Memory Cards … 6 ways you can avoid the dreaded “card failure”

Memory Cards, 6 ways you can avoid the dreaded "card failure"

Memory Cards … 6 ways you can avoid the dreaded “card failure”

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Have you ever had a card fail you?

Let me just set the scene for you …

You’re on your way home from a successful photo session, even worse … a wedding you shot.

It’s time to back up all the images and even edit a few sneak peeks.

Getting ready shots √

Bridal portraits √

Family portraits √

Ceremony … what the hell just happened … the memory card says “card failure”

[Insert panic mode here!]

This is the moment your successful business may take a nasty hit.

Unfortunately, sometimes this card failure means that the files are gone forever and there is no way to recover them.

Corrupt (aka deader than a door knob) cards can wreak havoc on your sanity & success.


What can you do to ensure this doesn’t happen to you?


#1 Use dual card slots

One of the best ways to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you is to shoot with a camera that has two slots that you can put two cards in.  These types of cameras allow you to set them up as a backup of each other.  It creates a copy of the file on both discs.  yes this means you are buying more cards but it certainly is the safest method.


#2 Use cards with less memory size

Some photographers may find it annoying to change cards every hour but to me this is security at it’s finest.  If you lose a card that has 8gb vs a card that holds 64gb, your window of lost images is smaller.  For wedding photographers this can be the difference of losing an entire ceremony.


#3 Import images to your computer using the cord that comes with your camera

The truth is, the more a card is pulled out of a camera and put into a third party reader, the more possibility for damage to occur.


#4 Do a proper card format before every session

Prior to every session, before I even leave the house, I prepare all my cards.  I format each card IN CAMERA!  I put all those formatted cards into my pelican (card holder) and I know during the shoot that it’s a clean card.  When I fill one up I put it in a bag that I have labeled “DO NOT FORMAT.  SESSION IMAGES”.  This protects me also from any accidental formatting that could occur if I was doing in on shoot.  Important:  only format cards at home prior to a session, never during one!  This way you don’t accidentally format one you just shot.  Note:  before formatting make sure you have exported all the photos and backed them up.  


#5 If you notice card errors happening stop using the card immediately

Sometimes during a session you start to get errors in camera.  If any of these relate to the card immediately take it out and use a different card.  Any hints of an issue are your lucky sign to major loss if you had continued.


#6 Give your cards an expiration date

This can definitely be costly but I certainly do not prefer to use a card until it dies & potentially makes me lose a session.  Yes, a card can go bad right after purchasing but honestly the most nightmares come from a card that has been in the loop for years.  I write the date on each card that I buy.  Every card gets the boot after two years of use.  This doesn’t mean you have to throw it away, you can give it to a friend who isn’t a pro, you can keep it for personal projects, but the bottom line is to always have working equipment.  Remember, cards are a business expense.


Has this ever happened to you?  If so, comment below what type of card it was and what you did.

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