When I say that everyone can always use more storage, I’m not talking exclusively about computer owners. Portable storage options like thumb drives are great for everything from moving a file from home to work or school or even taking a game save from one console to another. Speaking of game consoles, current generation games often have huge installs and that means console owners are often hoping for a storage boost. Some smartphones and tablets offer storage expansion using microSD cards and digital cameras users can always use more storage, especially with the massive files sizes of RAW images or 4K video. So the need for more storage is pretty much universal.
Here are five great storage options for anyone on your Christmas list.
USB Flash Drive
The humble USB Flash drive—better known as a thumb drive—is one of the most versatile forms of storage. They are ideal for sneakernet (moving files from one device to another without transferring over a network), they are small enough to fit on a keychain and they are available in a huge range of styles, capacities, capabilities and prices. You can easily pick one up for under $10, making for a great stocking stuffer.
Know someone who is chronically short of storage space on a laptop, but doesn’t have the budget for a hard drive upgrade? You can give them a thumb drive like the Samsung Bar USB 3.0 Flash drive that has 128GB of storage (as much as some ultraportable laptops ship with) and 130Mb/s speeds that they can plug in for a fast, removable storage supplement.
I also find combo media kits like Lexar’s 12GB Class 10 Memory Card and USB 3.0 Reader very useful. You get a high speed, high capacity MicroSD card that can be used with many smartphones, tablets and some cameras as well. Plug the card into the included USB 3.0 reader and it becomes a high capacity thumb drive for easy transfer of files.
SSD prices have been steadily dropping, making one of the best upgrade options for a laptop or PC a better deal than ever.
If someone on your list has a laptop that’s short on storage space or beginning to feel sluggish, an SSD (solid state drive) would make an excellent gift. Replacing the original drive not only means the opportunity to boost their storage space, an SSD is orders of magnitude faster than a traditional hard drive. Their entire computer will seem noticeably faster. For example, swapping out the hard drive for a new SSD on my wife’s vintage MacBook cut boot times from just over a minute to 15 seconds, while also speeding up any process that involves writing or reading a file.
For most PCs and laptops, installing an SSD is a relatively straightforward process, but Geek Squad is always available to expertly do it for them.
Portable Hard Drive
I’m a big fan of portable hard drives. I have a dozen or so of them kicking around my office in various form factors and capacities. An external hard drive is the fastest way to move large amounts of data from one device to another and while cloud backups are an excellent option for offsite data backup, I always run local backups of all my devices to an external hard drive. When a PC’s hard drive fails, restoring it from an external hard drive is much faster than doing so from that cloud backup.
External hard drives are also useful for archiving large files or moving collections of big files off a computer’s own hard drive. My iTunes library—terabytes worth of music, TV shows and movies—is all sitting on external hard drives.
One of the cooler portable hard drives in my collection is a Seagate Wireless Plus hard drive. This one is particularly useful because it generates its own Wi-Fi network and has a built-in battery, making it truly wireless. You can connect to it with everything from a laptop to a smartphone or tablet to access content and without the need for power, it’s very useful for people sharing files in a vehicle or in a situation like a conference where power outlets may be in short supply.
Gaming Hard Drive
500GB or even 1TB may seem like more storage than you’d ever use on a video game console or gaming PC, but the installs for current generation titles can quickly add up.
Sony makes it easy to replace the hard drive on a Playstation 4. You can easily add a higher capacity hard drive than the console shipped with and while you’re at it, upgrade to a 7200rpm drive for a considerable speed boost compared to the standard 5400 rpm drive. Or for a real speed increase, gift your gamer with an SSD and they can say goodbye to annoying load times.
Xbox owners aren’t left out either, with a number of choices including the Seagate 2TB External Hard Drive for Xbox One that not only doubles the capacity of even the biggest Xbox One, it lets a gamer handily transport their game collection to a friend’s house.
Western Digital also makes an external, high performance gaming hard drive—the WD My Passport X 2TB—that offers a 480Mbps transfer speed to boost the storage for Xbox consoles and gaming PCs.
Network-attached storage (or NAS) like the WD My Cloud 4TB Personal Cloud Network drive is a great gift idea for the person on your list who has a home full of connected devices. A NAS drive offers centralized storage on their network that’s accessible by all the devices without having to physically plug in. A single high capacity NAS drive plugged in to a wireless router can replace a handful of individual external drives for common file storage or backing up. You can find DLNA or iTunes certified NAS drives that can stream media directly to media players and many offer remote access so files can be accessed or downloaded to the drive from anywhere that has Internet access.