SD Cards for Chromebooks
If you want to expand your Chromebook’s storage, you can use an SD card and boom, you’ve got more space. Chrome’s security model treats storage you can remove differently than storage you can’t — and not all Android apps can use SD storage for data — but an SD card slot means extra storage space for photos, video, documents or anything else that you need to keep somewhere. Whether you need micro, full-size, or something in between, these are your best bets for dependable, affordable storage for your Chromebook.
Most Chromebooks today ship with a microSD slot, and the microSD card we like best is the Samsung EVO Select. It’s available in 32GB to 512GB capacities. This quick little card is a dependable name-brand.
SanDisk offers this card in an impressive variety of sizes, all the way up to 1TB, though that card costs more than some Chromebooks! Optimized for Android apps, this card features write speeds up to 90MB/s.
PNY’s card comes in sizes from 32GB to 512GB with write and read speeds up to 90MB/s. It’s durable and dependable; I have a four-year-old PNY card that’s still kicking in my current Chromebook after being used in two different phones.
This card is made to withstand the harshest conditions, from harsh temperatures to spill-prone, drop-prone environment. The sizes range from 32GB to 256GB, which is really all you should need to expand a Chromebook.
Whether you intend to swap the SD card between your Chromebook and camera or just leave it in as expandable storage, the Canvas Go can give you room to grow and create while still being durable enough to take a beating.
If you have an SD card slot that isn’t full size, resist the urge to buy a short SD card. You’re far better off buying a quality microSD card and then getting a short adapter from BASEQI, who has several popular lengths available. Measure before you buy!
Futureproof your purchase and go micro
As mentioned before, microSD cards fit in a wider array of devices, from Chromebooks to phones to cameras and more, so it really is hard to go wrong with the Samsung EVO Select, especially if you can catch it on one of its frequent sales. SanDisk and PNY also make some excellent cards, and the SanDisk Extreme can offer you more storage than even the most expensive Chromebooks come with. By grabbing a great microSD card now, you get an easy-to-use card that can be used by more devices and will last longer and opposed to buying a full-size SD card that’s been vanishing from Chromebooks and computers for the last few years and will soon be replaced on cameras, too.
The one caveat to this argument is kids. If this card is going into your kid’s Chromebook and they lose tiny things as quickly as I do, then you might want to consider grabbing a traditional SD card since they’re easier to spot in the minefield that is the playroom. The Kingston Canvas Go! can more than double a Chromebook’s storage without costing you much or sacrificing speed.
Demystifying SD classifications
Most SD and microSD cards have at least two of these classifications in addition to the straight read/write speeds listed for the card, and they seem to add new ones every 2-3 years. Here’s what these strange symbols mean:
- Video Speed Class — Indicated by a stylized V followed by numbers from 6 to 90, this class is one of the newer classification systems and was developed specifically for shooting ultra-high-definition video. V30 starts at 30MB/s write speed, V60 starts at 60MB/s write speed, and V90 starts at 90MB/s. Your Chromebook won’t be shooting 4K video, but it’s a nice indicator of speed compared to UHS.
- UHS Speed Class — Indicated by a 1, 2, or 3 inside a U, this class is still used on most cards today. U1 starts at 10MB/s write speed, U3 starts at 30MB/s write speed, and either one should be okay for a Chromebook.
- Speed Class — Indicated by a number inside of a C, this was the original classification system for SD cards. Class 10 (10MB/s write speed) was as high as this class went, so it’s not as helpful an indicator of power/quality these days since most every card is Class 10.
- Application Performance Class — Indicated by a stylized A followed by 1 or 2, this class is supposed to be a measure signifying that a card is optimized for storing and running Android apps. You won’t need to worry about this one on a Chromebook as you cannot currently install apps to the SD card on a Chromebook.
These specs focus on write speed, which tends to be the lower of the two rates on an SD card. If you see a card with a “transfer” speed of 100MB/s but only a U3 class, the chances are that card has a read speed of 100MB/s and a write speed of 30MB/s.
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