Memory Card Synchronization


Today’s Question: Is there any way that I can easily synchronize and delete photos on my memory card based on what I have already downloaded? That is, leave the downloaded on the memory card but delete those that I don’t download?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There isn’t any software I’m aware of that would streamline this type of workflow. However, you could use synchronization software as part of the process of removing outtakes from your memory card.

More Detail: Most software for managing photos takes a relatively simple approach to dealing with memory cards. For the most part the memory card is seen simply as a source of photos to be downloaded. Some software also enables you to delete photos from the memory card after they have been downloaded successfully.

To be honest, I generally recommend being rather conservative when it comes to a workflow involving memory cards. I get a bit nervous when photographers try to manage photos directly on a memory card, for fear that original photos (and possibly the only copy) may be deleted accidentally.

I also prefer to download all photos from a given memory card, rather than selecting individual photos to download, leaving photos on the card that have not been downloaded. This is mostly because I am eager to get all photos downloaded and backed up as quickly as possible after capturing them.

In any event, there are approaches you could take to achieve your workflow goals. In this case the first step is obviously to actually download the photos from the memory card that you actually want to keep. You could selectively download only the photos you wanted to, not downloading the photos you want to delete. You could also download all photos and delete the ones you don’t want as a separate process.

In order for a synchronization approach to work, you would also need to be sure that the folder you’re downloading to will only be used to store photos from a single memory card. Otherwise the synchronization would not work properly.

After selectively downloading photos, or downloading all and then deleting the outtakes, you could use synchronization software to remove photos from the memory card that are not in the download folder. For example, I use backup software called GoodSync to backup my photos and other data. This software enables you to define a synchronization job between two data sources, such as a hard drive or an individual folder. So in this case you could synchronize the folder you downloaded to with the memory card you downloaded from. In this case you would want to disable the option to propagate deletions, and also disable the option to retain deleted files for a period of time.

With a job setup in GoodSync (or other software) for this purpose, after downloading photos (and possibly deleting outtakes) you could run the job to synchronize files (or in this case deleted or non-downloaded photos) between your download folder and your memory card.

Note that I also have a video course that demonstrates how to use GoodSync software to backup your photos and other data, which you can learn about on the GreyLearning website here: