SD Memory Cards

“It seems incredible that such a small piece of plastic is capable of storing so much information”,  surely that is the thought that crosses our minds every time we have a memory card in our hand. This reflection has of course a very solid grip,  those who remember the old diskettes, with their enormous size and their barely 360 Kb. Of capacity, will  know of the hardships that were suffered every time they had something to store that would occupy more than this limitation . Of course, computing in those days was much simpler, and the scenarios for needing much more of that capacity, limited.

But from those days to today, technology has advanced, allowing the creation of increasingly precise and complex instruments, and with them came the need to store the enormous amount of data  that they generated or needed to function.

What’s more, it is currently not possible to think about acquiring a device without its corresponding memory card of the SD type that goes with it. We are not only talking about digital cameras but also video cameras  , mp3 players, PDAs, GPS, smartphones, tablets, TV Box  and many other electronic devices, each with its corresponding type of memory card.

For this reason, it is good to be informed about the various options that exist in SD memories , information that we can easily have just by reading on.

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Although on the market there is a huge variety of memory cards from different manufacturers and with many different purposes such as  Compact Flash, Memory Stick, MultiMedia Card  and others, the truth is that the most popular memory card format is the so-called memory  card. SD memory, so called by its name in English, Secure Digital,  which has very good references from all those who use it daily, and for this reason  it has become a widely used standard, together with its “brothers” Mini SD and Micro SD,  the latter being the most widespread.

Main Features of SD Memory Cards

Some  interesting features that we can find in SD memory cards  are their small size and enormous capacity, but also their compatibility with all kinds of devices, points that we will explain below these lines.

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SD memory card formats

The format is asymmetric, therefore,  there is no risk of being inserted by mistake  in your computer, in addition to having a very small size:

Traditional SD memory: 32mm x 24mm x 2.1mm
Mini SD memory: 20mm x 21.5mm x 1.4mm
Micro SD memory: 11mm x 15mm x 1mm

SD card storage capacity

They are found with different capacities: 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and 512 MB, although cards of this type are difficult to find, since they have been replaced in the market by cards with much higher capacity: 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and 512 Gb.  It is important to remember that not all computers have support for cards with 2 GB or more ,  due to the difference in formatting. This problem can be solved by updating the firmware of said equipment.


First, it is important to decide the desired memory card capacity. At this point we should not be disappointed, as purchased capacity is “never enough”, much less on the camera of a teenage girl on vacation!

The fact that photographic machines offer more and more megapixels without increasing the price, generates the need for more memory to fit the photographs that, at higher definition, take up more space.

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SD, MiniSD and MicroSD memory card compatibility

In this sense, Micro SD type cards are the most compatible than MiniSD and SD type cards, perhaps due to the fact that they are the most widespread type of memory on the market. Used by countless manufacturers of  digital photographic machines such as Casio, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Kodak, Panasonic, Konica / Minolta  and manufacturers of electronic devices around the world, they equip all kinds of devices such as smartphones, tablets, PDAs, mp3 players and much others.

However, if our device only accepts SD type cards,  also called Transflash,  this is not inconvenient to be able to use them, since there are adapters on the market that  can convert a MicroSD or MiniSD memory card into SD.

Protection and security on SD memory cards

SD memory cards have a lock that makes writing on the card impossible,  something similar to the recording locks that were included in the old 3.5 floppy disks, although on the market we can find cheaper card models without this function . However, unlike floppy disks, this lock is performed by the firmware of the device that detects that the key is activated.

The contacts of the card are placed in a depression of the card, so that they avoid contact with dirt left by hands and other materials.

Speed ​​on memory cards

Memory cards can have different transfer speeds (which also varies in price), depending on the version used. Speed ​​is measured in multiples of 150K (same as CD-ROM). The most common is to find cards or equipment that use up to speeds of 16x (2.4 MByte / sec),  and some faster than 66x (10 MByte / sec), although ultra-fast cards of 133x or up to 150x can also be found.

In reality, many times only higher speed cards will be used when transferring data from the card to the computer,  using card readers with USB 2.0 for example, since it is difficult for common digital cameras to have this. support (they will work with the card, but slower), and many do not even specify this type of information. However, if you are thinking of using more advanced equipment such as professional, semi-professional, or SLR cameras, you will certainly have better benefits in using faster memory cards. 

4x: 600 KB / s
16x: 2.4 MB / s
32x: 4.8 MB / s (SanDisk Pro)
66x: 10 MB / s (SanDisk Extreme, SanDisk Ultra II)
133x: 20 MB / s (SanDisk Extreme III, Lexar Professional)

Other functions attached to memory cards

Due to its great popularity, the  SD CARD Association, the  entity in charge of the standardization of this class of devices, is defining new functions and applications such as the possibility of  adding a Wi-Fi device within the card itself,  of which we can already find some in the market.

Some examples of these implementations are: 

Copyright SD Card , used for the distribution of movies, which allows the user to buy an SD Card that contains a movie in DVD format, which can be played on computers such as PS3 and portable devices.

Use of SDIO technology  , which allows, in the dimensions of the card and using its pins, the use of  devices such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi receivers , among others.

Although this format is here to stay, there are significant differences in characteristics, capacity and price. That is why it is necessary, before purchasing it, to know a little more about memory cards in order to better select the model that will bring the expected result in our equipment.

The digital storage options over the years have changed radically, mainly because  the storage units have had to face the transformations that computing devices have undergone  with the incorporation of new technologies.

This has been even more evident in the last decade,  with the massification of small electronic devices such as MP3 and MP4 players, smartphones, digital cameras, tablets, portable camcorders and others,  which due to their small size have also caused the overcrowding of small storage units, such as flash memory cards , since ultimately they are currently an essential requirement for such devices to function properly.

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Although many of these devices include their own internal memory, the truth is that the default storage space included in their hardware usually quickly becomes limited for our daily needs,  so it becomes essential to incorporate a memory card,  in order to add more storage capacity.

The current memory card market is really wide,  however in general it is likely that we will opt for one of the SD type,  whose acronym stands for  Secure Digital , since the truth is that this has become the most popular flash memory format. chosen by users.

What does the class mean on SD memory cards?

However, before the possible acquisition of an SD card, it is not enough just to choose the brand, an aspect that should also be decisive at the time of purchase,  but we must also bear in mind that there are many types of SD cards,  which have different shapes, sizes and speeds, so we must be careful to choose the most appropriate, according to the device in which we will use it.

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One of the aspects that usually create confusion in users resides in the so-called  “class”  to which the SD card corresponds,  since the truth is that currently there are  class 2, 4, 6 and 10 cards , and although there are more classes, in the case of SD are classified in these four categories.

Now,  what difference is there between them? Well, in principle we must clarify that  the  “class” refers mainly to the minimum transmission speed  offered by the unit.

In general terms,  the issue here is that not all SD cards offer the same transmission speeds,  which is decisive when choosing one of these storage units,  since the choice will depend on the one hand on the task for the which will be used,  and by another of the team in which it will be incorporated.

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In this sense, according to the categorization carried out by the  SD Card Association, a class 2 SD card has a transfer speed of 2 MB per second, while a class 4 one reports a speed of 4 MB per second, a class 6 of 6 MB / s and a class 10 has a transfer of 10 MB / s. In this way we see that the class 10 card will be much faster than the class 2 card.

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It should be noted that  SD card manufacturers use “classes” to offer the user an orientation in relation to the speed with which an SD card works, according to the standard established by the SD Card Association, but the truth is that this does not define the exact speeds associated with these classes, that will also depend on the models and brands of flash drives.

So, if for example we are photographers, whether professionals or amateurs, and we use a reflex-type digital camera ,  with which we usually take photos in rapid succession, and save them in high-resolution RAW format, it  is best to opt for an SD card that is also fast,  so the ideal is to choose a class 6 or class 10 drive.

The same happens in the case that we  have a camcorder that allows us to capture video in high resolution,  which will require a class 6 or 10 SD card.

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The opposite case is when, for example, we  need an SD card for our smartphone or our tablet,  in which we will store some multimedia files, or for compact digital cameras. In these cases we can use class 4 and even class 2 SD cards.

In other words, at this point we must bear in mind that if we are talking about video recording, for example,  class 2 SD cards are suitable for standard definition video recording,  while class 4 and 6 are recommended for recording. High definition video recording,  and finally those of class 10 are ideal for recording Full HD and HD video in continuous recording.

It should be mentioned here that there are also two types of high-speed cards, known as UHS (Ultra High Speed), of which  there is class 1, which has a transfer speed of 10 MB / s,  and  class 3, which provides a speed of 30MB / s. However, this type of card is much more expensive, and in general they are designed for professional use, only for those devices that are compatible with the UHS standard.

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In conclusion, if what we  need is a flash drive to use in a compact digital camera, a smartphone or a tablet,  we can opt for a class 4 or 6 SD card.

If we need it to use it in a DSLR-type digital camera, or a Full HD video camcorder, to store RAW photos or record videos in high resolution, we recommend opting for a class 10 SD card.

Meanwhile, with regard to class 2 SD cards, since these are quite slow in relation to the speed of the processes that devices currently reach, it  is best to avoid buying one of these units,  although Of course, they can always be used for MP3, MP4 players and even digital cameras and cheap phones.

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It is important to mention that in order to  correctly identify what class is an SD card,  we can find this information on the body of the unit itself , since the logo of the class to which each model corresponds is included  within the sticker in which it is detailed also the brand and the storage capacity.

Let us always bear in mind that  if we are faced with an SD card that does not specify what the speed class it has,  then it will surely be a class 0 card, which were designed and produced many years ago, before the introduction of the  standard. speed class rating for SD , so this is probably an even slower card.

How to solve the most common problems in SD cards

It is undeniable that  SD and microSD cards are the best alternative available today to expand the storage capacity of devices such  as smartphones, tablets, cameras, mp3 players and even notebooks and desktops, in addition to of course providing us with the comfort of being able to share your content between various platforms and devices without any problem and quickly.

Thanks to memory cards,  we can easily have up to 512 GB of storage capacity in a really small space,  which allows us to have many hours of audio, video or thousands of photos and documents stored in a space smaller than one nail, in perfect condition and for a long time.

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However, and despite the fact that they are built with the most sophisticated assembly systems, the truth is that with use, a series of problems can arise,  fortunately most of the time the same,  regardless of their brand, model or capacity. . This of course makes it easier to solve them, and what we will precisely try to do through this article is to bring to those who have  problems with their memory cards  some practical solution to put an end to the problem.

The memory card is not recognized

Although memory cards are capable of working in any scenario,  sometimes it happens that the system does not recognize the card,  a common problem that affects many users. In the event that we cannot solve the problem in another way, the formatting option is the only valid one.

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It should be noted that the act of  formatting a memory card implies the total loss of the data  that is stored on it. So this step should be the last one we should take.

To  format a memory card we will not need more than the tools that Windows provides us  or the operating system that we are using.

Card icon is not displayed

This problem is more related to the operation of the PC than to the memory card itself, since in most cases it is due to excessive consumption of resources by the computer. To solve it, the only thing we can do is stop any of the applications that we are using.

Memory card compatibility between ports

In most cases,  desktop PCs and laptops are only capable of accepting the standard size of the memory card,  so if we have a microSD card, we will have to use it through an adapter, the latter being a known source of problems, since each one of them works with a certain type of adapter, which generally accompanies the memory card when we acquire it.

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In the event that we do not have the original adapter, we will have to obtain one,  being a good idea the acquisition of an adapter of the pendrive type,  which usually have several slots, which facilitates its connection.

Cannot save to memory card

The  inability to save data to the card  is another of the most common problems that SD drives often have. This is due to the fact that  many cards have a blocking system that prevents it from being written by mistake,  and it is possible that we have activated it without realizing it, since it is a small tab located on one of the sides of the card. Unit. With trying moving it to the other position, it is possible that the problem will be solved.

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It is also possible, according to the brand and model that we have, that  the card incorporates a software protection system,  generally by means of a password. The problem here is that by not having or having forgotten this password, we will not be able to access the data, nor will we be able to erase the content of the card to reuse it.

In this case, the best solution would be the  total destruction of all data,  which we can easily do using a tool like  Hard Drive Eraser,  which we can download directly by clicking on this link.

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With this tool, in addition to performing this action, we can also format a memory card.

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