Camera card v USB drive as backup device

Started Oct 21, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP Meyricke Contributing Member • Posts: 687
Re: faulty in what way?

The drive has snapped - ie non-recoverable. I only use them for a year's backups. After that, the year's photos are transferred to DVD and external hard drives - not to mention that they are on 3 different computers. I have been using Scandisk but Team Brand seem to be even cheaper in the UK.

Thanks for the suggestions


Jim Cockfield wrote:

Meyricke wrote:

I need to replace a faulty 32 gb USB drive, which I use to backup my year's photos - it then lives on my key ring.

What do you mean by "faulty". Your problem may be something as simple as a corrupted file system (and the images stored on it may be fully recoverable, too).

Sometimes users remove USB attached memory cards or drives and end up with corrupted file system if they don't use the "Safely Remove" icon in their system tray (and right clicking on a removable device and using the "Eject" choice will do the same thing. That's because some write activity (and deletes are also writes) updating the file allocation table may still be in the Operating System's cache memory, and not fully written to disk before you use "Safely Remove" or "Eject" options.

If that's the only problem (file system corruption because you didn't use safely remove or eject options before unplugging a device), then there are many free utilities you can use to copy the contents from it (that can ignore the underlying file system entirely. I use photorec for that purpose myself (open source, and available for Windows, Linux and OS X).

So, be careful with USB attached storage (memory cards, USB Flash Drives, USB Hard Drives, etc.) and always use the Safely Remove or Eject choices before unplugging the device.

Your issue may be something as simple as charge leakage over time, too. Memory Cells don't hold their state forever (especially if no current has been applied for a long time). Eventually, the data stored will fail, even if it was fine to begin with and they've been kept in a safe place. That's just the nature of NAND flash memory cells.

Have you tried doing something as simple as reformatting it? If a corrupted file system is the issue (or memory cells not retaining their state due to charge leakage over time), that's usually all it takes to fix it (just reformat it and save the same data to it again).

I keep my work files on a camera card, which lives in my wallet. Does anyone have any thoughts on which of the two devices are more stable? Cards are slightly more expensive but both are so cheap that this isn't a major consideration.

They both use the same technology (NAND flash memory).

So, you'd need to look at a specific brand/model for comparing that kind of thing. SLC memory is more reliable. But, it's also a lot more expensive. So, most newer memory cards and flash drives are using less expensive MLC instead. MLC is usually OK for short term storage (I wouldn't go more than a few years) without any current applied. But, you can have charge leakage over time with any flash memory device (memory cards, USB flash drives, SSDs, etc.).

So, don't plan on keeping photos on a device using NAND flash memory for years and years that way (unless you get really lucky). Instead, rewrite the contents of any type of flash memory from time to time.

Personally, I use the Team Brand "Color Turn" USB Flash drives. I've got 4 of them right this minute, and the oldest one still works (and has for years now). I keep lots of stuff on them like Linux based backup utilities, antivirus products, and full "live" linux operating systems installed on them. They're very handy for that kind of thing (and the Team brand USB 3.0 attached drives have been plenty fast for my purposes, even when running full featured linux operating systems from them).

You can find much faster drives compared to something like the USB 3.0 attached Team brand models I have now (that work fine with USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports). But, they're good enough for my needs, and their price is very affordable (especially if you watch for promo codes at vendors like, as they have sales on that kind of device on a regular basis).

If you want better performance, Tom's Hardware reviewed a bunch of different USB Flash drives earlier this year. So, you may want to check out their findings here:,3477.html

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