SAU and Memory Card Hygiene [Photo Taco]

In IP Roundtable Podcast by Jeff Harmon6 Comments

Jeff Harmon provides go/no go on the State of Adobe Updates for Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop CC 2018. The he outlines 8 steps of good hygiene for memory cards:

1) Turn off Camera
2) Wait for 5 seconds
3) Carefully remove card and put it in a card reader
4) Use a GOOD card reader
5) Copy the photos to the computer using Finder on Mac or Explorer on Windows, not Lightroom
6) Copy the photos to another place besides the hard drive you just did
7) Eject the memory card using Finder or Explorer before physically removing it from the card reader
8) Carefully remove the card from the reader, put it in the camera, and format the card using the camera.


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Jeff Harmon

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The hobbyist editor here at IT Professional by day, passionate hobbyist photographer ever other second possible. Living in Herriman, Utah. Loves trying to capture the beauty around every day and family portraits occasionally. Be sure to check out my portfolio at


  1. I follow all of your tips, with the exception of “Copy the photos” and “format the card using the camera”.

    My camera creates a new “unique” folder every day when I take pictures. I “Cut” this folder and then Paste it to the preferred folder in my computer. By “Cutting” the folder, it removes entire folder from the camera, and leaves the memory card ready for the next days shooting without re-“formatting” the card. I have not had any problems to date.

    I’m not a total wizard when it comes managing computer, or portable memory… Is there something in my process that is inherantly wrong, or that could shorten the life of my memory chips by using the Cut and Paste instead of Copy and Paste?

    Lastly, I back up my computer hard drive to both the cloud, and a portable hard drive, so I think my backup may be a little excessive, but I have never lost a file yet!

    1. Author


      Doing the cut will end up doing extra writes to the memory card and reduce the life of that card a little. Not so significant that you would see a drastic difference between the two processes, but doing a copy instead of a cut means your computer won’t be writing to the card and there are only so many of those before the card becomes unreadable. A format in the camera also writes to the card, but it is smaller writes than the cut would produce. Again, not such a drastic difference that you are taking significant life out of the card using the cut and paste. Just good hygiene. Doesn’t guarantee you will have issues if you do cut and paste. Just gives you the very best chance to have everything go well. If cut and paste is working best for you, keep doing it. Other steps like not removing the memory card too fast are far more important.

  2. Hi, is there a reason for uploading card into Windows first and not directly into Lightroom, I have always uploaded directly into Lightroom and used the inbuilt facility to put a copy elsewhere. I never had a problem.

    1. Author


      Did you listen to the episode? I attempted to explain my reasons for that recommendation in the podcast. There are two reasons. The first is performance. For some reason Lightroom copies files to the computer about 50% slower than Finder/Explorer can. Second is that there have been issues where photos didn’t make it when Lightroom did the copy. Same issue if you use Lightroom to move your photos from one folder to another or from one drive to another. Lightroom is pretty good at cataloging the photos and helping you to manage them, not so got on actually dealing with the files themselves in some cases.

      That said, just like brushing your teeth is good hygiene but doesn’t mean you will immediately get cavities and lose them all if you don’t brush, these are good hygiene steps just to give you the very best chance of not having an issue as you transfer photos from your camera to your computer and not following all of the steps does not guarantee you will have any problems. Many don’t follow any of these and rarely have problems. These steps just give the best odds at not having issues.

  3. Jeff, there’s one addition to that list I think would go a long way towards helping prevent losing pictures – have at least 2 memory cards, and rotate them.
    Once you’ve offloaded your pictures, put the other card in your camera, and put the card with your pictures aside. This will give you time to ensure your backups run and everything is secure before you go ahead with formatting your card.

    Just a little delay before you go ahead with deleting the originals.

  4. Author


    Not bad advise at all. In fact, I have about 15 cards I rotate through so that the images can live on the card itself for a while before I have to purge it just in case. I chose not to include it here, but a good idea to be sure.

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