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Garmin Zumo 550 Memory Limitations


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#1 Fred W

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:54 AM

Many of us who own and use the (now old) workhorse Garmin Zumo 550 GPSes have come to realize that, as the Map software update packages have continued to grow through the years, the relatively small 1.2 GB of internal memory in these units has become a limitation. It has come to the point that you can no longer fit the entire North America mapset onto your GPS. A complication of this situation is that, whenever the free memory in the unit is too small you will experience times when you cannot load any larger route files and instead will get "Low Memory" errors.

There are all sorts of cumbersome workarounds for this problem.  It's been well documented that there are a number of smaller files that can be (carefully) deleted from the GPS memory (non-English language files, voice files, extra vehicle icons, etc.) but the real problem is that, even if you only load a subset of the US states to the GPS, the map file itself is so big now that it monopolizes the GPS's memory.

The best workaround that I've found was to not install the maps onto the GPS at all, but instead to just install all of your maps onto a big SD card.

When you initially install (or reinstall) a map version, the Map Update program allows you to choose whether to send the new map image file to the GPS, the GPS and your Computer, or just the Computer. You'll want to choose "Just the Computer" to get the full set of maps installed onto your PC.   When done, if you can see and select the maps in Mapsource (or Basecamp), they are installed on your PC.

Before deleting anything on the GPS, it's a good idea to make a full backup copy of all of the files on your GPS into a safe folder somewhere on your PC, just in case you ever want, or need, to backtrack. The only file that you'll really need to delete to get rid of the old mapset is the huge "gmapprom.img" from the GARMIN / Garmin directory of your GPS. You'll find that this file is about a full GB in size (depending on what version and subset of maps previously loaded). This file will be the last version of maps that was installed onto the GPS. Leave all of the other files as they are.

Using an 8GB SDHC card will allow you to load up the entire North America mapset plus 1000 MP3 songs (the most that can be indexed by a 550 anyway) and still have plenty of room to spare on the card. You can also use 16GB SDHC cards if you want, though they are a bit more expensive.  If your PC doesn't already have a card reader built-in I would recommend getting and using a stand-alone USB card reader. Transferring the mapset files via USB 2.0 is much faster than the USB 1 interface built into the zumo.

You can either use the map select and transfer tools in Mapsource, or you can download and use the MapInstall utility from the Garmin website. I prefer the latter as the user interface is a bit simpler to use. The MapInstall user interface is pretty much intuitive. It allows you to select the device you want to send the maps to (in this case it will be your SD card) and you can select as much or as little of the map set as you want to use. You can also select maps from multiple mapsets, if for example you have both the regular City Navigator North America maps and also Topographic maps, like I do.

Once you have selected all of the segments from each of the mapsets that you want to include, the MapInstall utility will crunch on them for quite a while (about an hour) and generate one very large supplemental map image file with the name of "gmapsupp.img", and then it transfer that file to the SD card. After it has finished, when you install the SD card into the GPS and power it on, it automatically finds that file just as if it were on the GPS itself. If you want to have multiple SD cards so that you can have different MP3s to listen to, you just need to copy the same gmapsupp.img file over to the new/additional SD cards and they will work equally well.

With the giant gmapprom.img file deleted from the GPS's memory, you'll have plenty of space so that you can keep as many saved Favorites, routes and tracklogs as you want on the GPS and still never get any Low Memory errors.


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#2 twistedcricket

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:58 AM

Excellent write up!

Have you discovered that in order to put the Garmin files on the SD card that you need to create a "GARMIN" folder first? I read that somewhere but I didn't see it in your post.
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#3 RossKean

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:06 PM

Good workaround, Fred. Not for me (I just got a new 665) but I have a couple of questions/comments.
1) Does the Zumo read from the card as quickly as it does from its own internal memory? Just wondering about screen refresh times when zooming or route editing.
2) I might make a suggestion that anyone who is doing this should probably carry a duplicate SD card with the maps (and their routes) loaded; especially when on a long trip. They are cheap enough and "stuff" can happen to SD cards. I have had one or two fail over the years - probably static etc when handling but it doesn't cost much for the insurance.

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#4 wheatonFJR

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:12 PM

Fook. I just switched over to a GPS...I'm going back to maps, Gazetteers, dead reckoning, and whimsy.

#5 bramfrank

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:30 PM

Doesn't matter how fast the unit reads the maps, because it only reads a tiny portion (the present slice) and even then not all of it . . . there's no perceptible delays - and if you delete a bunch of languages you don;'t speak and never will what harm's been done - how many Malawayan people are you planning to lend your navigator to?

Having said that , how many among us NEEDS to have the entire of North America at hand all the time. You can easily not install the maps in the navigator and only 'send' the slices you need (which is almost certainly 99% of the US) as you need them.

Heck, I still have an old SP3 with 128 megs of memory that we use for the elders because of the very readable, extremely high contrast display - you can load the relevant maps for a run between New York City and LA with all of LA in 128 megs.
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#6 TouringRider

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:30 PM

Excellent, thatís what I did, fit the entire North America maps in the Garmin folder onto the SD card. :)

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#7 Fred W

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:55 PM

Excellent write up!

Have you discovered that in order to put the Garmin files on the SD card that you need to create a "GARMIN" folder first? I read that somewhere but I didn't see it in your post.


Yes, it will go in a new Garmin folder on the SD, but the MapInstall program will create it. Just be sure that all of your MP3's are all in a separate MP3 folder, not in root.

Good workaround, Fred. Not for me (I just got a new 665) but I have a couple of questions/comments.
1) Does the Zumo read from the card as quickly as it does from its own internal memory? Just wondering about screen refresh times when zooming or route editing.
2) I might make a suggestion that anyone who is doing this should probably carry a duplicate SD card with the maps (and their routes) loaded; especially when on a long trip. They are cheap enough and "stuff" can happen to SD cards. I have had one or two fail over the years - probably static etc when handling but it doesn't cost much for the insurance.

Ross


It seems just as fast, maybe a touch faster when it fiirst boots up, but I had also been cleaning up other stuff (old tracklogs etc) that may have been responsible.

Very good idea to have multiple SD cards made up with your Maps on them as well as a variety of MP3s. I mean heck... 1000 5 minute MP3 will only last you 83 hours, right? That's less than a week of 12 hour ride days. ;)

Having said that , how many among us NEEDS to have the entire of North America at hand all the time. You can easily not install the maps in the navigator and only 'send' the slices you need (which is almost certainly 99% of the US) as you need them.


Good point. Up till now I had always been loading just the Northeast US states onto the GPS and when I traveled I would load some more states on the SD card. Problem is that now even the Northeast states is a Gigabyte in size, making the GPS memory squeezed for space.




In retrospect, I'm not sure that this is going to do everything that I said it would as for eliminating the Low Memory errors. I'm now thinking that the memory we are sending maps to is ROM (Flash Memory) and I'll bet that the GPS CPU also has some onboard RAM, which may be what it actually runs out of when we load up those big routes? Only time will tell.

edit - I have had time, and it does seem to resolve all the Low Memory errors.

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#8 yamafitter

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:11 PM

Fred,

Do you have a workaround to loading a .img file from the GPS back into either Basecamp or Mapsource. My current understanding is you need the .gmap file for both Basecamp or Mapsource to be able to see the map in the program. If you just download an SD version of the map you are only getting the .img file which you can load into the GPS and you can view the map on the GPS but you cannot load the map into the software for route planning purposes.
I read on on of the forums that it was possible to load a map from the GPS back into the software but so far I have not been able to do this with the City Navigator .img file that I currently have loaded in my Zumo.
The map I have for Germany will display on the GPS but I cannot transfer it back into either Mapsource or Basecamp.
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#9 beemerdons

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:14 PM

Fook. I just switched over to a GPS...I'm going back to maps, Gazetteers, dead reckoning, and whimsy.


Wheatie, I'm just shocked and hurt that Fred and Bill didn't come to You and I first for GPS advice!

#10 Fred W

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:22 PM

Fred,

Do you have a workaround to loading a .img file from the GPS back into either Basecamp or Mapsource. My current understanding is you need the .gmap file for both Basecamp or Mapsource to be able to see the map in the program. If you just download an SD version of the map you are only getting the .img file which you can load into the GPS and you can view the map on the GPS but you cannot load the map into the software for route planning purposes.
I read on on of the forums that it was possible to load a map from the GPS back into the software but so far I have not been able to do this with the City Navigator .img file that I currently have loaded in my Zumo.
The map I have for Germany will display on the GPS but I cannot transfer it back into either Mapsource or Basecamp.


Bill,

I have always just loaded the .gmap file to the PC for mapsource / basecamp usage. I do see that there is a means to suck the maps back off of the GPS with Mapsource, but I've never played around with it to know where the heck it deposits them, or in what format. But I've also never bought or "acquired" the .img version of any maps, either electronically or on an SD card. I prefer to get the full CD/DVD version or download so I can load them onto multiple PCs to my heart's content.

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#11 Fred W

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:24 PM


Fook. I just switched over to a GPS...I'm going back to maps, Gazetteers, dead reckoning, and whimsy.


Wheatie, I'm just shocked and hurt that Fred and Bill didn't come to You and I first for GPS advice!


See... the big difference is that you guys always know where you're going.

Bill and I don't have a clue where we are until we get there. :P

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#12 yamafitter

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:41 PM

Bill,

I have always just loaded the .gmap file to the PC for mapsource / basecamp usage. I do see that there is a means to suck the maps back off of the GPS with Mapsource, but I've never played around with it to know where the heck it deposits them, or in what format. But I've also never bought or "acquired" the .img version of any maps, either electronically or on an SD card. I prefer to get the full CD/DVD version or download so I can load them onto multiple PCs to my heart's content.

I think what happens when you upload the map from the GPS into the software is what really happens is that the GPS just points to those sections of the map already loaded with the software that the GPS is using. As you already know when you load a map onto the Garmin GPS, there is a gmapsupp.img loaded into a Garmin folder on either the SD card or the main memory in the Garmin depending on your preferences. The gmapprom.img file in memory is the original base map that comes with the Garmin and is not very useful for our purposes.
My other question is when you buy either lifetime updates or just a single update does Garmin give you just an .img file that only updates the GPS or does Garmin send send you an updated .gmap file that can be used with the software. I have read through all the material on updates on the Garmin website but it is not clear to me what they are selling you.


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#13 Fred W

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:56 PM

Actually, the gmapprom is the map updated files. The gmapbmap.img is the true "base map" which is pretty minimal and doesn't include any searchable POIs or detailed roads.


I have lifetime updates on both my Z550 and Z660. When I download an update it is the full kahuna (all of North America) .gmap onto the PC and will also send the .img to the GPS unit (or not if you so choose). [edit] also true on single updates. I've done some of them too in the past.

Wheatie is right. This stuff 'll give you a headache. :(

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#14 rmcobb

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 02:29 PM

Using an 8GB SDHC card will allow you to load up the entire North America mapset plus 1000 MP3 songs (the most that can be indexed by a 550 anyway) and still have plenty of room to spare on the card. You can also use 16GB SDHC cards if you want,


I've been under the assumption that the 550 is limited to a 4GB SD Card...???? No? :huh:

I could swear I read that somewhere...that the max size SD card the 550 could use is 4GB.

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#15 HotRodZilla

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 02:39 PM

Why don't you guys get rid of those things and just man up and get a 660 or 665? Gotta be easier than all this baloney just to find an Arby's in a neighboring city. :P

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#16 TouringRider

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 02:42 PM



Using an 8GB SDHC card will allow you to load up the entire North America mapset plus 1000 MP3 songs (the most that can be indexed by a 550 anyway) and still have plenty of room to spare on the card. You can also use 16GB SDHC cards if you want,


I've been under the assumption that the 550 is limited to a 4GB SD Card...???? No? :huh:

I could swear I read that somewhere...that the max size SD card the 550 could use is 4GB.

I read that too, anyway my SD card is a 4GB.

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#17 Ian Stephens

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 03:19 PM

I have an 8GB card in my Zumo and it works just fine. I only have music on it right now though.

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#18 yamafitter

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:33 PM

Fook. I just switched over to a GPS...I'm going back to maps, Gazetteers, dead reckoning, and whimsy.

Mark,

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Wheatie, I'm just shocked and hurt that Fred and Bill didn't come to You and I first for GPS advice!

I take it from this comment that after many days of training with Professor IonBeam that you are now able to use the 'ON' button. Posted Image
If only I had known.
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#19 Fred W

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:27 AM


Using an 8GB SDHC card will allow you to load up the entire North America mapset plus 1000 MP3 songs (the most that can be indexed by a 550 anyway) and still have plenty of room to spare on the card. You can also use 16GB SDHC cards if you want,


I've been under the assumption that the 550 is limited to a 4GB SD Card...???? No? :huh:

I could swear I read that somewhere...that the max size SD card the 550 could use is 4GB.


Yes, that has been written. And I believe that is still Garmin's support position if you ask them. But it just isn't true. Many, many people are successfully using 8 or 16 GB SDHC cards with no ill effects at all. And the larger cards are no slower than the 2GB or 4GB cards either.

I read that too, anyway my SD card is a 4GB.



SD cards are now so cheap, there is no reason not to have more than one. And yes, a 4GB SD card is big enough for 1000 MP3s, but that doesn't leave enough room for a lot of extra maps to be loaded on it. OTOH, if you are an XM subscriber and don't use the space on the SD card for many MP3s then 4GB is plenty of room for the entire NA mapset, plus Topos, if you want them.


Why don't you guys get rid of those things and just man up and get a 660 or 665? Gotta be easier than all this baloney just to find an Arby's in a neighboring city. :P


Sorry, 'Zilla. but no!

I already have a Zumo 660 as well as my old 550. And even with its memory limitations I prefer the Zumo 550 for regular use on the bike, for several very important reasons. I don't really want to turn this thread into a 550 vs 660 pissing match, but I'll gladly start a new one and tell you why I feel that way.

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#20 beemerdons

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:51 AM

Since it's Dog Pile Friday here on our Fine FJR Forum and Fred W with HotRodZilla have already turned this thread into a Zumo 550 versus 660 pissing match: Anyone that does not use Rand McNally maps sucks moist ass cheese. You weak namby-pambies with your Gousha's, AAA's, Continental's and Murray's are just FJR Girlie Men!