How Long Do SD Cards Hold Data, And How Long They Last?

Almost every SD card would hold data for a maximum of 5 years. On the contrary, an SD card might last 10 years or so. However, if you want your data to remain safe, consider copying them to your computer before you hit the 5-year limit. 

SD cards completely replaced other moving, heavy memory devices for regular usage. However, when it comes to the lifespan or data-holding duration of this memory card, we need to consider a lot of things.

So, if you want in-depth details about how long do SD cards hold data, continue reading our blog without skipping any part. Scroll down!

SD Cards’ Data Holding Duration Limit

SD Cards' Data Holding Duration Limit

Even the greatest and most expensive SD card brands only promise up to 5 years of lifespan. However, under decent conditions and gentle usage, the lifespan may extend. 

To be on the safe side, you should always get the data copied to another device since SD cards aren’t designed for long-term usage. And the primary reason behind this is the charge data cells hold inside which causes it to scatter over time. 

How Long Do SD Cards Last?

SD cards are supposed to last up to 10 years. However, the lifespan of an SD card has little to do with time. Since the SD card is a NAND chip, it vividly depends on the final figure of program/erases (P/E) cycles. 

Actually, if you plan on predicting the lifespan, study the constancy of your SD card’s service. The number of programs/erases cycles could be a discussion. But before that, we need to walk you through NAND Flash chips’ terms. 

NAND Flash Chips & P/E Cycles 

NAND flash is one kind of non-volatile storage facility. SD cards depend on them to reserve data on NAND chips (a set of electric elements). There are three primary types of this particular chip:

  • Single-Level Cell (SLC)
  • Triple-Level Cell (TLC)
  • Multi-Level Cell (MLC)

Now the main question is, what do types of NAND Flash chips have to do with the P/E Cycles and, eventually, the memory lifespan? Well, the cycles are dependent on the type of NAND flash. 

P/E cycles for different NAND Flash types:

  • Single-Level Cell: between 90,000 and 100,000 cycles
  • Triple-Level Cell (3D): between 500 and 3,000 cycles
  • Multi-Level Cell: between 1,500 and 3,000 cycles

So, the SD cards will wear out once their cycle limit is over. Look into the manual from your SD card and check which cycle it uses. 

According to the cycle limit mentioned above, SLC SD cards will last more than 10 years, while MLC and TLC will last approximately 8 to 10 years. 

SLC chips are really expensive and hard to find. So, look into the specs of MLC and TLC cards and choose one, depending on your preferences. 

How Do I Extend the Lifespan of My SD Card? 

Whenever we think about the lifespan of an SD card, we’ll definitely look for ways to extend the lifespan. So here we’re with some tips for you. These can keep your SD card in ideal condition and increase its lifespan. 

Inserting the SD Card

While inserting the SD card into any particular device, ensure not to put too much pressure. You have to do this with a very light hand. Otherwise, pushing the card roughly may disturb the size and orientation compatibility by scratching the golden threads. 

Direct Operations on SD Cards Is Forbidden 

Never edit files on the card directly. The process requires a lot of rapid writing and deleting of data which will be too much for the card. 

Moreover, there are rich possibilities of the SD card getting damaged. The safer option is transferring the data to the computer, and then you can proceed with editing.

Removal of the SD Card

If you ever put your SD card into your computer, be super careful while getting it out. Once you’re done with transferring files, follow these steps to get the card out safely:

  • Click Windows and E together; this will open the File Explorer
  • Find the SD card option on the current window 
  • Click the right button on the mouse to select the Eject
  • Once you notice that the icon of the SD card has turned gray, get it out of the computer

Leaving the SD card Inside the Computer, Off the Table

Don’t keep the card inside the computer if it isn’t required. While it’s inside the computer, it will constantly use P/E cycles to detect changes. This decreases the lifespan of your SD card rapidly. 

Storing the Card

Keeping the card clean should be your first concern. Try to store it in a case once you get it out of any device. 

While using, make sure the card doesn’t get near dust and dirt. Debris can layer up on the contact points. Consequently, the SD card meets malfunctions. 

Make sure not to use the card in high temperatures. Too much moisture can immensely damage the SD card. 

The Wiser Step

No matter how expensive or high-capacity SD card you use, it’s always wiser to back all the important data up to another memory device. An extra hard drive would be a fine idea. This way, you don’t need to worry about the files ever, even if the card gets damaged or lost. 

The Sharing Rule 

Using the card with multiple gadgets is a no-no. The speed of data editing, processing, or writing depends on the type of device. So, the SD card will only be compatible with some devices. 

If you try to adjust it with an inappropriate device, major malfunctions, virus entrances, and damage can occur. 

In case of emergency, transfer your files to another storage device before you put the card into a different device. Otherwise, you might even lose all your documents. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I make my SD card last long? 

You can keep your SD card in ideal condition by following a few safety tips. The first tip is Temperature above 50° C wouldn’t be good for the card. Don’t let it get wet or dusty, either.

What should I do while removing the SD card from the computer?

All you have to do is be careful enough. Be gentle, and don’t forget to eject the card before getting it out of the slot. 

How long do unused SD cards last? 

Not more than 6 months. SD cards are meant to be used frequently. Otherwise, the flash chips won’t get charged. As a result, the data integrity will get imbalanced. 

Wrapping Up! 

SD cards are now the most trendy and beneficial storage chips. At this phase, your concern about how long do SD cards hold data is valid. 

Above, we tried to describe how you can extend the default lifespan of your SD card. These ways can eventually help the card holds the data for longer. 

Always try to choose a reliable brand and keep the card in good condition for an increased lifespan. Good luck!

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