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Transcend’s JetDrive Has All the Same Drawbacks as a Regular SD Card

But it will work in a pinch, for some things

  • Transcend’s new 1TB JetDrive fits perfectly into the latest MacBook Pro SD slots.
  • Apple’s SSD storage is more expensive but much faster.
  • Consider using a portable SSD instead.

Transcend

SD cards are slow and unreliable for computer storage, but Transcend’s new JetDrive is an amazing way to add extra storage to your new MacBook Pro M1 without paying Apple’s crazy prices.

Transcend’s new JetDrive adds storage to the new MacBook Pro M1s by simply sliding it into the SD card slot. It costs $250 for 1TB, compared to $400 to upgrade from 1TB to 2TB at the time of purchase. These two options are far from being equivalent. Both have advantages and disadvantages. And if you’re already running out of space, the JetDrive has a big advantage: You don’t have to buy a whole new computer just to add more storage. But it is also slow.

“[I’m] a MacBook Pro user who purchased a 1TB SanDisk Extreme Pro portable SSD for this reason,” content creator David Woutersen told Lifewire via email. “SD cards like Transcend’s new JetDrive cards may seem like a good idea at first, but if you’re not a casual Mac user, the storage will feel sluggish and slow down your workflow.”

speed and reliability

Transcend’s JetDrive has been popular for years, and the new model is more or less the same, but with more storage and designed to fit into the SD slot on the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, with just a slight bump to that you can pull it out with a fingernail. But it is still a simple SD card.

The two big drawbacks to using SD cards for general computer storage are that they are much slower than an external or built-in SSD and also less reliable. In fact, I’ve tried using regular SD cards as Time Machine backups and haven’t had much luck in the long run.

Internal SSDs in modern Macs are blazingly fast, and even external USB-C and Thunderbolt SSDs are fast enough to stream and edit high-quality video. The 16-inch MacBook Pro, for example, achieves write speeds between 4,400MB/s and 7,398MB/s, depending on model and drive size, and read speeds that aren’t far behind.

The JetDrive only manages 95/75 MB/s read/write.

But maybe that’s the wrong way to think about these extensions. There are various types of personal files on our computers. The ones we use a lot, including the ones that need to be passed on or read quickly, and the ones we need to keep on hand but don’t use regularly. And the JetDrive can do it while remaining invisible.

“Now that I’m holding it, Transcend’s JetDrive Lite 330 feels even smaller than I expected,” Tech Journalist and Reviewer. Ed Hardy said on Twitter.

Backups

I mentioned my issue with using Time Machine with SD cards, but it’s possible, especially if you’re only doing it short-term. For example, you may have a good backup strategy at home or in the office, but all of that is forgotten when you travel. Pop a JetDrive into the SD slot before you go and you can have a backup on the go. It won’t help you if you lose your computer, but it will help you if something else happens.

A close-up of the Transcend JetDrive inserted into a computer.

Transcend

Another use is as a kind of cold storage for files. Let’s say you’re a musician and you make a lot of amazing songs. You might want to keep Logic or Ableton projects handy, but you don’t need them cluttering up fast internal storage. You can save them to a JetDrive and access them directly or copy them to the primary SSD when needed.

The same goes for video files, movies, TV shows to watch in hotels, that kind of thing.

Depending on your tolerance level for clutter, there is an even better and even cheaper option. Portable SSDs.

Samsung’s T7 usually performs well in tests and has the advantage of being small and flat. Attach it with Velcro to the lid of your MacBook or other laptop and you can use it on the go. You don’t want to leave it plugged in all the time because the battery dies and it locks up when you put the computer in its case, but a few Velcro dots make it surprisingly useful.

But after all that, maybe $400 for an extra 1TB of internal storage isn’t any worse than the $20 you’ll pay for the much cheaper JetDrive.

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