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SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive for iPhone and iPad

With capacities up to 128 GB, your iPhone and iPad can collect and store massive amounts of data. But how can you share that data with others, exchange data with your computers, or (heaven forbid) back up all your information and photos and videos?

One answer is to use Wi-Fi-connected storage like the Western Digital My Passport Wireless (see previous post) or the Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2 (see earlier post). These have the advantage of being able to connect to multiple devices over wireless to share and transfer files among a group.

But why do you need to hassle with wireless settings at all? For laptops, we can just plug in USB thumb drives -- but this does not work with mobile devices like the Apple iPhone and iPod which do not have USB connections.

But Apple's devices still do have a port -- the small Lightning connector used on Apple devices for the past few years as a replacement for the old 30-pin dock connector. It's used for power and for transmitting data, so why not use it for a mobile thumb drive?

This is the idea for the SanDisk iExpand Flash Drive, which combines a standard USB thumb drive with a Lightning connector for use on mobile devices.

The USB connector is on one end to plug into a computer, and there's a flexible Lightning connector on the side that you can bend out to plug in to your devices, even if they are in a case.

You can start by using the iExpand Flash drive like any USB thumb drive, copying folders and files over USB between your computer and the drive. (It also charges through USB.)

Then install the iXpand Sync app to transfer files between the iExpand drive and your device.

However, Apple's iOS devices organize applications by application, and do not have common storage with folders and files shared among applications -- so files are managed in different ways, depending on the type of file and the application that "owns" it.

So you can start with the iXpand Sync app to work with the files and folders on the iExpand drive, to browse and copy/move/rename/delete. The app has built-in viewers for PDF documents and a variety of media formats that you can play directly.

To move individual files to your device, you can use the standard iOS Open In feature to open the file as a document in the selected iOS app (which also transfers it to the device storage). And to move individual files in the other direction from your device to the iExpand drive, view the file / document in its app, and then use the iOS Send To / Open In option (supported in may apps) to copy the file to the drive with the iXpand Sync app.

Depending on the file type and the app, you also may be able to use the Send To / Open In menu for other iOS functions, including Message, Mail, Twitter, and Print. For example, you can use this feature in Safari to dispatch some file types downloaded from the Web.

Then to bulk copy/move groups of files from the iXpand drive to the device, select Save to My Downloads. This is local storage space on the device that is "owned" by the iXpand Sync app, which is used to collect files that you then can open in one or more other apps. Similarly, you can transfer in the other direction from My Downloads on the device to the iExpand drive.

But for photos, iOS maintains tight control of photos and videos that you have shot on your device. The iXpand Sync app therefore provides the additional option to select groups of photos and videos in the Photo app's Camera Roll or other albums and bulk transfer them to the iExpand drive.

The iXpand Sync app also provides backup capability. You can backup from the Camera Roll to to the iExpand drive, with options to sync only changes and to automatically sync whenever the drive is connected. You also can backup or restore your Contacts.

For more security, you can encrypt selected files with a password into a special SanDiskSecureAccess Vault folder.

The SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive provides a great solution for transferring and backing up all those files you've accumulated on your iPhone and iPad. And the direct physical connection with the Lightning connector supports faster transfer rates than wireless.

It's small and light (2.53 x 1.45 x 0.46 in), and available in capacities from 16 to 128 GB, priced around $82 to $149.

Find the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive on Amazon.com

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This entry posted on March 29, 2015.

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