life & death of an SD card

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by caimi, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. caimi

    caimi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2012
    middle US
    Real Name:
    I read somewhere recently (don't ask me where) that an SD card doesn't last forever. Eventually the process of recording and re-formatting an SD card again and again will result in degraded images.

    I find this incredible. Wouldn't that make an SD card somewhat similar to a cassette tape and the degradation of sound after multiple re-recordings? But part of the problem with the cassette tape were the moving parts and the stretching of the tape. An SD card lacks those built-in problems. No?

    Someone enlighten me and tell me the life expectancy of the average 4GB SD card. Thank you,
  2. rnagoda

    rnagoda Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Real Name:
    Source: SD Card Reliability

    But, to paraphrase, "...even if one were to fill and format an SD card five times every day, it would still last for more than 50 years..."

    Buy a good, quality product and you shouldn't have to worry about this. Pro shooters use dual cards in their cameras, just in case, but for most folks this is a non-issue.
  3. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    Almost all flash memory has a limited functional life, including SSD's. IIRC, the old spec. quoted for memory cards was around 10,000 writes, but that number my have improved over the years. It's the ature of the beast.

  4. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Real Name:
    And, considering how the cost of flash memory has fallen over the past 10 years, most of us have no reason to complain.
  5. Liamness

    Liamness Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    It's not like tape; it doesn't degrade, it either works or it doesn't.

    Solid state memory should last for ages. Even though 10,000 writes doesn't sound like a lot, the card makes sure the writes are distributed evenly among the blocks, so they don't 'wear' as fast. As long as you aren't filling up the card and formatting it every time you shoot, that adds up to a lot of usage.

    Of course there is always the chance of something going wrong and data ending up corrupting. I would guess there is probably a greater chance of physically losing the card though.
  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The problem with the durability of SD cards is the cheap plastic housing most of them are made of. Sandisks are the only ones I've had that have been able to last many years without physically breaking apart. That includes moving parts like the lock switch, even if it's never been moved or used. The plastic parts will physically wear out long before you have to worry about its internal functions wearing out.
  7. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Real Name:
    I have outgrown so many cards that I am sure I will grow out of the current ones far sooner than they will wear out.
  8. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Even Sandisks aren't infallible, though. I had a 16Gb Sandisk Extreme SD card get stuck inside my GH1 with what turned out to be a busted lock tab (which I never use myself) that caused it to become jammed in the card slot. After being told the repair to remove the card would cost more than the camera I had to remove the card with a pair of pliers. The camera now works again with another 8Gb card inside but because the card slot is a bit dinged-up I leave it in there permanently and use a cable to transfer data.
  9. aukirk

    aukirk Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2012
    I've had the small plastic pieces at the end that separate the connectors break off, but as long as it isn't "dangling" and blocking one of the connectors the card works fine (however, I threw mine out to avoid the card failing in the field)