As photographers, we live in fortunate times when it comes to the preservation, backup, and archiving of our personal photographs and professional work.

With the advent of reasonably priced high-capacity storage solutions, cloud-based backup services, and sophisticated file management systems – safeguarding our digital assets has never been easier.

This all being said, many photographers are hesitant to invest in an effective and efficient file management system that will contain their ever-growing amount of images.

In the near past, storage concerns mainly applied to HDD (Hard Disk Drive) systems. However, with recent advancements, SSD (Solid State Drive) systems have become significantly more accessible in terms of price, largely due to NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) technology – which offers the greatest throughput and quickest response times for enterprise workloads.

Numerous storage solutions are available for safeguarding your work, and we're here to explore these options, highlighting why the SanDisk Pro-Blade system emerges as a fantastic choice for addressing all your workflow challenges.

The Pro-Blade system presents a solution that not only looks professional but also organizes your data efficiently, ensuring a clutter-free and systematic approach to file management.

Image: Tim Levy
Sitting upon a Mac Studio – the Sandisk Pro-Blade Station doesn't look out of place. Image: Tim Levy

The storage problem

Purchasing individual hard drives and SSDs might seem convenient at first, but this approach frequently leads to a situation many photographers are all too familiar with. As time passes, you're likely to accumulate a collection of hard drives from various brands and of different types and sizes, leading to a cluttered desk overwhelmed by a tangle of cables monopolizing your computer's ports.

Inevitably, these drives often end up tucked away in a drawer or secured in a fireproof safe. In other words, it's a subtle path to file management chaos!

Also, you may have different hard drives that are your 'work drive', a 'backup drive', and then 'archive drives', which again, can lead to complications – and too many drives.

Of course, there is the concept of having a *sigh* spreadsheet of all your work to make finding jobs easier, but we are photographers – not book keepers.

Is this how you really want to live? Just a bunch of discs everywhere with a spaghetti junction of cables? Image: Tim Levy
Is this really how you want to live? Just a bunch of discs everywhere with a spaghetti junction of cables?
Image: Tim Levy

The storage solution

Creating a unified system through the Sandisk Professional Pro-Blade is actually an excellent way to have a clutter free work environment where you can have a work drive, backup and archive all within the same system – all running from only one Thunderbolt 3 cable.

Furthermore, you can use a 'Blade' in the proprietary 'Transporter' while you are travelling, or use it as your primary hard drive for shooting video.

How it works

The Pro-Blade system is made up of Pro-Blade magazines that come in 1TB, 2TB or 4TB versions.

If out in the field, you can use a Pro-Blade in the Pro-Blade Transporter and get speeds of up to 950MB/s on a Mac via USB-C. If video is your jam, you can have the transporter attached to your camera and shoot straight to it, and swap out mags when they fill up.

This is a superior system to having a stand alone SSD that is bolted to your rig – as using the Transporter means memory swap times are much faster.

I've used the transporter in day to day use as purely an office / portable storage device and found it super reliable and easily fast enough to edit video on.

Upon returning to your studio or office, you have the option to connect the transporter and use it as a standard SSD drive, or you can detach the Pro-Blade and insert it into the Pro-Blade Station. This Station, which boasts a sleek and durable design, can accommodate up to four Pro-Blades and offers enhanced speeds through its Thunderbolt connection.

Image: Tim Levy
 A Pro-Blade with Transport. The Blade clicks in solidly and securely. Image: Tim Levy

Why would you use a transporter?

Admittedly as a photographer, we don't often shoot straight to a SSD and just stick to in-camera CFexpress or SD cards. But in the case of shooting video, especially 8K video, you'll find yourself filling up cards VERY rapidly.

There are a few distinct advantages to shooting with the transporter. For starters – the cost.

At the time of writing, you can buy a 4TB mag with transporter for $580 –$780, while a 4TB CFexpress is $2,300 - $3,000! You can have the transporter mounted on your video rig and just swap the mags out easily.

The advantages of the Pro-Blade Station

Apart from looking so cool and monolithic, the Station allows you to have four superfast SSDs up to a total of 16TB running within the one housing – on the one Thunderbolt cable.

The enemy of fast SSD speeds is heat. Something that standalone SSD's don't have are fans, and when SSDs start to heat up, the transfer speed may be throttled down (aka thermal throttling) to keep temperatures within check.

So, having a fan, although you will get fan noise, is a good solution to get sustained transfer speeds.

Another benefit is that the Station's Thunderbolt connection not only facilitates rapid transfer speeds, but also includes an additional Thunderbolt port. This port is sufficiently fast to connect a monitor, effectively 'freeing up' an extra Thunderbolt port for other uses.

Using the Station, in the real world on a Mac, you'll get around 2,550MB/s sustained write and 2,635MB/s read speed– which is considerably fast. And that speed is sustained due to the fan system, which you will hear ramp up if you transfer really large files. As for the Transporter, you'll get 970MB/s write and 910 MB/s read speeds – which as mentioned, is still very fast.

When comparing it to traditional spinning HDDs, the difference is striking, as they typically achieve speeds ranging from 100MB/s to 250MB/s.

Why we like it

Having a JBOD system (yes - that is the well-known industry acronym for a Just a Bunch Of Discs) is totally NWG (not the way to go). It is a stop gap, or ad-hoc way to collate all your images that just grows more and more complicated or messy as time goes on. Having multiple cables, the ports to use them and a drawer full of hard drives or SSD's is far from ideal.

Having a neat system like the Pro-Blade Station declutters your workstation. Also, as your work grows, you can have a pelican case or fireproof safe just devoted to Pro-Blades – which are a uniform, small form factor.

The Pro-Blade Hard Case – for storing multiple blades and a Transporter.
The Pro-Blade Hard Case – for storing multiple blades and a Transporter.

Price wise, of course the whole system is going to be more expensive than purchasing singular SSD's – but this is more of a long-term solution to what you'll find is an ongoing problem.

How we use the station

Here are a couple of setups we recommend if you have a four-blade set up, with each number representing a Blade.

1) Work drive where all your current Lightroom Catalogs + images reside.   

2) Backup drive – quickly backup your current work from Blade 1.

3) Archive A – after you have finished each job, or culled your images to 'keepers' or 1 star images, you delete all the zero stars, or even in some cases, delete even the RAWs apart from the 4 or 5 star hero shots.

4) Archive B – backup of your archive.
    The great thing about this is you can just backup the archive, then store the 4th Blade separately.


1) Work Drive - All your current work.

2,3,4) – Large Archive. All used as archive with a Lightroom Master Catalog residing in Blade 2

With the above setup, we'd recommend having a seperate 16TB HDD or NAS system as your backup archive system.

Otherwise, you could build your Lightroom Catalogs on your actual computer, then use the whole Station as your archive – then another 16TB HDD or NAS system for backup.

The wrap-up

Having a neat system to store all your work is a godsend for photographers. The Pro-Blade Station definitely beats the hell out of multiple hard drives of different shapes and size. As an archive system, it is pretty amazing.

Having the Transporter is a good way to enable you to use the Blades on location, and then pop them into the Station for even faster speeds when you get back to your studio or office. 

The thing to think about with the system is the initial set up costs, and will we see the costs of Blades come down, or even increase in size to say 8TB?

So if you are looking for one of the ultimate, fastest storage solutions, you should definitely check out the Pro-Blade system as an option. 

You can find out more about the system on the SanDisk website. 


SanDisk 1TB Blade – $269
SanDisk 2TB Blade – $399
SanDisk 4TB Blade – $689
SanDisk Transporter – $119
SanDisk Transporter with 4TB Blade – $580
Sandisk Pro-Blade Station – $670