Thursday, February 18, 2010

Keeping your Memory cards healthy

There are two kinds of digital photographers...those who have
experienced corrupted memory cards...and those who will.

Accidentally corrupting (damaging) files on a card is easier than you think. But, if you understand what causes failed cards, it’s easy to prevent. This pasted weekend I was shooting with a friend, when we downloaded images at the end of the day all his files were damaged. We had some luck with an image recovery program but still lost many of his better shots. I wanted to provide some tips that may prevent the nightmare of a corrupted card in your future.

This is not an example of an art image, its from a damaged memory card. If you see a similar image on your card you got a problem.

8 ways to keep your card running.

-The first time you use a memory card in your camera, you should format it. Formatting the memory card will configure it for optimal operation with your specific camera. Always re-format right before shooting an assignment.

-Always turn your camera off when removing or inserting a card into the memory slot.

-Make sure you properly eject your card, card reader or camera from the computer once you are finished downloading the image files.

-Avoid repeated deletion of individual images. Sooner or later this will crash your card.

-Only reformat a card in the camera, not on the computer.

-Make sure to use fresh batteries. If your camera shuts down while the camera is writing an image to the memory card, the card could become corrupted. (This is the one that got me!)

-Having more than one card will give you more security. When I'm shooting more than one assignment per day, I always use different a card for each assignment. This ensures that if a card is defective or damaged, that I won't potentially lose a whole days work.

-Never use your card as a storage device. At a recent workshop, I had a student with a 4 gigabyte card full of images from an overseas vacation plus a few songs he had downloaded. During a shooting assignment at the workshop, his card somehow got corrupted and he lost everything.

Finally, I always mark my cards with contact info. It’s paid off! Once while traveling on an assignment, I left a card behind. By the time I returned, it was waiting for me in the mail box complete with all the images.

To mark my cards I make a print out with my contact info, sized to the card, then trim to fit and used clear packing tape to secure the label to the card. Make sure the tape only covers the back of the card.

In the next post I'll let you know what we did to recover most of the lost images.

This article, graphics and photography are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in part or as a whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. Text, graphics and photos by Mike McLean