Choosing a memory card – All of your eggs in one basket?

Recently a lot of people have been asking me what sized memory card to buy. With cards from 4GB through to over half a terabyte (512GB) it’s no wonder there is so much confusion.

When it comes to memory cards everyone does it differently. Some like one super-card that they could fit their entire life on whilst others enjoy collecting the bargain 4GB variety. Whilst there is no argument when it comes to the need for card speed and reliability the question of size still has people divided.

Picture yourself in this situation. You are trekking your way through South East Asia, camera glued to your hand and pictures being fired off at an alarming rate. You get back to your hotel at the end of the night and plug your 64GB mega-card into the dodgy hotel computer and notice that it simply won’t register… you try your friends laptop but alas no results. You try your camera again and still nothing? The card is simply dead. Corrupt. Kaput. Done. The past week of memories are now simply that, memories.

Or perhaps worse, maybe it wasn’t the cards fault! Maybe you are like me with a track record of 3 for 3, leaving your camera in the back seat of a taxi on my past three trips? Again, my 64GB or 128GB of photos are gone forever from my life.

Solution 1: Take mum’s advice

A couple of years back my tech-savvy mum presented an idea to me that seemed a little absurd at the time but makes total sense in retrospect.
Only ever take 4GB cards on holidays, lots of 4GB cards. The theory behind this was that when you ask the dodgy market attendee to burn your photos to a DVD the entire memory card would fit on a disk; 1 card to 1 disk. This removes much of the risk of them missing images when backing up your cards.

Solution 2: The 16GB Shuffle

This is my favourite approach to storage as it’s cheap, reliable and with only a tiny bit of organisation will be the safest way to preserve your photos should disaster strike.

On average a one or two week holiday will leave me with roughly 64GB of photos. For the 16GB Shuffle you will need 4 cards labeled 1,2,3 & 4. The idea is to rotate the memory cards every day, leaving a small snippet of your holiday on each card and the other cards safe and sound in the hotel safe.

Day 1: Card 1
Day 2: Card 2
Day 3: Card 3
Day 4: Card 4
Day 5: Card 1
Day 6: Card 2 …etc etc

Whilst this sounds like a cataloging nightmare, if your cameras date and time is set at the start of the trip it is still simply to order your photos when they are all dumped into a single folder on your computer. Should a card go awol with your camera (in a taxi or with another person) or simply corrupt because technology just does that sometimes you will only have lost small snippets of the trip rather than huge chunks.