Preparing and Testing New Memory Cards for a Shoot

There are no “take twos” in weddings or journalism.  Even if a shoot could be done over, often it’s at great time, expense, and a hit to your reputation.

Whenever I buy new memory cards, I want to QC them myself.  I suppose I could go out on a photowalk and shoot until my card is full, but that would mean reviewing all of those images back home to verify that nothing is corrupted.  Sounds like a lot of time to me.

Enter Charles Mihail.  What Charles has done is create a free little utility called Check Flash that tests memory cards by writing a known data pattern to the entire card, then reading back that pattern to be sure it matches what was written.  In the process of running its test, it will even give you a handy little performance readout – one for read and one for write speeds.

This gives me great peace-of-mind when going into a job with a brand-new memory card.  Between this, and using the “record to multiple” feature on the Canon 5d mk III and Canon 1D-X, I can be confident everything is stored properly.

Here’s a screen-shot showing the settings I used.

Be aware that using this utility fills the entire device with randomized data.  This means that if you overwrite files you need, you WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RECOVER THEM!  I don’t care how fancy your recovery software is, it won’t work.

It took Check Flash a little over 50 minutes to test a 400x CF card using a USB3 card reader.  Take this into consideration if you buy them a few minutes before  a shoot!

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