The Best Portable SD Card Readers (And Why You Should Own One)

The Best Portable SD Card Readers
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One of the most significant cost factors when buying a new computer or cell phone is storage. This can be a difficult decision because knowing how much storage we need isn’t always clear and upgrading storage aftermarket isn’t always possible. Thankfully, there are ways to get around your units’ small storage size without having to spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on a new computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone. SD cards can be used to transfer data, act as external storage, and double as a backup for important files, photos, videos, and music folders. For photographers, they’re also the most commonly used format for storage in DSLR cameras. To use your SD card to its fullest potential, you’ll need a portable SD card reader, which is easy to set up, simple to use, has multiple functions and is much less expensive than purchasing a new phone every time you reach your capacity on photos. Don’t delete those cute pics of your dog. Get an SD card reader instead.

Android phones typically have SD cards inside them as memory storage, making it easy to remove the SD card and use the portable SD card reader to download photos, music and videos to your computer or an external hard drive (you’ll still need a computer to make the transfer), then delete the files from the SD card and insert back into the phone to free up storage.

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iPhones do not have SD cards for their internal memory, but with a portable SD card reader, an adapter can be used to connect to the iPhone and transfer files to the SD card or MicroSD card to act as external storage.

Most digital cameras use SD cards as storage, and if your camera doesn’t have WiFi capabilities, a portable SD card reader is a must-have to transfer your pictures from your camera to your computer or phone.

SD cards differ from external hard drives because they have solid-state memory and no moving parts. That makes them much smaller physically than an external hard drive, measuring only 0.4 inches thick, which is excellent news for anyone who wants to be able to travel with extra memory or not add any bulk to their computer or phone case.
While some computers and laptops come with SD card readers, not all do. The portable SD card readers we’ve included below easily connect to any USB hub and can read SD cards and in some cases Micro SD Cards. With multiple slots, some readers also allow for card-to-card transfer, the ability to read and write on two cards at the same time, and more.

Find out which portable SD card reader is best suited for your needs below.

1. Sabrent Premium 3 Port Aluminum USB 3.0 Hub with Multi-In-1 Card Reader

Designed for Mac and PC users, the Sabrent Premium 3 Port Aluminum USB 3.0 Hub with Multi-In-1 Card Reader is a plug-and-play reader that can handle SD cards, MicroSD cards, and features three additional USB.

Pros: The Sabrent is not only a great option for anyone looking for a portable reader for their SD or Micro SD card, it also provides three extra USB ports with speeds of 5Gbps (USB 3.0), 480Mbps (USB 2.0), and 12Mbps (USB 1.1). The Sabrent can handle CF, SD, SDXC, SDHC, MicroSD, MMC, and M2 cards and works with all Mac, Windows and Linux systems.

Cons: The device can only read one card at a time, making card-to-card transfers and uploading multiple cards at once unavailable, which could be a deal breaker for photographers. Some customers found the cable short, which is okay for laptop users but a bit tricky for those attaching the Sabrent to a PC.

Sabrent Premium 3 Port Aluminum USB 3.0 Hub with Multi-In-1 Card Reader

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Sabrent Premium 3 Port Aluminum USB 3.0 Hub with…

$19.99

2. Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader

Transfer files card to card with the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader, which has a USB interface for speeds up to 500MB/s.

Pros: Unlike the Sabrent, the Lexar can transfer files card-to-card and download cards concurrently. File speeds are fast, with the Lexar boasting a 500MB/s transfer rate. The Lexar supports UDMA CompactFlash (including UDMA 7), SDXCTM, and SD UHS-I/UHS-II (SD 3.0) card formats and the pop-up design means dust won’t get into the card reader when not in use.

Cons: The Lexar doesn’t offer additional USB ports like the Sabrent and is strictly an SD card reader.

Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader

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Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader

3. Anker 8-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader

Read and write two cards at once with the Anker 8-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader, which has a 5Gbps transfer rate and works with Windows, Mac and Vista.

Pros: Our smallest option, the Anker is ideal for anyone who wants to take their portable SD card reader on the go with them. The Anker’s USB 3.0 connection plugs directly into a computer with no cables required and is still backward compatible with USB 2.0/ 1.1. The Anker can simultaneously read and write two cards, eliminating the need for plugging and unplugging, making transfer time even faster. The plug and play Anker works without drivers for Windows 10/ 8/ 7/ Vista or Mac OS X 10.2 and above.

Cons: No additional USB ports like the Sabrent and customers note that when using the Anker, the computer’s second neighboring USB port can’t be accessed. Also, Anker doesn’t come with a cover for the card ports like Lexar, which can allow dust and debris to get inside.

Anker 8-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader

Image courtesy of Amazon

Anker 8-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader

$16.99