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Do Memory Cards Fail? Video

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Saw this video this morning by Tony Northrup regarding the question: Do Memory Cards Fail?


Interesting analysis based on a poll of 4344 photographers (professionals and amateurs).

Hope this helps for those with questions.


BTW, toward the end of the video Tony shows some links to a memory card test tool and another for recovering a damaged card. Don't know how useful they are... YMMV




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I only use SanDisk SDs and Sony XQDs. I have had an SD card failure and one of the reasons I use only SanDisks is their recovery tool got 98 percent of the images back - and their tool is optimized for their card data structure.



Cards DO fail, you can minimize the risk by formatting before each use, keeping them in good cases and cleaning dust out of your card ports (I also never store a camera without an old card in the slot)

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The presenter seems unaware that the flash cells on a memory card chip have a limited lifetime essentially measured in number of writes.

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Good thread subject. People need to be aware. Personally...



I have never:


a) Bought a memory card on eBay or other source prone to counterfeiting


b) Bought an off-brand card


c) Based my memory card purchases on price only (related to "a" & "b")


d) Failed to rotate through my memory cards to balance read/write counts and retire them after a reasonable span of time.


e) Removed the card from the camera or reader while it is still actively writing.


f) Changed batteries while the card is actively writing (saw that done once before it had a chance to happen to me)


g) Just deleted images in the reader rather than using the camera's format function


h) Had a memory card failure


i) Dismissed the very real possibility of a failure.



Is "h" related to all those above it? Maybe. I have a fairly long history with data storage and the threats to its continuity and am therefore a big fan of non-volatile flash memory. It is proof against most forms of image corrupting events like drops, magnetism, x-rays, and temperature extremes (within reason). I can also personally testify to the fact that the better "pro"-designated cards can survive trips through the washing machine unharmed (not recommended).


I have owned a few dual card cameras but have never used the feature as a data redundancy measure. That may change or it may not. As mentioned above, I have never had a failure but while I am aware of the possibility, I don't lie awake at night worrying about it. I also don't have corporate or event clients to answer to were there to be a failure. In that case, a redundant system would make good-belt-and-suspenders sense.


Aware of data loss risk? Yes.


Worried about it? Not much.


Take measures to minimize that risk? Always.





Edited by pierces

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Speaking from experience, if you shoot Sony memory cards on Sony cameras... Sony's tech services will try to recover your card if you have a failure. It's a good reason to stick to the Sony cards.

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I have washed 2 SD cards. They are semi-retired now as either backups, file transfer or slot filler.

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