When memory cards fail

ScanDisk Compact Flash CardsDSC04984b

About six weeks ago one of these cards crashed spectacularly on me in the middle of a photoshoot. I had over 300 images on the card and suddenly I received an error message on the camera. Sadly the three hundred pictures could not be replaced and I had to set about trying to retrieve them.

The really good news is that I managed to save all 300, the company who sold me the card replaced it and I wound up a happy bunny.

Since then I have been doing some research into these cards about what can and cannot be recovered when something goes wrong. I was surprised by what I found out.


What did I need to recover the pictures

A card reader
Recovery software – I used CardRecovery v6:10
I downloaded it from the internet without problems and without having to fend off any nasties.
By running the program it showed me what could be recovered and I had to
Purchase the licence in order to download them – cost $40 and that is for a lifetime licence


Does it recover all images?

Yes JPEGs are no problem. RAW files it converts to TIFs! And displays them.


Suppose there are damaged sectors on the card!

The recovery software will tell you how many of these there are but I am afraid those pictures will probably have gone


What else have I found out?IMG_9280e

Suppose I accidentally delete my pictures in camera, have I lost them?
No – they are still there and can be recovered.


I accidentally reformatted the memory card won’t that have got rid of them?
No – as an experiment, I tried that and the images could still be recovered.


What exactly does the recovery software find then?
Everything that has not been overwritten by new images. If you have had an
8GB card for some time it is likely that the software will plough its way through and produced for you 8GB of pictures. This can take quite some time .

How many images are we talking about?
That depends on the resolution of your camera. I recently did a recovery job on someone’s 32GB card and that threw up 1500 images and more than half of those were shot in RAW mode. It took 5 hours 35 minutes to locate then and around 4 hours to save them on to an external drive.



A few suggestions

Never remove the memory card from the camera when it is switched on

When purging images from your memory card – do it on the camera and not through the computer

Although you may not wish to do this every time – it seems better to reformat the card rather than delete images.
Reason?   … if any errors have been created when the camera has been writing to the card, reformatting the card will enable the camera to put these right.

Never use the same memory card in different cameras, even if the cameras are by the same manufacturer.

When you first purchase a card format it in your camera. That will ensure that the camera is totally in tune with the card.

Some of these bits of advice have come as a result of my own crashes and others I have researched. I pass them on simply because it is so easy to take memory cards for granted and when anything goes wrong we are devastated.

Thanks for reading this. Do contact me if I can help further.