Should I erase my memory card after every download?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Bill, May 29, 2005.

  1. Bill

    Bill Guest

    I heard that a memory card has the limit of certain number of writes. If I
    earse the memory card after every download, I will be writing to the first
    segments of the card every time. Hence, shorten the life of the card.

    Have you heard of something like this?
    Bill, May 29, 2005
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  2. Bill

    Rudy Benner Guest

    Where did you hear this?
    Rudy Benner, May 29, 2005
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  3. Bill

    Sheldon Guest

    Not me. Since these cards are not the same as a floppy or hard drive, where
    you are storing on magnetic media with heads and wear, one would think the
    read/write cycle should be theoretically infinite. No moving parts. I have
    yet to hear of a memory card wearing out. Anybody else?
    Sheldon, May 29, 2005
  4. Bill

    Tony Hwang Guest

    No. But every time you download you wear the card out little by
    little. Electrons get tired you know.
    Tony Hwang, May 29, 2005
  5. Bill

    Pete D Guest

    Only damaging the card will shorten it's life.
    Pete D, May 29, 2005
  6. Bill

    ASAAR Guest

    Yes, Flash RAM has a limited number of writes. This is even
    mentioned in my camera's manual. But the number is sufficiently
    high that it's unlikely to be noticed by the vast majority of people
    using the same card for many, many years. The wearing out of Flash
    RAM mostly effected people that used it as a portable drive in small
    handheld computers and later in PDAs. The computers had the ability
    to rewrite the same sector far more frequently than any still
    camera. Semiconducter manufacturers in response developed far
    longer lived Flash RAM. The only way I'd see cards wearing out
    before their time is if they're used extensively to record videos.

    If any cards used in cameras ever do "wear out", they're likely to
    be rare events (who would still be using them?) so many years from
    now that they'd be equivalent to today's 4MB cards. In other words,
    little used curiosities. I remember not too long ago when my 80MB
    CF card was considered to be huge. :)
    ASAAR, May 29, 2005
  7. Bill

    stratus46 Guest

    Flash memory does indeed have a finite life. See

    These values are consistent with data from chip makers. Even erasing 3
    times a day, every day would take 10 years to hit the low end of the
    life expectancy of 10,000 cycles. You will certainly be using SOMETHING
    else in 10 years. However, I would be more concerned about wearing out
    the pins/contacts of the memory from inserting/removing in the camera
    and card reader. I would expect the contacts on a CF card to take
    10,000 insertions but I had a child try to insert a CF and bend a pin.
    Of course, your mileage will vary. Bottom line, don't worry about it.
    Glenn Gundlach
    stratus46, May 29, 2005
  8. Bill

    Jim Townsend Guest

    If you Google for 'flash lifetime' and flash write cycles', you'll
    find info from some credible sites that state flash memory is
    good from around 300,000 writes up to a million..

    Your card will wear out eventually, but it will be many years
    until it happens.
    Jim Townsend, May 29, 2005
  9. Bill

    Mr. Mark Guest

    I heard that a memory card has the limit of certain number of writes. If I
    If you don't erase the card, how will you get more files on it? <g>
    Mr. Mark, May 29, 2005
  10. Bill

    Mr. Mark Guest

    Not me. Since these cards are not the same as a floppy or hard drive,
    They have a limited life, but the average user isn't going to approach the
    number of writes possible on modern cards.
    Mr. Mark, May 29, 2005
  11. Bill

    ASAAR Guest

    For some Memory Sticks it's as simple as flipping a switch. :)

    I think that he normally downloads well before the card is filled.
    It's very slightly riskier to continue using the card until it's
    filled, before downloading. But downloading multiple times without
    reformatting would be more convenient if the camera had a menu
    option that forced all additional pictures to be stored in a new
    folder in the card.
    ASAAR, May 29, 2005
  12. Bill

    Confused Guest

    On 28 May 2005 21:17:17 -0700
    In message <>
    Posted from
    If that were true, it seems to me that the directory
    holding the FCB's for the 1st cluster of photos would
    reach 10,000 writes quickly. We *should* be seeing
    tons of failing card posts.

    Confused, May 29, 2005
  13. Bill

    Photobossman Guest

    Well my 64MB SD card lasted aprox 3 months that is when it got wet in a
    Montana Mount lake around 45 degree water is all it took to destroy not only
    my memory but the camera as well. However I at least did not loose my fish.

    Photobossman, May 29, 2005
  14. Bill

    pbdelete Guest

    Yes, Flash RAM has a limited number of writes. This is even
    Why would video recording wear the card out more than takeing stills?
    pbdelete, May 29, 2005
  15. Bill

    pbdelete Guest

    Flash cards certainly have a finite amount of _write_ cycles. Read cycles does
    not cause wear and tear asfaik. Asfaik, most cards should manage at least
    100 000 write cycles per block. Real old ones maybe 10 000 (less than 64 mb?).

    What can wear out is the places which is often rewritten, ie the file
    allocation tables (FAT). This and file allocation can be mitigated by writeing
    the fat on new locations. On a harddisc you want fat+files as near as possible
    due head movement. So first block(s) that are free is used. On a flashcard one
    can use roundrobin allocation to make sure as few as possible writes are used.
    Which requires that the user ofcourse doesn't reformat the card. Also bad
    blocks that has gone bad can be marked "bad" and be avoided.

    So when pic1, pic2 is written, and then deleted. pic3 is written on the
    physical sectors that lies after pic2.

    What can really wear out a flash card is a embedded system that uses the flash
    card for swapping. Where one usually have to add enough memory and disable
    swapping altogether.

    It would be interesting to know if cameras verifies that the picture has been
    written. And if it will handle a bad block situation well..
    pbdelete, May 29, 2005
  16. Yes, but I understand that the logical to physical mapping on cards is not
    constant, for exactly this reason. Thus they wear evenly rather than
    having a single region continuously hammered.

    David J Taylor, May 29, 2005
  17. Bill

    teflon Guest

    Why tie yourself into knots worrying about the inside of a memory card? It's
    about as pointless as worrying about the sensor in your camera wearing out
    because of the different kind of pictures it sees.

    Just take pictures and leave the insides of flash cards to the technicians.
    teflon, May 29, 2005
  18. Bill

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Yes, and it's true, but I would expect the card to be long obsolete
    before you get near that limit. I usually let the card get a few dozen
    pictures on it before erasing. It really isn't a practical issue.
    Ron Hunter, May 29, 2005
  19. Bill

    Ron Hunter Guest

    If the CF slot on a device is properly designed, it would be impossible
    to bend a pin unless something got into the slot. Unfortunately, NOT
    all devices are designed that way. I never had a problem with inserting
    a CF card, but then I was always careful.
    Ron Hunter, May 29, 2005
  20. Bill

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Quickly? Say you wrote and erased the same sector 10 times each day,
    that's 1000 days, or 3 years of use. I would probably consider that a
    good use life. I understand that newer cards are rated at 5 times that now.
    Ron Hunter, May 29, 2005
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