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Replace old SD cards that still work?
Old 08-27-2018, 11:22 AM   #1
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Replace old SD cards that still work?

Does anybody replace older SD cards that still work?

I have not given it much thought until I read this article by Thom Hogan:

The Card Failure Issue | Sans Mirror | Thom Hogan

Skip down to get past the two slot debate.

I probably should note that I regularly retire my cards. It's probably one reason why I don't generally experience these types of card failure issues, even on SD or CF. People need to start thinking of cards like they think of tires on their autos: they have a limited read/write life span and should be replaced with some regularity if you care about data integrity. SD, in particular, is particularly prone to this problem because it's been around for so long. I keep encountering people who are still using their original SD card in their latest camera. Not only is that card slower than the camera can manage, but if you've been shooting long enough, you're going to hit cell degradation.
Thom is a pro and the cost of replacing cards is surely next to nothing compared to the cost of losing photos on a shoot. Also, he probably takes more photos in his average week than I do in months, years of shooting.

Still, SD cards are not that expensive anymore so why not toss out the ones over about 5 years old and get some new one? Years ago I got rid of my old one and two GB cards since they had to be changed so frequently in modern cameras with more megapixels. Now, even my 4 GB cards are starting to cramp my style at the wrong times.
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Old 08-27-2018, 11:27 AM   #2
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The only SD card I've had a failure with was due to human (me) error by pulling out of the computer too quickly. Flash drives are a different story as have had several go bad on me.
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Old 08-27-2018, 11:51 AM   #3
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I have never had an SD card go bad on me. However, all of the devices I use them in I back the contents up regularly to other media. Copies are in the home, in the bank, and in the cloud.

This goes for all the removable media I use as a "primary" capture source. Most of this media I tend to use for temporary backups or projects, so if they fail it is nothing to sweat about.
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Old 08-27-2018, 11:54 AM   #4
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I have upgraded based on memory capacity and write speeds. That tends to keep them from getting too old. I think I'm still using one from 2012, would be the oldest SD card I have. I have some doubts about the age factor though. If I relied on my livelihood I would probably be more careful.

It's also a reason not to go bleeding edge on capacity. If you pay a lot extra to get extra capacity for future needs, and he's correct about the 5 year life span, by the time you need the capacity it may be time to replace the card. On stuff like this I'm a fan of getting just a little above what you need, no more.
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Old 08-27-2018, 12:07 PM   #5
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You may want to check the manufacturer’s info on the device before buying a ginourmous capacity card as I have had devices limit the size card that could be used. YMMV
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Old 08-27-2018, 01:07 PM   #6
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I don't consciously relace the cards, but as my hardware's memory requirements increase, I buy larger, faster cards. I've only had one SanDisk Extreme Pro card fail, ever. I have a DSLR that holds both CF and SD cards, and I write to both simultaneously, so unless the camera has a catastauphic failure (or is flooded), I'm not likely to lose any data with a single card failure.
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Old 08-27-2018, 02:27 PM   #7
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Personally I wouldn't waste my time worrying about write cycles, but that is because the number of writes I do to my SD cards is so miniscule compared to current specs that I'll never wear out the card that way. Same thing with my SSD: It's rated at something gigs-per-day and I use it at something dozens-of-megs-per-day.

Chronological age really isn't a factor, although (for SSDs at least, which use the same underlying memory) there is some "shelf-age" spec where the data is only required to be retrievable for a certain period of time if you just take the card out and stick it on a shelf for six months or a year. This I would worry about a little, but you can solve it by using the card in your camera or computer every few months.

Insertions and removals probably also have a rating. I don't know what it is for SD cards, but for SSDs I think they're only rated to 50 or 100 insertions, because you don't expect an SSD to be removed and inserted much. SD cards are probably rated and designed for more because of their usage model; a quick Google search suggests thousands of cycles as a reasonable guess.

Overall, if you're an ordinary user, the things are ridiculously over-engineered for you. If you're a power user or more, check the specs. (As a final side note, unless there is a very very rare manufacturing defect or unless you use it out of spec by driving over it with your car or something, the device will last to the rated spec and most likely 20%-50% past it.)
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Old 08-27-2018, 02:44 PM   #8
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I don't replace them if they are still working. I do have them go bad from time to time. My SD cards I use are in trail/game camera's mostly and are used in extreme weather conditions through the 4 seasons.

I did drop one in the water just minutes before I read this thread. LOL I dried it well but doesn't seem to work.
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Old 08-27-2018, 02:51 PM   #9
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My drone had issues with the slower speed SD card. It wouldn't do 4k as smoothly or efficiently. First world problems. Spent like $100 and grabbed a couple of high speed Sandisk Ultras (one 64gb and one 128gb). I figure it will be all I need until something faster comes along.

I crashed my drone into the water (hit a sailboat masts halyard after the compass went haywire). I recovered both the DJI drone and the SD HD card, but not my pride. Drone flies fine, SD card works great, even captured the crash on video.
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Old 08-27-2018, 03:05 PM   #10
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I'm mostly a single shot (rather than machine gun) DSLR shooter and expect that my old Sandisk Extreme CF cards will last at least as long as my current DSLRs (all of which are vintage 2010 or thereabouts).
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Old 08-28-2018, 06:35 AM   #11
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Never even though about it. I have had the same SD card in my camera since I bought it. I will probably wait until I get a new camera to get a new card.
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