External SSD for backups and Final Cut media libraries – in the office and on the road

With the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable V2, I found an SSD that speeds up video editing with Final Cut and gives me a quick and secure backup of my photos and VLOGs when I travel.

Work mobile and cross-device

My main editing machine is a 2017 iMac with a 1TB Fusion Drive. To be honest, Apple hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory when it comes to this unreliable and, at its core, still slow hybrid drive. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to an SSD for a long time. On the other hand, I’ll probably switch to the new M1 iMac soon, which is why I don’t want to invest in a fixed SSD.

I can also use an external SSD on my Macbook or iPad when I travel and then use the Final Cut libraries on it both mobile on the Macbook and stationary on the iMac. Plus, I need a backup SSD for photos and videos while traveling anyway. For those tasks, I don’t even need to look below 2TB for a solution. 4K videos and photos need space.

SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable V2 (SDSSDE81-2T00) – small and tough

After a long research, my choice finally fell on an SSD from SanDisk, more precisely the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable V2 (exact model number SDSSDE81-2T00). SanDisk claims this series with read and write speeds of up to 2,000 MB/s. In addition, the drive has a USB-C port and is also resistant to shocks, water and dust – not bad for an off-road trip through Estonia, for example. Finally, I received a good offer for the SSD and bought it.

When I received the package, I was also surprised by the SSD’s small size.
In various online stores, the product pictures of the SSD hardly reveal a size relation and I had expected such a case with the dimensions of a 2.5″ hard drive. In reality, the drive is about as big as a slightly longer cigarette pack, but three times as flat.

With the carabiner I secure the SSD in the photo backpack

SanDisk advertises that the hard drive can be comfortably worn on the waistband with a carabiner. I wonder who would like to tie a 400€ SSD to the belt loop, but the pure dimensions of the SSD would definitely allow that. However, I actually use the snap hook: To “strap” the SSD in the photo backpack so that it does not fall out or slip around.

2,000 MB/s – not quite, but still pretty damn fast

I doubted that an external SSD would reach 2,000 MB/s from the start, especially on my MacBook from 2017 and the slightly older iMac from 2017, I did not expect extremely high transfer rates, but was then quite thrilled by about 1,400 MB/s.

The speed boost from this external SSD is so huge that I now only work with Final Cut on the SSD and no longer have any Final Cut media library data on the Mac’s built-in Fusion Drive.

The first time I used the SSD with Final Cut, it almost blew my mind. The previews in the event browser were there instantaneously and didn’t build up piecemeal like they usually do. Final Cut freezing during large load operations is a thing of the past. I can switch from one event to another without waiting. In return, that thing gets quite warm.

Whether you're on the go with your MacBook or at home with your iMac, your Final Cut library is always on the SSD.
Whether you’re on the go with your MacBook or at home with your iMac, your Final Cut library is always on the SSD.

Similarly, photos are stored as a backup on the SSD. Half-hour copy orgies from camera to spinning hard drives are a thing of the past. Within minutes, the job is done – more vacation, more travel, less setup time.

Would I go for an external SSD again for Final Cut? Yes, again and again. I wonder how I put up with my lame Fusion Drive for so long and didn’t switch to an SSD like this much sooner. And then suddenly the answer comes to me: Because such devices would only have been available from 1000€ upwards a year ago. Praise be to the price drop and the technical progress.