Our editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, ZDNet may earn a commission.

This $35 accessory can save MacBook buyers hundreds of dollars

Apple charges the earth for storage. Here's how to save hundreds of dollars next time you buy a MacBook.

Every time I buy a new MacBook, I look at the prices that Apple charges for storage and my jaw drops. Sure, over time, you get more for your money, but the prices are always eye-watering.

Take a look at the 16-inch MacBook Pro. It comes with 1TB of storage, but if you want to upgrade that to the 2TB drive, that extra 1TB will cost you a whopping $400.

Or, to put that another way, if you use that drive to permanently store, say, a 4GB video file, that space is costing you $1.60.

Must read: Two hidden iOS features that people should use more

I'm in the market for a new MacBook Pro as my existing one is getting a bit tired (and the warranty will expire soon), so I've been looking at what Apple has to offer. I've also been looking at storage, and I've come to the conclusion that I can offload a lot of stuff onto external storage. Sure, it's not as convenient as built-in storage, but it's not costing me $1.60 for every 4GB cat video I want to keep.

Now, external drives are cheap, but they're not really portable, so I want something smaller.

So, I went with the SanDisk 256GB Ultra Dual Drive, a flash drive that features retractable USB-C and USB-A connectors. It's small, versatile, reliable, tough (it's been rattling on my keys for weeks and it's pretty much like new), and at $35 for 256GB, it's very cheap.

On this, that 4GB cat video is only taking up $0.50 of storage.

I also get the added convenience that this drive also works on legacy systems with USB-A ports, as well as my Android devices and my iPad Pro.

This gives me real world write speeds of about 55 MB/s, and read speeds of around 145 MB/s. That's peanuts compared to the speed of the SSD in my current MacBook Pro (about 1,720 MB/s write, and 2,700 MB/s read), but as cheap portable storage, it's a great solution, and far better than relying of cloud storage (especially with big files when on the move).

Read/write performance

Read/write performance

This is the nicest budget flash drive I've used in a long time, and I've no problem trusting it with all my favorite cat videos (but just to be on the safe side, I do have backups!).