The best microSD memory card
One of the most amazing things about technology improvements is the continual ability to shrink the size of products while increasing their usefulness. This especially applies to memory cards.
The first memory cards had sizes similar to a stick of gum or half a credit card. These were fine for larger mobile devices and chunky digital cameras.
But today's sleek mobile devices need smaller storage options, led by microSD memory cards. These are roughly the size of a quarter of a postage stamp. Our favorite microSD card, SanDisk Extreme, offers a low price and hundreds of times more storage than older, larger memory cards.
Considerations when choosing microSD memory cards
Memory card format
Although the majority of microSD memory cards available currently use the XC format, you may be able to save some money with an older format.
MicroSDXC: As long as your device offers compatibility with the microSDXC format, you can use XC cards in it. MicroSDXC cards are the best choice for performance and value. These allow for capacities up to 2TB (or 2,000GB) and transfer speeds up to 312MBps.
MicroSDHC: An HC format microSD card costs a little less than an XC card, but it also doesn't come close to matching the XC's performance. The HC format has a maximum capacity of 32GB and a maximum speed of 150MBps.
MicroSD: The microSD format is the oldest of the three formats, so it's also the least expensive (if you can even find it for sale currently). It has a maximum capacity of 2GB and a maximum speed of 25MBps.
Understand that these formats are not backward compatible -- you can't use a microSDHC card in a microSD slot. Check the format for the memory card slot in your device before you purchase a card. An older device may require the microSDHC or microSD format, for example.
Storage capacity is the most obvious difference among microSD memory cards. Although cards up to 2TB are available, commonly offered sizes are 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB.
You pay more for larger capacity cards, so think carefully about what kinds of items you want to store on the card. Video and high-resolution photos quickly eat up space on a microSD card.
A faster transfer speed in a microSD card is desirable, as you can move files quickly. This allows you to work faster, getting more done.
A microSD card will give a good level of reliability and performance over time. However, some models of microSD cards are made to withstand temperature changes and shocks from drops better than others.
If you're worried about data loss with your microSD card, look for a brand that includes data recovery software or a recovery app. This software potentially can save you from inadvertent file deletion, but some card models don't offer it.
The best way to compare costs of microSD memory cards is to calculate the cost per GB of storage. A $10 32GB memory card may seem inexpensive, but it costs roughly 31 cents per GB. A $30 128GB card costs about 23 cents per GB, and a $90 512GB microSD card costs about 17 cents per GB.
Q. What should I do if my laptop or smartphone doesn't have a microSD card slot?
A. You can purchase adapters to give existing electronics the ability to accept the microSD-size cards. Some adapters are the size of an SD card, and the microSD card slides into the adapter. Others offer a USB connector for the microSD card.
Q. What is the advantage of a microSD memory card?
A. Manufacturers of small mobile devices (like smartphones) like the tiny size of the microSD card versus larger memory card designs.
MicroSD memory cards we recommend
Best of the best: SanDisk Extreme MicroSDXC Memory Card
Our take: Made with features designed for high-speed data transfers in mind, such as 4K video and high-resolution photos.
What we like: Ships with a data recovery software package to protect against accidental deletions.
What we dislike: It's not available in a size above 128GB.
Best bang for your buck: Samsung Evo Select MicroSDXC Memory Card
Our take: Offers a great value per GB of storage, as it's offered in larger storage capacities than some other models.
What we like: Made for those who like to shoot and store a lot of video. Reasonably good write speed of up to 90MB per second.
What we dislike: This memory card tends to generate extra heat when it's used for long periods of time consecutively.
Our take: Manufacturer delivers multiple storage capacity sizes, so you can find just the right card for your budget.
What we like: Has a decent write speed up to 90MB per second. Trusted brand name, yet the prices are reasonable.
What we dislike: Card's data transfer speeds are below average.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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