When Memory Cards Go Bad - a Visit to Ahenny

Ahenny Crosses, County Tipperary Ireland Ahenny Crosses, County Tipperary Ireland

The first line of advice here is: if you think a memory card is going bad, stop using it! Check out my tips at the bottom for how to keep your memory card working well.

Back in 2010 I was travelling the Irish countryside, much like I do today and I stopped to photograph the little visited Ahenny crosses in County Tipperary. These 8th century sandstone crosses are some of the finest early Christian stone craft in Ireland and the first to be made from stone rather than wood, hence they bear some details that come from the wooden crosses.

After some time, travelling and photographing - exploring with camera I headed back to work on the edits. The day was long and I spent the evening moving images to the computer but I didn't start editing as an early start the following day and more photography meant it was a few days before I had time to work on the images.

On loading the images, nothing out of the ordinary was evident but after a few scans through the folder, I start to see very strange things happening.

As they first appear in Lightroom, the images are fine but what you are seeing at this moment is the jpg attached to the image and then when it renders each in turn shows as fine or with random degrees of destruction like in these two images below.

It took some time for me to find and isolate the faulty memory card, I still have it somewhere - it was a Lexar card and the only card that I have ever had a problem with. I don't use it now of course.

When memory cards go bad - some destruction
When memory cards go bad - some destruction




When memory cards go bad - complete destruction
When memory cards go bad - complete destruction




Here are Panoramic Ireland's tips to avoid memory card problems in your camera

  • Check your memory cards regularly for any physical damage - mine didn't show any damage but it's a good place to start - stop using any bent or broken cards
  • Always format your card in the camera on a regular basis, after moving images to the computer of course
  • Make sure the card is suitable for the camera you are using, it sounds strange but if you have recently upgraded your camera then the old card might be too slow to record video or bursts of images from your new 
  • Don't use the same memory card in different cameras without formatting in the new camera first (again, make sure images have been copied and backed up)
  • Check images on Lightroom or another editor regularly so that any errors or problems will show promptly
  • If you see anything like the above, stop using your card straight away - formatting probably won't solve the problem, best to get a new card

Creating DNG files or JPGs from the corrupt RAW files won't work, they will just save with the crazy colour bands and blocks as above but it is still possible to retrieve the embedded JPGs from the files. The main image is a collage made out of the two embedded JPGs from these destroyed or corrupt files, I used Canon's DPP software but there are other utilities out there.

Have you ever had a memory card corrupt your images?

And below, here is one of the files that remained fully intact, of the south cross at Ahenny with the last rays of the February sun.

South Cross at Ahenny, County Tipperary
South Cross at Ahenny, County Tipperary
Last modified on Tuesday, 30 April 2019 13:37
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