- Interior Design
- Limited Editions
- Recent posts
How to avoid a “bad" memory card
Learn how to avoid data loss and how to shop smart.
Nothing can be more frustrating than losing pictures due to memory card problems. I shot some nice pictures at the end of a strenuous hike to a waterfall. As Murphy wants it, those images were lost, not the ones easier to take again.
As a semiconductor professional, I have some insight into Flash technology. Some of it translates into easy to follow guidelines to avoid data corruption. I put technical background information in italics, making it easier for you to skip over these sections.
When should you buy?
The picture shows the failure rate of semiconductors (courtesy of Texas Instruments). The same Bathtub Curve applies to all sorts of failures, not limited to semiconductors.
It is easy to see that most products fail very early in their life or very late in their life.
This means do not put your buying plans off until the last minute, before you set out for a shooting adventure. Give yourself some time to try out your new memory card before you go on your vacation.
If the card fails, it is most likely going to happen right after you bought it.
Large Flash Cards have billions of transistors on them. Even a single impurity (dust) can destroy a chip. Manufacturers sort out devices with impurities early in the manufacturing process.
After sealing and packaging, damage can still occur due to external influence (like Electrostatic Discharge, Mechanical Damage and others) or soft internal errors (like Metal Migration and others). These are responsible for early failures.
There are other causes can lead to memory card failure (below). That is why I usually advice people to buy several smaller cards instead of one giant memory card. The odds of something happening are very low, but if a memory card shows problems, you will only lose a smaller amount of your data.
image by: William Hook
Here are some tips that are useful when you are having trouble downloading files from your camera:
Memory cards are usually very robust. Handle them with the appropriate care, avoiding high humidity, extreme temperatures, and dust to keep them working.