Before You Buy a Memory Card....

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Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby jon » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:22 am

6 months ago, I thought all memory cards were created equal. Well, almost. I've been blind-sided so many times since then, I thought that I should share a list of things to know before you buy a Memory Card.

  1. Determine the Type. Compact Flash (CF), SD/SDHC and Memory Stick are the major ones.
  2. Determine the subtype(s) that your device can use. The Number One problem that people have with memory cards is buying an SDHC (HC=high capacity) card for an couple of year old device that only takes SD; newer SDHC devices can take SD with no problem. Memory Stick has a myriad of different sizes and shapes, each with their own peculiar name.
  3. Be sure you didn't buy a counterfeit. Kingston is the most commonly counterfeited brand and has a site where you can verify the card you have: http://www.kingston.com/asia/verifyflash/
  4. See if your device has any requirements. For example, SDHC cards have Class 2, Class 4 and Class 6 specifications that define minimum speeds.
  5. Some devices have a list of memory cards they have been tested with. If so, stick with one of the tested cards.
  6. Some devices just specify brands of memory cards that they recommend. Stick with those brands. You may have to check the Support web site for the device, or even contact Support by phone or e-mail, as the manuals are often too old to be kept up to date with the latest available memory cards and/or test results.
  7. Likewise, some memory card manufacturers, Kingston being one example, have a list of devices that they have tested their memory cards with.

Bottom line: weird things can happen that are related to the memory card. One more word about counterfeit memory cards: they aren't just "knock-offs", but actually fakes, in the sense that a 1GB memory card will be reprogrammed (and, of course, physically labelled) to look like a 32GB card.
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby Steve Sanderson » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:28 am

I bought mine from a reputable dealer... London Drugs.
Jon you will be happy to know I bought my new laptop from London Drugs also.
They gave me one hell of a great deal on a Certified Data 12.1" widescreen .
:cheers:
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby Russ_Byth » Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:04 am

sandclan wrote:I bought mine from a reputable dealer... London Drugs.
Jon you will be happy to know I bought my new laptop from London Drugs also.
They gave me one hell of a great deal on a Certified Data 12.1" widescreen .
:cheers:


Mine's 17 inches! :D
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby Steve Sanderson » Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:15 am

Russ_Byth wrote:
sandclan wrote:I bought mine from a reputable dealer... London Drugs.
Jon you will be happy to know I bought my new laptop from London Drugs also.
They gave me one hell of a great deal on a Certified Data 12.1" widescreen .
:cheers:


Mine's 17 inches! :D


I wanted a small one for traveling.
Like to Mexico...

8-)
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby Russ_Byth » Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:39 am

sandclan wrote:I wanted a small one for traveling.
Like to Mexico...

8-)


An excellent idea! :drunken:
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby Howaboutthat » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:02 pm

Like the Sandman, I buy mine at London Drugs. I don't talk about whether they have a bunch of letters in front or behind them, or what grade they got to. I tell the guy I need one for my computer USB port and he gets me one... never had an issue.
Houston, We're dealing with morons!.
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby jon » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:31 pm

Perhaps we are discussing different things. It sounds like you are referring to USB Flash Drives.

I'm referring to the thin cards that normally go in digital cameras, and now some printers and even computers come with built-in card readers for them. I'm not aware of any types of memory cards that fit directly into a USB port.
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby Howaboutthat » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:55 pm

Same thing. After I bought a digital camera, I decided the internal memory wasn't enough and needed a card. However in this case, went to Future Shop, told them what kind of camera I had, they looked it up and offered me a 2 or 4 G card. I have a USB flash adapter that the card fits into.
Houston, We're dealing with morons!.
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby RationalKeith » Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:22 pm

Also a caution about compatibility of cards and computers.

For example, a Sandisk card would not work with a Thinkpad, the fault is in both not designed fully to interface specs.

In contrast a Kingston and another brand work fine.

Guess who does not get my memory device business in future?

BTW, interfaces for different devices are not the same - SD, USB sticks, external HDDs function somewhat differently even if they are flash memory. (HDDs aren't usually, but they are made to look like, well, Hard Disk Drives. ;-)

Also beware a security trap on USB memory sticks, some have software to look like a CD/DVD to be able to run software on the stick but Windows is less security conscious about CDs so there is more risk of malware.
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby jon » Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:56 pm

PMC can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the security gap with memory cards, USB sticks, CDs, DVDs and such is because they are formatted in one of the FAT formats, rather than NTFS. FAT does not support much in the way of security by today's Windows standards.

If I've got it right, that would also say that you should watch out for accidentally having hard drives that are formatted in a FAT format.
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby RationalKeith » Sat May 01, 2010 10:35 am

There is malware that autoruns, which is the default of Windows XP on inserting a memory stick. Later Microsoft o/s are tighter with different defaults.

There is a legitimate piece of software called U3 that autoruns an executable for user convenience, but could be exploited. Here are a couple of links to info:
http://www.raymond.cc/blog/archives/2007/11/23/hack-u3-usb-smart-drive-to-become-ultimate-hack-tool/
http://www.mydigitallife.info/2006/09/11/disable-auto-run-and-auto-play-of-u3-smart-drives-launchpad/


IIRC one way some of this stuff works is to fool the o/s into thinking it is dealing with a CD as those commonly use autorun for installation of the software on the CD. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U3.

And security information in the usually very good Microsoft articles, that their software designers don't study enough: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2008.01.securitywatch.aspx

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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby jon » Sat May 01, 2010 11:23 am

I cannot speak for other software, but the anti-malware that I use (VIPRE) automatically and by default, unless you turn it off, scans USB devices at the moment they are plugged in. This would include memory cards because (all?) card readers are USB devices.

A useful feature.
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby Jack Bennest » Sat May 01, 2010 3:27 pm

Never had a problem with a storage card except erasing the files can be complicated for me

On the plug in usb storage unit. Be wary not to accept free ones that are commercial in some way. They could have virus
loaded.

Buy a plug-in from a supplier that is reputable like London Drugs or Radio Shack
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby RationalKeith » Tue May 18, 2010 11:36 am

jon, automatical scanning would be a great feature.

Beware there are differences in interfaces: the drivers for SD cards are different from actual USB, and hard drives behave differently than memory sticks even though plugged into the same port.

You'd expect that maybe the designers of o/s and computers would try extra hard to keep things standard, but we see in the user interface of many products that they aren't truly focussed on the user.
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Re: Before You Buy a Memory Card....

Postby RationalKeith » Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:19 am

Sounds like some Iranians may have learned the hard way about USB sticks.
Media claim the Stuxnet malware was spread by USB sticks.
Media report it has been found most often in Iran, and that two of their nuclear facilities coincidentally had severe problems.

Many of us will be laughing I suppose, my purpose herein is to highlight the risk path.

(Microsoft's web site has an article called something like "The infectious allure of vendor swag", in an issue of a technical newsletter about security, that describes problems with USB sticks.)
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