Flash memory for portable devices

The difference between SD and microSD

Eliot Phillips on September 16, 2010

Flash memory is where your portable device stores files: everything from photos to MP3 files can be stored on flash memory. It's like the hard drive in your computer but much smaller and without any moving parts. You can increase the storage of many portable devices very economically by upgrading to a new flash card with a larger capacity. We're going to talk about the two most common types of flash memory: SD and microSD.

sd cardSecure Digital (or SD) storage cards are by far the most common type of flash memory. The physical card is about the size of a postage stamp and as thick as a quarter. You'll find them used in most point and shoot digital cameras and even some video cameras. You can easily find SD cards ranging from 4GB to 32GB. Many new computers and printers come with an SD card slot to make it easy to transfer your photos. On netbooks, you could use the slot to double the computer's overall storage capacity. Before purchasing any flash memory, confirm that your device can use it by checking for the telltale SD or SDHC logo.

micro sd cardmicroSD is the newer, smaller type of SD card. While SD is fine for digital cameras, mobile phones are much smaller and require a much tinier memory card. A microSD card is about the size of your pinky finger nail. microSD cards are easily found in the 1GB to 8GB range. Important: While shopping for 'microSD' cards watch out for 'miniSD'; miniSD is a slightly larger card and will not work in microSD devices. A nice feature of microSD is that new cards often come with an SD card adapter. The adapter is the same size as an SD card and has a small slot for the microSD card. Just place the microSD card inside and it will work on anything that accepts full-size SD cards.

SD and microSD are just two types in the myriad array of upgradeable flash memory. They are the two most common though, and if your digital camera or other device has upgradeable flash memory there's a good chance it may be one of these two styles.


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