Olympus SmartMedia Card Error: Repairing/Recovering Corrupted Cards

Quite a few months ago my Father gave me a pile of large SmartMedia cards that stopped working in his Olympus digital camera. After a few months of use, each card slowly started reporting CARD ERROR on the camera LCD. I was able to use the cards in various other devices, but they never worked again in Olympus digital cameras.

This weekend while visiting friends in Maryland, I was presented with the same conundrum: yet more SmartMedia cards that had become corrupted and made effectively useless in Olympus digital cameras. After doing some research, I finally ran across Sally and Steve’s SmartMedia Repair Guide. All the information presented on their page is available by scouring various other resources, but it was the first page I ran across that made the modified SMPrep (smprep.exe) binaries available:

The basic gist is that some PC card readers can erase the Olympus low-level header, and running smprep1.exe intentionally breaks the low-level formatting of the card so smprep2.exe is forced to restore the Olympus low-level formatting and Panoramic mode.

The process is time consuming, but has successfully repaired all of the corrupted SmartMedia cards! Looks like I’ll be mailing a pile of SmartMedia cards back to my friend in Maryland!

42 thoughts on “Olympus SmartMedia Card Error: Repairing/Recovering Corrupted Cards”

  1. I got same problems at first and found the solution by loading smprep2 directly in the “danelec folder” … its the folder use by my card reader…

    Good luck !!!! and never more format your SMcards on your PC…

  2. I am facing the same problem of smartmedia drivers not loaded on my notebook. I have Sandisk PCMCIA adapter SDDR-65 and there are no drivers supplied with the card. Is there some alternative like writing the structure directly on the smartmedia card with help of tools like WinHex and not requiring the smprep.exe files.

  3. I also received “smart media driver not loaded error” Do I have to use smprep1.exe and smprep2.exe inside my card reader folder? I use a card reader in my HP Pavilion a450n and I cannot locate the folder. Can anyone help?

  4. I’m getting the Smartmedia Drivers not loaded as well trying to use with XP. Did anyone ever get an answer to this?

  5. Anyone have success using Windows XP – i get smartmedia driver not loaded and XP will not allow me to load smartmedia drivers??

  6. HELP! I have corrupted 2 sm cards and have bought a new one again. I think it happens when I write from the computer to the card so I could take it to a store to develop photos. It must over write something important.

    Is there a way I can to a virtual card to card (new card to bad card copy) copy to restore the whole control logic on the bad card and NOT destroy the new card (it is only being copied). Would that work? Can it be done? Would it be done like a CD copy using only one drive – I assume computer puts stuff in a temp work area? Did any one try this? I’m afraid of ruining the new card in some way.

  7. Some solutions work or don’t — that’s strange. My feeling is that one needs a card reader (probably an “old” one) that gives access to the “invisible sectors” where the intrinsic card information (CIS) is stored (and that got corrupted).

  8. It is really a card reader issue. I tried “card cloning” with low-level linux disk imaging, but it did not work with the “modern 6-in-1” reader I used. You need the right model that has access to the “invisible sectors”, physically below the partition information.

    Here is somebody in Germany who offers to repair a SmartMedia card for those who pay the mailing. It worked perfectly with my SanDisk 128 MB card! Here’s the link, with some background information as well:

    http://www.jr-worldwi.de/photo/SmartMedia_recovery.html

  9. I didn’t have any luck with smprep either…

    If you get a card error in your olympus camera, go to your CARD READER MANUFACTURER SITE and download the low level format utility. It will restore your card to its factory format and allow the camera to high level format the card. Works for PNY readers and others.

    Good luck

  10. I’ve got the same problem with 8Mb SmartMedia.
    I’ve tried lot’s of things described above but they didn’t help because of card reader. I get error messages while using smprep1.exe & smprep2.exe, smformat and others.
    Has anybody got working 8Mb SM card please make image of the card and send me on email: usualbox@mail.ru
    I think this should help me or advise something.

  11. This SM card was unusable after after having been placed in a card reader. I see that this is very common and there are fixes. But, I want to get the images off the card before trying a fix (where the pics might be wiped out). Back in the card reader, the images are there (and look great), but I cannot copy, drop and drag, cut and paste or otherwise access these images to move them from the card to another. I used Photo rescue which saved these pics to a recovered pic folder. Again, the pictures are clearly there just won’t move out of this folder. In both situations, I get different error messages that seem to indicate that the file path is invalid. Does anyone know how I can get these pics off this card before trying to reformat?

  12. I had the flashing 81 message appear, on my Olympus C-3000, and no other functions of the camera would work, as long as that smartmedia card was present in the camera. I was using a 128 mb card which is the largest you can get, so I didn’t like when it quit on me! I am running windows 2000, and read that there might be trouble reformatting with smprep on win 2000. On a whim, I tried formatting the card in the sandisk reader I have, using the default win 2000 format(not the quick format), and yes it worked, but on closer inspection, the panoramic function on the camera was skipped over when you tried to select it, you just couldn’t select. It had worked fine before this !@$@!$ card messed up!… Ok, so lets try something… I formatted it again but this time I just made the volume label “0.0 OLYMPUS PAN 1.0”, which is what all this hex-editing was trying to do anyway, by the reading I did on the topic. On formatting, it came up with an illegal volume label message, but it went ahead and completed it anyway… Ok, maybe it’s a fluke, but it seems that I’m able to select panorama now! I really just got my camera from eBay, with no manual, so I’ll have to figure this panorama thing out… I hope this works for other people. It might only work in win 2000 pro, who knows?

  13. I too had no idea that formatting my XD smartmedia card on my computer would render it useless to my Olympus D-560 camera. Fortunately I found and tried the program on this site http://anysite.h16.ru mentioned in a previous post and it fixed both my 256MB & 512MB cards. Personally I think there is an opportunity here for a class action suit.

  14. This program just fixed my 16meg SMcard!! I have looked for hours on google searches. I have a HP computer with XP Home edition, 4 N 1 card reader built on the front of the computer. My Olympus Camera would just say “card error”.
    BAM! ran this program on Windows XP and it works!!!

    thank you thank you thank you!!!
    LINK to the LOW LEVEL FORMAT
    http://anysite.h16.ru

  15. I have had problems with my Smart Media Card not working after using it in the card reader as it was displaying the ‘card error’ message!

    Well someone posted this link already but wanted to post it again as it worked wonders for me!

    http://anysite.h16.ru/

    Download the program and run it while your ‘problem’ card is in the reader. It’s works wonders! Apparently it does a low level format. No idea what that actually is, but who cares so long as it works.

    For the record my card is a 16MB CamLink Smart Media Card and my Camera is a Fuji MX-1200.

  16. LOW LEVEL FORMAT does not work for me, say no reader found, im getting sick of this, ive been up all night trying to fix this card, trying all sorts of things, i have a sandisk imagemate 12 in 1 reader, someone please help us out, any help would be great

  17. I’ve had my SmartMedia 128MB for over a year and it has worked fine all up until tonight. I use it for my Yamaha DGX-505 Keyboard for MIDI files for my music. The keyboard has a built-in SmartMedia Slot and I’ve saved at least 130 songs on this card. I’ve ran it in my 4-in-1 card reader on the front of my comp. (SmartMedia Drive) and it loads up my USER Files, which is my music, with no problem. Until now, just today i took it out of my keyboard, while it was off, and put it in the SmartMedia drive on my comp and now all of a sudden nothing is there. It’s saying that I need to format the disk. I’ve used it a number of times with no problems, and im really devistated if i lost all of my music. Can someone please help me? I’m very desperate to find out if there is any technologically possible way I could get my data back??? I’m begging anybody to help me? Also would like to know why this is occuring? I’m afraid to re-format the disk because Im under the impression that all the data will be deleted. PLease helllp, I had the future of music on there. I’d appreciate it if someone who knows what to do could let me know step by step. Thank you.

  18. Also, afterwards I put it back in my keyboard to see if it was the computer acting funny and looking in the file control function on my keyboard, i cannot locate any of my music files. Not one!! It says “Media Capacity is full.”

  19. Anybody used this program with an XD card yet? Specifically interested in doing a low level format of a non-Olympus XD card and making it look like Olympus to enable panorama. Right now all my XD cards are already Olympus, so I need to buy a non-Olympus to experiment with. Not sure if they get “fixed” the same way as the SM cards do (putting in the OLYMPUS PAN 2.0 header), but I do see the same 01 03 D9 01 FF code inside this EXE so I’m thinking maybe it could work.

  20. Hey Malcolm. You can do the formatting yourself instead of sending the cards off. Check out http://olypan.quotaless.com for details on how to use the Low_Level_Format.exe (mentioned earlier on this page) to format both SmartMedia cards and xD cards. It works like a charm, fixes “dead” cards, and you can enable Oly Pano with it too. Best of all, it might be free if your current reader supports it. Enjoy!

  21. Hi all. I too had the same problem (on 2 olympus xd acrds) and after trying all the possible solutions (aperase, smprep, smformat, etc.) I finally found one working application that helped me solve this problem. Download Flashdoctor from here http://driver.zol.com.cn/detail/10/95395.shtml

    Be sure to recover/copy first your xd card’s contents to your PC. Insert your xd card into a card reader connected to your PC then run Flashdoctor. Format your xd card using this tool then insert it back in your camera, voila! I formatted my xd cards again through the camera just to be sure, now everything’s working fine. Hope this helps as it helped me. Good day!

  22. Just another vote here for low_level_format.exe – it brought back a 128mb card I had just about written off as dead.

  23. I’ve broken my two Smartmedia cards for use them on my Olympus D-380 camera while reading it with my PQI TravelFlash USB 2.0 reader. PQI support didn’t help me.

    It seems very hard to buy a reader that is compatible with LOWLEVELFORMAT.EXE or FLASHRANGER.EXE nowadays, until I discover “VIVANCO HIGH SPEED USB 2.0 38in1 reader”. A friend of mine bought it on Pc City in Spain. It works fine with the two utilities. I just fixed my cards.

  24. Yet another “HURRAAH!” for Low_Level_Format.exe! It fixed my 128 mb smarmedia card that I had been using in my Olympus C-3030 and ruined it with my Windows XP.

    The first time I tried to run it though it gave me an error after a while, saying something like “Can not do surface scan” or something like that. I ran it the second time and it went through without trouble!

  25. Please help… I have an Olympus XD-picture card type M+ 1GB high speed, after dumping the entire contents on the card onto my PC, and deleting the files, the card reads CARD FULL and reformatting doesnt do anything to fix the problem. I have reformatted the card several times and I’m still getting the CARD FULL error.

    (this is NOT the smartmedia card so I doubt that these two low_level_format.exe files would work properly)

  26. I’m here to tell you the easy way to fix corrupt smart media cards…. providing you have a Windows 98 OS – or you have access to one.

    use your card reader to plug into the USB port on your Win98 machine.
    Open My Computer, and view the device…. on mine, it was drive E:
    RIGHT click – select FORMAT
    Run a FULL Format
    should take a few minutes (you’ll see the SMPREP program initiate and run)
    when it’s done, insert the card into your camera, and it will reformat your card….

    Ta-da !!

    of course, this is assuming you have a Win98 still hanging around.

    go to your geeky brother-in-law who is too cheap to upgrade – or your Mom or Grandma – still stuck with the old hand-me-down computers……

  27. Could we have some source code ? That would make it possible to give one-click solution on most platforms, for most card types and would make us less suspicious for malware.

  28. To success, use your Olympus camera as a card reader. Just plug camera via USB and you will be able to format it. I fixed a problem with “write protection” SmartMedia Card. After I plug camera via usb cable, a was able to format card using regular format function in Win7 64bit. Formatting stopped at 5%, but then (after unplug) I could format card using Olumpus internal format function.

  29. We lost pics on a 256mb FujiFilm XD card due to this error when placing the card in our Sylus Camera. Clean the contact area of the card with a dry cloth. Clean Card or Format. I did swap this card from an Olympus camera, took the pics in Haiti, and then took it to a store to print them out. Could have happened there or in the process of sitting around in my pocketbook. Hoping I can find a pc that still has an XD slot (to get the photos off) and then one of these utilities mentioned on this site helps me to fix the card. Thank you!

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