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SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive. Increase your iPad and iPhone storage

The SanDisk iXpand USB drive is an easy gadget that allows you to switch information easily between any iPhone or iPad with a Lightning connector and your pc.

It has an ordinary USB connector on one end, and a Lightning connector on the opposite finish that is sprung again on itself, resting in a lip on the physique of the drive.

It really works with an app on iOS that allows you to copy information between the USB drive and the system itself. You’ll be able to browse information on the iXpand drive by way of the app and there’s also an choice to backup your photograph library, contacts, calendar and even media off some social media accounts.

So let’s take a better look.

Getting started

You simply get the drive itself within the blister packaging with some temporary instructions on the back  – nothing else.

The iXpand is nicely made and compact, although the folded again Lightning connector makes it bulkier than your common USB stick for sliding into your pocket or backpack. It weighs just over 5g and measures 13mm extensive by 17mm thick and 59mm long.

There’s no protective cap for the USB end which I’d have favored to see. I’ve had this type of USB stick before, and they are straightforward to dent. However it does make it very slim for sometimes shut USB connectors on laptops.

The Lightning connector is folded back on itself by way of some sprung silicone, which you unfold apart slightly to insert into your iPhone or iPad. It rests in a small lip on the physique of the USB stick for cover when not in use, however I discovered after it had been in my iPad for a while, it took some time to seat itself back once more.

The iXpand is available in a variety of sizes from 16GB up to 256GB. I’m testing the 128GB version which is formatted as exFAT which works on Mac and PC and supports file sizes bigger than 4GB. The smaller sizes are formatted as FAT32 however I’d recommend using Mac Disc Utility or Home windows Format to format them with exFAT.

The drive is USB three.0 which should imply quicker transfer speeds, however there’s no indication of read or write speeds on the packaging. We’ll check this later.

USB stick rests underneath

It’s just a little awkward one handed to unfold open the drive and insert into the Lightning port on your gadget. However as soon as inserted it’s quite a intelligent design, it doesn’t stick out an excessive amount of and the USB portion of the drive is nicely tucked away. It works if your gadget has a case too. And not using a case, the metallic portion might scratch your iPhone or iPad again in the event you’re not careful.

iOS ought to immediate you to download the SanDisk iXpand Drive app which you will have to download. Sadly Apple don’t presently natively help any sort of exterior storage, aside from for importing pictures and movies from a digital camera or a digital camera’s SD card. Should you don’t need to use the free Sandisk app, the paid app FileBrowser Enterprise does help the iXpand drive and works properly.

Using the iXpand Drive app

If you first open the app there’s an option to setup the drive, which principally means turning on Auto Backup, which can backup your photograph library every time you plug in the drive. You’ll be able to flip this on later if you need.

Settle for any messages from Apple relating to accessing your system and you’ll be confronted by the app’s house display. In future whenever you plug in the iXpand drive you’ll be prompted by iOS to open the Sandisk app.

The Digital camera icon permits you to take photographs and videos and document them directly to the drive. It’s fairly limited and gained’t let you shoot in 4K. Plus it doesn’t seem to use any image stabilisation for videos. However it is extremely helpful for shortly getting one thing to the drive to repeat to your pc, or when you’re really in need of storage on your system. Anything you report shall be in the Digital camera folder on the USB drive.

Activate 128-bit encryption

The Settings icon enables you to activate Safety which creates a particular folder on your drive that is secured with 128-bit encryption and can solely be accessed with a password or Face-ID if your system helps that. If you want to access these information on your pc, you’ll have to download Sandisk’s SecureAccess software.

A variety of the display is taken up with Sandisk’s so referred to as “Cards” which supply numerous messages about backups, hyperlinks to articles and info on out there storage. The stats on obtainable storage have been truly incorrect on my iPhone, suggesting I had just a few GB remaining once I had excess of that. You’ll be able to dismiss the cards by swiping up, or reset them by swiping down.

I discover the playing cards just get in the best way and I would like to show them off, but that’s not attainable.

My foremost use for the iXpand is to shortly copy a video or photograph from my telephone to my pc. Or get a file across from my pc to my iPhone or iPad. There are many different methods of doing this, including a couple I mentioned in a number of of my previous videos, linked under. However you don’t get much easier than using this USB drive.

Faucet on Copy Information. You then select the place you want copy from. Should you choose iPhone or iPad you’ll open the Pictures library where you’ll be able to choose pictures from Photographs or Albums. Tap on Copy to iXpand drive and you’ll be able to create a folder on the iXpand to repeat the information across to.

You’ll be able to’t copy throughout other information in the Sandisk app, however in the event you open the Apple Information app, you need to use the Share extension to copy them throughout. So for instance if I needed to repeat a large Filmic Pro video file throughout to the iXpand, I’d have to enter the Information app, go to “On my iPhone or iPad”, open the Filmic Professional folder, select the file I need to copy throughout, tap Share and choose the Sandisk iXpand Drive app. It works, but I’d wish to see full file management added inside the app.

Photographs and videos are copied across absolutely intact. So for Reside Photographs you also get the accompanying Reside video file with a video-paired suffix. That is essential if you’d like a 1:1 backup of your photographs. You’ll be prompted to delete the copied media off your iPhone or iPad to release area.

For those who select to Copy Information from the iXpand Drive, you’ll see the contents of the USB drive. When you choose any photographs and movies, these will switch to your Pictures library. If for instance we copy back the photograph with its accompanying Reside Photograph paired video we simply transferred, it will show up in Pictures identical to the unique with all its associated Stay Photograph options.

Using Share extension to save lots of a file to Information

It’s not potential to copy a big video file across to local storage on the iPhone or iPad with out it going to the Pictures library. This is not ultimate when you have iCloud Photographs enabled – you don’t want giant video information using up your paid storage. On this case you would browse the information in View Information which I’ll come to shortly, and use the Share extension to save lots of to Apple Information.

If we copy one other sort of file, a PDF file say, this can be copied across to the iXpand Drive folder on your iPhone or iPad. This is accessible by means of the iXpand app beneath View Information | iPhone or iPad | Information. From here you should use the Share extension to open the file in another app.

You may also use the Apple Information app or another document manager like Paperwork or FileBrowser to browse to the iXpand Drive folder on your system.

View Information allows permits you to browse your iXpand drive or your iPhone or iPad’s storage. Underneath you iPhone or iPad storage you possibly can browse Photographs and Videos from your Photograph library. And any music you’ve copied throughout from the iXpand drive to play when the drive’s not hooked up. The Information tab exhibits another information that aren’t pictures, videos or music. Just like the PDF we copied throughout beforehand.

Underneath iXpand, you’ll be able to see the contents of the USB drive beneath the default Information view. Or you’ll be able to type using the identical Photographs, Movies and Music tabs.

You’ll be able to change the format and type order with the format button. The choices differ depending on which category you’re in.

You’ll be able to playback most information, including PDFs, Word paperwork, but with formatting principally misplaced, most music codecs, and most photograph formats however not RAW information. You’ll want to make use of the Share extension to open in one other app for those. Video help is sort of good, enjoying back information from my iPhone X  and Panasonic G85 without any hassle. I was prompted to obtain one other app from SanDisk referred to as TopReel to play another formats including MKV information. This can be a paid app however they’re providing it at no cost for a limited time. TopReel is sort of a great app when you’ve got numerous these types of information to play, nevertheless it’s just a little irritating having to open them in another app. And even more so if there’s not a suggestion on to obtain it at no cost.

In case you have Apple TV, Amazon Hearth TV or Chromecast, you possibly can stream photographs and videos utilizing the forged button once you playback a file or from the start display.

In case you’ve enabled safety, you possibly can secure a folder or some information by choosing them and tapping the padlock icon. They’ll be copied to the SandiskSecureAccessVault folder and are only accessible with a password. In case you select to unlock them, you’ll be prompted where you need to copy them again to.

You could have numerous backup options

Lastly there’s Backup and Restore. You possibly can select to mechanically backup your Photograph library to a folder on your iXpand drive everytime you plug in the drive. And you may restore from the USB drive, for those who have been changing telephones as an example.

It’s not one thing I’ll use personally, since Google Pictures presents limitless storage free of charge. And all your pictures are still accessible from your system by way of Google Pictures.

If you want to get them across to your pc for backup or because you’re operating out of area, it’s in all probability just as straightforward to plug your gadget into a computer with the Lightning cable and use the pc’s import function. And even use iTunes in the event you can bear it.

However should you don’t have a computer and don’t need to depend on any cloud providing, then the iXpand can be helpful. And should you did need a 1:1 copy of you Photograph library on a brand new telephone without paying for any iCloud storage, this is perhaps a very good choice for those who already personal the iXpand. However I wouldn’t buy one for this objective – I’d advocate paying for even a 1 month subscription to iCloud photographs which might still be approach cheaper.

Subsequent you’ll be able to backup Social Media, which principally means pictures and movies from Fb, Instagram and Google Photographs.

Finally you’ll be able to backup your Contacts and Calendar. That is truly fairly a useful function, since it may be quite a problem to do that in any other case. Contacts are exported as vCard information which may be imported into many purposes together with Google Contacts and Outlook. And the Calendar is exported as an ICS file which can also be simply importable into Google Calendar and Outlook.

Switch speeds

Switch speeds

There are numerous different methods of transferring information between your iPhone or iPad and a computer, however few are as simple as using the iXpand.

But I needed to learn how quick transfers have been. I’m testing two situations: copying a large video file throughout to my iPad to work on in say, Lumafusion or Adobe Premiere Rush. And transferring a large video file captured on my iPhone to make use of in Adobe Premiere Professional on my desktop for example.

As a benchmark, I Airdrop’ed a three.3GB video file from my iPad Pro to my Macbook Pro 2012 model – so an excellent few years previous. It took simply over 4 minutes at a resulting velocity of 13MB/s – it’d be quicker with a more moderen Macbook with quicker WiFi. Utilizing a Lightning cable I transferred the file throughout using iTunes File Sharing to the same Macbook Professional. It took slightly below 2 minutes, at a velocity of 27MB/s. The quickest transfer was to an iPad Professional that supports quicker USB 3 speeds over Lightning using the Apple USB three Lightning adapter with a quick SD card, which took 51s at 64MB/s.

Copying the identical file from my pc to the iXpand took 96s which works out at 35MB/s. This file took 80s to copy to my iPad Professional at 41MB/s.

Read speeds are pretty respectable, copying from the iXpand to a USB 3.0 port on a MacBook at round 86MB/s

Copying the same file from my iPhone to the iXpand was sluggish at over four minutes with a transfer velocity of only 13MB/s. Though the learn speeds in Windows and on a Mac, plugged right into a USB three port, made up for those speeds just a little, transferring the video in 38s at a velocity of 86MB/s.

Sandisk additionally advertise copying information between an iPad and iPhone – so I tested an Airdrop between them too. That was fast as 86s or 38MB/s and a lot quicker than having to repeat to the iXpand drive and then back from it.

I was a bit of dissatisfied on the velocity of the iXpand, notably its write speeds. I benchmarked the drive in CrystalDiskMark to verify my findings of the previous actual life exams. I acquired 86MB/s read speeds and 43MB/s write speeds. These aren’t notably quick, especially when you think about the worth of the iXpand. An external SSD, albeit larger however at a slightly cheaper value per GB, will get speeds of properly over 400MB/s for read and write over USB three.zero. And I truly acquired better learn speeds off a fairly previous low cost Kingston USB 3 thumb drive – round 121MB/s although write speeds have been decrease – around 10MB/s.

So it is handy, however not essentially the fastest technique of shifting information around which can also be disappointing should you needed to make use of it just as a very good sized USB drive.


The Sandisk iXpand USB drive does what it sets out to do nicely. I do find it probably the most handy ways of shortly transferring information between my iPhone or iPad and pc – especially to my Home windows PC. If I’m using my Mac, I’d often use Airdrop as an alternative but for larger information, or perhaps an entire folder of small information, I still typically use the iXpand drive.

The opposite features of the drive may be useful relying on how your use your iPhone or iPad, and whether you’re using it together with a pc. The backup function is particularly helpful in the event you don’t have a computer, and don’t need to use cloud storage.

It’s also one of the fastest methods of shortly copying throughout some videos to play on your travels – especially when you don’t have much storage. And it will get around the limited help on iOS for enjoying again these information.

It’s unfortunate that we’ve to make use of these workarounds with Apple units. Hopefully at some stage Apple will open up their filesystem so we don’t need to use these “special devices”.

There’s fairly a premium to pay too, this Apple particular gadget prices virtually 4 occasions the equivalent mannequin Sandisk do for Android units. Prices change on a regular basis for flash storage, however I’ll provide hyperlinks on the backside of the web page so you’ll be able to examine current pricing.

And I would really like it to be quicker too – notably write speeds which barely make use of its USB 3.zero interface.

There’s additionally the difficulty that when you upgraded to the newest iPad and Macbook which only have USB Sort C ports, this system would turn out to be principally redundant.

But it’s a surprisingly useful accessory, and since it’s so small and mild I all the time have it with me.

SanDisk iXpand 128GB: https://amzn.to/2XIT9xh