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SD cards lifespan?


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How long do your SD cards usually last?

 

I have several Kingston SDHC cards that I've been using continually for over five years (I used CF cards before that) with no problems. They are still going strong, but does there come a time when it's a good idea to replace them just in case?

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I had a Transcend go bad after 3 years and maybe 15,000 images. Fortunately the fault manifested itself quite quickyl so I only lost a handful, nothing irreplaceable but it would still read. The lifetime guarantee worked though so I got my money back from the dealer.

Needless to say I changed brands (Sandisk)- I was in Germany so I learnt a bunch of useful words in a hurry that day.

It's my only failure but then I've only ever had about 5 cards in a DSLR so you could call that quite a high failure rate. I'm not sure what my policy is now- 15,000 is way under the expected life, which  must be in the hundreds of thousands.

5 years doesn't sound too early to demote your current ones to spares.

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I am an IT guy and I do not trust SD cards any further than I can throw them. 

They definitely do a good job keeping the images for a day of shooting, but by no means I would trust them for backing up or storing pictures over long time . 

 

I have had several SD cards, also USB sticks that use the same technology, which broke or failed only after a short period of using. 

Currently I use both SD and CF cards, and none of the CF did fail yet, but my trust in them is as high as in SD cards.

The problem with them is that once they are broken, data can usually not be recovered at all. 

 

For backup purposes all my trust is in normal magnetic disks (external hard drives) , and I usually keep three copies of my data of which one is not in my house.

(this is probably overkill, but fire can be fierce)  

 

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5 minutes ago, arterra said:

SanDisk CF card lasted one month. Chewed on it. Please, don't ask why I did that.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

:blink: SanDisk CF's don't seem to be  on the tenderloin side of CF cards if it takes a month to chew'em up :rolleyes:

 

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I've never had any problems with either SanDisk CF cards or inexpensive Kingston SDHC cards, but then I go easy on them. It has taken me the better part of 10 years to get 6500 images on Alamy. I'm actually quite amazed at how reliable -- touch wood -- my memory cards have been. I've read that it's a good idea not to format them too often. Any truth to that?

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I haven't had a CF or SD card go bad since the days of microdrives! I am not a heavy user and for serious work only really use Sandisk, or Lexar in the past.

 

I also adopt the multiple copies of my archive on HD, plus system backups and I take a copy on holiday with me (in a motorhome). I download new images while on a trip to  my laptop, with a backup copy on HD plus I retain the images on my camera cards unless I need to reuse them. I copy the folder straight to my archive and its mirrors when I get back and do not delete the old mobile copies until I need the space for a future trip. BTW the main archive data  on my workstation is on a mirrored pair of disks so I am protected from a single disk failure but not fire or theft of course.

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22 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

I've never had any problems with either SanDisk CF cards or inexpensive Kingston SDHC cards, but then I go easy on them. It has taken me the better part of 10 years to get 6500 images on Alamy. I'm actually quite amazed at how reliable -- touch wood -- my memory cards have been. I've read that it's a good idea not to format them too often. Any truth to that?

SD cards actually wear off (as do all other devices using this flash memory technology - USB sticks, CF-Cards, SSD's, ...). 

the more they get written to the higher the wear - but the memories take like 100.000 cycles util they fail (theoretically....). 

Reading is not a problem. 

Formatting is writing to the card,

   - a normal format writes to the areas where the contents directory is stored

   - a low level format writes to the entire card

 

I would definitely avoid the latter (low level format) and see really no reason to use it. 

A normal format will write far less data to the SD as a picture, so should not really be a problem. 

 

Further read

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_memory#Memory_wear

 

 

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13 minutes ago, Martin P Wilson said:

I haven't had a CF or SD card go bad since the days of microdrives! I am not a heavy user and for serious work only really use Sandisk, or Lexar in the past.

 

I also adopt the multiple copies of my archive on HD, plus system backups and I take a copy on holiday with me (in a motorhome). I download new images while on a trip to  my laptop, with a backup copy on HD plus I retain the images on my camera cards unless I need to reuse them. I copy the folder straight to my archive and its mirrors when I get back and do not delete the old mobile copies until I need the space for a future trip. BTW the main archive data  on my workstation is on a mirrored pair of disks so I am protected from a single disk failure but not fire or theft of course.

 

Sounds like a sound process. 

 

Instead of mirrored disks, I use a RAID 5 set of five disks in my workstation. 

With that only 20% of the total gross capacity is used for security, rather than the 50%, when mirroring. 

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17 minutes ago, hdh said:

 

Sounds like a sound process. 

 

Instead of mirrored disks, I use a RAID 5 set of five disks in my workstation. 

With that only 20% of the total gross capacity is used for security, rather than the 50%, when mirroring. 

 

The reason I went with mirroring is that I have had problems in the past when the controller failed and I could not read the disks to recover the data because of the RAID controller's proprietary software. :(  With mirroring (Windows, not hardware) I have proved I can read the disks individually as a normal disks quickly and easily on any PC. Disks are pretty inexpensive these days so I can accept the 50% overhead.

 

 

Edited by Martin P Wilson
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Just now, Martin P Wilson said:

 

The reason I went with mirroring is that I have had problems in the past when the controller failed and I could not read the disks to recover the data because of the RAID controller's proprietary software. :(  With mirroring (Windows, not hardware) I have proved I can read the disks individually as a normal disks. Disks are pretty inexpensive these days so I can accept the 50% overhead.

 

 

 

Very valid and very important comment!

For the same reason I do not use proprietary raid controllers either but use software raid 5 which is built into Linux. 

I can also read my disks with any other Linux system - as they all use the same technology. 

Fully agree to *not* use any proprietary hardware raid controller or the on board raid controllers that some motherboards come with. 

As you rightly point out, when the motherboard or controller is gone, so is the data on the raid disks, unless one takes a chance and purchase the same motherboard/controller again.  

 

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 I used to use  Lexar CompactFlash cards. The only time when I had a problem was when I ran out of room, deleted some images, and then shot a few more.

Fortunately I was able to retrieve the images using their recovery software.

Several years ago when I bought my current camera it came with a free, plain white  Sandisk 32GB. That began to fail about a year later. As soon as I noticed something was off I replaced it and fortunately didn't lose any images.

 

I've read about other 32 gb cards failing, I wonder if there's something about the size.

 

The two 32 gb Sandisk cards I currently use in my camera have been fine. 

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2 hours ago, fotoDogue said:

 I used to use  Lexar CompactFlash cards. The only time when I had a problem was when I ran out of room, deleted some images, and then shot a few more.

Fortunately I was able to retrieve the images using their recovery software.

Several years ago when I bought my current camera it came with a free, plain white  Sandisk 32GB. That began to fail about a year later. As soon as I noticed something was off I replaced it and fortunately didn't lose any images.

 

I've read about other 32 gb cards failing, I wonder if there's something about the size.

 

The two 32 gb Sandisk cards I currently use in my camera have been fine. 

 

Just wondering how you knew that the card was failing -- i.e. what were the symptoms?

 

I have heard from others that 32 GB cards can be unstable. I've been sticking to 16 GB max for my SD cards. My oldest ones are 8 GB.

 

P.S. I use two external HD for storage. Would never use memory cards for that purpose.

Edited by John Mitchell
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3 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Just wondering how you knew that the card was failing -- i.e. what were the symptoms?

 

I have heard from others that 32 GB cards can be unstable. I've been sticking to 16 GB max for my SD cards. My oldest ones are 8 GB.

 

P.S. I use two external HD for storage. Would never use memory cards for that purpose.

 

The hourglass symbol began to appear when the camera would write to the card, my computer had trouble reading the card and my camera had trouble formatting it. Since cards are relatively cheap I decided to replace it rather than take the risk of losing photos.

 

I prefer the idea of using two smaller cards. If one fails you still have the other. I was wary of getting another 32gb card  my local photo supply shop was out of smaller cards when I stopped by to pick up replacements.

 

I would never use any of these cards for storage. I always transfer cards to my computer the same day I shoot and store photos on an external hard drive which gets backed-up to the cloud. Then I format my cards in-camera. My theory is that non start-up drives should be less likely to fail but that doesn't always hold true.

Edited by fotoDogue
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9 hours ago, hdh said:

 

Very valid and very important comment!

For the same reason I do not use proprietary raid controllers either but use software raid 5 which is built into Linux. 

I can also read my disks with any other Linux system - as they all use the same technology. 

Fully agree to *not* use any proprietary hardware raid controller or the on board raid controllers that some motherboards come with. 

As you rightly point out, when the motherboard or controller is gone, so is the data on the raid disks, unless one takes a chance and purchase the same motherboard/controller again.  

 

 

I would like to have gone with Linux for my workstation but the software I want to use is not available for Linux, it might run under WINE or whatever but I haven't the energy or inclination to manage another layer! If I build a storage device or go back to having a separate server I may well go down the RAID 5 route. BUt these days I am simplifying ...

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5 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Just wondering how you knew that the card was failing -- i.e. what were the symptoms?

 

.

No symptoms until after the fact. IIRC  I couldn't read the previous day's images and it refused to write any more. There was no indication in the viewfinder and the shutter release still worked. Unfortunately I don't chimp so I didn't find out straight away. I didn't carry a spare card then. I do now.

The last two images that recorded look like this.

https://goo.gl/photos/zFem38hkR9AzRv6t8

I don't think it's anything to do with the wine. Or the rain.

Edited by spacecadet
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5 hours ago, Martin P Wilson said:

 

I would like to have gone with Linux for my workstation but the software I want to use is not available for Linux, it might run under WINE or whatever but I haven't the energy or inclination to manage another layer! If I build a storage device or go back to having a separate server I may well go down the RAID 5 route. BUt these days I am simplifying ...

Gimp, Digikam and Darktable is what I use under Linux. 

All three do a good enough job for me;

- Digikam to keep my pics in order. 

- Darktable to process the RAW files. 

- Gimp to remove one or the other bird or artefact before submission.

 

I do not do any high end editing of pictures but my daughter does and she is more than happy with GIMP - she even tried Photoshop once and then came back to Gimp. 

 

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1 hour ago, hdh said:

Gimp, Digikam and Darktable is what I use under Linux. 

All three do a good enough job for me;

- Digikam to keep my pics in order. 

- Darktable to process the RAW files. 

- Gimp to remove one or the other bird or artefact before submission.

 

I do not do any high end editing of pictures but my daughter does and she is more than happy with GIMP - she even tried Photoshop once and then came back to Gimp. 

 

 

I appreciate there are alternatives, I have played with GIMP but I don't even use PS these days.

 

I do all my processing in Capture 1 and PhotoMechanic. I am aware of the Linux products but they are just not quite as slick and convenient or in some cases as good especially for Fuji RAWs. I have used the setup for around 15+ years so I am not about to change as I have my practice off pat. I know it works and it is reliable. But if I were starting out I might think diffeently.

Edited by Martin P Wilson
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