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Cheap computer storage options and realistic expectations


Storage is getting cheap, and changes have been made.

Recently I found out that a 512GB flash drive in USB 3.0 stick form is under $70, and the teeny tiny Ultra Fit form factor with the same capacity in USB 3.1 spec is a hair over $75.

Also, as it stands right now in August 2020, 256GB microSD cards can be had for under 30 bucks. The 512GB size for those is right around $80 at cheapest.

I put a 256 in my phone (which is the maximum capacity it will support) and am glad it's in there, particularly for video recordings. Videos by far make for the biggest files on my phone.

Some words of wisdom from a cheap-ass computer user

I compute cheap and have been for years. My main rig right now is a Dell Latitude E6430 laptop (bought as a refurb) with an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB RAM and a 500GB Samsung SSD. The laptop is connected to a dock, and I use a full size regular keyboard and mouse along with a full size monitor over HDMI. I literally use my laptop like a PC.

This year I decided to do a few things, and I recommend you do the same.

I stopped using USB 2.0 connected storage

This is literally 1990s technology. It works, but it's so slow compared to USB 3.0/3.1 or a Class 10 memory card.

I made the mistake of getting a 256GB USB stick that was 2.0 spec. Nice to have the space, but when you have to copy more than 5GB of data, that's when the reality of how slow 2.0 speeds really are.

Don't buy USB 2.0 connected storage. Works, but again, real slow.

I'm getting my last volley of 32GB memory cards soon

In the photo at the top of this article you can see I have a few 32GB cards, and I plan on buying a few more. The reason for this is 32GB is the maximum capacity a FAT32 file system will support. I have a few old pieces of tech (some Garmin GPSes and a digital camera) that use this spec, meaning they will not recognize anything over 32.

Something I learned the hard way is that computer memory standards don't stick around forever. I had this happen a while back when I specifically needed a 2GB memory card for an old Garmin StreetPilot i3. That thing uses the FAT16 file system where 2GB is the max it will recognize. I had to buy two cards because the first one didn't work. The second was a used card and that did work. As for finding a 2GB microSD new, those are pretty much all gone now. You can find new-old-stock, but nobody is manufacturing those new anymore and haven't for years.

If you have anything that is FAT32-limited to 32GB, buy a 5-pack of those cards now while they're still being made new, because they may not be available new next year.

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