Memory Card Rotation – play it safe

All types of memory card should be rotated in use.

Make sure you use all your memory cards. Don't let them hang about unused.

Make sure you use your memory cards

It is too easy to let your memory card stay in your camera. If you have more than one card the chances are it is in the camera and the others sit in your kit bag. In fact memory cards can deteriorate with handling or even just being knocked about with the other gear you have. It is important to protect your cards because if one fails you stand to lose a lot of data one day. These days big capacity cards can mean literally thousands of images on the card. If you lose that data you will be sorry. Remember these cards are vulnerable media, and they can also deteriorate with use. Here is what to do…

  1. Mark each card with a unique reference number to identify it.
  2. Keep accurate records of purchase date for each card.
  3. On your record note the date each time the card goes in the camera.
  4. Tick it off as ‘formatted’ when you clean up after a shoot.
  5. Use the records to rotate the next into the camera ensuring regular use.
  6. Replace each card every 2 years, (less for pros.). Discard old ones.

Here is an example record table you can use for one card. Put as many rows on to the record sheet as you need.

Memory Card Record Table

Memory Card Ref. Number: 2012.001
Date purchased: ..10/02/2012..

Date into camera Date used Date out Formatted Y/N Roated Y/N
 04/05/2012  04/05/2012  05/05/2012  Y  Y

If you put your record-table on a word processor or spread sheet you can print it out and quickly fill it in. Over a period of time you will get a picture of your memory card use. From this you will be able to predict when to buy new ones for your rolling programme, how much they are used and what sort of time period your cards are in your camera between uses. I also have a ‘shots’ column which tells me how many shots I have taken on that card on each shoot. At the end of each row a short space for notes. I note in that space what date I retired the card, did I have problems, any special issue to note and so on… Design your record to suit the type of use you are making of your card.

This record system helps you to be safe about your memory cards. If you are careful and fill the record sheet in every time it will also help you remember if you downloaded the shots last time or not! Hopefully with this ‘record strategy’ you will never have a catastrophic card loss.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

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