RT Cunningham

Extra Storage Space for Laptops - The Four Options I Know About

extra storage space Unlike desktop tower cases, there isn’t any extra storage space within laptop cases. Well, not what most people would consider extra storage space.

Desktop tower cases usually have at least one extra bay where an additional hard disk drive or solid-state drive can be inserted. There’s only one place in a laptop case and most people won’t even think of it.

Extra Storage Space - An External Drive

It’s easy to add an external drive to a computer system, especially if you have an old hard disk drive or solid-state drive lying around. All you have to buy is an external drive enclosure and a USB cable to match both the enclosure and the computer. Or…

You can buy external drives like this in most computer stores, ready to go. They’re relatively inexpensive if you stay away from those that have backup and restore software included.

I have at least one sitting on my desk in my bedroom, in my house in the Philippines. I chose not to bring it with me while vacationing in the United States. At a mere 140 gigabytes, the SSD inside will be put to better use when I get a chance to work on my backup laptop.

Extra Storage Space - A USB Flash Drive or SD Card

Most modern laptops have multiple USB ports and at least one SD card port. Both of mine do and they’re inexpensive laptops.

The capacities of USB flash drives and SD cards keep increasing, without an end in sight. Or so it seems. I like the SanDisk brand and they offer 256 gigabyte SD cards for under $50 USD. The USB flash drives seem to be limited to 128 gigabytes at about half the price.

I have an 8-gigabyte USB flash drive, a 32-gigabyte USB flash drive and a 64-gigabyte SD card (a micro SD with an adapter). Other than for testing software, I rarely use any of them.

Extra Storage Space - A Drive Caddy

Drive caddies have been around a long time. I used one back in the 1980s, back when desktop computers were horizontal instead of vertical. It was used for swapping drives with different operating systems.

Do you have an unused DVD drive in your laptop? You can replace it with a drive caddy, which can hold either a hard disk drive or solid-state drive. USB drive speed is limited by the USB port. That limitation doesn’t exist with the DVD drive connection. It’s a SATA interface, just like the internal drive.

A replacement “tray” can be found for less than $20 USD just about anywhere in the United States. I just did cursory searches at Amazon.com and Walmart.com and found them at both. It’s the disk drive, especially a solid-state drive, that will set you back a few bucks.

So… the four options I know about extra storage space are external drives, USB flash drives, SD cards and drive caddies. If you can think of any more than those, please feel free to enlighten me. The only option I haven’t tried is the drive caddy.

I’ll probably use drive caddies in the future instead of using external drives. They’ll be faster and I’ll just need one tray for each drive I use. It seems simpler than using external drive enclosures and USB cables.


RT Cunningham
December 4, 2018