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32GB microSD memory cards might be on the way out

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This could potentially spell out disaster for over 15 years of tech.

Memory cards. Nearly everybody uses them. Chances are there is one in your phone right now. But what would happen if they suddenly vanished? What if you needed one and none were available?

This actually might actually happen if you have anything right now that needs a 32GB microSD card.

What's the deal with 32GB specifically?

File systems have a specified maximum amount of data storage they can support. The original microSD standard was simply SD and could store up to 2GB. After that came SDHC, and could store up to, you guessed it, 32GB.

After SDHC comes SDXC (stores up to 2TB) and then SDUC (stores up to 128TB). But we're concentrating on the maximum-32GB SDHC here.

SDHC was introduced in 2006, which at the time I write this was 15 years ago. Electronics manufacturers quickly adopted the standard and it's been around ever since.

The problem...

There are literally millions of electronics devices out there which only support SDHC, and some are still made right now. But after buying some microSD SDHC cards recently, I'm noticing that the selection of what's available is starting to dwindle...

...uh-oh.

This means memory card manufacturers are starting to put more emphasis on the newer SDXC and SDUC. And that means it's going to get more difficult to find SDHC specific cards.

Here's a quick story of how bad this can get:

In my possession I have an old Garmin StreetPilot i3. It was made in 2005 before the SDHC standard was finalized, so it uses SD. A few years back, I had to get another memory card for it. This thing absolutely will not recognize anything but SD. You can't do that thing where you take SDHC and set a maximum "drive" size of 2GB. Doesn't work. Believe me, I tried. I had to get another SD-standard microSD card.

And oh, what a fight it was to get one. I bought a cheap imported one but what the seller did was take an SDHC and sold it as SD, so it didn't work. After that, I found an eBay seller in Canada that was selling a bunch of used 2GB Lexar and Kingston cards, and these were true SD. I got one, the stupid thing was almost 10 bucks, but it worked. I literally had to go with a used card because there was no other option. Fortunately, it was in good shape.

The exact same thing is going to happen with SDHC at some point, so I bought a 5-pack of 16GB Class 10 microSD cards now while they're still being made new.

To note, SDHC comes in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB. I went with 16GB because they're cheaper, and the devices I'm using them in at best would only use 8GB. Why didn't I just get 8GB cards? I couldn't find a 5-pack of them at Class 10 speeds in a reputable brand. The 16GB was actually the best price.

Did I need 5 cards? No. I actually only needed 2, but purposely bought 5 to have spares since these things are getting tougher to find.

Get your 32GB cards now if you need them

Yes, you can find new 32GB SDHC microSD cards from SanDisk, Samsung, PNY and other brands you know...

...for the moment.

But they might not be around as early as next year.

If you have something that only supports a maximum 32GB, be it an older GPS, smartphone, digital camera or whatever it is, get a pack of 5 or 10 cards now while they're still being sold new from reputable brands.

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