When digital cameras first emerged on the scene, as a photographer I used to think, “How many shots can I fit on this 256 MB card?” and I would know that I’d need to have expensive storage available to download the files. Well, those days are still with us, but instead of MBs, we are talking about gigabytes, terabytes, and even petabytes. Fortunately, vendors have you covered, with affordable, incredibly fast, light weight, and durable storage options. Here are some favorites from LaCie, Seagate, SanDisk, and Other World Computing.
It used to be true that a 1TB SSD (Solid State Drive) would require a second mortgage, but that's not the case anymore. SSDs using either USB-Type C (USB 3), or Thunderbolt drives are common in vendor catalogs. They are almost all very fast, shockproof, bus powered, and smaller than a pack of playing cards. So, what differentiates them? Mostly, the differences are either cosmetic, or form factor, while other, more expensive drives use higher-quality memory, capable of higher read/write speeds.
SanDisk, a powerhouse in the memory sector, has long provided solid-state memory to the industry and consumers. Some of the best and earliest Compact Flash cards were from SanDisk, as were their innovative SD cards, some of which bent in the middle to reveal a USB 2 connector, allowing instant downloads, with no adapter required. Their line of USB drives has been a mainstay in the lives of countless creative creators. This season we tested and worked with their Extreme PRO Portable SSD – 2TB Card, the USB Dual Drive Luxe USB Type-C – 128GB, and their 128GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC Memory Card, and Extreme PRO UHS-II SD Reader/Writer. All of these were their top-shelf devices, with faster read/write speeds than their standard line. All worked exactly as promised, the Extreme PRO UHS-II SD Reader/Writer was a perfect match for their speedy Extreme PRO SD cards. The UHS-II cards feature extra pins, for use in cameras that support the UHS-II/V30 spec, so they are perfect for video capture, and high speed burst capture. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be listed on the SanDisk website, due perhaps to a temporary shortage. Fingers crossed it returns.
We also really liked using the SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD – 2TB storage device. It’s sleek and stylish, coming across as a solid carabiner, with a large carry hole design. We found that it easily met its advertised 2000 read/2000 write speeds. It also ships with security software designed to keep prying eyes off your data. We tested it with Adobe Photoshop LightRoom to see how it performed with the image library on it, and we didn’t detect any noticeable lag. We would love to see a Thunderbolt 3 version, which would further increase its speed, but it’s seriously fast, and foolproof.
For several years, SanDisk has had a line of small flash drives, the SanDisk Ultra® Dual Drive Luxe USB Type-C™ Flash Drive with two connectors on them, Type-C and Type-A USB. These cool all-metal drives allow you to plug into your Type-C phone or tablet, copy over files, photos, documents, downloads to it, and then, using sneakernet, pop the unit into the computer of your choice, and voila, you have access to your data on your computer. This clever drive is inexpensive, incredibly handy, and easy to use. The Android File Transfer app works, but it's often a hassle, with issues setting your phone into USB Transfer Mode, so we really appreciate the SanDisk Ultra® Dual Drive Luxe USB Type-C™ Flash Drive, as a quick and painless way to grab files off your phone. A perfect stocking stuffer!
All of these SanDisk products would be ideal gifts for the creator in your midst.
For more information on the SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC Memory Card visit: https://www.westerndigital.com/products/memory-cards/sandisk-extreme-pro-uhs-ii-sd#SDSDXDK-128G-GN4IN
For more information on the Extreme PRO Portable SSD – 2TB drive visit: https://www.westerndigital.com/products/portable-drives/sandisk-extreme-pro-usb-3-2-ssd#SDSSDE81-2T00-G25
For more information on the SB Dual Drive Luxe USB Type-C – 128GB drive visit: https://www.westerndigital.com/products/usb-flash-drives/sandisk-ultra-dual-drive-luxe-usb-3-1-type-c#SDDDC4-032G-A46
OWC (Other World Computing)
OWC has long been a major presence in the Mac space. Mac Sales as it’s also known, started in founder Larry O’Connor’s garage, with a line of external hard drive and other accessories. Over the years it’s grown into a carbon neutral vendor with a large product line, including used computers, memory, storage, adapters, parts, and much more. Their installation videos are among the best in the industry, as is their technical reference areas on their site. We have used several products that have earned a large spot in our heart, and this year's crop of holiday offerings are no different. While it’s not new, the OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3 Storage Solution is a speedy powerhouse of fast storage, configurable into different RAID levels with the included full version of SoftRaid 6, the venerable drive software that dates back to the early days of the Mac.
For the holidays we looked at a few recent products, the OWC Envoy Pro Elektron USB C 3.2 Portable Storage Solution is according to OWC “the fastest, toughest mini-sized SSD in the universe. It’s crushproof, dustproof and waterproof for transferring gigabytes of data in seconds anywhere with your Macs, PCs, iPads, Chromebooks, and Android tablets.” Our tests back up that claim, it’s super speedy, tiny, and elegant in the same way that LaCie products are. Did I say fast? Well, our tests showed that it easily met the 1011MB/s claimed speed. It’s a great external drive solution. We also loved using the ThunderBay Mini Storage Solution, a small Thunderbolt 2 or 3 based storage solution with 4 bays for 2.5-inch drives. We have a couple of older MacBook Pros with Retina Displays that are equipped with Thunderbolt 2. They are workhorses, and have the older keyboard with its wonderful tactile feel. We have also used the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to 2 Adapter with numerous Thunderbolt 3 devices without a hitch. It’s not as fast as having a native Thunderbolt 3 port, but it’s another way to easily continue to use older devices. OWC is known for its extensive line of adapters, that allow one to keep that gear in constant use. These are all splendid drives for even the most demanding users.
For more information on the OWC Envoy Pro Elektron visit: https://www.owcdigital.com/products/envoy-pro-elektron
For more information on the OWC ThunderBay 4 Mini Storage System visit: https://www.owcdigital.com/products/thunderbay-4-mini-thunderbolt-3
For more information on the OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3 Storage Solution visit: https://www.owcdigital.com/products/thunderbay-8
LaCie & Seagate
We have long been fans of Seagate and LaCie, now under the Western Digital umbrella. The LaCie Portable SSD 1TB High Performance External SSD USB-C is capable of fast 1050MB/s and write speed of up to 1000MB/s, and our testing confirmed this. Beautifully styled, as are most of LaCie products, it resembles a small aluminum ingot. The LaCie Portable SSD 1TB High Performance External SSD USB-C is a small, sleek, silver device, with only a Type-C port on it.
It comes ready to use on the Mac, but can easily be formatted for Windows devices. The Seagate One Touch SSD comes in 500MB, 1 TB, and 2 TB sizes, and is supplied with One-year Mylio Create plan, Four-month Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan, and Seagate’s Rescue Data Recovery Services. The One Touch SSD is rated at 1030MB speeds, and our tests confirmed that. If you are wondering what the difference between the two is, we think it boils down to software, with a bit of aesthetics thrown in. The One Touch’s software and feature set position it as an easy to use backup drive, where the LaCie has security software, and Rescue Data Recovery Services, LaCie Toolkit: backup and mirroring software, and One-month Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps plan. Both drives would make the creative individual in your life happy, and are highly recommended!
For more information on the LaCie Portable SSD 1TB High Performance External SSD USB-C drive visit: https://www.owcdigital.com/products/thunderbay-8
For more information on the Seagate One Touch SSD Drive visit: https://www.seagate.com/products/external-hard-drives/one-touch-external-drives/
The world of external storage is pretty astonishing. Any of the SanDisk, LaCie, or OWC drives, are tiny, smaller then a pack of playing cards, little wonders. Tough, almost indestructible, feather weight, no fear from a fall, they really are quite amazing, and come highly recommended.
Harris Fogel with editorial assistance from Nancy Burlan, Frank Schramm, and Ken Kramar, posted 12/9/2021