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Data Storage

Best Memory Card Reader

There are two primary types of memory card readers based on whether they’re intended to be used whether it’s internal or external. There are excellent models available in both designs, but external ones are easier to set up and use with a lot of different hardware options. In comparing them, you’ll primarily want to look for fast transfer speeds with an eye toward USB 3.0 connections. You’ll also want to find models that support as many different types of memory cards as possible. Not every reader out there offers support for every type of memory card on the market, so look at each one carefully to be sure it can read the types you need.

We’ve chosen these memory card readers because they offer the best speed and performance thanks to support for USB 3.0, which offers great data rates while being backwards compatible with USB 2.0. All of these readers support at least SecureDigital (SD) cards, along with micro SD and CompactFlash (CF). These models also offer support for Ultra High Speed (UHS) cards that give you excellent read/write speeds with your memory cards. Additionally, these are all external models so you can easily use them with a wide range of computers without the need for installation or removing them from one computer to use with another.

Moshi Cardette 3 Universal Memory Card Reader

This device simply offers everything you’re likely to want in a memory card reader, all packed within a portable external device compatible with PC, Mac, and Linux systems. It's nice and small (though not so small it could easily break or get lost) and comes with a connection for a USB 3.0 port, although it works with USB 2.0 as well. It has two USB ports on it so you’re not losing a USB port on your system while using it. Although it only has three slots for memory cards, they work with a wide range of different types of memory sticks, multimedia cards, and CompactFlash. The reader also functions with many different forms of SecureDigital, such as micro SD and SD High Capacity in addition to supporting SDHC and SDXC UHS-I cards, giving you the ability to read very fast cards that store a ton of data.

AFT iDuo Reader 3-in-1 USB 3.0 Card Reader

You get USB 3.0 support with this model which lets it transfer data very quickly and it works with both PC and Mac OS computers, making it a great option for a wide range of hardware setups. It has slots for SD cards and microSD cards (so no need to worry about a microSD adapter) plus you get a third slot for CF cards. It really only works for those three types but it can read from UHS-I cards for high speed performance and supports SDHC and SDXC cards that offer much more data storage. While you don’t get any extra USB ports on this model (meaning it will take up one USB port on your computer) this is a great choice that works very well. There’s certainly a lot to like about this memory card reader, but it lacks just a few key features that make the Moshi Cardette 3 just a bit more appealing.

SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader

Perhaps the nicest feature of this memory card reader is it supports a very wide range of different models, making it an ideal choice if you tend to work with a lot of different card types. You can use it with SD cards, miniSD and microSD cards, plus multimedia cards. It also includes support for memory sticks and CompactFlash, so no matter what you have this reader should work. Additionally, you get support for specific types such as SDHC, microSDXC, and UHS-I SDHC and SDXC cards, so it gives you lots of different options.

It’s easy to set up and includes a removable stand that lets you operate it standing upright (instead of lying on its side) which is nice if you have space limitations at your work station. This model does not include any additional USB ports so you do lose a port on your computer when using it, but otherwise it is a great choice that gives you a lot of options for memory cards.

Transcend RDF9 USB 3.1/3.0 UHS-II Card Reader

You aren’t likely to find a better option if data speed is your primary concern, as this pick uses a USB 3.1 interface for the best rates possible. However, this is only a real advantage if you have a USB 3.1 port on your computer, so keep that in mind. This car reader is compatible with many different Windows operating systems, Mac OS 10.2.8 or later, and Linux 2.6.30 or later. The biggest drawback with this device is it doesn’t support quite as many different cards as some other models. You get support for SDHC, SDXC, both microSDHC and microSDXC cards, CompactFlash, and memory sticks. Unfortunately you can’t use this model with a miniSD card or some other types, so this is something to consider if you tend to use a wide range of different memory cards. Although this memory card reader has some limitations (especially regarding the types of cards it accepts) it's one of the fastest models on the market.

Kingston USB 3.0 HIgh Speed Media Reader

This is a good memory card reader which has a USB 3.0 connection for nice and fast data transfers with USB 2.0 compatibility. This one has support for a number of popular memory cards such as different types of CompactFlash, various forms of SecureDigital including SDHC and microSD, as well as support for a wide range of memory stick cards. Where this model falls short is its complete lack of multimedia card support so if you know you're going to be using that memory card type regularly, then you should pass on this one. It also doesn't have any extra USB 3.0 ports like the Moshi Cardette 3 which means this model takes up a USB port on your system. With these few drawbacks in mind, it’s still an excellent memory card reader that should work well in a wide range of system setups.

Greg Wiesen
With an AA in Computer Animation, I have spent years building computers and playing video games. I learned early on that the best way to figure out a new software program was to just start pushing buttons and see what happens (saving often, of course), and that is still my philosophy. From hard drives and motherboards to graphics cards and "holographic" keyboards, I enjoy checking out and playing with all the tech I can get my hands on. I have written hundreds of informative computer and technology articles in the past, and I believe that anyone can understand and use a computer. I'll worry about research and trying out different hardware, you just enjoy the results.
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