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How To Keep Your Memory Cards Healthy

In this post, Steve Berardi from PhotoNaturalist explains how to keep your memory cards healthy.


Memory cards are one of the most often neglected parts of digital photography. But, they’re extremely important because they’re responsible for safely storing your photos until you get them to your computer.

So, it’s important to take care of them properly. Here are a few tips for keeping them healthy:

1. Format new cards as soon as you get them

Many memory cards are advertised as “pre-formatted” and “ready to use,” but it’s always a good idea to reformat the card again when you receive it, since some cameras have special requirements for the file system of memory cards. Formatting the card with the camera you’ll be using it with will ensure that the card is in a format that the camera recognizes.

2. Never fill your cards completely

Most cameras have some kind of indicator on the LCD screen that tells you how many more photos you can shoot before filling the card. Keep an eye on this number and make sure you never get too close to filling the card, because if you happen to shoot a photo when the card is already full, there’s a chance your camera will still try to write part of the photo to the card (and potentially triggering a write error).

3. Never let your batteries drain completely

It’s also important to never let your batteries drain completely, because if your camera runs out of energy at the exact moment that it’s trying to write a photo to the memory card, then there’s a good chance that the camera will only write part of the file (which could corrupt the rest of the card).

4. Reformat your cards instead of deleting all the photos

Instead of deleting the photos on the card from your computer, always reformat the card from within the camera. This will ensure the card is in a format that the camera expects.

5. Use good quality memory cards

With all those camera bodies and lenses being so expensive, it’s tempting to save some money by getting inexpensive off-brand memory cards. But, remember the importance of these cards: they’re responsible for safely storing your photos. It’s worth a few dollars more to ensure your photos arrive safely at your computer 🙂 Two brands that I can personally recommend are SanDisk and Lexar (if you’ve had good experience with another brand, please let us know by leaving a comment!).

Steveb2About the Author: Steve Berardi is a nature photographer and software engineer. You can usually find him hiking in the beautiful mountains and deserts of southern California.

Read more of his articles on nature photography at PhotoNaturalist.

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