Top 10 Tips for Memory Card Maintenance

November 25, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | 27 Comments | |
Top 10 Tips for Memory Card Maintenance Image

Jeff Cable, professional photographer for Lexar Media, shares his top 10 tips for looking after your memory cards.

Memory cards are a key component for every level of digital photographer, from novices all the way up to professionals.

However, memory cards only remain effective image storage devices so long as they're maintained correctly.

Taking good care of memory cards and remembering a few easy tips to maintain them well will help ensure that images are protected.

Here are my top 10 tips...

1. Format the card in your camera

Before you start taking photos, format your memory card in the camera you'll be using.

This is better than formatting it in your computer as the formatting of the card will align itself automatically with your camera, ensuring that the card works properly.

Top 10 Tips for Memory Card Maintenance

2. Acknowledge your capacity

Make sure you pay attention to the image counter as it ticks down available images. Pictures could become corrupted if you try to use a full memory card.

3. Remember you can use recovery software

If you have formatted your card in the camera or deleted an image by mistake, don't panic, your images may not be lost. Using recovery software, such as Lexar® Image Rescue® 4, gives you the ability to try to retrieve lost images.

If you accidentally format the card incorrectly in your camera, do not continue shooting with that card. Instead, remove the card from the camera and run your recovery software on it to retrieve the images. If you continue shooting with the card, the images that you capture will override the images already on the card.

Top 10 Tips for Memory Card Maintenance

4. Rotate cards in and out of use

If you're using multiple memory cards on a shoot, as many professional photographers do, develop a system for knowing which cards have been used and which cards are empty.

For instance, if using a card wallet, place the used cards in upside-down and the empty available cards right-side up. This will ensure you don't accidentally use a full card and corrupt existing images, as well as get even use out of them.

Entry Tags

memory, cards, card, SD, Lexar, Compact Flash, SDXC, maintenance, SDHC, look after, maintain, Top 10 Tips for Memory Card Maintenance

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27 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 David

Some good tips here, especially 6,7 & 9.

I had a card fail on me once but managed to get most of them back, there’s no worse feeling than thinking you’ve lost an entire shoot!

12:05 pm - Thursday, November 25, 2010

#2 ashu

where is the tips. I dnt see it. Its crap text.

1:20 pm - Thursday, November 25, 2010

#3 Matthew

Not sure what to think of this post. This article comes across as a Lexar advertisement disguised as a list of helpful hints. The only tip that is valid for “memory card maintenance” is #1. Although there are some other good tips here (7 & 9), these have to do with general photo work flow and are not memory card specific.

2:56 pm - Thursday, November 25, 2010

#4 Timber Tuckness

I take a Sharpie and number my cards sometimes at a event shoot I may use 7 to 10 cards this helps to keep from shooting over one. many times I have some one selling as the event is going on and I change out cards after each class or event

6:06 pm - Thursday, November 25, 2010

#5 How to destroy a SD card

“Label your memory cards with your name and phone number so that, if you misplace it, there is a better chance you might get it back.”

Having been a production test technician for a company that uses memory cards in their products, I have seen dozens of these cards destroyed by electrical static discharge(ESD)while being improperly handled during production and post production of the latter.

Failing to mention that you should never use a metal tipped pen directly on the memory card when labeling the latter is a sure fire way of destroying your SD card especially if you and your pen are not properly grounded.

Shame on Lexar’s marketing department for not verifying this before publishing this advertisement.

Shame on PhotographyBLOG for using there editorial space as thinly disguised advertising.


6:53 pm - Thursday, November 25, 2010

#6 Alouise

Is there a way to tell that your card is about to fail?

8:57 pm - Thursday, November 25, 2010

#7 Matthew

“Jeff Cable, professional photographer for Lexar Media, shares his top 10 tips for looking after your memory cards.”

The first Google result for Jeff Cable says that he is the director of marketing for Lexar. You should identify posts if they are paid/sponsored advertising.

11:38 pm - Thursday, November 25, 2010

#8 Chris Malinao

hey, photographyBLOG. i am a fan of your posts. but this one sucks! please label it correctly as advert for lexar.

1:26 am - Friday, November 26, 2010

#9 Dave from The Longest Way Home

1 & 4 for me. Formatting outside of the camera rarely makes a hicup. But, I’ve seen it happen if using multiple operating systems.

4 is always good. But I still get mixed up. Same with batteries. So I just keep right side pockets for unused and left for used.

6:53 am - Friday, November 26, 2010

#10 guest

thinly veiled advertisement. also, which camera will corrupt images when the memory card is full? that’s just plain stupid.

9:00 am - Friday, November 26, 2010

#11 Mark Goldstein

Hi everyone.

The tips in this article were commissioned to Jeff Cable from Lexar, a manufacturer of memory cards with the authority and insight to advise on maintenance. It is not intended to be an advert for Lexar.

4:16 pm - Friday, November 26, 2010

#12 Victor

This is not serious, I would be very surprised if this is sanctioned by Lexar’s engineering, just PR mumbo jumbo to create some pre-christmas coverage.

Lets go through the tips:

1. The format of the card is done by the processor on the card, therefore it makes no difference where you format it. Unless you lose power or remove the card during the format all will be good.

2. If a full card is allowing you to save to it, it is defective get it replaced, if it happens on many cards get the camera checked.

3. Yes, recovery software can save you from accidental deletion/format, but not if you fill the card again with pictures!

4. Ah a good idea, Have a fixed place for clean cards and another secure place for used cards; make it a habit and never, never deviate.

5. A card reader is not necessary, however, I prefer a reader sitting on my desk gathering dust than my camera. You’ll find a good selection on Dabs or Amazon or ...

6. There is no technical reason not to delete images on the camera, but it is better to review the images on a proper sized screen.

7. Correct, wait until the camera is fully turned off, all the lights are dark, removing the card early could leave it in a very bad way - completely corrupted.

8. I have had several cards get wet, let them dry at room temperature, be patient and wait until it is dry.

9. Backup, this is good advice, the more important the more copies.

10. As another poster mentioned, use a felt/fiber pen, don’t press hard and give each card a unique number and then put that number in the soft drive label (properties in windows / get info on a mac) then you can see what card on screen.

2/10 not good when it came from a brand name! My sympathies to the product managers.


10:11 pm - Friday, November 26, 2010

#13 Photographer Detroit

Great post.  The tips are very helpful.  Is there a way to practively detrmine when a card is starting to go bad?

7:21 pm - Saturday, November 27, 2010

#14 robenroute

Should be labeled as advertorial. A bit of a sad case…

9:59 pm - Saturday, November 27, 2010

#15 Andrew

If there was no intention for this to be an advert for Lexar, it wouldnt have included “Since Lexar memory cards are all made of solid state memory with no moving parts, they are incredibly durable.”

1:14 am - Sunday, November 28, 2010

#16 Jason

Very much reads as a Lexar Advert, but I can live with that.  One thing I would just add that there is a very good freeware piece of recovery software that has saved work for me on many occasions.  It’s called Recuva.

2:01 pm - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#17 Anonymous

I have no problem if this post is a mix of tips and advertising for Lexar, but I enjoyed reading the comments and a good oppoprtunity for people to share ideas etc…

Tip #11 Check new memory cards before a big trip on your camera (I bought Compact Flash, I checked them on my checked and formatted on my PC, but horror on holiday, I found they would not read on my camera. Apparently these Transcend Compact Flash were meant for non-removeable devices rather then removeable devices like cameras.

Tip #12 If you are stuck on holiday, with a full memory cards. You can get them transfered to CD. In Italy (where I encoutered above problem). I was not able to find a camera or photo printing even though I was in a tourist hot spot. People selling 35mm camera, not not CompactFlash!
After wandering around, asking tourist offices etc.. and after my perseverance, I found an Opticians that could transfer to CD! (not a typical place).

In France, they are a bit more sensible and had those specialist machines for printing and transfering to CDs!

1:33 am - Wednesday, December 1, 2010

#18 capp

Regarding Tip #12 above from an anonymous: I was also in Italy in a tourist hot spot. I found a little shop in every corner which offered transferring photos to CD. Also every internet spots offered this which I find many. So it’s not typical Italian.

11:29 am - Wednesday, December 1, 2010

#19 Larry Lourcey

Some good basic tips.  I don’t mind the Lexar slant.  As long as it doesn’t become a distraction, I don’t mind them plugging their product a bit.

They do make pretty good CF cards, after all.

8:20 pm - Monday, December 6, 2010

#20 bryan grant

lexar is the only card i have had fail i alwyas use scan disk

9:38 pm - Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#21 SMN

Do you recommend formatting the card just once or before each use?

6:37 pm - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

#22 Aberdeen Photography

Good advise, but always handy to have a few spares with you anyway cause things tend to go wrong.

2:39 pm - Wednesday, January 26, 2011

#23 share tips

Top 10 tips are ::
* Format the card in your camera
* Pictures could become corrupted if you try to use a full memory card.
* Make sure , you have a recovery software.
* Rotate cards in and out of use
* Whenever you use USB port, use card reader.
* Try to not delete images on your camera.
* Take one extra copy for security.
* Label your cards

11:02 am - Saturday, July 2, 2011

#24 Sourav Chakraborty

Backup, backup, always backup.

That is the best tip you will ever get.

9:49 am - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#25 Paul crowder

Word of warning: I had a Lexar card that was three years old. Through no fault of my own(camera never dropped or handled roughly) the Lexar card chipped on the edge near the connectors. It cost me $220 to get the camera repaired. If you use Lexar cards(I am afraid to now) I would suggest to replace them every couple of years.IMHO

8:24 pm - Friday, July 20, 2012

#26 Rupa

Hi, Your tips are very friendly and useful.I had a bad experience with my memory card earlier and due to that i had lost a lot of photos. So this article seems very informative to me.I would also recommend a few more tips which you can add to your list. May be this link could help:


3:27 am - Friday, September 27, 2013

#27 Clipping Path

A lot of great tips are here in this article.Good work.

5:07 pm - Friday, November 6, 2015