How often do you replace your SD cards?

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fotografffic Senior Member • Posts: 1,035
How often do you replace your SD cards?

I've used one of my Canon cameras for years because of it's small size, portability, decent image quality and features including zoom.

I've used the same SD card in it for the past seven years. I have not had one problem with the card, never! Every now and then I format it and, after heavy use, I do a low-level format.

Am I pushing my luck? Is it time to get a new SD card? How often do you replace your SD cards? Do new ones have decent reliablity?

Thank you!

Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 30,584
Never.
8

fotografffic wrote:

I've used one of my Canon cameras for years because of it's small size, portability, decent image quality and features including zoom.

I've used the same SD card in it for the past seven years. I have not had one problem with the card, never! Every now and then I format it and, after heavy use, I do a low-level format.

Am I pushing my luck? Is it time to get a new SD card? How often do you replace your SD cards? Do new ones have decent reliablity?

Thank you!

The SD cards do theoretically have a finite life, they wear out with use.

To test that I put an SD card into a notebook and used it as the pre-fetch memory for Windows. It went for maybe 3 years flashing away all the time while using the notebook, it had equivalent of hundreds of years of camera use of write/read operations. still worked fine, is now in an old camera used occasionally. Still OK.

So forget about them wearing out.

Make sure that you buy from a proper source and have easy replacement if found to be faulty within the warranty period, or lifetime replacement for some brands. Do not buy from cheap eBay sources as they are most likely fakes and will not work well or will not be the stated capacity.

No need to do anything apart from an in-camera format when refreshing the card.

Do not use default Win/Mac formats, use only the proper SD Association format program from https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/

Regards..... Guy

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OP fotografffic Senior Member • Posts: 1,035
Re: Never.

Guy Parsons wrote:

So forget about them wearing out.

Thanks for your insights, Guy.

In my experience, I've come to realize many things are not made the way the used to be. Sometimes I wonder if a new SD card would be any more reliable than my old one.

Make sure that you buy from a proper source and have easy replacement if found to be faulty within the warranty period, or lifetime replacement for some brands.

Excellent suggestions. After reading your reply, I looked at a few SD cards. Didn't realize some have a lifetime warranty.

No need to do anything apart from an in-camera format when refreshing the card.

Do not use default Win/Mac formats, use only the proper SD Association format program

I never format a card, or delete or download photos, from anything but from the card itself. Thanks for jogging my memory about the SD Association's SD Memory Card Formatter! Great that it even comes with a manual.

trungtran Contributing Member • Posts: 746
Re: How often do you replace your SD cards?
3

I buy a new one for each camera i have. It is basically married to the camera until it dies.

Camera is pretty useless without it so i don't play musical chairs with them.

I buy a new camera at least every 2-3 years so the main camera and card is 3 years old.

Cards have a finite life but the backup bodies are not used for anything significant so no real big loss when it fails.

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richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,471
Re: How often do you replace your SD cards?

fotografffic wrote:

...

How often do you replace your SD cards?

I've had the same two cards for almost 8 years, always formatting the cards in the cameras, never intending to replace them.

A few months ago, I got a strange card read error from one card. I couldn't see any images. However, on the computer, I could see the images. I formatted the card (always in camera) and everything seemed to be OK.

A week later, the same thing happened with my second card in my other camera.

I decided to purchase new cards, and am happy that I did because they have faster write time which means quicker to review.

Do new ones have decent reliablity?

I do not know. Why wouldn't they?

- Richard

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Labe
MOD Labe Veteran Member • Posts: 8,634
Re: How often do you replace your SD cards?

not so much replace but add another as I need more capacity as camera files get bigger.

my first so was 512mb , then got 2g , then 4 g which I used for a long time as they matched up well the dvd / cd type storage that local shop used . Back then no pc so it was a set of prints and a disc copy .

now use 16/32g with laptop / hardrive back up and select a few for prints.

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Nigel S Contributing Member • Posts: 702
Re: How often do you replace your SD cards?
1

fotografffic wrote:

I've used one of my Canon cameras for years because of it's small size, portability, decent image quality and features including zoom.

I've used the same SD card in it for the past seven years. I have not had one problem with the card, never! Every now and then I format it and, after heavy use, I do a low-level format.

Am I pushing my luck? Is it time to get a new SD card? How often do you replace your SD cards? Do new ones have decent reliablity?

Thank you!

Not sure what you mean by low level format, but generally you should only ever do quick formats on flash memory, full formats wear them out for no reason.

A reasonably guide is that when recording FHD video, a typical SD card can record continuously for about 1 year before it starts to wear out, slow down and have problems.   If you are recording 24/7 then replace it after 1 year, but for a normal photo camera you never need to worry.

hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 19,539
Rarely.
1

I do this stuff for a living and only replace cards when I feel the capacity or speed is limited due to the new high rez cameras--in other words, years.

Quality cards will last a very long time and I've never had a failure. In fact, I still have my original 256 MB (not GB!) CF cards from when I started shooting digital in 2001.

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Glen Barrington
Glen Barrington Forum Pro • Posts: 19,842
I'm retired, and an amateur . . .
1

They stay in rotation til they fail.  Professional photographers might not want this policy, but they can write the cost of new cards off their income tax in the USA.

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tcg550 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,490
Re: How often do you replace your SD cards?
2

I think you're pushing your luck with only one card.

I have a stack of memory cards and I have no idea when each one was purchased. I use whichever one is within reach when I need one. Sometimes I format, sometimes I don't.

I have also not low level formatted anything ever.

What's the purpose of a low level format?

OP fotografffic Senior Member • Posts: 1,035
Re: How often do you replace your SD cards?

richj20 wrote:

fotografffic wrote:

...

How often do you replace your SD cards?

I've had the same two cards for almost 8 years, always formatting the cards in the cameras, never intending to replace them.

A few months ago, I got a strange card read error from one card. I couldn't see any images. However, on the computer, I could see the images. I formatted the card (always in camera) and everything seemed to be OK.

A week later, the same thing happened with my second card in my other camera.

Helpful information.

Do new ones have decent reliablity?

I do not know. Why wouldn't they?

Because I find that, in general, some things aren't made the way they used to be. For example: appliances, my 10 month old laptop (signs keyboard is going). Don't know about SD cards since I haven't bought one in so long; just inquired.

OP fotografffic Senior Member • Posts: 1,035
Re: How often do you replace your SD cards?

Nigel S wrote:

Not sure what you mean by low level format, but generally you should only ever do quick formats on flash memory, full formats wear them out for no reason.

A reasonably guide is that when recording FHD video, a typical SD card can record continuously for about 1 year before it starts to wear out, slow down and have problems.

A low-level format is to address these problems such as slowing down. The low-level format option, as far as I know, is only found on Canon camera, at least the many I've owned through the years.

If you are recording 24/7 then replace it after 1 year, but for a normal photo camera you never need to worry.

I really don't record video.

OP fotografffic Senior Member • Posts: 1,035
Re: I'm retired, and an amateur . . .

Glen Barrington wrote:

They stay in rotation til they fail. Professional photographers might not want this policy, but they can write the cost of new cards off their income tax in the USA.

I'm retired too. Because of mobility problems, I don't take many photos like I used to so this would work for me.

OP fotografffic Senior Member • Posts: 1,035
Low-level formatting

tcg550 wrote:

I think you're pushing your luck with only one card.

I have a couple of cards but because I have two different brand cameras, I don't switch cards between them.

What's the purpose of a low level format?

According to Canon, "Do low-level formatting if the card's recording or reading speed seems slow."

https://support.usa.canon.com/kb/index?page=content&id=ART109344

According to articles I've read in the past, low-level formatting erases all recordable sectors in the SD card.

DanBichener Regular Member • Posts: 160
Re: How often do you replace your SD cards?

I’ve never replaced a memory card

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tcg550 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,490
Re: Low-level formatting

fotografffic wrote:

tcg550 wrote:

I think you're pushing your luck with only one card.

I have a couple of cards but because I have two different brand cameras, I don't switch cards between them.

What's the purpose of a low level format?

According to Canon, "Do low-level formatting if the card's recording or reading speed seems slow."

https://support.usa.canon.com/kb/index?page=content&id=ART109344

According to articles I've read in the past, low-level formatting erases all recordable sectors in the SD card.

How long does it take when you do a low level format?

Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 30,584
Re: Low-level formatting

fotografffic wrote:

tcg550 wrote:

I think you're pushing your luck with only one card.

I have a couple of cards but because I have two different brand cameras, I don't switch cards between them.

What's the purpose of a low level format?

According to Canon, "Do low-level formatting if the card's recording or reading speed seems slow."

https://support.usa.canon.com/kb/index?page=content&id=ART109344

According to articles I've read in the past, low-level formatting erases all recordable sectors in the SD card.

The full format (only ever use https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/ ) writes all the sectors and wipes any previous away. Good idea if selling or gifting any SD cards as otherwise images can be retrieved, even after a quick format.

From the SD Association Formatter Manual...

In truth for everyday use only the quick format is needed as the card smarts should easily manage bad sectors etc. Files can be retrieved afterwards if there was a mistaken quick format.

I consider only using the long format if having card problems or I were to give the card to someone else to make sure it is wiped clean.

Regards.... Guy

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Szumi Contributing Member • Posts: 793
Re: How often do you replace your SD cards?

Once when the card died.  I've replaced smaller ones for bigger ones as prices dropped.

I don't delete everything off my card when I upload to my computer.  I wait until the card may not be able to fit the next photo session.  That serves as one more backup of my photos and it forces the card to use empty areas which reduces wear.

Szumi

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felix from the suburbs
felix from the suburbs Senior Member • Posts: 1,142
Nope.

These days, cards are so cheap that as mine fill up, I file them away as back up in case my hard drive fails.  I also back up my hard drive to a portable drive so I guess I have double protection.

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OP fotografffic Senior Member • Posts: 1,035
Re: Low-level formatting

tcg550 wrote:

fotografffic wrote:

tcg550 wrote:

I think you're pushing your luck with only one card.

I have a couple of cards but because I have two different brand cameras, I don't switch cards between them.

What's the purpose of a low level format?

According to Canon, "Do low-level formatting if the card's recording or reading speed seems slow."

https://support.usa.canon.com/kb/index?page=content&id=ART109344

According to articles I've read in the past, low-level formatting erases all recordable sectors in the SD card.

How long does it take when you do a low level format?

I have a 16 GB card. Half full, it takes about 10-12 seconds as opposed to less than 5 seconds for a standard format.

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