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Can SD cards be used for permanent photo storage?

New Here ,
Nov 22, 2013

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I have been using an external hard drive to store my photos but am leary of possible impending failure and so would like to convert over to a SSD. Question: anything wrong with using SD memory cards. 128 GB are awfully cheap these days.

Hi Ken,

Personally, I see nothing wrong with using cards for permanent photo storage, as long as they're well labeled .

Same technology at the core as an SSD hard drive.

It's unconventional, but I'm assuming you are too or you wouldn't be asking the question.

My advice? - knock yourself out (so to speak)...

No need for smart previews on the road if you can carry your originals in your shirt pocket .

My only reservation would be about filling them up - I have 3TB hard drives, which have plenty of room for all photos, a 128GB card would not.

Here's one idea (if you do run the risk of overfill):

* Keep whole photo collection (original source files) on a single rotating (and big) hard drive.

* Keep catalog, presets, ..., and smart previews on SD card (regular previews too if they'll fit, otherwise relocate them).

Then when you travel, you just pop out the card and take it with you, plug it back in when you return - no need for copying files anywhere, or catalog export/import. Of course you could do the same thing with an esata thumb drive...

If I ever get back to traveling, I may consider this arrangement myself - thanks for bringing it up.

PS - you have backups, so if your card only lasts 2 years, instead of 10, you can always toss it in the garbage and populate a new card from backup. I mean, same drill as if photos on spinning drive...

Rob

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Can SD cards be used for permanent photo storage?

New Here ,
Nov 22, 2013

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I have been using an external hard drive to store my photos but am leary of possible impending failure and so would like to convert over to a SSD. Question: anything wrong with using SD memory cards. 128 GB are awfully cheap these days.

Hi Ken,

Personally, I see nothing wrong with using cards for permanent photo storage, as long as they're well labeled .

Same technology at the core as an SSD hard drive.

It's unconventional, but I'm assuming you are too or you wouldn't be asking the question.

My advice? - knock yourself out (so to speak)...

No need for smart previews on the road if you can carry your originals in your shirt pocket .

My only reservation would be about filling them up - I have 3TB hard drives, which have plenty of room for all photos, a 128GB card would not.

Here's one idea (if you do run the risk of overfill):

* Keep whole photo collection (original source files) on a single rotating (and big) hard drive.

* Keep catalog, presets, ..., and smart previews on SD card (regular previews too if they'll fit, otherwise relocate them).

Then when you travel, you just pop out the card and take it with you, plug it back in when you return - no need for copying files anywhere, or catalog export/import. Of course you could do the same thing with an esata thumb drive...

If I ever get back to traveling, I may consider this arrangement myself - thanks for bringing it up.

PS - you have backups, so if your card only lasts 2 years, instead of 10, you can always toss it in the garbage and populate a new card from backup. I mean, same drill as if photos on spinning drive...

Rob

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Nov 22, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Nov 22, 2013

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There is no such thing as "permanent photo storage"; not digitally and not analog. All devices fail eventually. If you mean "long-term" storage then ...

My opinion is just the opposite ... I would be much more leary of SD cards failing than external HDs failing in a given time period. So, I would answer you question: NO, do not use SD cards for long term storage

By the way, why are you "leary of possible impending failure"? You could just buy another EHD, those are relatively cheap too, you can get a 1TB external HD for a lot less than a eight 128 GB SD cards.

And don't you have backups of all your photos and the Lightroom catalog file, making this issue of impending failure much less serious?

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Nov 22, 2013 1
New Here ,
Nov 22, 2013

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Which would have the better chance of breaking from a 6 foot fall onto a concrete walkway; a hard drive or a SD card?

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Nov 22, 2013 0
Community Beginner ,
Nov 22, 2013

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You have a valid point, Ken. The SD card would have better chance of functioning after a 6ft fall, but from the context of the question I think the assumption was that the OP is looking for a robust back up solution located at home/work. I wouldn't expect a typical user to be moving a hard drive over hard surfaces on a regular basis.

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Nov 22, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Nov 22, 2013

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Ken.Clunis wrote:

Which would have the better chance of breaking from a 6 foot fall onto a concrete walkway; a hard drive or a SD card?

I have never tried either.

Dropping is not the only criterion. If images reliably last on an SSD card for a shorter time than an EHD, do you really want to use them as your long-term storage solution?

Are your only copies of these images on the external HD that you might drop? Or do you have exact duplicates of your images an EHD that you can keep safely at home, and another one that you can transport? Because if your situation is the former, then the problem is that you only have one copy of your images, and there really are NO SAFEGUARDS against losing your photos. If your situation is the latter, then dropping your EHD does not cause you to lose your photos. And an EHD will have much longer usable life (on average) than your SD cards (on average).

But it also seems as if you have changed the question from "what is the best long-term storage solution?" to "what is the best method of transporting images over concrete walkways?". Which is the real question? Because, honestly, the latter is not what comes to mind when someone asks about long-term storage solutions.

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Nov 22, 2013 0
Community Beginner ,
Nov 22, 2013

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To add to dj_paige's comments; Solid State Drives (SSD) are far from perfect and can fail. Depending on the value of your photos you could invest in RAID storage. RAID uses multiple physical drives to duplicate the files. If one drive fails you have another copy. There is also the added benefit that they are typically faster. A lot of NAS drives can support this type of configuration. You should also consider off site storage, in case work/home should be destroyed.

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Nov 22, 2013 1
New Here ,
Nov 22, 2013

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I guess I need to add some furthur details. To wit: I do have cloud storage and a local firewire HD for complete back up but would like to use a portable storage of some sort for working on my photos whether it be at home or in the field. Having dropped a "Shock Proof" Ex HD (which had to be replaced) I am in the market for a portable storage of some sort and thought that a SSD might do the job but they seem to be a bit pricey (~$250 for 128 GB) so I was wondering if a SD card might work out. I only need to have my latest shoots and projects each of which seldom exceed 128 GB. A recent ad for several brands of 128 GB SD class 10, 45 mb/s, lists them for $99.

And BTW, I checed out the useful life of SD cards and found this:

What is the service life of an SD memory card?
This depends on how your product in manufactured. SD standards-based memory cards, like most semiconductor cards, store information in flash memory. The current technology along with normal usage typically gives the card a lifespan of 10 years or more, allowing consumers to upgrade their devices for many years and reduce consumer electronic waste.

Thanks for all of the replies. In the future I will try to fill in more preliminary background.

Ken

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Nov 22, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Nov 22, 2013

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Hi Ken,

Personally, I see nothing wrong with using cards for permanent photo storage, as long as they're well labeled .

Same technology at the core as an SSD hard drive.

It's unconventional, but I'm assuming you are too or you wouldn't be asking the question.

My advice? - knock yourself out (so to speak)...

No need for smart previews on the road if you can carry your originals in your shirt pocket .

My only reservation would be about filling them up - I have 3TB hard drives, which have plenty of room for all photos, a 128GB card would not.

Here's one idea (if you do run the risk of overfill):

* Keep whole photo collection (original source files) on a single rotating (and big) hard drive.

* Keep catalog, presets, ..., and smart previews on SD card (regular previews too if they'll fit, otherwise relocate them).

Then when you travel, you just pop out the card and take it with you, plug it back in when you return - no need for copying files anywhere, or catalog export/import. Of course you could do the same thing with an esata thumb drive...

If I ever get back to traveling, I may consider this arrangement myself - thanks for bringing it up.

PS - you have backups, so if your card only lasts 2 years, instead of 10, you can always toss it in the garbage and populate a new card from backup. I mean, same drill as if photos on spinning drive...

Rob

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Nov 22, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Nov 27, 2013

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Another reason why I still feel SD cards are a bad choice for long-term storage

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57613890-76/sd-card-too-bad-this-format-won-the-flash-card-wars/

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Nov 27, 2013 0
New Here ,
Nov 27, 2013

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The CNN reporter's chief complaint seems to be of the fragility of the contact dividers that break with careless handling and not the longevity of the storage. I am made to wonder how he handles these cards. Does he just jam them into pocket along with his car keys? I think that with proper care, the plastic dividers should not be the problem. And too, there is significant differences in the types of compounds used in the molds by different manufactures. If fragility is the issue, them buy better grade cards, such as mil spec ones.

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Nov 27, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 27, 2013

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Cost Perspective:

32GB SDHC Card $20.00 =         $0.625/GB (Stores 1,280 25MB files)

WD pasport 2TB EHD $120.00 = $0.060/GB (Stores 80,000 25MB files)

The EHD cost is 1/10th that of SDHC, is portable, and can be stored and carried in a protective case.

Practicality Perspective:

You will need 63 32GB SDHC cards to store the same amount of data as one 2TB EHD, so you're going to need a memory card organizer. Also, to "restore" the backup files after a hard drive failure will require "manually" inserting each card one-at-a-time into a card reader, determining the correct destination folder location, copying the files to the HD, and then removing each of the 63 SDHC one-at-a-time.

Considering the cost difference you could backup on two EHD and the Cloud and still save a lot of time and money.

Reliability Perspective:

Maintaining both onsite and offsite backup copies is the only way to insure long-term data security and protection against loss due to earthquake, fire, flood and theft. You can do that using an EHD and the Cloud, or two EHDs with the 2nd one kept offsite.

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Nov 27, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 27, 2013

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All that said I am a firm believer in keeping image files on the memory for temporary protection. See this post for more details:

http://forums.adobe.com/message/5154906#5154906

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Nov 27, 2013 0
New Here ,
Sep 18, 2020

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This is a great Idea.... I have a 256GB card for backup since its the one in my camera... may as well use my main card, slot 1 card, as lightroom backup

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Sep 18, 2020 0