We asked “Has an SD card ever failed on you?” and the results were interesting!

Welcome to Day 1 of “12 Days Of Christmas” where for the next 12 days until Christmas day 2021, we have one day an article, followed by one day a poll. All this will take part across a number of Facebook groups, Twitter and of course this website. Please feel free to take part, and enjoy…


The age old question of if SD cards are reliable is one that is asked about time and time again. So, over three very different Facebook groups, over a 24 hour period we asked a very simple question, and although the results should be clear-cut, they’re not that simple.

Over at Great Photography Walks South Wales, Fujifilm Lovers Worldwide Group and Fujifilm Simulations, we asked one very simple question, and gave the choice of two answers. We also got a lot of replies to explain these responses.

The Question…

“Has an SD card ever failed on you?”

It is a pretty straight forward answer, and while those who answered “no” found it quite simple to give that response, the ones who answered “yes” gave a couple of caviates with their answer.

The Answers…

This was really simple, it was just “Yes” or “No”. However, on hindsight, and as discussed below, this could have been broken down into a couple more “yes” segments.

The Results.

We had 222 responses in the 24 hour period that the polls initially run for, although they are still running in the group’s.

“No” had a total of 164 responses. This accounts for 74% of the votes.

“Yes” had a total of 58 responses. This accounts for 26% of the votes.

As mentioned though, the “Yes” answer had many more responses, and there was clear separation in why the option was chosen.

Why did the cards “fail”?

Probably not surprising to those who have been in photography long enough, but there was more to a card than simply “failing”.

A large proportion of the failed cards failed just after or just before the photos were transferred, and when the card was removed from the camera. This was often because a card was damaged through use, and physically taking apart, such as contacts falling off, case coming apart or other wear and tear. The majority of these when talking to various respondents was because the card has been used quite a lot over a few years.

The number of cards actually failing in camera seems to be a lot less than the ones that failed out of camera.

The biggest factor seemed to be the cards that failed were generally ones that had had good usage over a long period. No one mentioned a new card failing.

Conclusion

There’s nothing worse than SD cards failing, but of course, that’s only a part of the equation. You need to add to that your backup solution. It’s all well and good getting your images to the computer, but computer hard drives are prone to corrupt and failure just as much, if not more so than SD cards.

But, I digress, there is good news, as the vast majority don’t fail, and through comments and conversation, they tend to be generally because of a number of factors. The quality of the SD cards used, the frequency of removing cards from cameras (nobody who never removed cards suffered any loss of failure), and the frequency in buying new cards… Knowing that they can fail, replacing them every so many years (or number of shots if you are a heavy shooter) makes sense.

Statistically, there are still worse things that can, and do, happen to your camera than a card failing. Cameras malfunctioning is common, cameras being stolen and cameras being damaged all can, and do affect the reliability of you getting your images back home safely, even more so as a professional, where your camera is used more and there are always prying eyes just waiting for you to leave your gear unattended.

What the poll shows is that a backup of your data is most important (hence why professionals who used to use single card cameras used to use more than one camera and also change memory cards very often!). If you have two card slots, don’t use the second card as overflow, use both card slots (jpeg on one, raw on another or both one or the other). If you have one card slot, don’t use large capacity cards, and change them often!

Redundancy is important, whichever way you achieve it.


I am a semi-professional photographer who runs a weekly meeting photography group as well as numerous Facebook groups (Great Photography Walks South Wales and Fujifilm Lovers Worldwide Group). I also have a brand-new blog website dedicated to various other things which I like to call The Ramblings Of A Welshman. I hope you can join me there; you might find it interesting!

Published by Mark G.Adams

Fujifilm Documentary Photographer & Blogger.

4 thoughts on “We asked “Has an SD card ever failed on you?” and the results were interesting!

  1. Interesting poll and surprising results, and I mean the failures. Much more than I expected – maybe a percentage of them that don’t handle/store their SD cards well either ?

    Liked by 1 person

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