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faulty memory card – The worst day of your life !

 What’s a memory card ?

Whether you are a professional photographer or an amateur photographer, no one is immune to a faulty memory card. Memory cards are mini storage spaces needed, as you all know, to store your images coming out of your camera. There are different types of memory cards, including CompactFlash Cards, SD cards, MicroSDs (in your drones and mobile phones for example), and the new SDXC cards are none other than SD cards of new technology.

Their formats vary from 8 GB to 512 GB, and their speed varies according to the different standards indicated on the card (UHS-I, UHS-II, etc.) Speed ​​is essential according to the use we have of our device. It is important to choose your card with sufficient speed if you make video, or if you frequently shoot in burst mode, or depending on the type of files such as 50 Mb.

We are all in agreement, it is impossible to be able to transfer images currently (without connected mode) without using a memory card, so here we are in the heart of the subject … and if it crashes, what happens?


faulty memory card, data loss !

You come back from your walk, or even worse, a customer service such as a wedding, or a shoot with a team from all walks of life, and there … you load your card into your computer, and nothing. What about nothing ? Well no … nothing. The card is empty! or the computer tells you that the card is not formatted!

Help ! Help ! I’m going to faint … stress is invading your body, and you’re about to faint so much the horror of this moment is insurmountable. And indeed, it is horror, there are few things that can scare a photographer more than a faulty memory card, and I’m afraid … it will happen to all of us one day, that’s why it takes to be vigilant.

What can we do to avoid it ?

What can we do to avoid this moment of panic and horror? First, you need to plan. Preparation is the only thing that can really save you the day and avoid risks of a faulty memory card as much as can be.

The statistics and negative opinions taken together on 10 online sales sites show a correlation between faulty memory cards and the fury of users. On average, memory cards of all brands and capacities show a percentage of failure of 12 to 20% depending on models and brands. We will therefore round up to about 16% failure, or 1 card out of 7! These failures happen either quickly or at the end of life, but users notice these problems at any time without warning.

It is therefore ESSENTIAL not to rely on a single memory card for our sessions, and ALWAYS duplicate our images on two cards at a time.

If you shoot professionally, it is imperative to have a case with a dual card slot (if possible with both slots running at the same speed … Canon if you listen to us!). Configure your body to make a backup directly, it means that you will have the same files on the 2 cards each time. Some like JPG + RAW shooter, with the JPG on one card and the RAW on the other, but if a card is corrupt, and that it is the RAW, you’ll still be cake, so I do not recommend it.

The life of cards is similar to hard drives, hence the big problem of recurrent digital data loss nowadays and the blossoming of data recovery companies. Count a maximum life of 2 years at full efficiency. I do not differentiate between Pro and Amateur in this case, because the unused cards will not necessarily work any longer, it’s all about internal electronics. That means it’s imperative to count that in your budget, every year or every two years, hop, 4 to 8 new memory cards. Number them, and put the others in the closet, but do not use them for sessions whose content is important.


Right, I don’t have two cards and my card is corrupt, what must i do ?

You are in the most extreme stress stage, you have lost the precious images of your client, and it is the horror, here we are unfortunately. No point blaming yourself and giving you the stick, unfortunately we learn by the difficulties and apart from telling you that you should have had a body with 2 slots and blah blah blah, and so on and better, here’s what you can do, or in any case try to do to save the day.

Brands such as SanDisk, Lexar, Transcend each provide data recovery software. They are not infallible but each one of them makes it possible to read the data of all the cards according to a technology and different algorithms. It is therefore good to try each software on your cards to recover the data.

IMPORTANT: It is IMPERATIVE TO AVOID to use this memory card if you wish to recover images.

If you have SanDisk cards you have received in the package, a paper with a code in order to get SanDisk Rescue Pro Deluxe software for free for 1 year. Keep it safe, and install it at this time, so you can check your cards.

If you have discarded this paper, I recommend you go buy a new memory card (necessary in any case I think), to get a new paper with this code.

You can also test this software from Lexar, imageRescue which does the same trick with another algorithm.

The ultimate trick is, if the content is essential, to send your cards to a data recovery company such as OnTrack.

Conclusion TLDR – How to avoid data loss and faulty memory cards

  1. Buy your memory cards in different stores to avoid serial numbers that follow one another
  2. Use the same card formats and speeds in each device to avoid writing problems
  3. Format your cards only from your camera case
  4. Do not delete photos one by one from your device, it’s not a computer, it’s not made for that
  5. Use a camera with 2 card slots
  6. Do not throw out the paper with the license code for data recovery software
  7. Do not rewrite on your cards if you have to try to recover data
  8. Change your memory cards every 2 years maximum
  9. Download the latest software from different brands
  10. If you lost your data, test several software before sending to a data recovery company

Please note that I take no responsibility in the data recovery or data loss which might occur by testing this solution. This post is for instructional purposes.

Hoping that this article can help you to not lose your data, or to make your life easier, do not hesitate to leave a comment, to subscribe to my newsletter for other articles and tips and tricks that can I hope to help you.

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