Do SD Cards Go Bad?

An SD (Secure Digital) card is a very important camera accessory. It stores all the photos that you take with your camera, and without it, you won’t be able to take photos at all.

It is a small and delicate piece of kit, and I used to be very guilty for not taking good care of my SD cards. I would often take them out of my camera after use and just through them into my camera bag.

But after being caught out by a malfunctioning SD card during a photoshoot, made me rethink the way I handle my SD cards. It also made me think about whether or not SD cards really can go bad.

Join me as I take a look at this.

Do SD Cards Go Bad?

Yes, SD cards can go bad and there are various things that can cause them to go bad. While they can technically last for many years, factors such as physical wear and tear, formatting errors, and manufacturer defects can limit the longevity of SD cards.

How Long Do SD Cards Last?

I have two SD cards that are exactly 9 years old, and they work just like they did when they were new. I also had a couple of SD cards that only lasted around 2 years, and this was mainly caused by wear and tear, and bad blocks which are unusable storage spaces on the card caused by removing the card from a device before it is safe to do so.

So, as you can see, there is no set figure for how long an SD card will last. If you take good care of your SD cards though, they can last you for many years.

Some manufacturers also claim that their SD cards can last a lifetime, and they will also give you a lifetime warranty on them.

I would personally not use an SD card that is older than 2 years when I have to do a photo shoot for a client. This is not to say that all SD cards are useless after 2 years, there is just a bigger risk of failure. And, I don’t want to get stuck with a faulty SD card during a photoshoot.

What Can Make An SD Card Go Bad?

Ok, so now we’re taking a look at what can make SD cards go bad. The purpose of this is to educate you on this subject so that you can take better care of your SD cards, and so that you can understand what can potentially be wrong with an SD card when it malfunctions.

1.) Physical Wear And Tear

As I mentioned previously, I used to throw my SD cards around and I also used to use force when inserting them into my camera or laptop. SD cards are rather delicate, so you need to take care while handling them, and when you store them, make sure to keep them in a sturdy case.

2.) Bad Blocks

I briefly mentioned bad blocks earlier. Bad blocks are sectors of unusable space that can accumulate as an SD card ages. This is normally caused by often removing the SD card from a device before it is safe to do so.

3.) Virus

Your camera can’t have a virus on it, but when you insert your SD card into your laptop then there is a chance that a virus can be transferred to the SD card if your laptop has a virus. This can prevent you from accessing the files on your SD card, or using it at all.

4.) Formatting Problems

This has happened to me before. I was formatting one of my SD cards and I interrupted the formatting process. This practically rendered my SD card useless, so I recommend that you take special care when formatting your SD card.

5.) Manufacturer Defect

It is very important that you use quality SD cards. There are so many SD card brands out there, and not all of them are equal in terms of quality. Some SD cards are just not good enough and may go bad sooner than others due to a manufacturer defect.


As you can see, SD cards can go bad and this can be due to various things.

While an SD card can last for many years, its life span can get cut short when you don’t take good care of it. Physical wear and tear, and reformatting problems are the main contributing factors to SD cards going bad. Viruses and bad blocks can also cause the premature death of an SD card.