SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive
The speed and size of this USB flash drive makes it an excellent backup drive for huge stockpiles of data without taking up any measurable amount of space in your bag.
I organize my files using Dropbox, typically, but when dealing with a lot of large files, particularly video files, it can take a while to upload those files to the safety of the cloud. At the same time, although I have 500 GB of space on my laptop, that real estate can disappear quickly when you’re recording 80-100 GB of media per weekend, and waiting for a reliable WiFi signal to do said uploading.
I initially looked into external solid state drives (SSDs) like the Sony T1, but although such drives get decent reviews and contain a respectable amount of media for their physical size (about the length and width of a credit card, though much chunkier), they also apparently often install extra software on your computer without your permission (breaking security in the name of security), and still cost about $100 per 250GB, which is far less than what $100 will get you for a standard spindle (non-solid state) drive, which will give you 3 TB (six-times the space), or 2 TB and cloud storage and mobile backup, for approximately the same cost.
I decided to go even smaller. The main use for thumb drives over the past few years has been for promotional giveaways: they’ve gotten so cheap, people and companies can print their logo on them en masse and give them away like novelty pens. The higher end of these little devices allows for a lot of space in a small package, however, and the Ultra Fit is a great example of that. For about $30, you can get 128 GB of space in a drive the size of your thumbnail. Not even kidding, this thing is so tiny I’ve almost lost it several times, and that (despite some reviews which have said it heats up when operating, which is something I haven’t experienced despite putting it through significant operational paces) is the main downside of relying on something so small. I could fit an entire weekend’s worth of shooting on it, but found myself scrambling when it got stuck in the bottom corner of one of my bag’s pockets, thinking it had fallen out somewhere.
This might say more about me than the drive, which itself has performed marvelously, and though it isn’t as fast as an internal drive, a USB 3.0 transfer speed isn’t bad at all, and is comparable with most modern external drives. Up until recently my only external storage were chunky HD bricks, which would periodically die off because of their moving parts and my nomadic lifestyle, SD cards that I would use as cold storage for Dropbox folders (just in case), and a tiny USB thumb drive, which could only hold 16 GB worth of files, and which has been primarily used for printing posters at Kinko’s and tasks of that nature.
This little guy has changed my perception of data backup, however. Hopefully it will continue to operate as reliably as it has thus far, and hopefully the amount of data the drive can hold for the price will continue to increase, as well.