Today’s Question: Some newer laptops are coming with only Micro SD card readers/slots. I think most of these Micro SD readers/slots can store up to 1 TB. If faced with space constraints on the internal hard drive, would you consider storing photos on a Micro SD card? Would Lightroom Classic performance be limited or different if the photos were on a Micro SD card versus an external drive?
Tim’s Quick Answer: While MicroSD (or other flash-based memory cards) can offer about the same performance and reliability of typical external hard drives, I would tend to not use a memory card for primary storage simply because I consider it far too easy to lose one of these very small cards.
More Detail: Flash-based memory cards, including MicroSD and other formats, have much in common with SSD drives in terms of performance and reliability. As a result, I am perfectly comfortable with the general notion of storing data on a flash-based memory card. For example, I’m don’t worry very much about using media cards in my camera to capture photos.
However, for more permanent storage I prefer to use external hard drives rather than media cards, simply because I’m more worried about losing a media card because it is so small. That said, if you are comfortable with the issue of keeping the memory card physically safe, and as long as you buy a high-quality memory card, you can store data very reliably on these cards.
My personal tendency would be to use memory cards in this scenario as a backup for primary storage, or to use the cards for temporary storage needs. For example, I would be perfectly comfortable using memory cards for transferring data between computers, or as an additional cache storage, such as adding such a card as a scratch disk in Photoshop.
As always, regardless of what type of storage device you’re using to store your photos and other important data, I highly recommend maintaining a good backup workflow. For example, I use GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) to locally back up my storage devices, and Backblaze (https://timgrey.me/onlinebackup) to create an additional cloud-based offsite backup.