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Accessing the Garmin SD Card Files
The first thing you need to do when copying the Garmin SD card is remove it from the GPS unit. If the unit uses a MicroSD card then you’ll need to put it in an SD card adapter. Next, place the SD card into your computer’s card reader. If you are using a version of Windows with an automatic detection feature then the computer will automatically pop up a screen asking you how you would like to access the information files on the card, choose the Explore option: this is the option with the little folder icon next to it. If you are not using the automatic detection, you will have to access the SD card manually. To do this, open your Start menu and double-click on the “My Computer" icon. This will bring up a screen showing your computer hard drive(s), CD or DVD-ROM drives and any removable media drives that can be accessed. Your SD card will be listed here. Double click on the SD card and its contents will be viewed in the Explore mode.
Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons
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Copying Files to Your Hard Drive
Once you’ve accessed the Garmin SD card, highlight all of the files on the disk and then copy the files. Copying can be done by holding down the “CTRL" key and pressing the “C" or by right clicking the mouse and choosing Copy from the pop up menu. Now that you have copied the files, you need to have a place to put them. Right click on your desktop and select the “New" option then the “Folder" option. Name the folder Garmin SD Card Files or something similar so that you know exactly what it is. Now double-click on the new folder you have just created. Right click in the open area of the folder and select “Paste" from the dropdown menu or alternatively, hold down the “CTRL" key and press “V" to paste the files.
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Using Copied Files
If you were hoping to use these copied files on a second Garmin unit you may be a bit disappointed. The files can be transferred to other SD cards but will be unable to be unlocked. The files are only accessible through the original SD card and its unlock code. The unlock code is programmed into the card itself (in most cases, Garmin units come with two unlock codes but sometimes there is only one). If you wish to use the map files on another Garmin GPS unit you can contact Garmin directly and purchase another code (usually for $15). And now you know how to copy a Garmin SD card to keep a backup copy of map files in case of a catastrophic loss of SD card memory.