Common memory card problems and how to solve them

While many digital cameras have limited storage memory built in, the vast majority utilise SD cards to store photos. Barely the size of a postage stamp, SD cards can potentially hold thousands of images and hours of video footage. They can even be used in a similar manner to USB flash drives if you have an SD card reader, to move other files like documents from one machine to another.

The small size and large storage capacity of SD cards can be somewhat of a double-edged sword, however, and they are susceptible to a number of problems. Some are easy to fix and can be done by the user, while other problems may need to be worked on by a professional data recovery company.

The memory card is write-protected

SD cards have a small switch on the side that prevents memory from being stored, wiped or overwritten while it’s switched on. The solution for this is simple – just toggle the switch back. If this doesn’t work, toggle it back and forth a few times.

The memory card is running slowly

Sometimes it can seem like your card is running really slowly, and transfer times are taking longer than usual. SD cards have read and write speeds – the more expensive the faster the speed – so you should notice a difference. It’s also possible the read/write speed isn’t as fast as you thought in the first place. But if the card is genuinely performing sub-optimally, a simple formatting of the SD card should do the trick.

The card is unreadable

It’s possible that you may have formatted the card to work only on a single device, rendering it unreadable or unusable on other devices. One example is with mobile phones that use MicroSD cards – some format the card automatically to work only with that phone. Unfortunately, the only way to get around this is to format the SD card – but it will erase all the data.

Your card is physically damaged

Unfortunately, because SD cards are small and delicate devices, they are susceptible to physical damage. This can range from actually breaking the card by stepping on it, or through exposure to high heat or moisture. In this case, the only option is to engage a data recovery company.