As far as your camera’s removable memory is concerned, the size of the memory card you use is only limited by the model camera you have. The same is true of memory for smartphones, tablets and other electronic gear.
As electronics evolve, manufactures improve their products and even remove some designs from their line-up. One factor, that certain card designs were retired for, was the eventual failure of the card in normal use.
Manufacturers of the memory cards don’t want to tell you that they will fail, but they will; eventually.
Imagine that you have apiece of paper and you write on it with a pencil. When you don’t need what you wrote any more, you don’t throw it away, you erase it so you can use it again. When you do that, as any third grader can tell you, a little of the paper wears away; they learn this because if they do it enough times, in the same spot, they will wear completely through the paper.
In some respects, an older memory card is like the paper. If you store a picture on the card and then erase it, that spot in the memory will eventually “wear thin” and finally fail. Newer designs are not the same, in that they have special electronics added that prevent you from recording information repeatedly in the same spot. In fact, the added electronics keep track of where information is written and won’t use a spot again until all other spots have been used the same number of times.
Talking only about cameras, video cameras, or cameras that can take video and stills, will use more of these spots than a still camera only will. That means that a memory card used just for video will fail much sooner than one in a still camera.
So, you should get rid of your old cards. RIGHT? NO, not necessarily.
If you have a newer camera, it may compensate for this wear factor. Most of the newer cameras have a format command. This format routine does the same thing that the new memory cards do.
Could the routine be executed twice, once by the camera and once by the memory card itself? It is possible, but not likely. When I posed the question to several manufacturers, they indicated that although possible, it would not harm the memory space in any way.
Each one of the memory “spaces”, in the card you use, should last at least 10,000 cycles. Probably far longer than you will have the camera itself.
To renew your memory card to a fresh state, insert or reinsert the memory card and do the format routine. As simple as that.
Something to consider: At the top of this post I talked about how memory cards are being updated and new features are being added. In addition,memory sizes are increasing and smaller memory sizes are disappearing. Check your electronics and make sure that you have a few extra of what you need. The reason to do this is that some gadgets will only take a certain size (or smaller) memory chip, and if you loose or destroy the only one you have, you gadget will be unusable.