The best SSDs for still photography jobs.

If you asked me what the best daily driver SSD for still photography was last year it would have been the SanDisk Extreme Pro. I've written about it's performance a few times in the past as well the shortcomings with Samsung T7s. (HERE and HERE) But things have changed, there's been a fatal flaw in the SanDisk Extreme Pro line which came to light late last year and earlier in 2023 and it can no longer be trusted until SanDisk properly address the situation. You can read about that debacle HERE and their half-assed response HERE.

So, a little over halfway through 2023 what's the best choice? I have two suggestions, one is a drive that acceptable to clients/delivery drive and the other is what a photographer or Digi-tech should be using as their on set back-up or shuttle drive. It's worth noting (without going into all the details of data management) I don't really consider the drives handed off to clients to be backups. I keep a master copy on my computer and my own backup drive as I control those. Who knows what happens when drives are handed over or FedExed to clients? I want to know I have my own redundancy to cover my ass.

Client/delivery drive:

Crucial has brought new X9 Pro and X10 Pro models that are the new recommendation. They outperform the Samsung T7 and are basically on par with the T7 Shield.
Read more about them HERE.
Crucial X9 Pro

While I've written about it's knee-capped performance in the past I think the Samsung T7 is fine for a delivery drive. As a tech or photographer, ideally you wouldn't be doing a ton of read/write to this drive. In an ideal world you'd be dumping the assets from a shoot onto and forgetting about it. These drives are very affordable with 1TB models for under $70 at times. So they are cheap enough have a few spares around. Additionally, they are very easy to obtain. They can be found locally at places like Best Buy, Micro-Center, BH Photo, FilmTools and of course they are available online from Samsung directly and Amazon as well as, the others mentioned previously. Now, I know what you're saying in your head and yes, the T7 Shield does offer better performance for a similar price but there's one little caveat with them I will discuss later.

On set backup drive/shuttle drive:
For on set backup or to shuttle files from one system to another, performance should be a major consideration. For this I would suggest, one of two options:
It's also worth considering the Sabrent Rocket drives and Orico enclosures in whatever combination you prefer, all good options.

With these options you will have the best performance you can get with a single drive. To go further you'd need a RAID array like the OWC Thunderblade and that's just a little overkill in my opinion, especially when considering the performance of an NVMe SSD connected via Thunderbolt. Notice that I specifically state Thunderbolt and not USB-C. As I've written about in the past, with current Apple computers to get the best performance due to USB overhead you need to utilize Thunderbolt. 

A D.I.Y. NVMe shouldn't scare you it's just a matter of popping a drive in the enclosure and closing it up with a few screws. It's exactly what the OEMs do. Plus you get to choose the enclosure and drive you prefer and can easily swap out or upgrade your drive if needed. you can even go up to 8TB if you want, which isn't an option for most OEM portable SSDs. 

At the very minimum, for onset backups I would suggest a Samsung T7 Shield OR the Crucial X9 Pro. These offer a significant performance improvement over the T7. They are also very affordable and easy to obtain. One caveat about these is that their protective silicone coating makes labeling the drives difficult as nothing wants to stick to them. Now, you can peel that protective coating off and have bare aluminum case, but that's not for everyone. I would say that these would also be suitable for client hand off especially for their price and they are easy to grab last minute but the labeling issue is a concern for some.

So that's it, SSD prices have been dropping significantly over the past 6 months and you can easily get 2TB for $100-150. Save yourself a little time on set and go for a little more performance. I do really hope to SanDisk can find a way to gain respect again down the road.

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