Home > Articles > Hardware > Upgrading & Repairing

Upgrading and Repairing PCs Tip #10: Comparing Flash Memory Devices: Which Is Best for Your Needs?

  • Print
  • + Share This
In this excerpt from the 22nd edition of Scott Mueller's Upgrading and Repairing PCs, Scott gives you a list of issues to check before purchasing flash memory-based devices.

Find more tips from Upgrading and Repairing PCs here.

From the book

As with any storage issue, you must compare each product’s features to your needs. You should check the following issues before purchasing flash memory-based devices:

  • Which flash memory products does your camera or other device support? Although adapters allow some interchange of the various types of flash memory devices, for best results, you should stick with the flash memory type your device was designed to use.
  • Which capacities does your device support? Flash memory devices are available in ever-increasing capacities, but not every device can handle the higher-capacity devices. Check the device and flash memory card’s websites for compatibility information. In some cases, firmware updates can improve a device’s compatibility with larger or faster flash memory card standards.
  • Are some flash memory devices better than others? Some manufacturers have added improvements to the basic requirements for the flash memory device, such as faster write speeds and embedded security. Note that these features usually are designed for use with particular digital cameras only. Don’t spend the additional money on enhanced features if your camera or other device can’t use those features.

Only ATA Flash cards can be attached directly to a very old laptop computer’s PC Card slot. All other devices need their own socket or some type of adapter to transfer data. Figure 9.4 shows how the most common types of flash memory cards compare in size to each other and to a penny.

Table 9.2 provides an overview of the major types of flash memory devices and their currently available maximum capacities.

Figure 9.4 SmartMedia, CompactFlash, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, xD-Picture Card, and Sony Memory Stick flash memory devices. Shown in relative scale to a U.S. penny (lower right).

Table 9.2 Flash Memory Card Capacities


Minimum Capacity

Maximum Capacity


Compact Flash (CF +)



Along with SDXC, highest capacity; supported by most professional digital SLR cameras.




Used by early Fujifilm and Olympus digital cameras.

MultiMediaCard (MMC)



MMC cards can work in most SD slots.




Use adapter to plug into MMC slots.

Secure Digital (SD)



SD cards do not work in MMC slots. Used by most brands of consumer-level digital cameras.

Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC)



Devices that are compatible with SDHC can also use SD cards, but not vice versa.

Secure Digital eXtended Capacity (SDXC)



Along with CF+, highest capacity; devices that are compatible with SDXC cards can also use SDHC and SD cards, but not vice versa. Uses exFAT file system.

CFast v1.x



XQD v1.0



CFast v2.0



Backwards-compatible with CFast v1.x

XQD v2.0



Backwards-compatible with XQD v1.0




Use adapter to plug into SD slots.

MicroSD, Micro SDHC, Micro SDXC



Use adapter to plug into SD/SDHC/SDXC slots. Capacity limits follow same rules as full-size SD/SDHC/SDXC cards

Memory Stick



Developed by Sony and licensed to other vendors. Proprietary—not recommended.

Memory Stick PRO



The enhanced high-speed version of Memory Stick with digital rights management support. Proprietary—not recommended.

Memory Stick PRO Duo



Reduced-size version of Memory Stick PRO. Proprietary—not recommended.

Memory Stick PRO-HG



Duo-sized, high-speed version of Memory Stick PRO for use in camcorders. Achieves 480MBps transfer rate. Proprietary—not recommended.

Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX



Boosts performance to 50MBps transfer rate. Uses exFAT file system. Proprietary—not recommended.

ATA Flash



Plugs directly into a PC Card (PCMCIA) slot without an adapter.

xD-Picture Card



Use the same brand as your digital camera for the best results. Proprietary—not recommended.

USB flash drive



Some include password-protection and write-protect features.

I normally recommend only devices (cameras, PDAs, and so on) that use Secure Digital (SD/SDHC/SDXC, including SD variants like MiniSD or MicroSD), CompactFlash (CF), or USB flash memory. Any of the others I generally do not recommend due to proprietary designs and higher costs as well as limitations in capacity and performance.

Secure Digital has become the most popular format in modern devices. It is reasonably fast and is available in capacities approaching those of CF, and in smaller MiniSD and MicroSD formats, which are physically compatible with the full-sized SD using adapters. SD sockets also take MMC cards, which are basically thinner versions of SD. Note that the opposite is not true—MMC sockets do not accept SD cards.

CF+ is the most widely used format in professional devices. It offers the highest capacity, in a wide range of speeds in a reasonably small size.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020