Hardware, Memory Cards & SSD

What Are Memory Card Readers?


If you have used any device like a camera, phone or video game, you have used a memory card. A memory card is a small, electronic device that is used to store digital information. Memory cards are removable, allowing secure transfer of data. The creation of memory cards also brought memory card readers to the forefront.

As devices became smaller and faster, the sizes and types of cards changed. Since the 1990s, there have been over twenty types of external memory cards including MMC, Memory Stick Duo, xd-Picture Card, MiniSD, and MicroSD to name a few. How do we access data from each of them without changing devices?

The memory card reader, therefore, was created to extract data from different types of memory cards. A memory card reader is a device that can allow one or more types of memory card to plug into it. The user can then insert the reader into his device of choice and extract data from or add data to the device.


Types of Memory Cards Readers

Not all card readers are the same. Some memory card readers are only convertible from one type of memory card to another (example, Micro SD to SD). Standard memory card readers read between 4 to 8 types of memory cards. Other card readers are powerful and can read up to 20 memory card types and can hold 4 or more cards at the same time. Some card readers require a USB cable to connect them to other devices. Others are one dongle that can plug directly into computers. In recent years, devices like printers and computers come with memory card readers built into them.


Why have a memory card reader?

Memory Card Readers are useful for anyone working in data or multimedia like video, audio or photos. Clients can bring data to you without compatibility issues. If someone uses an older version of a device with an older memory card, you can transfer data without problems. Here are some other uses for a memory card reader:



The transfer rate of some memory card readers is faster than the memory cards themselves. Transferring large amounts of data become more straightforward with a powerful card reader instead of using a USB cable for data transfer. Some card readers have USB speeds up to 5Gbps, ten times faster than older devices or the cards themselves.


Conserve Device Energy

Transferring data drains battery life from devices and puts unnecessary strain on them. A memory card reader eliminates that, using the power from the device it is plugged into instead. This is useful if you are using a camera and need to free up memory on the card while saving the camera’s battery life.


Ease of Use

Readers are easy to use. Directly plug your card into the compatible slot and then the memory card reader into the device. Most memory card readers don’t require software or drivers to work effectively. Memory card ready improves your workflow. For example, a photographer can transfer data from three or more cards at the same time without changing cards or devices.


Can Work Directly From the Card

By plugging your existing memory card into a reader, you can reduce your workflow by transferring data directly to the card. The memory card reader becomes a USB drive, allowing you to drag and drop files across devices easily.


Increased (Temporary) Storage

If you run out of onboard memory on a computer, you can plug an unused memory card into a reader, connect it to your device, and get additional storage.


Consolidate Data

Sometimes data is spread over multiple devices or multiple memory cards. By using a card reader, we can bring all the data in a central place or transfer it to a cloud storage program like Dropbox. This also reduces the need to find compatible devices to consolidate your data.



Powerful card readers only cost a few dollars and are easy to acquire online. If you are going to use one long term, it is wise to invest in a high-quality card reader.


Disadvantages of Memory Card Readers

There are a couple of drawbacks with memory card readers. For example, if the memory card is inserted incorrectly or with force, you can damage both the memory card reader and the memory card. This means loss of data and a replacement memory card reader needed. Some readers may also experience compatibility issues with Windows and Apple computers. Make sure to read reviews and get a reader that handles both operating systems. There are also several low-quality memory card readers that fail after a few uses. So it’s essential to get the best you can afford.


Top Memory Card Readers Here is four high-quality memory card readers can that can facilitate multiple card types at different prices and speeds.


Kingston Digital USB 3.0 Super Speed Multi-Card Reader

This multi-reader can take 15 types of cards and four cards simultaneously. It’s powered by a USB 3.0 cable and has a built-in LED indicator to confirm connectivity. This reader is popular with IT professionals and photographers alike.


Lexar Multi-Card 25-In-1 USB 3.0 Reader

The Lexar is a 25 card reader with a pop-up function to protect the cards as they are in their respective slots. This also allows the card to card transfer and can read up to five cards simultaneously. Compatible with Mac and PC, this is a highly rated reader by graphic artists and photographers.


Delkin Devices USB 3.0 Universal Memory Card Reader

The Delkin reader can read up to 30 card types and is one of the most versatile on the market. It uses a 3.0 USB cable that plugs directly into your computer or device and can transfer at speeds up to 500 MB/s. This reader also allows transfer of data between cards and requires no software or drivers to work.


Anker 8-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader

The Anker plugs into your computer directly; no USB cable needed. It can read eight different card types and two cards at the same time. The USB 3.0 dongle carry speeds up to 5Gbps. There are no drivers needed when plugging into Windows or Apple computers and comes with an 18n month warranty.



Memory Card readers will continue to evolve as technology evolves. The memory card itself may soon become obsolete, but to acquire data on old devices, a memory card reader may stand the test of time. For now, transferring data across non-compatible devices, memory card readers are a handy device to add to your tech arsenal. It is a cheap investment that everyone should have regardless of their technical background. Get a memory card reader that is compatible with multiple memory types and different operating systems. You will never know when you need one.


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