Preventing Memory Card Trouble – Best Practice

Preventing errors:
The main preventable causes of digital camera disasters are:

  • Continuing to shoot past the cameras low battery warning. If the battery goes dead while the camera is saving an image to your card or transferring images to your computer more than likely, your card will become unreadable. Using a card reader (powered by your computer) rather than your camera cable (powered by your battery) reduces risk. 
  • Never shoot until the card is full – reading 0 pictures left
  • Ejecting the memory card while the camera is saving a file (light still flashing).
  • Opening the card access door before turning the camera off especially if still saving (light still flashing)
  • Switching to view mode while the camera is saving an image or
  • Improper storage leading to Physical Damage
  • Using the same card in multiple cameras – this may cause unpredictable results
  • Using cards after they exhibit errors – replace cards after you experience trouble

Reducing your risk in the future:
There is no guarantee that you can prevent all errors or will be able to recover files but there are some things you can do to MAXIMIZE your chances of recovery before you run into trouble. The best approach is to archive your images on the memory card to Cloud, DVD or Blu-Ray or other safe media. Once you’re certain the images are all copied, you should FORMAT your card.  

Formatting the card sets the card up to receive new images sequentially written to the disk. This means that the picture is stored in one complete area on the memory card. Over time if you frequently erase and retake many pictures, the camera is unable to save the files in one complete piece and needs to store the image in many pieces called FRAGMENTS on the memory card.

Should the media become corrupted; the recovery process can only recover the first portion of a fragmented file. An example of an image recovered from a fragmented file is shown below. 


The next image was recovered from a media card with CONTIGUOUS files affording you the best chance of a full recovery.

What to do after disaster strikes:
When you get the scary message “CARD ERROR” or (CH) there is a very good chance that images can still be recovered from your media card. First, don’t do anything with your card. Remove your card from the camera. Don’t run Windows Scandisk or any other utility on your memory card. Don’t format the card in your camera or computer. It is essential you don’t do anything with the problem card in order to maximize the chances for a good recovery. This is why we suggest carrying multiple cards in your camera bag.


The Promaster Advantage:
If you purchased a Promaster memory card from Bergen County Camera, your in house standard recovery is Free + media charges, a Promaster advantage! (does not include DriveSavers). In the event your Promaster card has any electronic damage, the card will be replaced at no charge to you!

DriveSavers Recovery Services

Any memory cards that are not recoverable by our standard file recovery service can be sent for advanced recovery from DriveSavers. Although this can be expensive, they may be able to recover images when we are unable to. All jobs sent to DriveSavers through Bergen County Camera receive a 10% discount off their regular prices.


Airport X-rays

Digital Cameras and media are not affected by x-ray screening according to current research. We always recommend carrying your equipment in your carry on rather than with your check bags.

If you are traveling with film . . .

Many of the new airport scanners recently introduced are more powerful and much more likely to fog unprocessed film. The scanners used for checked baggage are even more powerful so under no circumstance should your film be placed in your checked baggage.

Although the FAA regulations allow for a hand inspection without exposure to X-ray’s, this may not always be possible as safety will always be the top priority. To make your request easier, place your film in clear plastic canisters inside of a clear bag to present to the screener. If refused, just be sure to have a lead film shield ready to go.

At some airports you may be randomly selected to have your carry on screened as checked baggage. This scan will fog your film, so be sure to remove you film before this scan.

Foreign airports almost never make allowances for hand inspections nor are they obligated by law to hand inspect, so pack you film in an x-ray bag and place it in your CARRY ON bag.

Films with an ISO of 1600 or higher are almost impossible to protect and should be shipped to your destination by a carrier who will certify no x-ray radiation.