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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 August, 2004, 07:19 GMT 08:19 UK
Digital memories survive extremes
Memory cards
Memory cards were nailed to a tree
Holiday-makers capturing precious memories on digital cameras need not worry about losing their snaps.

The memory cards in most cameras are virtually indestructible, found Digital Camera Shopper magazine.

Five memory card formats survived being boiled, trampled, washed and dunked in coffee or cola.

Digital cameras are becoming commonplace, with 12.5 million sold in the US last year, compared with 12.1 million film cameras.

In the UK, 18% of the population have digital cameras.

Survival of the fittest

Five memory cards for digital cameras were subjected to a range of tests.

The formats were CompactFlash, Secure Digital, xD, Memory Stick and Smartmedia.

Memory cards
We knew modern memory cards were durable, but had no idea they would be quite so tough
Geoff Harris, Digital Camera Shopper
Even some of the thinner cards that appear to be fragile fared well in the trial.

They were dipped into cola, put through a washing machine, dunked in coffee, trampled by a skateboard, run over by a child's toy car and given to a six-year-old boy to destroy.

Perhaps surprisingly, all the cards survived these six tests.

Most of them did fail to get through two additional tests - being smashed by a sledgehammer and being nailed to a tree.

Even then, data experts Ontrack Data Recovery were able to retrieve photos from the xD and Smartmedia cards.

Tough little things

"We've tested the durability of the leading memory card forms and have found that even if your camera doesn't remain intact, your precious memories should," said Geoff Harris, editor of Digital Camera Shopper.

"We knew modern memory cards were durable, but had no idea they would be quite so tough."

Woman shopping for digital cameras
More and more people are buying digital cameras
However he added that people should still make a back up copy of photos, to avoid accidentally deleting such prized memories.

The results of the test are bad news for photography processing services.

Photo printing retailers are seeing a drop off in traditional camera film processing.

Instead, they are pushing services that turn electronic images into prints. Around eight out of 10 digital pictures are thought to never make it into printed form at all.

In the US, tens of thousands of self-service kiosks have sprung up, where consumers can edit and make photos directly from a memory card.

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