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If your memory card is 4GB or larger, AND if your computer is two or more years old, your computer's card reader might not be able to read the newer 4GB SDHC card. In that case, just purchase an inexpensive USB card reader from WMart, or Amazon (here's an example). Try a different card reader first to see if you can directly copy and paste the pictures from the card onto your hard drive. If the new card reader doesn't see the files, then try recovery software. Here's some freeware to try. If the software still doesn't see the card with the new card reader, you may next need to try the corrupted card procedures described at the bottom of this linked article.
1.) Right Click on "My Computer"
2.) Click on "Manage"
3.) Click on the "Disk Management"
4.) Check the Disk if there's a drive that do not appear on top of your right panel.
5.) Right Click on that drive and click on "Change Drive letters and Paths"
6.) Click the "Change" button on the window that appears then change the letter to whatever you like. Make sure no other drive is the same.
It sounds as if you have an SD card reader, not an SDHC card reader. While SDHC cards will fit into SD slots, they are electronically incompatible and will not work. SD devices are limited to cards 2GB and smaller. SDHC cards begin at 4GB and go up to 32GB.
Cards over 2GB are MicroSDHC. Your reader will have to be able to read SDHC in order to read your card. Unfortunately, your reader maybe to old. You probably will need to buy a newer reader capable of reading SDHC cards.
From your description, it sounds like the card is faulty, not the computer or the card reader. If you can't get the card to read or write in any device now, then it's probably dead. Is the card reader you're using an SDHC card reader or just a regular SD card reader?
a 4GB card is certainly HC (High Capacity). What type of flash memory is it?
Be aware that some computers have a different boot sequence. Meaning that some will try to boot from the DVD/CD drive before the hard drive, some will try to boot from a USB device before those. The card being present in the drive could be telling the computer to try and boot from that (which I'm 99% sure is the problem there).
Next is the issue with the card being read. Until I know what type of flash memory it is (SD - Secure Digital, CF - CompactFlash, etc..) this is speculation. I know with SD there is standard SD and SDHC (SD High Capacity). Older card readers are only capable of reading standard SD cards and while they will acknowledge the existance of SDHC because it is the same form factor, it won't know how to read it.