How the Right Software Can Recover Your Files

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When I’m on a photography trip I take all of the obvious precautions that I’m sure we are all taking with digital files. I have two card readers in case one fails, it will eventually and it can be a pain to replace depending on where in the world you are, I download the images to two separate places and have enough memory cards so that I don’t need to reformat cards until I get home.

What this system doesn’t account for is what happens when a memory card goes bad. This has happened in a couple of different ways for me. In one case the memory card wasn’t being read by the card reader but could be read by the camera. Easy fix – plug the camera in and download the images. Slower than it would be with a card reader but it worked. In the second case the card wasn’t being read by the card reader. The lights were on but no files appeared on my computer even after waiting for an age. It’s at times like this that the card recovery software that is often free when you buy the memory card is what you need to have. I foolishly always toss the unlock code for the software along with the other packaging materials from the memory card and so when I needed the software I didn’t have it. I ended up paying what felt like a lot to get a ‘free’ program. Fortunately this software worked a treat and I was able to recover all the images on the crashed card.

So the moral of the story is – if you haven’t done it already, the next time you get a new memory card make sure you download the card recovery software. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever need it but when you do it’s an absolutely blessing to already have it installed and ready to go.

Memory Matters

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I’ve been nerding out looking at memory cards over the last week or so. Although in principal I don’t need ‘fast memory’ cards the latest gadgets always catch my eye. So it was with these Lexar cards that are 1066x, sounds faster than my 300x cards but 1066 times what. It turns out this is in reference to the speed of the original CD-ROM of 150 KB/sec. So cards that are rated 300x have sustained write speeds of 45Mb/s and cards that are rated 1006 will have write speeds of ~160Mb/s. To me this seems important in two places – if you’re shooting fast action such as sports or chasing your kids around and when you’re downloading the cards where faster cards will download faster.

It seems that even with the faster cards for the long exposures that I take at the fringes of the day the write time is roughly equivalent to the length of the exposure. So a 20 second exposure will mean a 20 second write. While I know I ought to be more relaxed about it that can seem like an awfully long time between shots.

The other thing that I’m trying to balance in addition to write time is how large should the card be. I like to have enough memory cards on hand so that when I go off shooting for a couple of days I don’t have to reformat any of the cards. This gives me a third back up in addition to storage on my hard drives. I have typically settled on 16GB cards as a good size, I get a good number of images per card – often a morning or an afternoons shoot per card – without it being too many that if I were to lose the card or if it were to crash I wouldn’t have lost the entire trip.