How to Buy an SD Card – Buying Guide

By | June 17, 2014
Memorycard-buying guide

Buying electronic gadgets and components is a very hefty task, you need to have the appropriate knowledge if you are going to get something such to buy a Smartphone, you should know the device’s specifications, hardware details and more. If you are planning to buy an SD card for your smart phone, Digital camera, camcorder, or other devices that require an SD card to store data.

Frankly speaking, selecting an SD card is one of the worse tasks, usually we need to take so may things in mind to get an SD card. That is why I thought to write this article to help you people to get the right one for your device. This post includes complete buying guide. Here you will see what are the sections we should check for better product and result.

Memorycard-buying guide

Secure digital (SD) cards began as an amazingly simple Flash storage format, and quickly replaced CD, DVD, MMC and other types of storage. But as usage started rising up, people started to need different sizes and speeds. The result is the chaos we feel today.

For basic usage like single-shot feature cameras, this kind of device doesn’t matter which class of SD card you have or need to buy, as long as it’s compatible. Storing a 500K to 2MB file is not a matter. However, if you want to capture a rapid sequence of images, at that situation your memory card has to be fast enough to store it rapidly. Also, if you want to record high-definition videos, it could also be challenging if the card you are using is not proper. For this kind of applications you would probably go for the faster one.

When buying an SD card, you have to consider three things: the physical size, the storage capacity, and the speed at which it can write data.

Buy an SD Card – Complete Buying Guide

Data Storage

If we talk about the storage, there are three different types of cards: SD (Secure Digital), SDHC (High Capacity) and SDXC (Xtended Capacity).

Earlier, an SD card was able to store up to 2GB of data using Microsoft’s FAT-12 (File Allocation Table) or FAT-16 file format. This was a large amount in the year of around 1999-2000. In year 2006, the 2 GB storage limit was becoming an issue, the industry then debuted SDHC high capacity card that was able to hold up to 32 GB using FAT-32, advance file system from Microsoft. And then, in 2009, the SDXC card came to play that was able to store up to 2 TB using Microsoft’s proprietary exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) format.

Even after that Apple has also started supporting exFAT with Mac OS X 10.6.5 (Snow Leopard), which makes exFAT the best method for transferring very large data files or distributed hard drives.

Now a day, 8 GB and 16 GB cards are enough for almost all the storage purposes, though people still go for large storage cards as 32GB or 64GB to increase the storage in a mobile phone or MP3 player. If buying a 64 GB or 128 GB card, it’s recommended to check that your phone or device can support it or not. The Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 can handle 128 GB cards, but most phones are not able to extend up to 128 GB. If you need a huge data storage device such as 1TB or 2TB of storage, you will have to go for an external hard drive for this purpose.

memory card

Physical size

As you know there are three different types of cards are available, there are now three sizes of SD cards as well. The basic format started with cards measuring 32 x 24 mm, which was very small for that time. These are still same in audio recorders, digital cameras and similar devices. But the smart phone makers required smaller cards to compact the thickness and width of a phone and resulted in the MiniSD format, measuring 21.5 x 20 mm, and then MicroSD cards, measuring 11 x 15 mm.

We can now use a MiniSD or MicroSD card in an SD card slot (generally we get that slot in the Laptop) by inserting it into an SD-sized adapter, and some mini/micro cards provides this adapter as well for convenience. Obviously, you can’t fit an SD card into a MiniSD or MicroSD slot.

Card Speed

Speed is the main feature that you might have to concern while getting a new SD card. Things could get more confusing when it comes to speed specifications. The SD Card Association has several classes of cards depending on the speed, and produced a bunch of mandatory logos with the class number inside a big C on the card. However, Class 2 is 2MBps, Class 4 is 4MBps, Class 6 is 6MBps, and Class 10 is 10MBps or faster. For this reason, faster cards are often marked with the speed in large letters, such as 90MB/s or 45MB/s.

Note that the class about which we just have discussed, show minimum speed, not the maximum or normal. A good Class 2 card may work quicker than a Class 6 or even a Class 10 card. If you want to get the exact details of the card, then I would suggest you to go for the benchmark test.

Bus Speed

If your data speed is limited to 4MBps or 10MBps we don’t need to bother about the faster buses, but as it crosses that 10MBps then it requires faster bus speeds, so the High Speed Bus was introduced. After that introduced the Ultra High Speed Bus UHS-I and the even faster UHS-II, which claims a minimum data transfer rate of 30MBps. These also have their own logos, with cards being marked U1 or U3.

Things to Keep in mind while buying cards

According to the usage, you can buy any card that supports your device, and avoid the speed ratings and all. For example, according to your camera’s specifications, if it requires MicroSD, MicroSDHC or MicroSDXC cards, so just grab whichever type it says. Otherwise, you can go for the faster one by checking the speed ratings.

Not many devices have UHS-I buses as of now, and usually comes with more advanced models. For example, looking at Canon DSLRs, the 600D can use SDXC cards, the EOS 500D takes SDHC cards and the 650D is the first model that can support UHS-1 or U1 cards. (Along with the Nikon D5100 and D7000, the EOS M also sports UHS-1).

Trust me, I am not against to spend huge money on SD cards, but if you are using, these kind of things so you should have a knowledge how these accessories are specified, what are the reasons of having difference in price and all. Obviously if you spend more money you will get better product, but sometimes you won’t feel the need to have that costly accessories, basically professionals have to think about these specs that improves their business.