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SD Card vs. SDHC: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on March 6, 2024
SD Card is a digital storage format, while SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) is a type of SD card with higher storage capacity ranging from 4GB to 32GB.

Key Differences

SD Cards and SDHC cards represent two milestones in the evolution of digital storage for portable devices. An SD Card, standing for Secure Digital, is a digital storage medium introduced to meet the demand for portable storage in devices like cameras, smartphones, and tablets. SDHC, or Secure Digital High Capacity, is a version of the SD card introduced to surpass the storage limitations of the original SD card format, offering capacities from 4GB up to 32GB. This capacity increase allows for the storage of high-definition photos and videos, addressing the needs of modern digital media.
The original SD Card format supports capacities up to 2GB, catering to earlier digital devices that required storage for lower resolution content. As digital technology progressed, the demand for higher storage to accommodate larger files, such as high-resolution images and video, led to the development of the SDHC standard. SDHC cards utilize a different file system, FAT32, as opposed to the FAT16 system used in standard SD Cards, enabling the support for larger file sizes and capacities.
Compatibility is a key difference between SD Cards and SDHC cards. While SDHC cards are designed to work in devices that support the SDHC standard, they may not be compatible with older devices that only support the original SD card standard. Conversely, standard SD Cards can be used in any device that has an SD card slot, including those compatible with SDHC, due to their backward compatibility.
The speed class rating system was also introduced alongside the SDHC standard, providing a minimum write speed guarantee to support recording of high-definition video without interruption. This system ranges from Class 2 (a minimum write speed of 2MB/s) to Class 10 (10MB/s), ensuring that SDHC cards meet the performance requirements of high-bandwidth applications. In contrast, the original SD Cards do not have a standardized speed class rating, making SDHC cards a more reliable choice for high-speed data recording and playback.
Both SD Cards and SDHC cards serve the purpose of providing portable storage for digital devices, the introduction of SDHC cards represents a significant advancement in terms of storage capacity, compatibility with newer devices, and the ability to handle high-speed data transfer. These developments have made SDHC cards an indispensable tool for photographers, videographers, and consumers looking to store and transport high-definition digital media.

Comparison Chart


Up to 2GB
4GB to 32GB

File System



Universal with SD devices
Requires SDHC-compatible devices

Speed Class Ratings

Not standardized
Class 2 to Class 10

Use Cases

Basic photography, low-resolution video
High-definition photography, high-resolution video

SD Card and SDHC Definitions

SD Card

Supports up to 2GB of storage capacity.
My old SD Card can only hold a few hundred photos.


Supports storage capacities from 4GB to 32GB.
I bought a 32GB SDHC card for my HD camcorder.

SD Card

Ideal for storing low-resolution media and data.
I use my SD Card to store my documents and MP3s.


Uses the FAT32 file system to accommodate larger file sizes.
The SDHC card's FAT32 system handles large video files well.

SD Card

Utilizes the FAT16 file system for managing files.
The SD Card's file system limits file sizes to 4GB.


Suitable for high-definition video recording and high-resolution photography.
For recording HD video, only SDHC cards will do.

SD Card

SD Card is a portable storage device used in digital cameras, smartphones, and tablets.
I saved the photos to my SD Card.


Requires devices compatible with the SDHC format.
Make sure your camera supports SDHC cards before buying one.

SD Card

Offers universal compatibility across a wide range of devices.
My SD Card works in both my camera and laptop.


SDHC stands for Secure Digital High Capacity, offering larger storage than standard SD Cards.
My SDHC card can store thousands of high-resolution photos.


What does SDHC stand for?

Secure Digital High Capacity, an enhanced version of the SD card supporting higher storage capacities.

What capacity range does SDHC support?

SDHC cards support storage capacities from 4GB to 32GB.

Can I use an SDHC card in a device that only supports SD Cards?

No, SDHC cards require devices specifically compatible with the SDHC format.

Are SD Cards compatible with SDHC devices?

Yes, SD Cards can be used in devices that are compatible with both SD and SDHC cards.

What happens if I insert an SDHC card into a non-compatible SD device?

The device will not recognize the SDHC card due to compatibility issues.

What is an SD Card?

A portable storage device used in various digital products, supporting up to 2GB of storage.

Can SDHC cards be used in smartphones and tablets?

Yes, if the device is SDHC-compatible, it can utilize SDHC cards for expanded storage.

What is the maximum capacity of an SD Card?

SD Cards support up to 2GB of storage.

How does the speed class rating affect SDHC card performance?

The speed class rating guarantees a minimum write speed, essential for recording high-definition video.

What's the difference in speed between SD Cards and SDHC cards?

SDHC cards offer speed class ratings to ensure a minimum performance level, which is not standardized for SD Cards.

Can I format an SDHC card to use the FAT16 file system?

Formatting an SDHC card with FAT16 is not recommended as it may limit functionality and compatibility.

Can I convert an SD Card to an SDHC card to increase capacity?

No, the capacity and technology of SD and SDHC cards are hardware-based and cannot be changed.

Why do some cameras require SDHC cards?

Cameras that record high-definition video or capture high-resolution photos need the higher capacity and speed provided by SDHC cards.

What should I consider when choosing between an SD Card and an SDHC card?

Consider your device's compatibility, the storage capacity you need, and whether you'll be storing high-definition media.

Why can't I use my SDHC card in all my devices?

Devices must be SDHC-compatible due to the different file system and technology used in SDHC cards.

What file system do SDHC cards use?

SDHC cards use the FAT32 file system to support larger capacities.

Is there a significant price difference between SD Cards and SDHC cards?

The price can vary based on capacity and speed class, with SDHC cards generally being more expensive due to higher capacities.

How do I know if my device is SDHC-compatible?

Check the device's specifications or documentation for SDHC compatibility.

What are the use cases for SD Cards now that SDHC is available?

SD Cards are still useful for devices with lower storage requirements or for users seeking compatibility with older devices.

Are there any storage options beyond SDHC for even higher capacities?

Yes, SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity) cards offer capacities beyond 32GB, up to 2TB.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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