Worth The Extra Penny: Different Types and Speeds of SD Cards

There are currently three different types of SD cards readily available on the market: SD, SDHC (High Capacity), and SDXC (eXtended Capacity). And when it comes down to it, not all USB 3.0 flash drives are the same; some are MUCH faster than others. With increased speed comes a heftier price tag. Are different types and speeds of SD cards really worth the extra penny?

worth the extra Penny

Not All SD Cards Are Created Equal.

It’s easy to subscribe to the belief that an SD card is an SD card. They all look relatively the same. They’re all small, compact storage devices that come with different capacities. But SD cards are more than simply bigger or smaller in terms of memories. When buying an SD card, there are three important properties to take into consideration:

1) SD Card Data Storage Types.

Each of the three types of cards mentioned at the outset of this article come with different types of data storage. When SD technology first came to the everyday user in 1999, it started out as the basic SD card. Such a card could hold about 2GB of data. At the time, this was a huge amount of space, especially when one considered that other cards stored a lot less.

In 2006, SDHC cards were introduced. At the time, the 2GB data limit had become too small. The new and improve high capacity SD card was capable of storing up to 32GB of data.

In 2009, the SDXC hit the market. This eXtended capacity card blew it’s predecessors out of the water with a whopping 2TB of storage capacity!

Today you can stop by just about any store and find a combination of these three types of cards for sale. The one you choose hinges on how much storage you need. Professional photographers rely and trust these memory cards for major photo shoots. SD cards can store anywhere from 8GB to 2TB, and they are worth every penny when it comes to having your data easily and readily handy with extra space for any needed file transfers.

2) The SD Card Speed.

Speed ratings are perhaps the most confusing aspect of SD cards. The SD Card Association ranks cards into speed classes. The class rating indicates a minimum speed, not the card’s actual speed. A Class 2 card will likely be faster than a higher numbered class, such as 6 or 10. When comparing card speeds, keep in mind that MB/s (megabytes per second) are approximately eight times faster than Mbps (megabits per second). eProvided speaks more about SD card class speeds on this broken SD card article.

Some SD card speeds are measured in comparison to an original CD-Rom drive, which was 150 KBps. Therefore, you’ll sometimes see “100x Speed” on the packaging. Always look for the megabyte estimation. It’s far more accurate and easier to understand. The faster the card, the less risk of SD card corruption during file transfers.

3) The Bus Speeds.

You can buy the fastest SD card on the market, but it will only be as snappy as the device it’s interfaced with. In other words, the maximum speed of the input/output bus that connects the SD card to the device controls just how fast data is accessed and transferred.

Some SD cards currently on the market support speeds of up to 95MBps. However, very few applications need or support a card of this speed. 2MBps to 6MBps can handle most file types from standard video to full HD (i.e. 1,080p). Spending additional money on faster SD cards is semi pointless since bus speeds won’t likely support super-fast speeds. Professionals need to understand this the most. Likewise, if using high end DSLR cameras with slow bus speeds you could end up with damaged NAND flash needing data recovery.

Your Next SD Card Purchase.

The next time you purchase a SD card, predict your storage needs. A high capacity card with average or slightly above average speeds is worth every extra penny. Click here to find out about damaged media cards and what to do with your old media cards.