How to Make Your Memory Cards Last Longer

If you want to learn how to make your memory cards last longer, you’re in the right place!


Would you believe me if I told you that in ten years of being a wedding photographer, I’ve never had a single corrupted card? Not a single one! And yes, I still have the same cards I purchased ten years ago and they still work wonderfully. Many photographers will tell you to upgrade your cards every couple of years, but if you care for your cards properly, why risk throwing away perfectly good memory cards, and possibly replacing them with faulty ones?!


Sure, over the years I’ve purchased additional memory cards as better and faster versions became available. But I’ve never had to discard cards because they were glitching or acting strange. So, keep reading for more information on how to make your memory cards last longer!


1. Format Your Memory Cards 3 Times After Each Use


I heard this tip many years ago and I’ve made it a habit to always format my cards 3 times before a new session or wedding. Once I have downloaded my images and backed them up in more than one place, I always format each card 3 consecutive times before its next use.


2. Format Your Memory Card in Camera, NOT on Your Computer


You want to always format your memory cards in camera. Also, if you have multiple cameras, you do not want to format your memory card in one camera, then move it over to another camera. This could cause issues to your card later on. This tip is particularly important when you have your second shooter shoot on your memory cards. Make sure to always have them format the memory card in their camera as well before taking any pictures.


3. Don’t Delete Pictures in Camera


What I mean by this is do NOT go through your photos in your camera and manually erase them one by one. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see new photographers make. Simply discard the bad, unusable images in post. Or, if your camera is full, simply use a new card instead of trying to make more room on the same card. Deleting in camera causes holes in the memory card data. When you take new photos, your camera will try to fill those holes, which can end up overlapping data.


4. Don’t Fully Fill a Memory Card


Another tip for taking better care of your memory cards is to stop shooting before the card reaches full capacity. Don’t keep shooting until you see the “card is full” message on your camera. Instead, when you see that you have between 20-50 shots left on your card, go ahead and pop in a new card.


5. Purchase Name Brand Memory Cards


Lexar and SanDisk are my two go-to brands for memory cards, and I’ve never had any issues with either. I’ve also heard photographers purchase memory cards from unreliable sources, just to find out that the cards were faulty to begin with. My best advice is to always purchase your cards in store or from a name brand seller online.


6. Use a Reliable Card Reader


If you’re uploading your files directly from your camera, you can risk your battery dying in the middle of your images being transferred to your computer or external hard drive, which can corrupt your memory card. Instead, make sure to use a good card reader! One of the easiest ways to corrupt a card is by using an unreliable card reader. I personally use and love the Lexar professional card reader which allows me to upload images from 4 different memory cards at the same time.


lexar card reader

7. Do Not Remove Your Card from Your Camera while the Camera is Turned On


This goes without saying, but never remove your card from your camera while the camera is turned on. Also, never remove your card from your card reader mid transfer. This can cause your memory card to malfunction. Always eject your card before removing it from the card reader as well.


8. Use Different Memory Cards for Each Camera


If you photograph weddings, you probably have multiple cameras and memory cards. One thing I try to do is to always use the same set of cards with the same camera. All of my cards are labeled, which makes it really easy to know which cards go with which camera. This is really helpful if you use the same brand of cards across all of your cameras. In my case, I know that my SanDisk cards will go with my Nikon d810, and my Lexar cards will go with my Nikon d850 camera.


9. Protect Your Memory Cards


I use a hard case holder to protect my memory cards from breaking, getting dusty, or getting wet. All three of my cameras require different memory cards (SD, CF, and XQD), so I have a few different case holders that I use. They are all different colors, so it makes it easy for me to quickly find the case I need when replacing my cards.


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