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Storage/backup stability of sd cards?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by noelh, May 23, 2011.

  1. I shoot RAW+fineJPEG using 8gb sd cards in the GF-1.

    Have been backing up the albums to an external hard drive and using the sd cards as my primary long term storage medium for the RAW/jpeg files. Assuming no exposure to extreme temps, humidity, UV is the data on the sd cards more or less permanent?

    Card prices continue to drop. Noticed yesterday when ordering another 8gb card the Sandisk 4gb class 6 card was only $6.00. Shooting RAW+fineJPEG on the GF-1 is ~150 images/4gb. Bit like paying ~$1/roll for 35mm film.

    Side note: co-worker of a friend found out the effects of low level, long term uv exposure to DVDs. Backup discs luckily for some expensive engineering/design software. Discs were toast. Lesson learned was to store dvds away from any light source.
  2. MegaPixelTravel

    MegaPixelTravel Mu-43 Regular

    May 14, 2011
    Why not back up to a harddrive (or external harddrive) or even a toaster setup? Or SSD? They got to be cheaper than buying a bunch of SD cards.

    As for the DVD storage, it works but if your storing DVDs they should be placed in a dark cool place, not beside a sunny window.
  3. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Less permanent.
  4. SMaturin

    SMaturin Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 30, 2011
    New York's Backyard
    SD cards are rugged little electronic devices, and they rely on non-volatile flash memory. The memory cells have a limited life span of write cycles, so they can "wear out" if used constantly for a long time. That said, you could likely get many years of reuse out of one.

    But that does not really answer your question about using them as archival storage.

    I do not know if anybody can answer the question of how permanent they would be as a storage medium if only written to once. They are still microelectronic devices requiring specific hardware to read, which will become obsolete in time, just like floppy disks, Zip drives, Betamax, eight tracks and cassette tapes, etc., have become over recent decades. They have not been around long enough to really know if they will continue to function in ten or twenty years, although I think it is likely they would. However, computers a decade or two from now may use some other format of storage that is much more information dense, and SD cards will be seen as dinosaurs, they way floppies are today. Future computers may not be able to read them.

    Your best bet is multiple forms of backups, including writing your data to optical disc (CD or DVD), and storing the redundant backups someplace safe, elsewhere from the originals. I imagine DVD readers will still be around for a few more years, despite the rapid advances in storage systems, since many people have large collections of CD's and DVD's and will want to continue using them. Just like us old farts who still have phonographs to listen to our legacy vinyl.

    Cloud storage may make that redundant backup strategy obsolete, as well, in the not too distant future.

    Amazing how fast things change in the digital era.

    • Like Like x 1
  5. Howi

    Howi Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 23, 2011
    Bad, bad, bad idea. Memory cards are no better than floppy disks in terms of reliability. Memory cards and memory sticks should ONLY be used as TEMPORARY storage. Always get your images off ASAP onto a more permanent storage medium. If I had a pound for every USB memory stick that has gone bad (where I work) I could easily retire on the proceeds.
    Add to that another pound for the memory stick having the ONLY copy, I wouldn't need to do the lottery very week......
  6. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    even sdcard.org doesn't appear to have the answer, just saying they "should last 10 years or more"

    External hard drives are so cheap these days, no reason not to have one.

    Either that, or RAID your main hard drive array in your computer
  7. Sounds like sd medium for off site storage is not a good idea.
    Will continue to back up to the external hd and burn dvd for off site storage.

    New iMac ordered. Moment of false excitement with the announcement of LaCie Thunderbolt external hard drive. RAID0 only. Hopefully when the funds are replenished a RAID1 or 2 unit will be available. Not even sure if Thunderbolt connection to external hd is of significant benefit.
  8. SMaturin

    SMaturin Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 30, 2011
    New York's Backyard
    Yeah, my take is that sd cards are a great medium of exchange, like paper dollars, but not the "gold standard" for storing the wealth of your work.

    Regarding Thunderbolt, I suspect it will be a real advantage in the not too distant future as drive manufacturers produce portable units that use it. It will be faster than FireWire and much faster than USB. Within a few months I would not be surprised by inexpensive portable multi terabyte drives using it to become a backup medium of choice. A Tbolt drive as a Time Machine archive for your iMac will be nice, and you could also
    use it to archive Aperture libraries.

    -Steve. iPad. Mu-43 App.
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