5 Best Portable External Storage Drives (2022): SSDs, Hard Drives, Rugged


If you are operating out of space for storing in your laptop computer, must again up your information, or retailer that backlog of movies you are going to edit at some point (I’m, I swear), an exterior laborious drive can clear up your downside. The hassle is, there are lots of of drive choices starting from dust low cost to loopy costly—which one is true in your wants? I’ve examined dozens with completely different use instances in thoughts to seek out the perfect moveable storage drives in your workflow. 

Be positive to take a look at 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.

Updated February 2022: We’ve added a brand new SanDisk SSD as our prime decide for velocity. We’ve additionally added a hyperlink to the most recent drive stats report from Backblaze.

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Best for Backups

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

I’ve been utilizing some variation of the WD Elements desktop laborious 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 18 terabytes. Just be sure you verify the costs; generally you may get a 6- and even 8-terabyte drive for not rather more.

Other Great Backup Drives:

  • Seagate Portable HDD 8 TB ($180): 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 completely different manufacturers, since it would 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 ($105): You can even get a way more moveable model of the Western Digital drive for a lot much less, and it does not require exterior energy. The 4-terabyte mannequin is usually on sale for underneath $100.

Best Portable Drive

These Crucial drives are my favourite moveable drives. They’re fairly priced (for a conveyable SSD) and really speedy. The solely drive I examined with sooner learn speeds is the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD (see beneath). These are light-weight, which suggests they’re perfect for if you’re working away from house. I exploit one to retailer video clips, and it is a lot quick sufficient to edit them proper off the disk. The solely draw back is the plastic development. Don’t anticipate it to outlive many drops.

Best for Speed

This new moveable drive from SanDisk trounces every thing else I’ve examined. It’s light-weight, with IP22-rated enclosures so it’s going to stand as much as life on the go. It’s not the most cost effective drive, however for those who’re backing up within the subject and wish to get it performed as quick as attainable, it is your finest guess. I additionally like that it is much less compact than a few of these drives—it makes it simpler to maintain observe of in my bag.

Another speedy different: Our earlier prime decide, Samsung’s T7 drive ($250 for 2 TB), continues to be a decently speedy drive. Seagate’s One Touch SSD ($300 for 2 TB) is one other good possibility, nevertheless it’s not low cost. Neither matches the SanDisk.

Best Go-Anywhere Drives

If 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 laborious surfaces, OWC drives are your best option. It’s robust to choose a winner right here as a result of there are lots of stable choices, however OWC’s Elektron drive narrowly beat others in benchmark assessments. I additionally like that you may swap out the drive contained in the aluminum casing (it is easy to unscrew), which suggests two years from now, you may decide up a sooner naked SSD and drop it within the Elektron. 

Another indestructible drive: I actually like Sabrent’s Rocket Nano SSD ($160 for 1 TB). It’s smaller and barely sooner than the OWC, nevertheless it has two drawbacks. The first is that it may well get actually sizzling. If you are attempting to work with it in your lap, it may be downright uncomfortable. The different concern is that generally it is very sluggish to be acknowledged by my PC. I might discover no sample to this; generally it appeared straight away, generally it took a few minutes. If these issues do not hassle you, this drive is tiny, cheaper, and comes with a padded rubber case.

Best Padded Drives

The go-anywhere drives above are a stable resolution for individuals who must make backups within the subject, like photographers and videographers. But 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 standard spinning drive model. If velocity is not a problem, as with making nightly backups, then the cheaper spinning drive makes extra sense. If you are really backing up in the midst of a photograph shoot or comparable scenario the place it must occur quick, the SSD model is what you need.

Hard Drive Buying Advice

Picking the precise laborious drive comes right down to balancing three issues: velocity, dimension, and worth. If you make nightly backups, then velocity and dimension in all probability do not matter. Go for the most cost effective drive you’ll find—up to some extent. Drives do not final eternally, however some undoubtedly last more than others. I recommend sticking with recognized manufacturers which have an excellent fame like Seagate, Western Digital, and the others featured right here. This relies partly on expertise and partly on the drive failure information that Backblaze has been publishing for years now. Backblaze goes via large quantities of laborious drives backing up prospects’ information, and its report is value studying. The takeaway is easy: Stick with names you realize.

If velocity trumps worth, then you definitely wish to have a look at solid-state drives. SSDs do not simply have a velocity benefit, in addition they lack transferring components, which suggests they’re going to stand up to the bumps and falls of life in a bag on the highway higher than spinning drives. The drawback is that they’ll put on out sooner. Every write operation to an SSD—that’s, if you save one thing to it—barely degrades the person NAND cells that make up the drive, which wears it out considerably sooner than a spinning drive. Just how a lot sooner depends 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 day by day backups all through that point. None of them have had any issues. 

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


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