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An image of a coyote in a forest taken with an infrared trail cam.

Choosing a memory card for trail cams

Industrial memory cards make perfect sense for trail-camera enthusiasts

With all the uses for an industrial memory card, why, you ask, are we talking about trail cameras? Because trail cameras have technical requirements that a standard, off-the-shelf memory card cannot meet. Trail cameras, by their nature, are out in the field, left unattended for long periods of time and subject to harsh weather conditions. Also, the estimated $100 million-dollar global trail-camera market is growing, and it's predicted to keep growing for the foreseeable future.

Wildlife monitoring and research have been the primary uses of trail cameras historically. However, both professional and casual users employ trail cameras for nature viewing and scouting. With the proliferation of trail cameras, they have become an effective tool for landowners, farmers, land managers and homeowners for security management purposes. Outdoor enthusiasts also use them for photographing/videoing trail rides, equestrian events, hikes and mountain bike races.

When selecting a card for your trail camera, these are some of the features you should look for to maximise performance and reliability:

A snowy trail through a winter forest.
  • UHS-I compliant – speeds up to 100MB/s with U3, V30 and A1 support for Android-based applications.
  • Durability in extreme temperatures – designed and tested to withstand a temperature range of -40°C to 85°C.
  • High endurance – as measured in P/E cycles and TBW. The number of P/E cycles help determine approximately how much data can be written during the lifetime of a card. Endurance rating known as Terabytes Written (TBW) is the number of P/E cycles multiplied by the card capacity. This is optimal for high-resolution recording.
  • Bad block management – manages errors in NAND flash devices by identifying and flagging bad blocks, then uses the free extra capacity to replace invalid blocks. It stops data from writing to the bad blocks, strengthening the product’s reliability. If the bad block has data, it moves it to a valid block to prevent data loss.
  • ECC engine – error correction code detects and corrects most errors affecting data moving from the camera to the SD card. NAND flash memory, like hard disk drives, will encounter bit errors during regular operation that it will correct on the fly with its ECC data.
  • Power failure protection – power loss is unavoidable and can cause hours, days, months or longer of work to be lost. Forever! Power failure protection prevents data loss.
  • Wear levelling – advanced wear-levelling technology distributes the number of P/E cycles (program/erase) across the flash memory evenly around all blocks. When a block is needed to store data, the empty block with the lowest erase count is used. Wear-levelling thus extends the useful life of a flash memory card.
  • Auto-refresh read distribution protection – reads the data on the flash memory, including data that is rarely read out, and performs automatic error correction as required to prevent data losses caused by read disturb errors, data holding errors and others.
  • Dynamic data refresh – a three-stage check on the target block to ensure that, during read-only operations, blocks with a high number of errors can be removed and refreshed for the next use.
Trail cams attached to trees in a wooded area.

Kingston's industrial-grade cards are specifically designed to meet the endurance, performance and environmental requirements of trail cameras across the globe and a wide range of industrial applications. They are available in 8GB-64GB capacities and are backed by a three-year warranty, free technical support and legendary Kingston reliability. Always check the camera's owner's manual for recommended capacity and speed class.

All Kingston Industrial SD and microSD memory cards meet the Secure Digital Association's guidelines.


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