Memory Card Good Housekeeping — Be Nice To Your Cards

You’re home after a great day of shooting, time to download those images and start looking over what you’ve captured today.

If you use a card reader, your images will download faster and you won’t be draining your cameras battery, unless of course, your camera actually charges via USB too. But many must be plugged into dedicated chargers or have the battery inserted into a charger. So, you might was well do this while your downloading your images with a card reader. With many of the newer computers now shipping with USB 3.0, the download speed’s via a USB 3.0 card reader’s going to be even faster

Whichever way you’re downloading, it’s a good idea to Format your card as soon as you know all your images are safely on your computer and backed up. Just doing an “Erase All” doesn’t actually erase the images from your card. Your camera’s just telling the card to make those slots available for a new image. Over time, as new images replace those “erased” images, you may start having problems with “cookie crumbs” settling at the bottom of the card. This is one of the main causes of corrupted cards.

Now, it’s OK to erase individual images while your shooting. You know, those obviously bad ones, out of focus, terrible exposures, etc.. But avoid doing the Erase All too many times. Try to make it a habit to Format your card instead.

Formatting the card (look up how to do it in that manual you’ve stashed in that kitchen “junk drawer”) is just good housekeeping. Doing this not only completely cleans up your memory card, cookie crumbs and all, it also installs a new directory, or table of contents, for your specific camera. Because of this, it’s also always a good idea to Format  new memory cards too, before using them.

Now, for that other debate amongst photographers — Large cards or multiple smaller cards?

There are two thoughts to this. Memory cards have become more reliable and camera resolutions are producing larger files, so larger and larger memory cards are needed. Luckily prices have been coming down too.

The thought of having larger cards is that you don’t have to change them as often while shooting, nor carry as many in your camera bag. The downside is, having “all your eggs (images) in one basket.” I’m on the side of, using multiple smaller cards. For one they’re much cheaper, so you can my more of them, and two, they still can fail — Murphy’s Rule states, something to the effect of “if one card in your case fails, it will be the one that has your most important images on it.”

I’ve had this happen. I was in Seattle, shooting at the, then new outdoor Art Museum on the waterfront at Pier 71. Having a great time, all was looking good, capturing lots of images across my collection of cards. Get home, start downloading my day of fun, just to find, one of my cards is unreadable! Completely corrupt, nothing by gibberish!

Luckily all my other cards were just fine, with all the others images intact — Had I been only shooting with one or two large cards, I would have lost at least half, or maybe even all of my images.

You choose.

Either way, don’t forget to Format your cards.

Thanks again for coming by,



About masterofmadness

Semi-pro photographer & musician. Co-own a photo gallery with a digital photo-lab in a small tourist town, on an island in the Pacific NW of USA. I also teach and ongoing series of workshops in photography, Photoshop and Apple computers. I shoot mostly landscapes, in the mountains - Giving me a great excuse to go climb them. I also do a lot of fine art, macros and abstracts.
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