Tips to Avoid a Corrupt Memory Card

I’m in quite a few Facebook photography groups and it seems every single day someone has a memory card fail. It’s scary when this happens but we all have to deal with at some point. I recently had one fail on me! While there is no guarantee you won’t have one fail, here are a few tips that might save you from a meltdown! These are our best tips to avoid a corrupt memory card.

Tips to Avoid a Corrupt Memory Card

What NOT to Do:

  • Never delete IN camera. This is the number one cause of corrupt cards. Even if you shoot the blurriest image ever, wait until the files are safely backed up before deleting the files.
  • If you find that you have a corrupt card, don’t continue using it. Stop using it immediately. Same goes for if you accidentally reformat a card before you back up the files.
  • Don’t use third party software to download your images. When downloading images from your card to your computer, you should do so directly to your hard drive. Going through software like iPhoto or Lightroom can only increase the chance of corruption of the files.

What TO Do:

  • If possible, shoot with a dual card slot camera. Especially when you are shooting something that cannot be recreated, like a wedding. Have a redundant backup is a lifesaver (and the reason that my recent card failure wasn’t a big deal).
  • If you have the choice of retrieving files from a SD card (as opposed to the CF) then use that. The CF card has pins and therefore is more sensitive to breaking than the SD.
  • If the card isn’t working, download photo rescue software to see if you can recover it yourself. There are also companies that specialize in recovery, but you will pay a pretty penny for it.

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  • If your card is acting wonky – get a new one. It’s not worth the cost if there is a chance it may fail.
  • Figure out if it’s the card or the system you use for downloading. For example, a card I used recently had two images that showed up with pink lines. Those particular files got corrupted during the back-up process. Sometimes this can happen, so if it is fine in camera, it might have something to do with the way you download.
  • As a general rule for all photographers that are photographing clients – back up your images in multiple locations! External drives, cloud system, RAID. Make sure you have several backups of important files.
  • If you have only a single memory card slot, use smaller sized memory cards so all of your images aren’t contained to one card in case of corruption. If you have dual card slots, this isn’t as important.

Now that you know our favorite tips to avoid a corrupt memory card, make sure you put them into action! Also be sure to use quality memory cards and card readers. I highly recommend Sandisk cards and this card reader.

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