7 Awesome Uses for an Old SD Card

Christian Cawley 16-09-2013

Do you have any old SD cards or microSD cards (with a suitable adaptor) lying around? If so, don’t throw them away – there are plenty of projects that you can complete with these compact flash storage devices.


Whether your old SD card is a meager 64 MB or a massive 64 GB, various projects exist for you to make use of these storage cards. Smaller cards may be used as portable media storage, printing from SD and building a digital photo frame. Larger cards, meanwhile, might be used for providing emergency boot support to your PC, modding a Nintendo Wii or even installing CyanogenMod on your Android device.

Emergency Boot Device

Perhaps the most important use you can find for an old SD card is as an emergency boot device, to assist with problems when your computer won’t start up.

Typically, this might be something you can do with a Linux distro Linux Live USB Creator: Easily Boot Linux From Your Flash Drive Read More , although it is also possible to boot a “live” version of Windows XP How To Create The Ultimate Boot CD For Windows Read More , something a Windows user might be more comfortable with.

Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Hold on, these links are for USB flash drives,” and you would be right. However, with a device like this one below, you can turn your old SD card into a USB stick, something that proves pretty useful in a number of different situations.



Portable Media Storage

The more space you have on your spare or old SD card, the more suited it will be for various multimedia-related projects.

One popular use is to store your favourite photos on it, and view them on a suitable digital photo frame. You might even use the card to install an operating system and add photos, ready to be used in a custom-built digital photo frame, one that perhaps started life as a notebook or netbook.

7 Awesome Uses for an Old SD Card digital frame

If you use a digital camera, you might use a spare SD card as a means of quickly checking your photos on your phone or tablet (assuming you have a suitable card reader).


There are also a couple of ways in which an old SD card can be used to create a media centre…

Softmod A Nintendo Wii

Using an SD card with the useful Letterbomb software installed, you can softmod your Nintendo Wii How to Install Homebrew on a Nintendo Wii Using LetterBomb Installing Homebrew on your Nintendo Wii can unlock its full potential. Here's how to do that using LetterBomb. Read More to allow various homebrew software applications to run.


You might, for instance, use the device as a DVD player (standard DVDs cannot be read as standard by the Nintendo Wii; this mod will work on the older models, however), or to play homebrew and retro games.


Alternatively, you can use the mod to turn your Wii into a media centre How to Turn Your Wii Into a Media Center With WiiMC Turn your neglected Wii into a media player. Listen to music and watch videos from your computer on your TV, or browse a bit of the best the web has to offer using your Wiimote.... Read More , capable of playing movies from your SD card or a storage device on your local network.

Print from SD

Another use for an old SD card is printing. You don’t need to have a wireless card or a wireless printer to send print jobs over your Wi-Fi network – you could just save the job to be printed to the SD card and then use your printer’s card reader (assuming it has one) to find the file that needs printing and begin the print job.


Depending on the printer, this will probably work universally for images – although some printers can print documents without a connected computer. If you have any local photo printing booths that accept SD cards, this is a useful thing to be aware of.


Run a Raspberry Pi

Do you own a Raspberry Pi? If so, you’ll probably be aware that an SD card is required as the primary boot device, and can also be used for storage.

With multiple storage devices you can have access to different operating systems, customised for particular projects; you might, for instance, have RaspBMC installed How To Make Your Raspberry Pi Into a Home Theater System Four weeks on and I’ve been playing with my Raspberry Pi in various ways, from using it to browse the web and standard day-to-day computing tasks to playing around with the various configurations that are... Read More to use the little computer as a media centre, or a RetroPIE installation for retro gaming How to Install Game Emulators on the Raspberry Pi Desktop computer, media center, an integral part of a budget space program - is there no end to the versatility of the Raspberry Pi? Seemingly not – because it also does games. Read More .


The Raspberry Pi can be used for so much more, however; who would have thought that an SD card could form part of a low budget space programme Raspberry Pi Projects: A Car With Night Vision, Google Glass-like Translation, And More We’ve previously looked at some excellent uses for this British minicomputer, but the fact is that it is just so versatile that there is always something amazing to talk about. Who would have thought that... Read More ?

GPS Expansion Card

If you regularly use your GPS device for travel and have found it seemingly running out of space, you might use the expansion slot to provide the space you need to download new maps and voices.

7 Awesome Uses for an Old SD Card gps unit

Surprisingly, GPS systems are still widely used as distinct units, as opposed to the various smartphone-based systems such as Google Maps and Nokia HERE.

Given the price of a new GPS unit, it makes sense to get as much use as possible out of these devices, so if you have a suitable slot for your SD card or microSD card, this might be a great way to solve two problems at once.

Install CyanogenMod On Your Android Device


Finally, if you’re using an Android phone or tablet and are less than happy with the installed version of the popular mobile operating system, you might take advantage of your SD card or microSD card (depending on the size of the card reader slot) to change this.

Perhaps the most popular alternative to stock Android is CyanogenMod How To Install CyanogenMod On Your Android Device A lot of people can agree that the Android operating system is pretty awesome. Not only is it great to use, but it's also free as in open source, so that it can be modified... Read More , and you’ll find the details for installing this to your Android device (the initial steps for which often require a one-time installation to your SD card) by searching for the appropriate hardware on a site such as

Are There Anymore Uses for an Old SD Card?

These are just seven of many uses for an old or spare SD card. We’re sure that there might be several other uses that we haven’t mentioned here. Have you found an interesting new use for an old SD card? If so, let us know about it in the comments below.

Image credit: Community History SA/flickr, camknows/flickr

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Anonymous
    March 11, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    I know a good use. Use it for a dashcam.

  2. Joe P
    October 16, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    I rip movies from DVD and store the mp4 on old SD cards. Then using a wireless SD card reader, I play the movies on an iPad.

  3. RcRon7
    October 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I use them for old cameras that I give the kids to use. And for back up storage for our cameras. You never know when you may need just a little more room. ^_^

  4. Jesse
    September 23, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    How about a use for a 16MB? I think I will store one special photo on it and see how the test of time treats it.

  5. Jon S
    September 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Hello, all.
    Having survived a house fire in '05, I learned a few things.
    SD/microSD cards are obligatory for keeping digital copies of important documents.
    Many, if not all,
    can be saved by adjusting the on-screen size till the entire document is visible,
    then press Printscreen [Prtscn] to save it to the clipboard.
    Paste it into a blank Irfanview window & save it w/ an appropriate name.
    Next, copy it to the Sd/microSD card.
    [Important point—COPY it, so you have TWO (2) copies, not just 1.]
    Don't forget to copy either Irfanview's portable version or the executable installer to the card as well.
    Now, save the card in a "SAFE!" place, & you're ready for the next disaster,
    digital, literal, or otherwise.
    BTW, none of this will needed for the so-called Apocalypse.

    Have a GREAT day, neighbors!

    • Christian C
      October 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Excellent post, Jon, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.

  6. Invincibles
    September 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    I have 32MB full-sized SD card from Canon (as a freebie for buying old Canon digital camera). Quite useful to be used to save headaches on public printing machines (loads slowly on high capacity cards or having too many files inside it, and less risk of getting your files messed up by computer viruses).

  7. Sajan P. Thomas
    September 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    It works with a USB FM Transmitter.

  8. Colin Dean
    September 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I was just introduced to the concept of USB storage as dead drops. SD card in a USB reader? Please.

    • Ray
      September 19, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      I would be wary of deaddrops as this a habitat for usb based malware, trojans and virus's sort of the opposite allowing people to have open access to your usb ports...why??

    • Ray
      September 19, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      Chromium boot off sd card is my input to uses for a sd card. Small light fast.

  9. Potny
    September 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Now if you could hook them up in RAID, that would help.

    • jensen
      September 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      I thought of that too, and have searched but with no luck
      I have so many leftover cards and sticks.

    • Simon Livings
      October 4, 2013 at 10:40 am

      You can use them in raid if you are running a linux distro, Ubuntu has the option to configure any drive in software raid.

  10. Rodrigo G
    September 17, 2013 at 6:38 pm
  11. Robert
    September 17, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Use it in Arduino projects.

  12. CHRIS
    September 17, 2013 at 4:22 pm


  13. Matthew
    September 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    For "PC USB device" applications, very cheap readers can be found in UK 99p / pound stores (probably in dollar stores too), including a style that is SD card only and carries the card inside a cover, making it a somewhat bulky pen drive.

    One advantage of using a reader + SD card, is that the write protect on the card can be used to protect it, handy if it contains malware cleanup tools that are used in a hostile environment

  14. Guy M
    September 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Depending on the type and size, you could use it with your Windows computer to ReadyBoost the RAM.

    I've yet to make it work on my laptop, but if I can it would help out greatly. Or I'll just go Linux on it.

    • d
      October 2, 2013 at 1:08 am

      readyboost is complete crap.

  15. Ashwin D
    September 17, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Nice Article!.I Never Knew there were so many uses.

  16. Jean-Francois Messier
    September 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I use some of them as a secondary backup for documents I don't want to loose. Never mind music or videos, but some income tax forms, source code, current working documents, etc... are surprisingly small in total for, say, a 4G card. And the speed does not matter, so those older cards can become very useful. Here, I am talking about documents, not ebooks or long static texts to read, but personal documents. Some of those cards can also be left in a safe at the bank.

  17. Jim Gibson
    September 17, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I use mine to play guitar, they make ideal plectrums.

    • Christian C
      September 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      Seriously? What's the attack like? Can you get any interesting tones from the metal connectors?

  18. James Katkus
    September 17, 2013 at 5:29 am

    How about the old 156 mb cards?

    • Christian C
      September 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Maps or printing from SD would seem suitable for a low capacity card like that.

  19. Ruth
    September 17, 2013 at 2:28 am

    I love reading your clever ideas for all sorts of stuff. Stikes me as funny that I didn't even know SD cards were old and needed new uses - go figure. Thanks MUO! Ruth

  20. BobDover
    September 17, 2013 at 1:05 am

    I think in the GPS Expansion Card section you meant to say Google Maps not Google Drive.

    • Christian C
      September 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Thanks Bob, I'll have that changed! Nice spot :)

  21. Evan
    September 17, 2013 at 12:50 am

    You can download a program call LiberKey which has hundreds of different apps you can use and upload it to your SD card, that way you'll have hundreds of apps on one SD card.

    • Nathan Passen
      September 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Is Liberkey only Win. or is there a Mac version?

    • Evan
      September 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      I believe it only supports Win right now.

  22. Adam
    September 17, 2013 at 12:43 am

    shot glass coaster

  23. Fred Schechter
    September 17, 2013 at 12:42 am

    It works great in the RaceCapture!
    but I'm biased.
    GO RACE!

  24. Jorge B
    September 17, 2013 at 12:32 am

    I'd say running portable apps