This article gives a step by step guide on how to use connected devices like external hard drives and a variety of card readers with your GNARBOX. We'll also share field specs from testing performed for a variety of popular drives and readers and provide basic troubleshooting on drives, cards and readers. 

This article will cover:

  • How to connect your card reader to the GNARBOX
  • Recommend card readers to use with your GNARBOX
  • How to connect your external hard drive to the GNARBOX
  • Recommended external hard drives to use with your GNARBOX
  • GNARBOX transfer speeds
  • Troubleshooting connected devices

How to connect your card reader to the GNARBOX

Whether you use CF, C-Fast, XQD, or RED Mini Mags, here are step-by-step instructions on how to connect your card reader to the GNARBOX:

  1. Power on your GNARBOX.  Connect to the GNARBOX from your phone and open the app.
  2. Plug your card reader into the USB3 or USB2 port.  
  3. Insert your card into the card reader.
  4. Select ‘Devices’ in the upper left-hand corner of the GNARBOX app home screen
  5. You’ll see your connected card appear on the ‘Devices’ screen.

To transfer files from your card to the GNARBOX or an external hard drive, go through the following steps:

  1. From the ‘Devices’ screen, select “list” or “thumbnail” view.  For a faster loading time, we recommend “list” view.
  2. Select your card.
  3. Click “Select” and then tap to select the files with you to transfer.  If you wish to transfer all of your files, click “Select All”, then click “Copy Files”.
  4. Select your destination for the transfer, then click “OK”.
  5. The status of your transfer can be tracked in the Task Manager.

Best Performing Card Readers: 

After doing a quick study on some of our favorite card readers, we wanted to provide you with data to help you decide on which card reader might be the best fit for you.  Below you will find a matrix including 5 card readers we enjoy, their price, speed, and portability.  "SM" denotes readers that are perfect for ultra-light travel, while "MED" refers to card readers that are compact for travel, but are also regularly used as desktop readers.

It is also important to note that in order to optimize the fastest transfer speeds available on the GNARBOX, you'll want to use a card reader in the USB3 port.  The above microSD and SD card readers will enable faster transfer speeds via the USB3 port than the built-in card reader on the GNARBOX.

To view more information on a specific card reader, click the corresponding link below:

Unsupported Card Readers:

The card readers below are known to prohibit optimal performance when used with the GNARBOX:

How to connect your external hard drive to the GNARBOX

GNARBOX is compatible with HFS+ (Mac OS Extended Journaled), NTFS, exFat or FAT32 (MS-DOS) formatted drives and cards. This was a big initiative for the software development team to implement compatibility across drive formats. This means your Mac or PC formatted drives will work seamlessly with the GNARBOX.  To learn more about how external hard drives work with the GNARBOX, visit our deep dive article here.  

To connect your external hard drive, go through the following steps:

  1. Power on your GNARBOX.  Connect to the GNARBOX from your phone and open the app.
  2. Plug your external hard drive into the USB3 or USB2 port.
  3. Select ‘Devices’ in the upper left-hand corner of the GNARBOX app home screen
  4. You’ll see your connected external hard drive appear on the ‘Devices’ screen.

Note: USB-C external hard drives will need to use a USB-C to USB 3.0 cable, or use a USBC to USB 3.0 dongle to connect to the GNARBOX.

Best Performing External Drives

Below you will find information on a few of our favorite external hard drives that span a wide range of usability.  We wanted to provide you with data to help you decide on which external hard drive might be the best fit for you.  The following matrix includes 6 external hard drives we enjoy, their price, speed, and portability.  "SM" denotes memory sticks that are perfect for ultra-light travel, while "MED" refers to external hard drives that are compact for travel, but are also regularly used as desktop storage devices.

To view more information on a specific external hard drive, click the corresponding link below:

Field Specs for Cards, Drive and Reader Transfer Speeds

The transfer speeds of photos and videos can vary depending on the card or external hard drive you are transferring to and from.  The chart below will give you insight to the read/write speeds of the various GNARBOX inputs.  

It's important to note that the SD/microSD slots are read only.
If you're interested in capitalizing on the 6gb/min transfer speed of the USB3.0, you may consider using a compact card reader.  Here's one we highly recommend!

Troubleshooting Your Connected Devices 

How come my drive/device won’t show up?

There are a few reasons this could be happening. The most common:

  1. When using the SD or microSD card slots, the GNARBOX will only recognize one card at a time.  If you have both an SD and microSD card plugged in, the GNARBOX will not recognize either of those cards.  Remove one of the cards and transfer your files one card at a time.
  2. You are in Mass Storage mode! If you are using the USB3 (blue) port and you are in Mass Storage mode your drive will not show up. To switch out of Mass Storage Mode, go into the app settings, and select “USB3 Mode” > select “Normal”.

My brand new / newly formatted external hard drive is saying there’s only a small amount of space available for me to transfer to.  Why is this happening?

This is happening because your GNARBOX is reading a small partition of your external hard drive.  To fix this, format your external hard drive on your computer and retry plugging it into your GNARBOX.

If you continue to experience this issue, please contact us at support@gnarbox.com.

Can I get photos and videos off my phone onto the GNARBOX?

At the moment, only iOS integration is available - Android integration will follow soon!  Check out our detailed article on connecting your iPhone/iPad to the GNARBOX here.

For some key tips and tricks on using devices, check out our Best Practices article!

As always, we're here to help solve your GNARBOX related issues, so if you're unable to find the answer you're looking for on help.gnarbox.com, feel free to shoot us a message using the chat window found in the bottom right corner of the page! 

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Marlena is the Community Support Manager at GNARBOX. Talk to her about Canon cameras, travel and adventure photography! You can see her personal work at instagram.com/marlenapearlphoto and marlenapearlphotography.com

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