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Flash technology works in such a way that CompactFlash cards wil eventually "wear out". This happened to one of my cards at a wedding, and experience I did not enjoy (I was able to recover the data with PhotoRec).

I'd like to figure out the relative ages of the cards I've got (after I had the problem at the wedding, I standardised on using SanDisk cards). While clearly the relevant fact is the number of erase cycles each card has had, I did not record this, or the year of purchase. But if I can deduce the year of manufacture, this could be a reasonable start.

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I don't know how you could tell the age of the card, but I think it is more important to know roughly how many shots it has recorded, to format it regularly, (the formatting will remove wilting parts of the card), and, depending how often you use it, throwing it away after an amount of time that suits you, ie. a year maybe. Then mark the new one with the date.

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I don't think reformatting will impact wear leveling, which will happen automatically "under the hood" with any writes. –  mattdm May 6 '12 at 17:16
    
Good point. I have been pretty careful to rotate the cards since about 2010. But I have no record of when I started using each of them, which is precisely what I should have done. –  James Youngman May 7 '12 at 7:13

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