how to prevent and fix loss of recording time on a flip ultra video camera

As you know, students in my Writing, Research, and Technology sections are using Flip video cameras to create video oral histories and other short video essays. We are using Flip Ultra cameras (non-HD, model F260W), which has 60 minutes of record time. After the first semester of use (spring 2009), I noticed that several of the video cameras appeared to have no videos on them yet the record time had dropped to less than 60 minutes. The drop wasn’t substantial—maybe a minute or two—and I attributed it to upgrades in the software.

After the fall 2009 semester, however, I noticed that several had a substantial loss of record time. Two indicated that they had 20 minutes of record time remaining, and one had just over 4 minutes remaning. I explored the memory to verify that video files hadn’t been renamed (the Flip will not recognize renamed videos) and that there were no video files outside the DCIM folder or inside the DCIM and 100VIDEO folders. All were empty.

Stumped, I called tech support. Here is what they told me. The loss of record time problem occurs when users who want to delete videos drag video files from their camera to the trash and then eject the Flip video camera before emptying the trash. (Deleting files in this way is much faster than having to delete them manually.) It seems that the problem is especially pervasive for Mac users. This makes sense; in spring 2009 the class met in a PC lab and I had only 2 Mac home users. In fall 2009 class met in a Mac lab and half the students were Mac home users. I recall telling students that they could drag video files to the trash.

So, to prevent the a loss of record time on a Flip video camera: if you drag video files from the Flip to the trash to delete them, make sure you empty the trash before you eject the camera from the computer.

If, however, you are like me and have a camera that already has a loss of recording time the fix is easy.

Here is how you restore full record time in a Flip Ultra video camera (note: this fix may be specific to my model camera–F260W):

  1. You will need a non-networked PC to fix the problem. The tech support woman and I tried several cameras several times on my Mac and each time the fix failed.
  2. Make sure that the video camera has no videos on it and/or that you have a copy of all videos that you want to save.
  3. Connect your camcorder to your PC.
  4. Close any window that pops up asking what you would like to do.
  5. Double click or open My Computer.
  6. Right click on the Flip Video icon.
  7. From the menu, select Format.
  8. Under File System, open the drop down list and choose FAT (this should be the default).
  9. Click Start and then click OK on the warning window.
  10. A bar will appear with the status of the formatting. Depending on the speed of your computer, the formatting process could take a few seconds to several minutes.
  11. When complete, properly eject the Flip from your computer.
  12. Turn it on. You should now have 60 minutes of record time.

I tried this with 3 cameras—the two with 20 minutes and the one with 4 minutes—and both were fully restored to 60 minutes. The process could have been simpler.

Good luck!

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93 Responses to how to prevent and fix loss of recording time on a flip ultra video camera

  1. Emily Yates says:

    Thank you, oh thank you! My Flip Ultra HD used to be at less than a hour. But,your method got my camcorder back up to the full 2 hours. Again, thank you, oh thank you!

    Emily Yates, a 12 year old girl

  2. Frank says:

    Many, many thanks!
    My flip is my almost everything and I could only record foor about seven minutes!

    Great! Happy Man again!


  3. Krystal says:

    Thank you so much! I can now record my children’s Christmas tomorrow. I was down to six minutes. You have no idea how much this means as I will always have a record of the memories made tomorrow now that I have all of the recording time back on the Flip.

  4. Hilary says:

    That was so useful, thank you! I haven’t been able to use my flip for a few months because of this problem and now I know how to fix it and prevent it from happening again. Cheers.

  5. Jason Cooper says:

    GENIUS!!!! I haven’t used my flip in about 2 years because I thought it was down for the count. I decided to pull it back out today and do some research. This TOTALLY WORKED!!! I am more than happy right now. I can’t wait to use it :D Thank you so much

  6. dontenney says:

    your fix worked like a charm! thanks!!

  7. Michael says:

    Very helpful…just what the doctor ordered!!!

  8. Rocio says:

    Thanks so much, I Am so happy!!!!

  9. Sheryl says:

    Thank you very much! I had a video that would not allow me to download and it was hogging 28 mins of space. I now have my 1hour back on my HD Flip!

  10. Jane says:

    THANK YOU SOO MUCH!!!!!! my flip only gave me about 3 minutes time after i emptied it so i was very confused but now i understand.

  11. Kyree S. Williams says:

    I actually didn’t have a PC available…only my networked Mac. I discovered that the fix works on the Mac if you format that first partition, and NOT the one that says FLIPVIDEO. All the same, I never would have gotten *that* far had I not read this, so thank you very much, Mister Wolff!

  12. John says:

    Gee…thanks! It really worked like a charm! Just awesome!

  13. john simply says:

    great, thanks for tip, I followedyour instructions and im back up to 2-hours , from 1 -hour, thanks again, fantastic

  14. Mina says:

    YAY! It works! Ecstatic. My mother is laughing as I jump up and down…..

  15. L. Myint says:

    Wow, it looked dangerous! \” formatting the disk \” but, it worked like a charm. thanks.

  16. Angeline says:

    Thanks so mcuh! So brief and so clear-I followed your instructions with no problem and I’m able to sell my camcorder for a price and pay for my family’s gas money for some time. Sounds so dramatic but thank you so much!

  17. DG Hamilton says:

    Pure Genius Rowan. I followed your instructions and my Flip is now restored to its full 2 hours recording time. It was exactly as you said; the loss of recording time problem started when I began using it in the way you mentioned on my Mac. Many thanks.

  18. Allen Kitchell says:

    Thank you sir for your insight on repairing the only problem I’ve ever encountered while using my flip video recorder. I will be using it again since I have the original allotted space available.

  19. Thomas says:

    Thank you so much man, it worked! I am so glad to have my 2 hours of memory back instead of 1.5. I was afraid it was going to keep decreasing until I had nothing left! Thanks a lot.

  20. Kizzy wock says:

    OMG!!!!!! Thank you sooo much I got all 2 hours back.. I was about to write
    my Flip off especially cause they don’t make them any more… Summer time here
    we go!!!

  21. Graham says:

    Thanks! For Mac Users- 1) Back up footage. Click \”Go\” in the top menu bar. Click \”Utilities\” in drop down. Click \”Disk Utility\”. Plug in Flip Cam. Close out of any program that automatically opens up. Go back into Disk Utility. Click on top icon that says \”4.11 GB Flip Video Camcorder\” or similar. Click \”Erase\”. Choose format MS-DOS (FAT). Click Erase. Click Erase. And you will be back to 60 minutes.

  22. Xaris says:

    Another satisfied customer. Like so many others have said, I haven’t used my Flip for a couple years because I only had 15 minutes recording capacity. Now I have 2 hours (Flip ultra HD). It took less than a minute to fix. Five year old tip still hunts. Thanks.

  23. Gee Barkoo says:

    Awesome…worked like a charm…Thanks

  24. Alishea says:

    thankyou so so much! ive had 34 minutes 32 seconds available for so long and just presumed my camera had malfunctioned and id never get those minutes back but oh my god thankyou! my settings were on the wrong FAT setting! Once again thankyou

  25. Cheryl says:

    Thank you! The first time that happened to me, I was able to contact support. But that option is no longer available. I have been carrying that camera around for so long with only 10 minutes of recording time left because I didn’t have time to research a fix. Plus your steps got me through much faster than the support center staff did years ago. :-)

  26. Oli Grünfeld says:

    Thank you. :-)
    I can now carry on filming and not have to rush the hypnosis!

  27. AL Boyd says:

    My flip was down to four minutes,I thought for sure it was kaput but hey I followed your instructions and she’s back up to two hours again.Thanks a million as I love my flip the best little recorder I’ve ever owned,I’m just so disappointed that they’ve discontinued making them.Thanks again

  28. william says:

    A similar thing happens with USB drives on the Mac; I was able to restore full recording time to my flip by emptying the trash with the flip inserted, although i also used the FlipShare application to search for any video on the device and delete same so I am not sure which action was the successful one…

  29. Michael Wolff says:

    Thank you from another Wolff from Charlotte, NC (originally from Stuttgart, Germany).

  30. Michelle says:

    Thank you this was a perfect solution. I had 30 mins and 6 seconds left, after reformatting it returned to the 2hours the Flip originally had.

  31. Michelle says:

    Thank you this was a perfect solution. I had 30 mins and 6 seconds left, after reformatting it returned to the 2hours the Flip originally had. I had to reformat on a PC, my mac would not work with the program.Michelle

  32. Thank you so much for posting this. My Flip Camera has been at 20 minutes for several years. I assume it was damaged due to dropping the camera years ago. Your instructions got it back to the full 60 minutes in seconds! Really appreciate your posting this information!

  33. Fred says:

    I have somewhat a different issue with my Flip Camera (U260)

    When I turn it on, it does not bleep anymore, I have the screen open asking to press the red button to configure the base settings. Doing so, does not do anything and then it closes… When I plug it into my computer (Mac, PC/Linux, PC/Windows), it does the samething but over and over and over…

    Did anybody experienced this?

    I tried all the reset tips and tricks on the web and nothing works. I have not found anybody who seemed to have the behaviour on their flip.


  34. Toms says:

    Thanks for the help, it worked perfect, have my 60 minutes back.
    2016, still love my flip cam.

  35. JC says:

    You can also fix this on a Mac by running Applications->Utilities->Disk Utility and then doing a “repair disk”

    Worked for me at least when nothing else did.

  36. Hazel walsh says:

    This worked like magic! Thank you so much for your clear instructions. I use this for teaching and had been down to 34 mins for ages. Back up to 2hrs so I can record more than one lesson at a time.

  37. JL says:

    I had the same problem, and I don’t have access to a PC – I found a much easier solution on another site: and it totally worked! (Luckily I had been using my own computer so didn’t need to hunt for the missing ‘trash bins’!

  38. Sasha says:

    wow!! Thank you so much Bill!!

    I was about to throw my flip away because it only recorded for 6 minutes. I tried helpdesk but they couldn’t fix it either.
    Your solution took 30 seconds and I am back on 2hour recording!!

    Thanks again and greetings form Germany

  39. Flip Fanatic says:

    Great thanks! Went from 28.50 back to 2 hours for mine. Be sure to copy over the core files that are on the flip camera to a backup folder while formatting. Then put those files back onto the camera after the formatting is complete and voila!

  40. August says:


    I was down to 35 minutes recording time from 2 hours. Just tried it and it worked exactly like it said.

    Has to be on a PC (not a Mac).


  41. Louise Reeve says:

    Thank you SOOOOO much, trying to get camera ready to film my little boy discovering Xmas presents and noticed it only had 20 minutes on it, your fix took 5 minutes and worked wonderfully – you are awesome, from a HAPPY mum.

  42. Sanya says:

    Thanks super-much for this. I have a modelle which has 2-hours of recording time and this saved my sanity! You are a genius!

  43. Georges says:

    I am a happy owner of a 2h full HD camera. Recently I had my 2 hours recording time down by 24 minutes and I couldn’t understand what happened as there was no files on the camera.Following a search I discovered this article and started the process afraid to lose all other system files on the camera making a format.I connected my camera to my W10 surface and I got a message that the device had a problem and if I want to check and fix. I responded yes and in the next question to fix the problem.After some minutes my camera had a new folder named “FILESxx” containing one .chk file of 2G.I deleted the folder and my camera recovered the 2h recording time without re-formating.Therefore if you don’t have this automated check the following should drive you to the same result. Just does a right click on the flipvideo drive and left click on properties. On the menu choose tools and then check file or check errors. On the question choose analyze and restore. This should have exactly the same results as the automated check done by my Surface.Delete the Filesxx folder that contains the .chk files and your camera should recover the full capacity of recording.

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