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12-14-2019, 01:47 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Lots of my SD cards have degraded

I load SD cards with images to display in class. The Pentax K-7 is hooked to a tv and there are about 30 cards with images. Some cards haven't been used in 3 years. Popped some cards into the K-7 and one card wouldn't display any images. So I checked all the cards and was surprised to find 5 not working. Checked them in a K20D and still no images. 5 out of thirty is a much higher failure rate than expected!

Loaded them into the laptop and 3 of the 5 display images. Two are absolutely dead. Manufacturers are quick to point out that memory cards aren't for long term storage. Surprised at the number of faltering cards. Granted, some are around 10 years old, but they aren't being continually written/read/ and deleted. They mostly just sat in a SD card case. The brands are 3 PNY, 1 Patriot, and 1 Sandisk. Apparently the computer can handle more card degradation than the cameras. Anyone else run into similar results?

Luckily all these files are backed up to multiple external hard drives. That now has me a little worried. Will have to check the hard drives after the holidays.

thanks,
barondla

12-14-2019, 02:04 PM   #2
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I had one PNY card fail on me pretty quickly and never used that brand again. Out of the many Sandisk Iíve used over the years only one just recently started to fail on me. Pretty bummed about that because itís fairly new and not used heavily but maybe just bad luck on that one.
12-14-2019, 02:05 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Interesting - but NOT surprising

Your experience REALLY SHOULD read by the many people who seem to want to store their images that way and so buy

BTW: to the Mods: maybe this thread, and any subsequent posts in it, should be made a Sticky as a "Warning" to anyone else who is using, or wants to use, that method of storing their images!
12-14-2019, 02:27 PM   #4
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Try formatting those "failed" cards in camera and see if they respond.

12-14-2019, 02:39 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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lost your images...more fool you (whoever you are).

Anyone who thinks Sd card are anything other than short term storage needs their their heads examined
12-14-2019, 02:45 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Clean the contacts with something for that purpose.
12-14-2019, 03:03 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I use each SDHC card (32gb) once until nearly full (max 30gb - about 1200 RAW images), it is then replaced with a fresh one (the things are cheap enough). Images are backed up after each outing to an internal drive, then when card is 'full' (see earlier) entire card backed up to two external drives, and original card stored - just as I used to do with film negatives in the 'old days'. To my mind, it is a false economy to format and re-use cards (and I know others will disagree !), but this system has worked for me for the past five years, since I got my K20D. YMMV

12-14-2019, 03:35 PM - 1 Like   #8
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All of my collection of SD cards are still working with two exceptions.
A 1GB card that was in a Rio MP3 player that sat outside under tall grass for two years. (My son had the player fall out of his pants while mowing the lawn and then ran over it throwing it across the road)
A 64GB microSDXC that was in my phone. I set the phone down and it rebooted. The card was unreadable/undetected in the phone and on my computer when put into a adapter. It was sent back to SanDisk and they replaced it, telling me that the data were unrecoverable.
I try and fill the cards up when I am using them and format them in camera, I also never use the cards without locking them when putting them in my card readers for image transfer. (This was a lesson learned after removing a unlocked card after hitting the delete button. It took three days and a diverse set of recovery tools to get the images back.)
12-14-2019, 03:38 PM   #9
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This is to be expected if the cards are not used for an extended period of time. If you want to help retain the data, it's a good idea to use the card from time to time. The same goes for SSDs, by the way.

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12-14-2019, 03:44 PM   #10
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@35mmfilmfan

TBH, I agree with almost all you wrote, except that:
- if I did that then I would almost certainly "mislay" the cards if I tried to "store them for future use" (and I'll bet that that I'm not alone in likely being in "that" situation! )
- Anyway, I can't actually afford to buy new cards that often (when I'm at an airshow, the K-3s will be in "machinegun" mode - so I can easily completely fill a couple of 32 GB cards at a single event!).
PS: "personal" I know, but I won't use micro-SD cards in SD adaptors in cameras as that involves two extra sets of contacts that can be damaged/contaminated.

Last edited by jeallen01; 12-14-2019 at 04:02 PM.
12-14-2019, 04:47 PM - 2 Likes   #11
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After looking into the physics of flash memory, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. The "write" process basically uses a relatively high voltage to tunnel a bunch of electrons into a floating gate surrounded by insulator. That stored charge affects the electrical behavior of the underlying transistor during the read process, letting the read circuit estimate the floating gate stored charge to measure the stored value.

However!!!!! If only the universe were so nice and friendly! Time, heat, x-rays, cosmic rays, and even the reading of adjacent gates cause leakage of those stored electrons.

The only way to maintain the stored memory is to periodically rewrite the data (a low-level formatting and re-loading of the card) to refresh the stored charge. But rewriting the memory wears it out so that's no panacea, either!
12-14-2019, 06:18 PM - 3 Likes   #12
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No consumer-grade storage is long term. Even CD/DVD media degrades over time, although commercially-pressed ones do last a very long time. Don't expect anything -- hard drives, USB keys, XQD cards -- to last. Instead, create multiple backups, test them and replace them as soon as they fail. This includes at least one off-site backup such as cloud storage or a couple hard drives in an external location such as a safety deposit box or self storage.

There are anomalies like glass-etched storage designed to last longer, but those are impractical for consumer use.

In fact, in terms of degradation, the most durable storage medium is actually print. Print your best shots with quality printing and they will most surely outlast any digital storage medium.
12-14-2019, 06:34 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by automorphism Quote
No consumer-grade storage is long term. Even CD/DVD media degrades over time, although commercially-pressed ones do last a very long time. Don't expect anything -- hard drives, USB keys, XQD cards -- to last. Instead, create multiple backups, test them and replace them as soon as they fail. This includes at least one off-site backup such as cloud storage or a couple hard drives in an external location such as a safety deposit box or self storage.

There are anomalies like glass-etched storage designed to last longer, but those are impractical for consumer use.

In fact, in terms of degradation, the most durable storage medium is actually print. Print your best shots with quality printing and they will most surely outlast any digital storage medium.
Archaeologically speaking, cuneiform on clay tablets beats ink on paper!

An estimated 500,000 to 2 million clay tablets from between 2,000 to 5,000 years ago have been excavated. Only a very small number (about 3,000) scrolls of papyrus or parchment have survived the eons. Cellulose and leather are fragile polymers and tasty snacks for bacteria, fungi, critters, and flames.

Glass-etched storage looks both cool and brings the "memory crystal" concept of many a sci-fi story to real life.
12-14-2019, 06:39 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote

Luckily all these files are backed up to multiple external hard drives. That now has me a little worried. Will have to check the hard drives after the holidays.
yep, definitely check them every once in a while. I will have to do it too!
12-14-2019, 09:51 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Archaeologically speaking, cuneiform on clay tablets beats ink on paper!

An estimated 500,000 to 2 million clay tablets from between 2,000 to 5,000 years ago have been excavated. Only a very small number (about 3,000) scrolls of papyrus or parchment have survived the eons. Cellulose and leather are fragile polymers and tasty snacks for bacteria, fungi, critters, and flames.
Definitely true. You have to hope that your progeny will use your backups to print new copies after a few hundred years. However, I think at that point I'll be past caring
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