7 Best Portable External Storage Drives (2023): SSDs, Hard Drives, Rugged

In case you’re operating out of cupboard space in your laptop computer, or if you might want to again up your information and retailer that backlog of movies you are going to edit someday (I’m, I swear), an exterior exhausting drive can resolve your downside. The difficulty is, there are a whole bunch of drive choices starting from dust low-cost to loopy costly—which one is correct to your wants? I’ve examined dozens with totally different use instances in thoughts to seek out one of the best moveable storage drives to your workflow. 

You’ll want to try our different guides, together with How to Back Up and Move Your Photos Between Services, How to Back Up Your Digital Life, and How to Back Up Your iPhone.

Up to date March 2023: We have added the Essential X8 moveable SSD and Western Digital’s SN 850X inner drive.

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I do know this information is for moveable exhausting drives, and that is decidedly not moveable, however bear with me. For incremental backups, which we recommend, portability is not your high precedence. And usually, your backup software program will run in a single day, so pace is not an enormous issue both. That is why the primary drive I like to recommend is that this Western Digital Components.

I’ve been utilizing some variation of the WD Components desktop exhausting drive to make incremental backups of my information for greater than a decade now. They’re huge and require exterior energy, however these are a few of the least expensive, most dependable drives I’ve used. Storage choices go all the best way as much as 20 terabytes. Simply be sure to test the costs; generally you may get a 10- and even 12-terabyte drive for not rather more.

Different Nice Backup Drives

  • Seagate Portable 8-TB HDD for $166: Seagate is one other dependable drive maker. It by no means hurts to have extra backups, and for those who do need a number of backups, use drives from totally different manufacturers, since it can cut back the prospect that each fail on the identical time. This 8-terabyte mannequin is usually on sale for round $150.
  • Western Digital Elements 5-TB Portable HDD for $110: You may as well get a way more moveable model of the Western Digital drive for a lot much less, and it does not require exterior energy not like our high decide. 

These Essential drives are my favourite moveable drives. They’re moderately priced (for a conveyable SSD) and speedy. The one drive I examined with quicker learn speeds was the SanDisk Excessive Moveable SSD (see under). These are light-weight, which implies they’re perfect for once you’re working away from house. I take advantage of one to retailer video clips, and it is lots quick sufficient to edit them proper off the disk. The one draw back is the plastic development. Do not count on it to outlive many drops. In case you’re fearful about it breaking into your bag, seize a padded case. I have never tried it, however there are lots on the market like this one for $15.

Additionally Nice

  • Crucial X8 2-TB SSD for $130: Essential’s X8 makes use of an NVMe flash drive, which makes it considerably quicker than the X6. It additionally has an all-metal enclosure that is going to supply extra safety than the plastic of the X6. This drive is healthier than the X6 in each approach besides weight (it is about double the load) and worth, however contemplating it ceaselessly dips to about $130 for the 2-TB mannequin, it is perhaps price choosing up over the X6.

This moveable drive from SanDisk trounces the whole lot else I’ve examined. It is light-weight, with IP22-rated enclosures so it’s going to stand as much as life on the go. It is not the most affordable drive, however for those who’re backing up within the discipline and wish to get it carried out as quick as potential, it is your greatest guess. It is much less compact than a few of these drives however I like that because it makes it simpler to maintain monitor of in my bag.

Different Speedy Drives

In case you want a drive that may stand as much as life in a backpack or camera bag, get moist, or deal with a drop onto exhausting surfaces, OWC drives are your most suitable option. It is robust to select a winner right here as a result of there are numerous strong choices, however OWC’s Elektron drive narrowly beat others in benchmark assessments. I additionally like that you could swap out the drive contained in the aluminum casing (it is easy to unscrew), which implies two years from now, you may decide up a quicker naked SSD and drop it within the Elektron. 

In order for you a bigger drive, each bodily and when it comes to storage capability, OWC’s Envoy Pro FX ($245 for 1 TB) makes an important alternative as nicely. It’s even quicker and is available in sizes as much as 4 TB, although the latter will set you again a staggering $900. For many, the 2-TB mannequin is lots, although nonetheless expensive at $400. It’s IP67-rated and fairly drop-proof. (Take all claims of “navy commonplace” with a grain of salt—there’s no one actually doing independent tests, which isn’t to select on OWC, as each “rugged” drive maker claims issues like this.) What impressed me essentially the most about this drive, although, is how extremely cool it stays even beneath a heavy load (like modifying 4K video footage straight from the drive).

Different Rugged Choices 

  • Sabrent Rocket Nano 1-TB SSD for $120: I actually like this one. It is smaller and barely quicker than the OWC, however it has two drawbacks. The primary is that it will probably get actually sizzling. In case you’re attempting to work with it in your lap, it may be downright uncomfortable. The opposite concern is that generally it is sluggish to be acknowledged by my PC. I may discover no sample to this; generally it appeared instantly, and different instances it took a few minutes. If these issues do not hassle you, this drive is tiny, cheaper, and comes with a padded rubber case.

The go-anywhere drives above are a strong resolution for individuals who have to make backups within the discipline, like photographers and videographers. However in order for you an additional degree of consolation, this padded drive from LaCie has lengthy been a favourite of vacationers. LaCie makes each an SSD model and a conventional spinning drive model. If pace is not a problem, as with making nightly backups, then the cheaper spinning drive makes extra sense. In case you’re really backing up in the midst of a photograph shoot or comparable state of affairs the place it must occur quick, the SSD model is what you need.

Different Padded Choices

  • Samsung T7 Shield 2-TB SSD for $138: It is not as padded as LaCie’s rugged drives, however it’s cheaper and delivers practically the identical pace. It has an IP65 rating, which implies it is high quality within the rain and shielded from mud and sand. The T7 line is notable for its built-in security measures like hardware-based encryption, however not like the Touch model, the Defend doesn’t have a fingerprint reader. Nonetheless, for those who do not want the complete padded safety of the LaCie and wish to save a bit of cash, the T7 Defend is an efficient possibility.

Take this class with a grain of salt. Many of the drives right here will work simply high quality for gaming (simply keep on with the quickest you may afford). That stated, Western Digital’s new P40 does have some cool RGB lights on the underside if that is your jam. In my testing, that did not appear to have any influence on energy consumption. 

As for pace, my assessments have been inconsistent. This drive is able to speeds that handily beat each the Envoy Professional and Samsung T7, however at different instances appeared to bathroom down (not less than in benchmarks). In real-world use, the one bottleneck I constantly hit was some lag in transferring enormous quantities of information. That is perhaps a deal-breaker for some, however for the worth, this stays a really strong alternative.

If you wish to put an even bigger SSD in your laptop computer, all you want is a naked drive, which is usually cheaper than the drives with enclosures listed above. The very first thing to determine is which drive your PC makes use of. Seek the advice of your producer’s documentation to seek out out. In my expertise, the most typical kind issue is M.2 2280, which is the lengthy skinny drive within the picture above. Extra compact laptops might use the same, however shorter, M.2 2242 design. Once more, test your PC to verify the drive it wants before you purchase. There are a ton of those available on the market and I have never had time to check many but, however up to now, out of the half dozen I’ve tried, Western Digital’s WD Black sequence has stood out for pace, they usually do not run very popular. 

The SN 770 M.2 2280 achieved speeds of 5,100 MB per second in my testing, which is blazing quick. In case you’re doing numerous drive-intensive duties, like modifying video or gaming, this drive is nicely well worth the cash. The biggest model you may get proper now could be 2 TB, however the worth is affordable contemplating the pace improve. I have been utilizing it as my important drive for a number of months and located it to be quick sufficient for the whole lot I do, together with modifying 5.2K video footage and compiling software program. My favourite half? It generates little or no warmth. My older Dell XPS 13 used to get too sizzling to make use of with out one thing between it and my lap. Now it does not get sizzling till I begin attempting to export video, however rapidly cools off as quickly because it’s carried out.

A Luxurious Improve

  • Western Digital SN850X 2-TB SSD for $100: This drive is so screaming quick I needed to run my assessments twice as a result of I did not imagine the primary outcome. Western Digital claims as much as 7,300 MB per second learn speeds, and in benchmark assessments, this drive’s outcomes got here shut. To take full benefit of the pace right here, you may want a system that helps the PCIe 4.0 SSD commonplace, however it is a nice drive if you wish to improve a gaming system, whether or not it is a desktop PC or your PlayStation.

Choosing the right exhausting drive comes right down to balancing three issues: pace, measurement, and worth. In case you’re making nightly backups, then pace in all probability does not matter. Go for the most affordable drive you could find—up to a degree. Drives do not final ceaselessly, however some undoubtedly last more than others. I counsel sticking with recognized manufacturers which have repute like Seagate, Western Digital, Samsung, and the others featured right here. That is based mostly partly on expertise and partly on the drive failure information that Backblaze has been publishing for years now. Backblaze goes by way of large quantities of exhausting drives backing up prospects’ information, and its report is price studying. The takeaway is easy: Persist with names you already know.

If pace trumps worth, you then wish to have a look at the solid-state drives we have listed right here. SSDs do not simply have a pace benefit. Additionally they lack shifting components, which implies they’re going to stand up to the bumps and falls of life in a bag on the street higher than spinning drives. The drawback is that they’ll put on out quicker. Each write operation to an SSD—that’s, once you save one thing to it—barely degrades the person NAND cells that make up the drive, which wears it out considerably quicker than a spinning drive. Simply how a lot quicker is dependent upon how you employ it. That stated, I’ve a number of SSDs which are greater than 5 years outdated, and I’ve used them for each day backups all through that point. None of them have had any issues. 

Do you want an SSD over a spinning drive? The reply is nearly all the time sure—for those who can afford it. However they’re particularly helpful for any drive you are working with commonly: your important boot drive, an exterior drive you employ to edit paperwork from, and for backups, for those who want them to occur quick.

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