal, to do the second step, and it must support the type of flash card that the digital picture frame uses.


Can you use a memory card reader to move pictures from a computer to an SD card to be used in a digital frame? If not, how can you do this. Thanks


Is it possible to transfer information from one memory card to another memory card of a different kind? What I am thinking is these picture frames that have memory cards that store what you see on the picture frame. I am thinking that if it were possible to transfer information, it would be much easier to load pictures from possibly cameras that store the information on different types of memory cards.

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    • A memory card reader.
      By: Marek Cech
      A memory card reader.
    • Memory card readers can read flash memory cards and transfer their contents to a computer.
      By: Andrew Buckin
      Memory card readers can read flash memory cards and transfer their contents to a computer.
    • Memory card readers often connect via a USB port.
      By: akeeris
      Memory card readers often connect via a USB port.
    • Cell phones can contain memory card readers.
      By: japolia
      Cell phones can contain memory card readers.
    • Digital photos are often stored on memory cards.
      By: tomer turjeman
      Digital photos are often stored on memory cards.