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Author Topic: Longevity of SD cards  (Read 4830 times)

PeterAit

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Longevity of SD cards
« on: February 08, 2016, 10:54:39 am »

I have a major trip coming up and was thinking about my SD cards, all of which are at least 2 years old. Do these things wear out? Am I at higher risk of a failure with an older card? I have never had a memory card error, so I suspect they are pretty durable, but I do not want to take more chances than needed.
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Jim Kasson

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2016, 11:00:08 am »

I have a major trip coming up and was thinking about my SD cards, all of which are at least 2 years old. Do these things wear out? Am I at higher risk of a failure with an older card? I have never had a memory card error, so I suspect they are pretty durable, but I do not want to take more chances than needed.

There is wear with usage. Any decent card should tolerate more than 10,000 write cycles per cell before failure. There is software in the card to spread the usage across the chip. This wear can be a problem when flash devices are used as disk replacements in computers, but it would take a highly-unusual usage pattern to cause a cell to wear out in the camera.

I wouldn't worry.

Jim

NancyP

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2016, 12:09:43 pm »

I suspect failure is more or less random. I have a mix of cards, some 5 years old, youngest 2 years old. Admittedly, the very oldest and smallest got relegated to the Sigma Merrills, which are used only for landscape / still life, so the lengthy write time is irrelevant. (the cameras are on tripod on a time delay anyway - why o why wouldn't Sigma have a remote release shutter port?)
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dwswager

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2016, 12:24:30 pm »

I have a major trip coming up and was thinking about my SD cards, all of which are at least 2 years old. Do these things wear out? Am I at higher risk of a failure with an older card? I have never had a memory card error, so I suspect they are pretty durable, but I do not want to take more chances than needed.

You are more likely to physically damage an SD card than have it fail on you.  CF is more durable.  Sent one through the washer and dryer with no ill effect or loss of data.  I've used CF since 2004 and SD since it came out and have had 1 CF failure (controller went squirrely) and 1 SD failure.  Both were Sandisk, though that is mainly what I use.  The SD failure was a 16GB Extreme Pro which Sandisk replaced free with a 32GB version of the same card.

You are much more likely to upgrade cards for speed and capacity than have them fail.  I've got a draw full of old cards that still work.  The oldest being a Nikon 8MB CF card that came with the Coolpix 950 or 990.

That said, SD is relatively cheap so for an important trip, I would buy a couple extra just in case.  Have a way to off load them if possible to a portable SSD, hard drive or laptop.
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Colorado David

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2016, 12:33:09 pm »

I was talking with a old friend of mine who is a retired Brooks educated commercial photographer.  He retired from commercial photograph at the end of film and never made the switch to digital.  He was holding one of my SD cards and asked how many images it would hold and how much it cost.  When I told him he asked why would you ever reuse them?  Why not just archive them?  That's a reasonable question for a film shooter.  As inexpensive as they are, why not stock up on some spares before an important trip.

razrblck

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2016, 01:14:44 pm »

As others said, SD cards are cheap and if you value this trip it might be safer to invest in new ones (quality brand from a reputable seller).

I buy new cards every two years, I never shoot more than 10k frames on each. The old ones just get demoted to backup cards in case of hard failure of the primary ones. I like to play it safe and always be prepared for the worst, but if your usage is low you won't need to do this.

When I told him he asked why would you ever reuse them?  Why not just archive them?  That's a reasonable question for a film shooter.

Flash media makes for a bad long term storage device. Hard drives are way better for this and more reliable. You can get external drives for cheap and store way more pictures per dollar on them. I archive backups on 2.5" drives labeled, and it's good to store multiple copies of the same backups as well, but flash memory is still not up to the task.
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dwswager

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2016, 02:57:42 pm »

Flash media makes for a bad long term storage device. Hard drives are way better for this and more reliable. You can get external drives for cheap and store way more pictures per dollar on them. I archive backups on 2.5" drives labeled, and it's good to store multiple copies of the same backups as well, but flash memory is still not up to the task.

Store on 2.5" hard drives with REDUNDANCY?  I've built computers since about 1986 and hard disks have gotten much more reliable, but they are prone to bizarre failures in the controllers or lever arms, especially when not used regularly.  Do you regularly spin them up and refresh them?

Archival of digital is still the problem waiting to get solved: both media and to a lesser extent image format.
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Telecaster

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2016, 03:59:56 pm »

Flash media makes for a bad long term storage device.

Just anecdotal evidence, but: I recently found a pair of 512mb SD cards, in a desk drawer, containing the pics from my first outing with the Epson R-D1 rangefinder back in December 2004. The cards read fine.

-Dave-
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razrblck

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2016, 04:53:10 pm »

Store on 2.5" hard drives with REDUNDANCY?  I've built computers since about 1986 and hard disks have gotten much more reliable, but they are prone to bizarre failures in the controllers or lever arms, especially when not used regularly.  Do you regularly spin them up and refresh them?

Archival of digital is still the problem waiting to get solved: both media and to a lesser extent image format.

I haven't been doing this long enough to worry about refreshing hard drives, so I'll worry about that in the future. Backups are not the only copy, my data is still available in the cloud and on my NAS (with it's own redundancy). Most recent data is also available on my PC, so the backups are just the third or fourth layer.

If I were to be truly anal about this I would use tape backups. Maybe one day I will, for the time being I'm comfortable with what works in the 10 years time span.

Just anecdotal evidence, but: I recently found a pair of 512mb SD cards, in a desk drawer, containing the pics from my first outing with the Epson R-D1 rangefinder back in December 2004. The cards read fine.

-Dave-

Same here, I have some cards that are just as old as yours and still work, but they have been used very little and I wouldn't trust them with anything remotely important (besides being real slow).
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Rhossydd

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2016, 05:30:57 pm »

if you value this trip it might be safer to invest in new ones
I wouldn't want to trust an unproven card with anything important. If electrical items are going to fail, they seem to either be DOA or fail relatively soon after first usage.
I'd prefer a tested, used and known reliable card.
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dwswager

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2016, 07:45:51 pm »

Just anecdotal evidence, but: I recently found a pair of 512mb SD cards, in a desk drawer, containing the pics from my first outing with the Epson R-D1 rangefinder back in December 2004. The cards read fine.

-Dave-

A little more anecdotal evidence.  I whipped out the whole box of old CF that I have (8MB, 80MB, 128 MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 4GB, 8GB).  All of them worked fine and I was able to read them.  The oldest being a 1999 8MB (Read that again, MEGABYTE) Nikon branded Sandisk card.  The D7100 was my first SD camera and so the oldest card is only about 3 years or so.
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razrblck

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2016, 02:58:00 am »

I wouldn't want to trust an unproven card with anything important. If electrical items are going to fail, they seem to either be DOA or fail relatively soon after first usage.
I'd prefer a tested, used and known reliable card.

That's why you always test them out of the package. Just take a few pictures around the house, you don't need many. If something weird happens that quickly, then the card goes back to the store.

Even better if you test it at the store (after paying for it) so that if anything goes wrong you don't waste time going back and forth. Again, buy only reputable brands from reputable sellers. If the price is too good to be true, then it's probably a fake and you should stay away.
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Rhossydd

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2016, 04:21:26 am »

you don't need many.
That's fine for catching DOA, but won't find the faults that develop after some use. I want the card to be filled a couple of times and have been in and out of camera several dozen times to ensure the contacts are properly fitted and won't work loose with use.

I know of very, very few memory card failures. It seems an extremely reliable technology and most problems come from user error. But if I'm going somewhere really important and unique I'll only trust kit that has proved it's reliability and still take spares.
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PeterAit

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2016, 09:27:56 am »

Well, I found a good deal on Lexar 64GB cards at Amazon so I bought 4. I plan to use my D600's dual-slot feature to keep a backup of all my shots because I will not have a computer with me. Iceland here I come! Well, not until June, but I am psyched already.
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bassman51

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2016, 06:31:48 pm »

My experience with SDs is that I've had two where the plastic casing failed (one Sandisk, one EyeFi), and one which refused to allow any more data to be written (probably an internal failure of the write protect switch). 

On the subject of long term storage of digital data, I only(!) have a few terabytes of data and have simply migrated all of it to successively larger drives over the years.  No old spinning things or magnetic things or other physical things that will eventually break.  Most of the data I've lost over the years is either thru format changes, software obsolescence or inadequate catalog/filing practices on my part. 
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dwswager

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2016, 07:21:29 am »

On the subject of long term storage of digital data, I only(!) have a few terabytes of data and have simply migrated all of it to successively larger drives over the years.  No old spinning things or magnetic things or other physical things that will eventually break. 

What technology are these successively larger drives? Obviously, they are not magnetic platter hard disk drives.
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bassman51

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2016, 08:00:37 pm »

What technology are these successively larger drives? Obviously, they are not magnetic platter hard disk drives.

Sure they are.  I'm currently using 4TB external drives and 3TB internal. 
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Nelsonretreat

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2016, 12:26:12 am »

I just  bought two SanDisk ExtremePro SDHC UHS1 cards which have a little diagram on the back that suggests that their operating range is  -13F to +185F 
This can't possibly be true can it???
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PeterAit

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2016, 10:00:22 am »

I just  bought two SanDisk ExtremePro SDHC UHS1 cards which have a little diagram on the back that suggests that their operating range is  -13F to +185F 
This can't possibly be true can it???

And why not?
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Peter

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Jim Kasson

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Re: Longevity of SD cards
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2016, 10:45:18 am »

I just  bought two SanDisk ExtremePro SDHC UHS1 cards which have a little diagram on the back that suggests that their operating range is  -13F to +185F 
This can't possibly be true can it???

I don't know why not. I suspect the limitations are associated with the packaging, not the chip. In the old days, semiconductor manufacturers sold plastic-packaged parts rated from 0 to 70 deg C or the same chips with a little more testing in ceramic packages rated from -55 to +125 deg C.

Jim
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