Memory Card Tips


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Memory cards

This guest post was written by Sherry Osborne. Sherry is unable to leave home without at least one camera hanging off her shoulder. She posts photography tips geared to beginners several times a week at photoblog.net. Contact me if you are interested in guest writing for Photodoto. -John

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but one of the worst feelings in the world (photography-wise at least!) is discovering that your memory card has become corrupted and you’ve now lost all the photos you recently took. It happened to me on my old point and shoot card but I was really lucky in that there were only about five or six photos on the card and they weren’t particularly important to me.

It can, however, be a disaster to lose your photos before you can remove them from the card. While you can’t prevent all problems, here are some memory card tips to avoid as many issues as possible.

1. Enjoy sales on memory cards but avoid cheap. When you’re shopping for a card buy the big name brands when a store is having a good sale. No matter how tempting it is, don’t pick up a card with a name brand you’ve never heard of and say, “Huh, only five bucks! I’ll get this one.” Sometimes price and brand really do matter and while even the popular brands can occasionally produce a defective card, you’re less likely to find yourself asking where all your photos went if you don’t buy a cheap card.

2. Do not leave your card in a card reader, even if you don’t think it’s doing anything. This is one of the tips that is hardest for me to follow. I have a tendency to take an average of 100+ photos on any given outing so I’ll often put the card in my reader, let it start, and then I’ll wander off to do other things. Then I realize, hours later, that the card is still sitting there. It seems like no big deal but as long as something is in the reader the computer will keep interacting with it. Don’t use it if it doesn’t actually need to be used.

3. Format your card each time you finish removing photos. Even if you delete the photos from the card, some data is still embedded in the card. When you load it back in your camera, take a moment to go into your menu and format the card each time.

4. Avoid extremes. Cards don’t like a lot of intense cold or high humidity. Keep it away from a lot of dust, and magnets. Be careful with it. They may look all sturdy and compact but they’re very sensitive.

5. Don’t use your card as a storage unit. This is such a common mistake and it’s so easily avoided. My parents travelled out East for my sister’s wedding back in September and my father took hundreds of photos while out there. I visited my parents at Christmas time and was utterly appalled that my father had never dumped his photos onto his computer. It was over three months after the fact and he had simply left the pictures on his card, continuing to take more on a fairly regular basis. He’s extremely lucky that his card didn’t become corrupted because he would have lost hundreds of pictures of his youngest daughter getting married, not to mention all the travel photos he took during his week-long visit. Just because your card can hold hundreds or even thousands of photos doesn’t mean that you should. Dump them and back them up often.

6. Consider more than one card. If you can buy two it’s a good idea to do so because then you have a back up. Change out your cards partway through the day. If you lose photos on one card, at least you’ll still have some on the other.

7. Don’t remove your card from the reader while it’s accessing the photos, don’t remove it from your camera while it’s turned on, and don’t insert it when the camera is on. All of these things can potentially corrupt your card, causing you to lose some or all of your images.

Do you have any memory card tips that work for you? Share them in the comments!

About the author: Sherry Osborne. Website: http://beyondmegapixels.com/

Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest author. Please see his/her author bio at the end of the article.
  • Helen Tomlinson

    When getting memory cards go for medium size cards. If there is lots of memory and space it is much easier to just carry on using it and risk losing lots of photos. Having a larger number of smaller cards means that the photos taken are on a number and if one is corrupted or lost then the loss is smaller.

    Of course if you do this make sure that you delete the photos once down loaded or when you put in the card in the camera and it is full of photos you will not know if they have been copied or not. I have done this before but I was luck that I had another card that was empty so did not have to take the chance.

  • Janne

    Can you point to real data to back these claims up? I don’t see how some of this advice would make sense from flash memory technical point of view.

    2) Why would it matter that the computer is “processing” (i.e., reading) the card? Reads don’t cause NAND wear, writes do. There’s an upper limit to how many times you can write on flash memory but you can read as many times as you like.

    3) Why would you want to format the card every time? What problem is this solving?

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    I have memory card but did not know that they need to be reformatted after removing photos..Thanks for the tips..It is helpful…

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