Carol wrote in response to my explanation of why most devices don’t come with microSD cards. She asked: “Many years ago, a mini digital video and still camera made for Sharper Image that has a slot for a “TF card”, but I never seemed to need it.  I took many pictures and transferred them onto my computer without that card.  Now I’m wondering what that little card slot is for. Now, do these SD cards get filled up or old?  Would I ever need to buy additional “back-up” cards?  Or will one card last me a lifetime?

TF stands for TransFlash, which is another term used for microSD cards. Some digital cameras come with small hard drives, but as the quality of photos has grown from 1 or 2 MPs to 13 MPs or more and video has transitioned to wide-screen HD video, storage has transitioned to flash memory to avoid having to make cameras larger.


Also, as the smartphone has become the primary camera for so many people, people have started to take a whole lot more photos because they don’t have to remember to grab a camera, so storage needs have skyrocketed.  A micro-SD card lets you store us to thousands of photographs and several hours of video.


Before getting a card for your camera, make sure you check to see how large a card it can handle. Check your documentation or visit the manufacturer’s website. Many older devices only support up to 4 or 8 GB, while newer devices can support 32, 64 or even more.

Of course, even with a large storage capacity, cards can fill up. It’s not a good idea to leave your images on the card in your camera. Something might happen to the camera and there go all of your family photos. Most people choose to transfer them to a PC using either a card reader or a cable that comes with the camera to connect to the PC. Your PC will view the card as an external drive.

3' USB A (M) to Micro-B USB (M) Charge/Sync Cable

Moving photos to your PC will allow you to categorize them and distribute them. Also don’t forget to back those photos and videos up somewhere besides your PC. Many people keep an external drive for photos or back them up to flash drives or the cloud. I always suggest off-site storage for one of the backups, just in case disaster strikes your house.

A microSD card should last a long time if you are careful with it, but nothing last forever and the life of the card will depend on how much you use it. Fortunately, they are not terribly expensive and if you compare the costs of buying film for taking tens of thousands of photos, they are quite a deal.

~ Cynthia