Gray Matter


External Data Storage Solutions for Both Laptop Computers and Phones

RT Cunningham | August 25, 2020 (UTC) | Computers, Phones

external data storageIn computing, much of what applies to laptop computers can also apply to traditional desktop computers. However, while you can usually add more internal drives to desktop computers, the same can’t be said for laptop computers without at least one modification.

If you need external data storage solutions for things shared across multiple devices and computers, cloud storage is probably the best solution.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage will soon become extremely inexpensive. The providers really don’t have a choice in the matter. External storage devices are 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 less) 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

The first SD card I bought was a 32-gigabyte micro SD card for the phone I had at the time, a Samsung Galaxy S4. It was the old SDHC standard and it only supported up to 32 gigabytes. The newer SDXC standard supports up to two terabytes.

I bought a 64 gigabyte micro SD card (with adapter) for the laptop computer I’m currently using in October 2018. Sometime in 2019, I gave it to my daughter-in-law, Cathy, for her new Samsung Galaxy S10 phone (my wife, Josie, got the companion S10e for free as a promotion and later gave it to me). 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 bought a 256 gigabyte micro SD card (with adapter) almost a year later for under $40. I used it to back up notes and data while reinstalling Windows 10 and Linux Mint on this computer. The adapter size disappears nicely into the side of the computer. I don’t know if I’ll ever buy any more SD cards, but I suppose I’ll have to if the only one I have disappears for some reason.

USB Flash Drives

I’ve had USB flash drives for years, but I haven’t bought a new one since October 2015. 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 has USB-C ports. Josie’s phone, a Samsung Galaxy J7 Star, has a micro USB port and my phone has a USB-C port. My laptop computer has the old USB ports (two USB-3 and one USB-2).

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 phones. Currently, I would have to buy a specialized adapter to use it on all the different ports. I don’t want to do that.

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 that either. Besides, my server only costs me $5.00 a month and I use it for multiple purposes. Some services cost more than that for each purpose.

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.

I replaced the DVD drive on my laptop computer with a drive caddy, after I put an SSD drive in it. Because it’s a SATA connection like the internal HDD, it’s actually faster than the HDD. I have Windows 10 on the HDD and Linux Mint on the SDD. The SDD is my boot drive.

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 phones come with a lot of storage space and it’s not difficult to transfer files to and from other devices.

Photo Attribution: Markus Winkler from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in April 2020.

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