For those who’re seeking to double the storage capability of a pre-2016 MacBook or MacBook Professional — and you are not into ripping and changing your present drive — the TarDisk SD growth card could also be for you.

TarDisk has been promoting its SD growth card for a number of years now. It is as much as model of its pairing/knowledge migration software program.

The TarDisk is a half-length SD card designed to suit flush together with your laptop computer or desktop’s SDXC port. It completely pairs together with your MacBook (or MacBook Professional) to seamlessly improve its storage capability by both 128GB or 256GB. 

The TarDisk SD card’s capacities mirror these of the bottom mannequin of MacBook to be able to double the system’s storage. The SD card is marketed as an easier manner of doubling capability in comparison with including a brand new SSD to your laptop computer.

Notice: The TarDisk requires an SD card slot, which means the latest MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops cannot use it; they solely have USB-C model Thunderbolt three ports.

Comfort carries a value premium

The TarDisk pairs (or as TarDisk places it, “Pears,” as in its Pear software program) with the prevailing exhausting drive or SSD, making a single logical quantity that is indistinguishable out of your unique inner storage system.

The growth card, nonetheless, carries a hefty value: The 128GB model prices about $150 (Amazon price)  whereas the 256GB mannequin goes for about $400 (Amazon price). Another 128GB SD card with the identical efficiency would run you about 50 cents per gigabyte versus the TarDisk’s greater than $1 per gig.

For instance, Lexar’s top-end Skilled SDXC card with 128GB prices $68.50 (Amazon price) whereas a SanDisk Excessive Professional SDXC card prices $64 (Amazon price). Heck, you’ll be able to even buy a 512GB SanDisk Excessive Professional SD card for $280 (Amazon price) — about $120 lower than TarDisk’s 256GB card.

tardisk SD cardTarDisk

The TarDisk Pear being inserted right into a MacBook Professional’s SDXC card slot.

In truth, I reviewed a PCIe SSD upgrade for my MacBook Professional final 12 months and it was additionally almost half the price of the TarDisk SD card. The OWC Aura PCIe SSDs for MacBook Professional Retina laptops are available in 480GB capability for $348 (retail price) and 1TB capability for about $428 (retail price).

You can too buy a complete SSD upgrade kit, which incorporates the OWC SSD, screwdrivers, a USB normal A to micro B cable and an exterior PCIe SSD enclosure with USB port for $399 (480GB mannequin) or $649 (1TB mannequin).

Ease of set up

So why spend extra per gigabyte for the TarDisk card? In accordance with TarDisk, its SD card’s software program makes it the one MacBook Storage Enlargement hybrid drive in the marketplace.

TarDisk Pear SD card Lucas Mearian/IDG

The TarDisk growth card inserted however not but paired with a mid-2013 MacBook Professional’s present SSD.

TarDisk Pear SD expansion card Lucas Mearian/IDG

The mid-2013 MacBook Professional’s capability after the TarDisk was put in.

That is “to not point out recordsdata being routinely allotted so you’ll be able to entry the recordsdata you want securely and faster than on a conventional exterior exhausting drive,” a TarDisk spokesperson mentioned.

So principally, it is the convenience with which customers can double their storage capability with out having to crack open their MacBook, set up a recent model of OS X and migrate present functions and knowledge to a brand new SSD. That course of can take hours to finish.

Simply because the TarDisk nearly meshes together with your laptop’s drive, so does the half-sized SD card match flush with the laptop computer’s physique. A skinny, fingernail-sized slot on the high of the SD card permits it to be pulled out if needed.

TarDisk Pear SD card Lucas Mearian/IDG

The TarDisk Pear software program turns your Mac HD icon gold, which signifies it has been paired with the SD growth card.

After set up, which takes solely about 30 seconds, a fast have a look at “Storage” within the “About This Mac” software program will reveal two separate units, your main drive and the TarDisk drive. However each icons will now present the overall quantity of merged storage in your system, and OS X treats each your inner drive and the TarDisk as a single system.

The one discernable distinction from upgrading to the next capability exhausting drive or SSD in your MacBook and utilizing the TarDisk is that extra steadily used recordsdata will reside on the SSD to keep up throughput speeds, whereas mass storage goes to the SD card.

Whereas easy, TarDisk’s installation instructions are a bit intimidating in that they warn the consumer that when paired together with your present exhausting drive, it is a everlasting improve. So, ensure you have a recent Time Machine backup, in case any knowledge is misplaced in the course of the pairing course of.

However whereas it is referred to as a everlasting improve, you can uninstall the TarDisk SD card. The corporate has a tutorial on its web site to unpair the device out of your MacBook or MacBook Professional. In accordance with TarDisk, it takes about 20 minutes.

TarDisk instructs customers to show off the Apple’s FileVault encryption program whereas putting in the TarDisk system, because it won’t be able to repeat encrypted recordsdata. Set up additionally requires that you’ve at the least 10% free area in your present exhausting drive.

No efficiency hit

The TarDisk SD card has extremely respectable learn/write speeds of 95MBps and 90MBps, respectively; it is the identical as any professional-grade SD card. Whereas which may be quick for an SD card, it isn’t even in the identical universe as a MacBook’s inner PCIe SSD, which on my laptop is available in round 727MBps for reads and 680MBps for writes.

So, why would you ever mix a vastly slower SD card together with your hyperfast inner SSD?

In accordance with TarDisk, it will get across the efficiency disparity by sustaining a cache on the SSD to shift the learn/write load.

“This type of cache is often utilized by hybrid mechanical drives with a strong state cache,” TarDisk’s spokesperson mentioned. “Normally, the slower part’s downsides are negated, however writing and studying massive recordsdata (a 1080p film, as an example) to and from the TarDisk can expose the SD card’s slower sustained switch speeds.”

After putting in the TarDisk system, I ran a efficiency check utilizing the Blackmagic benchmark software program, and there was no change within the learn/write speeds of my MacBook Professional.

Backside line

The selection of both upgrading your drive to the next capability SSD or exhausting drive would not be troublesome for yours really. I might choose the upper capability SSD each time.

However I can definitely see the case for wanting a quick and easy option to double the capability on an older MacBook that is accessible to anybody, no matter their technological prowess. In that case, the TarDisk would be the proper alternative.