Memory Card Healthcare

Lets talk memory cards. We all have them, need them and use them. But what does it all mean? Lets discuss taking care of our cards and preventing potential problems that can and will happen to all of us. Here’s ten practical tips.

1. Keep your camera up to date. From time to time your camera manufacturer will send out firmware updates to your camera. Sometimes this can affect the way your camera talks to your memory card.

2. Make sure you replace batteries before your camera dies. If your camera dies while writing a picture to your card, it can cause a few issues such as corruption and card errors.

3. Don’t switch your camera off so fast. As with the same reasons above. If your camera is still writing to the card and and you turn off your camera, the communication between your card and your camera can be compromised.

4. Always format your card to your camera you are using before you start shooting. This allows optimal communication between your card and your camera. Formatting does more than just delete previous images and is essential to preventing issues of your camera writing to your card.

5. Marry the Card. To really create a long term healthy card that will last years and in theory prevent less issues with corrupt files, assign a card to stay with a certain camera. The theory is that the file structure in cards and the way camera’s read cards can eventually become corrupt and start causing issues. Issues can come up such as not being able to read all the files or the time is takes to read such files. I actually had those issues recently with a rented card. Which brings me back to keeping your cards healthy. If you can, keep one card with that same camera.

6. Don’t let your card fill up. Stop shooting when your card is close to being filled. If you fill your card, it can cause your camera to not fully write all the information about the file to the card. It can also cause card errors and corrupt files.

7. Don’t delete images on camera but wait until they are on your computer. I have to admit I’m guilty of not following this advice. The thought behind this guideline is that deleting images from your card will actually shorten the life span. Erasing images after uploading means one erase cycle rather than several if you are deleting one by one from your camera. So either use your computer to erase everything or format the card before the next shoot. Don’t delete bad images until they are on your computer.

8. Make sure you have a fast card. Fast cards allow your camera to write to your card faster and allows for faster reading and uploading speeds to your computer. Luckily in the past few years, the price of memory cards has improved. Get the fastest and get multiple. Have backups and have enough memory. I shoot minimum on 16GB and mostly always use my 64GB card.

9. If your card or camera says there is an error, STOP SHOOTING. Stop anything you are doing with that card and take it out of your camera. You may have to use a recovery software to get your images but the less you mess with the card the more likely you are to save those images.

10. Recover if Needed. Finally, if the unimaginable happens and you format your card before making sure your photos are backed up, what do you do? Luckily there are a few programs that will recover your images as long as you haven’t started shooting. Once you have started shooting, those new files are being written over the deleted files. Sandisk has a recovery program that I’ve used on many occasions when I worked at a camera store. However, there are several different companies on the market that for a fee, you can download the software and recover images. (Editor’s note, here’s one I use.)

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Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. Thanks so much. This is great advice particularly since I have been deleting poor shots on the camera and not the computer. :-)

  2. This is great information. Somewhere, it may have been on this blog, or another photography blog, that there is an SD Card Formatter on https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/

  3. […] Photofocus has published 10 Tips for Healthy Camera Memory Cards.  Image via […]

  4. Reblogged this on articulateimages and commented:
    Are your memory cards feeling overwhelmed? Learn how to keep them healthy – and simultaneously prevent therapy bills.

  5. A tip: how to fix faulty flash drives (might even render some of the above issues irrellevant or can fix those file structure/format problems):
    If you have a faulty card which can’t be formatted anymore by the camera, put the card into it’s respective slot/card adapter on your computer and have the computer perform the highest possible secure over-write: (on mac go to harddrive utility and chose the card, then erase the card 7x via security options.)
    Then put the flash card back into your camera and format. That should do it; this way you can fix a lot of those corruption/not beeing able to read card issues.

    I had this problem also from a rental camera’s card (compact flash 32 GB) and after not beeing recognized and reformating was not possible, this helped and the card worked perfectly fine. This is supposedly also a way to reformat large computer ssds if they become corrupt, but I haven’t tryed that yet.

  6. 5 and 7: totally unnecessary. Except, renting a card is a bad idea. Period.


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About Pamela Ann Berry

Pamela has worked in Film and Radio for over 15 years. She started as a PA on major sets and eventually moved up to script supervisor. From there the roles of producing, directing, editing and camera operator followed. In college she was recruited right off the air from her college radio station and went on to be on air talent for country, top 40, and alternative radio stations including a 2 year gig as an Emcee for Radio Disney. Pamela currently tech edits books on Adobe Premiere Pro, Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator & Motion. Her main love is being behind the camera whether its doing video or photography.




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