10 Tips for Memory Card Care
10 Tips for Memory Card Care

We talk a lot about what is the best camera to buy, and how to find the perfect light, but not as much about memory card care and keeping those images we take safe until upload. In this mostly digital age, learning to care for files before import is also good to know.

Read more: 5 Ways to Backup Photos

Personally, I learned a lot from writing this post. And while I have been lucky in the sense that I haven’t lost any images yet, I know of plenty of people that have lost entire shoots. So, save yourself some time and embarrassment (and a lawsuit) by caring for your images from step one, the beginning of a shoot. So, keep reading for more information about memory card care.

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  • No.
    Protect Your Memory Cards

    In the past, I have just put the memory cards back in the original plastic box. Yep. So tiny and easy to lose in a camera bag. Recently, I bought this case to keep my extra cards in. I have 3 cameras, which all require different memory cards, and this one can keep them all safe and in one place.

    This little case can keep the cards safe from dust and debris, and is also waterproof. Keep in mind that when you replace your arsenal of memory cards, it is also a good idea to replace the case as well. And lucky for us, the cases are pretty inexpensive.

  • No.
    Use a Clean Card for Each Shoot

    This is a tough one. As a hobbyist, and family historian, I tend to shoot until a card is filled before transferring to my computer. That’s okay, unless you end up completely filling a card. Try to upload your images before the card has reached capacity. After reaching capacity, the files can start rewriting over one another.

  • No.
    Reformat Your Cards After Each Upload

    After uploading to your computer, reformat your cards using your camera, not the computer.

  • No.
    Use a Card Reader

    If transferring images directly from your camera to the computer, you can risk the battery dying mid transfer, which can corrupt the card. Card readers are cheap and easy to use. I use one similar to this one. It has slots for all of the cards that I use, and makes transferring easy (without draining my camera battery).

  • No.
    Keep Your Batteries Charged

    If your camera shuts down mid file writing, the card can be corrupted. Make sure your batteries are charged and that you shut your camera down properly after allowing time for your last image to write onto the card. And never take a memory card out of its slot while the camera is turned on, or while it is in use.

  • No.
    Label Your Cards

    If you are using multiple cameras and multiple cards, label your memory cards. Use different memory cards for assigned cameras. And don’t switch the cards without reformatting. So that means you’ll need to upload your images, erase the card, and reformat. It’s easier just to designate particular cards to particular cameras.

  • No.
    Make Sure Your Card Reads Fast Enough

    Memory card care is more than just reformatting your card. If you are taking really fast bursts, make sure the card you have is fast enough to write the information. If you find your card lagging, it may be time to reformat, get a faster card, or replace the card. For video, make sure you are using the fastest card for that purpose.

  • No.
    Memory Cards Wear Out

    They don’t last forever. Replace your memory cards every couple of years. If a particular card is glitching or acting strange, it may be time to retire it or use only as a backup.

  • No.
    Only Buy What You Need

    Don’t use one card for everything. When shooting a family vacation, it may be smarter to use two smaller cards, than one huge card. Or many cameras now have dual slots where you can back up your first card with the second. Either way, be smart and don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Shoot safe and shoot smart!

  • No.
    Don't Edit Delete in Camera

    Okay, I’m terribly guilty of this one! Deleting in camera, causes hold in the memory card data. When deleting to make more room for photos, the new photos try to fill those holes, which can end up overlapping data. Not good! Just use a new card!

I hope you’ve learned a few tips about memory card care with this post. I know I learned a lot doing the research! One last tip, for the best performance, buy a reliable brand. I have never had problems with SanDisk. Happy Shooting!

  • DesimaraysPhoto
    September 21, 2017 at 4:02 PM

    Thanks for sharing this. I will be photographing my first little wedding in October.

  • Kathy Fletcher
    September 21, 2017 at 4:02 PM

    Thanks Laurie, for all these great
    I already knew about formatting
    my cards after uploading my
    photos to my computer,
    But didn’t know about tips #5 & #10. I’m really bad about deleting in-camera too,
    mainly because I don’t want to upload bad photos to my computer. 😉
    I’ll now start following your advice!


  • Andrea Roat
    September 21, 2017 at 4:06 PM

    Really helpful!! Now I know why some of my memory cards may have corrupted. Thanks again

  • Erin McDonald
    September 21, 2017 at 4:25 PM

    Well done. Great Article

  • Beaky
    September 21, 2017 at 11:49 PM

    Thanks Laurie, now I am confused I have been buying 64mb cards and leaving them in till they are full and then replacing them with a new card, keeping the other as a back up. I guess I don’t need to do that if I store them on an extra HD and delete as you say. Be cheaper too.

  • Alaina Nicole Photography
    September 22, 2017 at 11:09 AM

    I once had back to back sessions that I was so excited about! I got home, put my card on my dresser, and went to bed. When I received an error, I realized I had no ability to get my images, which led me to send the card to a professional, who told me the card had gotten bent or cracked. I didn’t even realize this could happen! A very expensive and embarrassing lesson.

  • David Owen
    September 23, 2017 at 4:21 PM

    The Software I use all the time to “wipe” my Memory cards is Rescue Pro Deluxe .. it will also “recover” any deleted or formatted info on your cards… I have been using the same cards for over 3 years Great Program for approx. $ 35 dollars.. works for win and Mac.

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