State of the Art: Protecting Your Photo Files

By David Zimmerman   Thursday June 4, 2015

Professional photographers rely on advanced equipment to setup and take the very best shots. The care and attention to detail that goes into choosing this equipment should also be extended to the tools that store and protect images.

Portable and convenient, SD cards provide photographers with powerful storage that can hold thousands of images and video files. However, these cards are not ideal for longer-term storage because of their fragility and the ease with which image file data can be corrupted. External hard drives and cloud storage should be utilized for safer storage of vital images.

To reduce the risk of catastrophic data loss, photographers should heed these eight expert tips:

1. Patience is a virtue: When you the click shutter button on your DSLR, the device requires some time to create and organize the resulting file. After you take several shots, give the device a minute before removing or accessing the memory card to avoid corruption or formatting problems.

2. Keep memory cards warm and dry: Liquids and camera memory cards don’t mix. Liquids can disrupt or short out the contact points and corrode inner workings of the cards, so be careful in the rain, with a cup of tea, or any other type of environment where moisture can be a problem.

3. Manage your battery levels: You shouldn’t take photos while the battery is on low power because it can introduce card-writing errors. Spare batteries are worth the expense for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can capture every shot without risking accidental file damage. Data recovery software is very effective, but it might not be able to rectify any file corruption issues.

4. Don’t mix and match: You likely have multiple cameras and you might swap one or two SD cards between each device. It’s best to dedicate one card for each camera because each camera utilizes a unique formatting process. Mixing the cards can mean corruption issues with a greater chance of loss or damage due to constantly removing and inserting the cards.

5. Delete and reformat images on your computer – not the camera: SD cards can hold a very large number of files, so you shouldn’t have to resort to manual deletion of files to “make room.” Manual deletions through the camera’s interface are risky because they can corrupt the file or potentially make recovery impossible if the device uses “destructive deletion.” Even the best data recovery tools will be hard pressed to recover such files.

6. Grab a card reader – and use it:  Card readers are cost effective and reliable devices that help photographers download their files to a computer with no worries about low-battery problems. These readers also pull files quickly, so photographers can spend more time on editing and image selection instead of waiting for downloads.

7. Don’t move the file orientation: Don’t try to rotate or edit a picture within the camera. It’s always best to download the file first and then use your editing software. Altering a photo can cause problems with the overall file structure on the card to change and potentially damage other photos on a card.

8. Backup your backups: Both physical and cloud-based storage is becoming increasingly inexpensive. Invest in several external hard drives as well as cloud storage to have redundant backups. Consider archiving all of your images online and on hard drives located at the home of a friend or relative to protect against theft, flood, or fires.

Photography professionals depend on their images to make a living. Loss of data can lead to dissatisfied clients and a lessened ability for a photographer to market her or his work. By following best practices in the handling of SD cards and adhering to data backup procedures, photographers can worry less about data loss and focus on their work.

David Zimmerman has been in the hardware/software industry for over 30 years, specifically in the data recovery software market for 18 years. During this period, he has been involved in the creation, marketing and support of the earlier drive-recovery software products to enter the PC market and successfully marketed them both nationally and internationally. His company makes data recovery products for most of his competitors. His experience in the market has made him uniquely familiar with the data recovery business.

LC Technology International, Inc.  is a global leader in data recovery, file system utilities and data security technology. Clients include original equipment manufacturers, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, corporate security specialists and IT consultants, among others. Available worldwide and published in more than 24 different languages, LC Technology products are available direct or through several major manufacturers of flash memory products. Founded in 1997, LC Technology is based in Clearwater, Florida.


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