GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition – SD ERR

A slight deviation from my usual web development posts but thought I’d share my experience and solution to what seems to be a common issue with the new GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition relating to microSD cards – SD ERR.

This is my 3rd GoPro, having previously owned the 960 and the 1080. With the exception of a faulty battery on my 1080 (which GoPro promptly replaced), I’d experienced no issues with either so was a little dismayed to find that I couldn’t just fire up the camera and start shooting out of the box.

The day I ordered my GoPro 3 Black Edition (from a seller on eBay) I also ordered a class 10 32Gb microSD card from a different seller. As many will do, I opted for the cheapest option rather than a name brand (long story short – this is the issue).

When both arrived, I put the microSD straight from the packaging into my new camera and turned it on, only to be presented with the message “SD ERR“. A little perplexed by this, I did some research and found a number of forum posts with similar issues, suggesting formatting the card would solve my woes. I plugged the microSD into the supplied adapter and into my laptop and formatted the microSD (on Mac OSX – Disc Utility > Erase (MS-DOS (FAT))). I popped it back into my camera and sure enough the error had gone away. I proceeded to perform the manual firmware update and took a couple of photos. Everything seemed fine.

A couple of days later, I took my my new GoPro Black Edition out to film for the first time. I wanted to try some sweet slow-mo’s with WGA 240fps. I set the camera up, connected to it through the iPhone app and pressed record. I went back to the camera a couple of minutes later and it wasn’t recording. Strange. Maybe I hadn’t pressed the record button. I started recording again and watched it. It cut out after 11 seconds (I found reports online of other people’s cutting out at 4s, 8s and some seemed to be random, sometimes 2s sometimes 2 minutes). It did this over and over again.

I tried other resolutions and frame rates and had this issue with all the higher ones (720p @120fps, 1080 @ 60fps). They all stopped recording after 11 seconds. Lower res and frame rates were fine (720 @ 60fps, 1080 @ 30fps, etc etc) and I could seemingly record for as long as I wanted.

When I got the footage home and plugged it into my mac, all the video files I had recorded were there but they were an identical file size (~42MB) and seemed to be corrupt. They wouldn’t play in VLC (I’ve never had issues playing raw GoPro video on VLC before) and Quicktime was telling me they were an unrecognised file type. I tried formatting the card again a few times and kept getting the Same “SD ERR” I had before.

I sent an email to GoPro to this effect. Very fast reply which I appreciate but it was mostly a copy and paste response and there was not a lot of useful info. I have pasted their reply below for reference.

I turned to Google again and discovered that class 10 memory cards can vary greatly in quality so decided to splash out for a quality one to see if this would work. I bought the sandisk card recommended on GoPro’s site. I put it into my camera and it worked straight away without needing to format. I can record for as long as I want at any res and frame rate and so far no issues.

It wasn’t a problem with the camera. It was just me being a cheapskate.

This is the Sandisk card I bought which you can buy from amazon here:

SanDisk MicroSD card for GoPro HD 3 Black Edition

SanDisk MicroSD

You can access my YouTube channel here, where you can see my GoPro videos and edits

Hey Fraser, 

I am sorry to hear that you are having troubles with your new camera. If your camera is freezing while recording it is usually related to the firmware. I realize that you have updated to the most recent firmware. Sometimes the updates don't install fully and it can lead to the problems that you are seeing. I recommend that you re-update your camera manually. Manually updating is the best remedy to solve these kind of glitches. When you manually install the firmware it is like a factory reset for your camera. 

I am a little perplexed about your SD card. I'm not sure why the camera is unable to recognize it. Have you tried reformatting it inside the computer again and re-inserting to your camera?  

Click here to watch a video that walks you through the HERO3 firmware update.  If your camera's firmware is already up-to-date, but you need to re-update it, you'll need to follow the manual update path.  The video walks you through how to manually update the camera.  We also typed out the manual update instructions for you below.

Here’s how to manually update your HERO3 camera’s firmware:

Go to and complete all of the steps on the first page except for Step 6.  Be sure to reformat your SD card either in the camera or on your computer with a card reader.  Then, click "Continue" without the camera connected to the computer.  The firmware updater will let you download the firmware files to your computer after you enter the customer and camera information.  It'll also give you instructions on how to manually complete the firmware update after you’ve downloaded the files to your computer.

Here are some things to take note of as you go through the update:

Steps 1 and 2 require you to enter your personal information and your camera’s serial number.

Step 3 – Camera Setup:
We recommend against skipping this step, even though you’re given the option to do so.  This is the step where you create your camera’s name and Wi-Fi password.  If your camera has had trouble connecting to the GoPro App in the past, renaming the camera and resetting its password can clear up the issue.

Here are camera name and password requirements:

Your camera name and password must be at least 8 characters.  It can contain the following characters: Lower and upper case letters, numbers 0-9, at symbol "@", dash "-", and underscore "_".  

Step 4 – Product Update
This is the step where you download the firmware files to your computer.  This is also where you’re told how to place the files on your SD card and update the camera.  We’ll walk you through the steps:

1.  Download and unzip files on your computer:
When you click the “Download Update” button, a zip file called “” downloads to your computer. 

If you’re on a Mac, will be downloaded to your Downloads folder in your Dock, next to your trashcan.  Click on “” to unzip the folder and get to your firmware files.   

If you’re using windows, will be downloaded to your Downloads folder (note – if you don’t see the file in your Downloads folder after clicking on the “Download Update” button, then you should research what location your files download to for the web browser that opened when you clicked on the link). will be in that location.  Double-click “” to unzip the folder and get to your firmware files.  Do not double-click on any of the files inside the folder folder though.

2.  Double-check that you have the correct files for your camera:
Once you’ve unzipped the folder on your Mac or Windows computer, you’ll see a new window open with your firmware files in it.  There will be 4 files if you set up your camera’s name and Wi-Fi password in “Step 3 – Camera Setup”.  If you skipped this step, there will be 3 files.  Here’s a list of the files you’ll see for your camera.  Remember; do not double-click on any of these files.  

Black Edition:
update.cmd (Note – You will NOT have this file if you skipped “Step 3 – Camera Setup".)

3.  Put the firmware files on your SD card.
Now you need to put all (3 or 4) firmware files on the root level of your SD card.  To do this, you need to open your SD card on your computer by using a card reader or your camera.  To open your SD card on your computer with the camera, power on your camera with your SD card inserted, then connect your camera to your computer.  

Next, locate your SD card in your “Computer” window if you’re on Windows or your “Finder” window if you’re on a Mac.  Your SD card will be named something like “NO NAME”, “UNTITLED”, "Removable Disk (E:)", or "Removable Disk (F:)".  Open your SD card by double-clicking on it.  A window will open that shows you the contents of your SD card.  Next, drag all (3 or 4) firmware files we listed above into the empty space in the middle of SD card window.  If you see MISC and DCIM folders in the SD card window, put the files next to those two folders, NOT inside them.  The files will copy over, and you should then see them in the window.

4.  Safely eject your SD card:
To do this, locate your SD card in your “Computer” window if you’re on a PC or your “Finder” window if you’re on a Mac.  Right-click on your SD card and click “Eject”.  If your camera is connected to the computer, physically disconnect your camera from the computer, and make sure the camera is powered OFF.

5.  Update the camera’s firmware:
If it isn’t already, insert the SD card in the camera while it’s powered OFF and already disconnected from the computer.   Next, power ON your camera with it still disconnected from the computer.  The update will begin automatically. 

Once the camera beeps and turns itself OFF, power it back on by pressing the Power button one time.  You should see 00 on the file counter, indicating that your firmware update was successful and your camera is ready to use.

I hope this clears things up.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Many Thanks,
Cooper M. 
GoPro Support
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