SD Card Performance

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by bgelfand, Jun 22, 2017.

  1. While reading this article on AnandTech:

    Lexar Professional Workflow HR2 4-Bay Thunderbolt 2 / USB 3.0 Reader Hub Review

    I came across this paragraph about restoring full performance to an SD card:

    "Performance Restoration
    "The traditional memory card use-case is to delete the files on it after the import process is completed. Some prefer to format the card either using the PC, or, through the options available in the camera menu. The first option is not a great one, given that flash-based storage devices run into bandwidth issues if garbage collection (processes such as TRIM) is not run regularly. Different memory cards have different ways to bring them to a fresh state.Based on our experience, SD cards have to be formatted using the SD Formatter tool from the SD Association (after all the partitions are removed using the 'clean' command in diskpart).

    "In order to test out the effectiveness of the performance restoration process, we run the default sequential workloads in CrystalDiskMark before and after the formatting. Note that this is at the end of all our benchmark runs, and the card is in a used state at the beginning of the process."

    Although AnandTech was testing the card by performing file copies to and from the card with a PC, the principle remains the same. Performing the restoration process may not speed up the camera writing to the card (depending upon the ability of the camera to take advantage of the full speed of the card), but should speed up copying data from the card to your computer.

    Of course the card would have to be formatted in the camera after using the SD Association formatting program.

    Here is a link to the SD Association Formatter Tool:

    SD Card Formatter - SD Association
  2. Interesting, but quite possibly complete BS.

    It's well known that defragging or re-formatting improves the performance of mechanical rotating hard disks, but flash memory? I'd have to see it myself to believe it.

    There's a free benchmarking/test tool for memory cards called H2testw.

    The webpage is in German, but the program has an English option.

    Shouldn't be hard to prove or disprove the assertion, provided you have a well-used card you don't mind wiping.

    Incidentally, that formatter is 4 years old and mentions no Win10 compatibility. And personally, I'd run a thorough virus check on it before use! looks genuine, but who knows.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  3. As a rule I don't want to over-think everything. It's good enough if what works works: Formatting the SD card in the camera works. Never had a problem.

    The same with email and chat messages about "eat this yakky thing but don't eat that delicious stuff - coz it causes cancer etc." Seriously? ;)
  4. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    I've used SDformatter a few times, with no problems, but always formatted the card afterwards in the camera. Usually used it when the camera owner has pulled the card while it was being written, and has corrupted the data - recovered what I could, sorted the card and been bought a pint (and, on occasion, a bottle of JD !)
  5. I think this was mostly a quirk of the workflow for testing with a computer. The formatting procedures for a camera would obviously be written for the type of card encountered. Otherwise there'd be a big performance disadvantage for any camera company whos format didn't trigger Trim and/or Garbage Collection. On a PC though the system wouldn't really know the card is an SD card (architecturally it's just another USB storage device like any other) and wouldn't know to use SD-specific features to force erasure of deleted blocks (instead of just have the file system forget the addresses like a hard disk). Hence the SD forum's tool. Using a tool to fully delete the drive to restore performance on later runs is a pretty standard procedure on SSD reviews, which are something of a specialty of Anandtech.
  6. @rodeo_joe: If you had read the article you would have seen it. Scroll down near the bottom to see the test results.

    @Mary Doo: AnandTech is a very well respected technical site. They lay out their test protocols in detail and use well accepted test methods. I agree there is much mis-information on the Web. If the XYZ site says "Don't (or do) eat this", I would be skeptical. If the CDC said "Don't eat this", I would pay heed to the warning. By the way I am glad you do not have the problem.
  7. Haha. Of course I would give credence to CDC and even my doctor. But we are talking about SD cards and we do have some common sense from our own experiences. There are 99 ways to do most things, some better than others. But formatting in the camera is good enough for me so far - after photographing for so many years. So why do I need to make it "even better"? Better for what? Does it make my photography better? :rolleyes: Just my easy-life "if it ain't broke" philosophy. I am busy enough. ;)
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017
  8. All that article tells me is that Adobe's programs are awful at data transfer - which I already knew. Typical of any bloatware IME.

    I can see my own SD card transfer rates on the copy window, and I'm pretty happy with the 70MB/s that I usually get. If that drops drastically then I might bother to find out why, but until then I have more important things to worry about.

    Thanks, but I'll park that AnandTech article under "Interesting but irrelevant".
  9. It is not necessary to do a low level format on SD cards unless partitions have been created. If you do a simple reformat, only the current partition will be affected. You would need to use a disk utility, found only on a computer, to access other partitions. I have never had partitions created in the course using CF, SD or Micro-SD cards in cameras. At most, the camera will create new directories once the old one is filled (i.e., reaches the maximum frame count). In that case, erasing files IN THE CAMERA will only affect the current directory, unless you deliberately select another directory. Reformatting the card in a computer or camera will remove all files and directories, restoring the available memory. This is an high level format, which cleans the FAT directory (Windows) or HTPS directory (Apple). AFIK, all cameras use FAT32, which is compatible with both Windows and OS/X. This type of formatting does not wipe the card clean, but makes all sectors available for new files, wiping the old data as you go.

    It can take a very long time to do a low level format, and longer yet to do a wipe (not with a cloth), which requires several passes and nonsense writes to each sector. A low level format should only be done to identify bad sectors or restore them if possible. Once marked, these sectors are ignored by ordinary write and format operations. Various repair and diagnostic tools can be used to identify bad sectors in a much shorter time frame. Both Windows and OS/X have native utilities to do this.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  10. I, too, think this is needless complication about a process that we do frequently with no issues whatsoever. There is a tendency among many people to over complicate things for reasons that are mysterious, but perhaps I am simple minded. There is a marvelous amount of jargon in the above though: they do make it sound really good and very important. I agree with Rodeo: I'd be wary about malware on this product.
    Mary Doo likes this.

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