RT Cunningham


External Data Storage Solutions for Laptop Computers and Smartphones

external data storageIn computing, much of what applies to laptop computers can also apply to traditional desktop computers. While you can usually add more internal drives to desktop computers, the same can’t be said for laptop computers. If you need external data solutions for things shared across multiple devices and computers, cloud storage is probably the best solution for now.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage will soon become extremely inexpensive. The providers really don’t have a choice in the matter. Digital storage media is gaining in capacities and dropping in prices at the same time.

There are more cloud storage services than I care to mention. Most of them offer a meager capacity (15 gigabytes or fewer) and that’s enough for most people. Only power users and businesses tend to need more.

Although SD cards and USB flash drives tend to be slow, they still tend to be faster than transferring files to and from cloud storage services. Hard disk drives and solid-state drives, when used externally, are even faster.

SD Cards

My old Samsung Galaxy S-4 (cell phone) has had a 32-gigabyte micro SD card in it since my younger son (Jon) sent the phone to me in 2015, while I was in the Philippines (where I normally reside). It’s the old SDHC standard and it only supports up to 32 gigabytes. The newer SDXC standard supports up to two terabytes, but I’m not aware of any above 512 gigabytes of capacity being sold today.

I bought a 64 gigabyte SD card (micro SD card with adapter) for my laptop computer in October 2018. Sometime in 2019, I gave it to Jon’s wife (Cathy) for her new Samsung Galaxy S-10 cell phone. I had anticipated ordering a new SD card with more capacity shortly after that. It took a while for me to care enough to get around to it.

I ordered a 256 gigabyte SD card (another micro SD card with adapter) a couple of days ago from, for under $40. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus zombie apocalypse, I won’t be receiving it until mid-May according to the order receipt. I take that with a grain of salt, however, because I’ve received items from days earlier than promised in the past. In this case, it could be weeks earlier.

What can I do with 256 gigabytes of storage? If I had a Raspberry Pi (single-board computer), I could boot an operating system with it, but I don’t have one. I only need it to store data that would normally take up hard drive space.

USB Flash Drives

I’ve had USB flash drives for years, but I haven’t bought a new one since October 2015 (which I originally used for storing music). I started with a one-gigabyte model and ended with a 32-gigabyte model. I don’t want to buy a new one until every device I own have USB-C ports. Two of our (my wife, Josie, and I) cell phones have micro USB ports and only Josie’s newer Samsung Galaxy S10e has a USB-C port.

My password manager is KeeWeb and I store my database on my WebDAV server. I use Keepass2Android Password Safe on my Android phones. I would like to store my database on a USB flash drive and connect it when necessary to my laptop computer and any or all of our cell phones. I would have to buy a 3-in-1 adapter to use it on all the different ports. Again, I don’t want to do that yet.

If I ever give up my server (and close up shop here), I won’t have a WebDAV server at my disposal. I would have to rely on a cloud storage service or an online password manager and I don’t want to do either.

Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Drives

External hard disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD) aren’t as fast as when they’re used internally. If they’re used solely for data storage, it doesn’t really matter. If you need to use them for additional operating systems, you need them to be as fast as they can be.

Along with the 256-gigabyte SD card I ordered, I ordered a hard drive caddy. When it arrives, I’ll replace the DVD drive with the caddy. Any SATA drive can work and I’m undecided whether I want to use an HDD or an SSD. I may or may not test alternate operating systems on it.

Other External Data Storage Solutions

Is there anything I’ve missed? I’m sure there are esoteric solutions I’ve never heard of as well as solutions that make no sense. Some newer cell phones come with a lot of storage space and it’s not difficult to transfer files to and from other devices. It’s still a pain when other solutions are easier to implement.

Photo Attribution: Photo Mix at Pixabay

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By RT Cunningham
April 11, 2020
Cell Phones, Technology