The Future of Storage: Portable, Durable Solid-State Drives

Sponsored by SanDisk


Photographer Cliff Mautner shoots over 50 weddings per year. It’s high-stress, demanding work that means he’s always on the run. One weekend, he’s hopping a plane to San Francisco to shoot a wedding in a Federal-Bank-turned-wedding-hall. The next weekend, he’s photographing a couple in front of a New York sunset on a TriBeCa rooftop. Everywhere he goes, he brings his SanDisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD, which he says is “perfect for the wedding photographer.”

Indian Weddings at The Palace at Somerset Park

Mautner photographed a multi-day wedding in Sommerset Park, New Jersey, backing up the images from each day to the SanDisk Extreme Portable 500 SSD. / © Cliff Mautner

“When I shoot weddings, I need a portable, durable, fast drive that I can trust,” Mautner says. “The Extreme 500 is as light as a feather and fits into my front pocket. I can bring it anywhere.”

The Extreme 500 has completely changed Mautner’s workflow. It’s size, speed, portability and storage capacity (ranging from 120GB to 480GB) means that he can edit his images whether he’s shooting an Indian Sangeet ceremony in Philadelphia, driving to upstate New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley or flying to Northern California. When he returns to his studio, he can easily hand off the Extreme 500 to his studio manager for processing.


SanDisk Extreme 500

The Extreme 500 is a solid-state drive and connects to your computer via super-fast USB 3.0, making it four times faster than traditional external hard drives. Between the drive’s lack of moving parts and its rugged shock and vibration-resistant exterior, it is exponentially more reliable too. That means that when Mautner does want to outsource processing for a special event, he can ship the Extreme 500 without any fear that it will break under the rigors of shipping. It’s built to take a beating.

The SanDisk Extreme 500 makes it easy for Mautner to do his job without having to worry about failed hard drives or slow transfer speeds. When you are running at his speed, that makes a huge difference.


As the CEO of Stargate Studios, a state-of-the-art visual effects production house, Sam Nicholson is something like the conductor of an orchestra. On any given day, he’s managing ten different cameras from RED Epics down to GoPros, as they capture terabytes of footage from hit TV shows like The Walking Dead and Revenge. The footage is then transferred, copied, chopped up and shipped out to Nicholson and to offices in places like Berlin, Dubai and Malta where production staff create breathtaking visual effects.


Stargate Studios produced visual effects for the Globo telenovela, Os Dez Mandamentos (The Ten Commandments), in Brazil. / © Stargate Studios

To move that mass of data around, Nicholson relies on the SanDisk Extreme 900 to make sure that the footage gets to its destination quickly and reliably.

“The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is the future. There’s no doubt about it,” Nicholson says. “It’s incredibly reliable and fast, which saves you time and money.”

Today, Stargate’s workflow consists of a combination of solid-state cards in his cameras, a footage trailer on set outfitted with 30 terabytes of slower spinning hard drives and SanDisk Extreme 900 drives for transferring between editorial staff, Nicholson and Stargate’s multiple production facilities. Nicholson is itching to “future-proof” his production pipeline by using the Extreme 900 throughout because of their speed, size of up to 1.9TBs and durability. He likened his current situation to a six-lane freeway that unexpectedly closes down to a two-lane highway when data reaches the spinning drives.

“Until we use solid-state drives like the Extreme 900 through the entire pipeline, it’s like a traffic jam of data,” Nicholson explains.


SanDisk Extreme 900

In addition to the speed advantages, the Extreme 900 adds a layer of reliability that traditional spinning drives can’t match. In Stargate’s current workflow, Nicholson and his team have to back up all footage multiple times to protect from failing spinning hard drives—which he estimates occur 30 percent of the time. When he uses the Extreme 900, he doesn’t even bother backing up because he knows the drives won’t fail.

“Future-proofing” Stargate’s workflow doesn’t just save Nicholson time, it saves his entire staff time. That means less time transferring, copying and backing up data and more time doing what he and his team loves—crafting compelling stories and mind-blowing visual effects.

“No one pays attention to all the time that gets wasted managing your data,” Nicholson says. “When you realize how much time you can save, you understand why drives like the Extreme 900 are so important.”

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