Cheap Ultra Portable Storage

By Martin Jansen, Owner of Jansen-PCINFO

The price of storage continues to drop, this despite inflationary times.  I recently assembled a storage solution that may be of interest.

If you’ve been reading my articles you know I bought a new Chromebook with two USB-C ports, one for power and the other for expansion.

This prompted me to start looking for additional storage in addition to the micro SD card I had already installed.

I turned to Amazon to see what was available.  My goal was to get something in the 250 to 512 GB storage range.  While this is not a good backup solution for Windows, Chrome OS still fits on about 16 GB of space.  Backups of Chrome OS take only a small portion of the proposed storage.

I could turn to a complete SSD solution with a USB-C cable, like this SanDisk 250 GB for $80 (on sale):

But then I started looking at enclosures plus NVMe drives.  I’m no stranger to using enclosures having used them all the way back in the late 1980s when full sized IDE drives were the norm.  I used to swap drives to change Windows and Linux operating systems back then, but enough reminiscing.

I could get this SSK enclosure for less than $20.  I could also get a Silicon Power NVMe 512 GB drive for around $30.  This was actually my second purchase of this drive as I use it for image storage on my main computer.  The drive is very reliable and fast – much faster than SD drives.

For less than $50 I had a smaller and more robust solution to additional storage.  It is also flexible because the enclosure comes with both USB-C and USB-A cables.  The enclosure is about 4 ½ inches long and 1 ½ inches wide.

Some Assembly Required

The enclosure and drive arrived on separate days along with some other orders from Amazon.  Assembly was pretty easy, but I did have to put on cheater glasses for the small parts.  SSK supplies a User Manual with instructions for installing drives and the thermal pad.  They even include a small screwdriver.  The enclosure is made mostly of aluminum for heat dissipation.

Formatting the Drive

After assembly I had to format the drive.  After some research I found that the best format for reads and writes is actually NTFS – ironically, New Technology File System.  There’s nothing new about NTFS as it was introduced in 1993.

I was surprised that Chrome OS does not read or write EXT4 partitions due to its Linux roots.

After formatting I was able to use the drive in Chrome OS, Linux Mint and Windows.

Now I take this drive with me everywhere and be assured that it can be mounted regardless of operating system.

P.S.  I tested the drive and it works well above 100 Mbps while transferring large files between 1.5 and 2.1 GB in Windows and Linux Mint.  Chrome OS doesn’t show transfer rates, just a countdown in time, but I think the rates are similar.