As a photographer one of our main nightmares is having a memory card corrupt and losing all of the images from your session! How many of you have had that nightmare? I know I have! Although memory card corruption can happen, there are some things that you can do to help lessen your risk.
Purchase Memory Cards From Reputable Dealers
As surprising as it sounds, memory card fraud is pretty rampant! Counterfeit cards are something that most memory card manufactures are trying to stop. Some counterfeit cards are easy to spot, they have words that are spelled wrong or look completely different. Other ones look pretty spot on, however, they don't work the same. Using a counterfeit memory card can up your chances of corruption quite a bit because the cards do not go through the same quality standards. Although I buy memory cards from Amazon, there are some corrupt ones there as well so you will want to be vigilant. SanDisk has a whole department for dealing with memory card fraud. If you suspect that your memory card is a fake, don't be afraid to contact them. They will walk you through what to check to make sure your memory card is legit and will check the serial number. If you happened to buy a counterfeit memory card, as long as you purchased it from a legit dealer then they will let you return it or exchange it for another one.
Utilize Your Dual Memory Card Slots
If your camera has dual memory card slots then you will want to take advantage of them! Have the cards act as duplicates, your images will be written to both cards. If for some reason one memory card does corrupt then your other card should be fine! The likelihood of both cards corrupting at once is rare.
Take Care Of Your Memory Cards
You don't know how many photographers I run across who just throw their memory cards into their bag uncovered or leave them stacked up on their desk. If you just raised you hand at that, stop doing this immediately! Memory cards are fragile and their prongs can get bent, scratched, and damaged pretty easily. Keep your cards in a memory card wallet while they are in your camera bag or in your office or utilize that plastic case that the memory cards come in. They will help protect your cards and keep them safe. This also holds true to using the memory cards too, be careful when you are inserting and removing the cards from your camera and computer. The prongs can easily get damaged that way as well.
Here are some of my favorite memory card wallets on Amazon!
Only Format Your Memory Cards In Camera
Before you start a session you should format your memory card in camera. This will make sure it is in the correct format for your camera. You also shouldn't delete images from your card on your computer. Just put your full cards in your camera and format them. This helps lessen the chance of corruption and makes sure the memory card is in the correct format for your camera.
Don't Share Memory Cards Between Cameras
Every camera has its own photo index. When you share cards between cameras this can confuse the memory cards even if you do format them in camera. There have been cases of memory card corruption from photographers who use their memory cards on different cameras. Memory cards are cheap so it's best to just buy a few sets for every camera.
Don't Delete Images Off Of The Memory Card In Camera
If you're like me, you will scroll through some of the images that you took in camera during a session or afterwards. It's super tempting to delete those photos that just didn't turn out while you are scrolling through thinking that it will save you time with the culling process, however, you will want to resist that temptation! Deleting a photo in camera can mess up the photo indexing of the memory card and make it want to search for that missing photo or it may not fully delete the image which can cause memory card corruption. It's better to only delete photos during the culling process to make sure your memory card doesn't corrupt in the middle of a session.
Don't Fill Your Memory Card Up Completely
Filling your memory up won't always cause corruption but it's best to switch your memory cards when you are getting close to filling them up. Memory cards try to estimate how many images you have left but they aren't always accurate. Depending on how you have your camera set up and the type of files you are saving, the size per image could fluctuate with each image. Therefore, even if your memory card says you have enough space for one more image, you may not. If there isn't enough space for the image, it can make your memory card corrupt that file which could cause corruption of your entire memory card since it's trying to find that space for the image file. It's best to switch out your card when you are down to the single digits (or even before that) to be safe.
Now if you do have a memory card that corrupts, here are some steps that you can do to up your chances of recovering images.
Stop Shooting On The Card Immediately
If while you are shooting your camera gives you some sort of error message or if your memory card just doesn't seem to be working like normal, stop using the card. Put it away in your memory card wallet and switch to a new card. You'll have a better chance of recovering the images if you stop shooting so you don't accidentally photograph over your session. If you do have a memory card that corrupts, after you recover the images, you will more than likely want to toss the card and purchase a new one.
Use A Memory Card Recovery Program
Once you get home, if your images aren't showing up when you try to import them, try to use a memory recovery software program. Some memory cards some with access to a recovery program (SanDisk has RescuePro Deluxe) so that will probably be your first course of action. There are also other online softwares you can use as well. A lot of times those will work and help you get your images back.
Send Your Memory Off For Recovery
If the online memory card recovery program doesn't work, then your next course of action is sending your memory card off to a recovery place. Their software is usually a little more intensive and a lot of times when the online recovery programs do not work they are able to recover more images.
Having amazing images is only one part of running a successful photography business. You also need to be great at marketing your business as well! I will be speaking at WPPI 2019 all about How To Get Published and Stand Out In Your Market! If you're a photographer, you can get a FREE expo pass or 15% off a Platform or All Access Pass at the link below. See you in Vegas!