Think again before buying a high-capacity memory card

There I was, sitting at my computer sifting through the day’s deals on consumer electronics. I came upon Woot.com‘s deal for the day: a 64GB SDXC card for only $49.

I was extremely tempted to go for it. 64GB in one small package was enticing, and I would no longer have to carry around so many memory cards and keep switching them out all time while on vacation taking photos.

However, I got to thinking: memory cards fail. They just do. There’s no 100% guarantee that a memory card will never burn up. That’s why we back up our computers, tablets and smartphones, and why we (should) have an emergency fund available in case our vehicle’s break down or a large home appliance needs repair.

Since you can’t really back up a memory card when you’re out in the field shooting photos and video, how do you protect yourself against bad luck? Well, there’s obviously no way to fully protect your memory card data if you can’t back it up, but there’s still a way to lessen the disaster level when a memory card takes the plunge.

Instead of getting just one high-capacity memory card and risk losing all of your photos, have multiple low-capacity cards. That way, if one craps out, you’ll still have a majority of your photos that are safe, instead of having all of them go down the drain at once.

This isn’t only a good practice for casual photo snappers, but it’s even more important for professional photographers who are getting paid big bucks to take those photos that are stored on those precious memory cards. They literally can’t afford to lose photos, and I know most photographers are constantly upgrading their cards to a larger capacity to lessen their memory card footprint. However, I can only suggest that anyone who takes photos or shoots video carry around multiple low-capacity cards instead. It’ll save your butt in the end when bad luck strikes.

  • Anonymous

    Completely disagree. Modern cards are extremely reliable, even surviving washing machine cycles. Especially CF cards. And yes, there are some very good ways of copying the photos off the cards in the field. E.g., iPad’s Camera Connection kit works extremely well, and even better when coupled with PhotoSmith. Plus, data recovery on the cards is very advanced, and with certain brands is free. Buy quality brands (Lexar, SanDisk), and you’re as safe as can be.

    A better article would be one on workflow and backup. I *hope* people are not keeping their photos stored on their cards, but if they are, then a great service would be writing an article on various ways to get the photographs *off* the cards onto a more permanent “safer” (non-DVD) solution.

  • Sophronis

    I am not concern about failure on these devices either.  One time I lost a thumb drive in a parking lot.  It was scabbed away by the snow plow into a snow pile and someone found it in the spring.  They were able to plug it in (even though it was rusted up) found my information on it and they delivered it to me after 4 months.  I do share the idea of going with more lower capacity devices just so if a device fail you do not lose a lot of data.    

  • Sophronis

    I am not concern about failure on these devices either.  One time I lost a thumb drive in a parking lot.  It was scabbed away by the snow plow into a snow pile and someone found it in the spring.  They were able to plug it in (even though it was rusted up) found my information on it and they delivered it to me after 4 months.  I do share the idea of going with more lower capacity devices just so if a device fail you do not lose a lot of data.