Caring for memory cards

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We spend a lot of time worrying and thinking about the type of camera we want to buy: Do we want a point and shoot or are we ready to step into the dSLR world? What brand? Which model? Once we narrow it down it’s time to think about lenses. There’s a lot to consider.

Photo credit: teclasorg

However, what about our memory cards? Memory cards are valid things to think about and require a lot of care too. It’s important to take good care of our cameras of course. They’re expensive after all and aren’t simple to replace. Keep in mind though, the photos aren’t stored in our cameras or lenses, they’re recorded to our memory cards and if we treat those cards with neglect we run the risk of losing our pictures altogether.

If you’ve been busily following the tips I provided for photographing Mother’s Day, you’ll want to take good care of those pictures that are now sitting on your card. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when it comes to memory cards:

1. Avoid taking your memory card out while the camera is still on. It can cause some of the files to become corrupted and you might lose some – if not all – of the photos, especially if your camera is still processing the last shots you took.

2. Avoid strong magnets. You know how you aren’t supposed to put your debit or credit cards on the de-magnetizing bars at the store because you could wipe the card? The same dangers can lurk for your memory cards so be careful!

3. Keep your cards safe while carrying spares. Don’t just toss them into your coat pocket or the bottom of your camera bag. Invest in a case or use the hard plastic cases that sometimes come with the cards. It keeps them from being damaged.

4. Format your card after you download the photos to your computer. Just deleting the photos doesn’t clear up all the space but formatting will wipe it out completely.

5. Caveat emptor! Sometimes you’ll see really cheap memory cards at the store; sometimes that can be okay if it’s a known name brand that just happens to be on sale. The price of cards is indeed coming down more and more. However, if you see a card that comes from a brand you’ve never heard of and it’s incredibly cheap there may be a reason for it. I’d rather invest a little more money to get a good solid brand that has a great reputation than risk losing my cards because I saved twenty bucks by purchasing a low-quality card.

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  • KKL

    Umm… i don't think NAND/NOR flash is sensitive to magnetic field.
    since both NAND/NOR flash is based on electron charges floating gate transistors (not magnetic dipole). even if there is a magnetic induction happen on the gate (you need a VERY VERY VERY strong moving magnetic field in order to induce such small gate.) there are no where for the electron that stuck on the floating gate to go. so.. magnetic field should not affect flash type memory.

    and on the formating front.. it is better to use the camera to format (rather than using your computer to format). generally it will have a faster performance if you do that since the table in the FAT will be both written by the camera and used by the camera.

  • Daniel Fealko

    KKL is correct with regards to memory cards being insensitive to magnetic fields. See… for further information. There exist more technical explanations out there than this one, but this should suffice.

    KKL is also correct when it comes to formatting. You should always format the card using the camera, not your computer for better performance.

  • sherryosborne

    Just to be clear I never said to format the card with your computer. I always format with my camera. I meant that when you have the option to delete as it downloads, that's not the same thing as formatting. After I remove all my photos I then put the card into my camera and format at that point. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

    Thanks for the info about the magnetic issue, it's good to know. I was told years ago when I was purchasing my first memory card to keep it away from such things so maybe it's something that has changed over time. I appreciate the link about it!