I am a photographer. Currently, I'm mostly doing events and weddings, but I would like to transition travel photography and/or photojournalism. As such, I spend a lot of time with portable hard drives and card readers plugged into my laptop. This is not a problem when I'm sitting at a large desk or table, but when I have a small work surface or just the tops of my legs to work on managing a couple delicate objects on the end of a short string gets a little too interesting.
The life hack I've used to solve it:
About 8 months ago I put two strips of 2" wide loop side adhesive velcro on the back of my laptop and hook side velcro on all my drives and my card reader. It has worked beautifully. I was initially a bit hesitant that my drives might fall off, but that has not happened once. Although I wouldn't recommend it, three square inches (about half of what is holding each drive) is enough to stick my 15" laptop to the wall.
A couple things to note:
Use brand name velcro. The cheap stuff is a waste of time.
Don't forget to clean the laptop lid before sticking the velcro on.
Don't put the hook side on the laptop. It tends to grab on to the inside of any bag with a fuzzy lining. With the drives, you can just cover the velcro with your hand as you put it in. The size of the velcro strips on the laptop makes the same solution impractical.
I wouldn't recommend trying to put the velcro on the exact spot where you plan on attaching the drive/card reader/other. In practice, it is way less convenient and it also looks quite untidy.
When putting small drive (Seagate Backup Plus Slim, Western Digital MyPassport 1TB or smaller) put the drive about a fingers width from the bottom of the lid of the laptop. When putting a larger drive (Western digital MyPassport 2TB, Lacie Rugged) on put it about two fingers from the bottom. Putting the drive too low gets in the way of opening the laptop far enough. Putting it to high tends to put a lot of weight on the hinge.
This does work better with physically larger drives, but will still work with all the larger ones I've tried (a Lacie Rugged Triple is the largest so far).
The life span of the velcro seems to be about 6-12 months with constant use and lots of switching. You will get a fair bit of warning before anything actually fails.
I hope this helps my fellow data hoarders out. Let me know if you have any question. I will reply eventually.