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8 Tips for Maintaining your Memory Card

Pachi Chen-Wong over at Lexar has taken some time to write us a guide called  “8 Secrets for Keeping Your Important Piece of Photo Gear Operating at Peak Performance”

I was lucky enough to meet with the team from Lexar at PhotoPlus in New York a couple of weeks back and here’s some advice for all of you as a result.

8 Tips for Maintaining your Memory Card

Besides your camera, your memory card may be the most important piece of equipment in your photo bag. Without a memory card, your camera won’t work, and if it’s not operating right, you could lose all your images from a long day of shooting. The good news is that by learning some basic maintenance tips and best practices, you can keep your cards running at peak performance and help ensure you don’t lose the images you worked hard to capture.

1. Format the Card in Your Camera

Whenever inserting your memory card into a camera, be sure to format the card in the camera so it’s completely prepared to work with the hardware. We don’t recommend that you use the same memory card in multiple cameras, unless you’ve already removed the important images from the card, saved them on your computer (or backed them up), and reformatted the card in the second camera first. Switching cards between cameras can corrupt images saved on the card or cause it to malfunction during shooting.

2. Choose a High-Performance Reader

When transferring images from a memory card to a computer, many photographers directly connect their camera to their computer. However, this can drain the camera’s battery unnecessarily and it’s not very efficient. Instead we recommend you use a memory card reader to move images to the host computer. These devices aren’t very expensive and don’t require a battery or charging. And high-performance card readers can provide accelerated workflow with faster image transfer speeds to help you get images off the card and onto your computer, saving your valuable time for more important things like editing and sharing.

3. Watch for the Light!

Often after prolonged burst-mode shooting, the buffer will become full and the camera won’t allow the photographer to take any more images. This will be indicated by a light. It’s critical that you DO NOT turn off the camera or remove the memory card when the light is on, as you could corrupt your images. Always wait for the light to turn off before removing your card or powering down your camera. This also applies to transferring images off the card through a reader. DO NOT turn off the computer or remove the card while the reader light is still on.

4. Keep Track of Capacity

It is also important to pay attention to the memory card’s capacity. When shooting, the image counter on the internal screen will count down how many more images you can store on your memory card. Don’t go past that number! Trying to shoot more images than your card can store may corrupt or erase some of the images you previously captured as the card looks for more room to save new shots.

5. Wear Your Memory Cards Evenly

Rotate your cards. If you’re shooting a lot of images and using multiple memory cards, develop a system to know which cards have been used and which are empty. This will save you from fumbling around trying to figure out which cards you’ve used, or worse, shooting on a full memory card. You can insert them in your card wallet upside down, hold your empty cards in your left pocket and the full ones in your right, or even just mark the full ones with a removable sticker.

6. Water Doesn’t Necessarily Spell Disaster

It is critical that you take extra care of your memory card, but don’t panic if it gets wet. Sometimes memory cards go through the wash or get dropped in puddles. If it happens, DON’T PANIC! Let the card dry out for a day or two and then use a card reader to get the images off it right away.

7. Be Diligent About Backing Up

Backing up your work should be part of your routine if it isn’t already. Professional shooters make a living from their images, so losing them is not an option. To ensure your images will be there when you need them, never delete images or format your card until you’ve not only removed them from the card and saved them on your computer, but also backed them up.

8. Be Prepared for Every Occasion

If you’ve ever accidentally deleted an image, experienced a card corruption, or had camera batteries fail while saving a picture, you know the results can be devastating. Be prepared for any situation by using image recovery software to recover files from your memory card and help you save your valuable photos and videos. Whether you’re a professional photographer capturing important moments for clients or a casual digital camera user shooting family snapshots, image recovery software is critical for restoring your lost or deleted files.

If you keep these tips in mind you will keep your cards running at peak performance and take the necessary steps to avoid losing images.

How do you manage your memory cards? Do you use SD, CF or something else? Do you find the simple tips above helpful? 

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(aka #gtvone) is the customer support manager for dPS, and lead blogger in our Cameras and Gear Blog. He’s a Melbourne based photographer, www.gtvone.com and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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