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

If you are working out of space for storing in your laptop computer, or if that you must again up your knowledge and retailer that backlog of movies you are going to edit at some point (I’m, I swear), an exterior onerous drive can remedy your downside. The hassle is, there are lots of of drive choices starting from grime low-cost to loopy costly—which one is true to your wants? I’ve examined dozens with totally different use instances in thoughts to seek out the most effective moveable storage drives to 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 September 2022: We’ve added Samsung’s T7 Shield and OWC’s Envoy Pro Fx, and launched a brand new naked drive class for upgrading your PC’s inside SSD. We’ve additionally added the most recent drive stats report from Backblaze.

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I do know this information is for moveable onerous drives, and that is decidedly not moveable, however bear with me. For incremental backups, which we recommend, portability is not your high precedence. And sometimes, your backup software program will run in a single day, so pace 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 onerous drive to make incremental backups of my knowledge for greater than a decade now. They’re massive and require exterior energy, however these are a number of the most cost-effective, most dependable drives I’ve used. Storage choices go all the way in which as much as 20 terabytes. Just ensure you test the costs; generally you may get a 10- and even 12-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 totally different manufacturers, since it would cut back the prospect that each fail on the similar time. This 8-terabyte mannequin is usually on sale for round $150.
  • Western Digital Elements 5-TB Portable HDD ($108): You may 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 below $100.

These Crucial drives are my favourite moveable drives. They’re moderately priced (for a transportable SSD) and really speedy. The solely drive I examined with quicker learn speeds is the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD (see beneath). These are light-weight, which implies they’re very best for while you’re working away from house. I exploit one to retailer video clips, and it is loads quick sufficient to edit them proper off the disk. 

The solely draw back is the plastic development. Don’t count on it to outlive many drops. If you are nervous about it breaking into your bag, seize a padded case. I have never tried it, however there are loads on the market like this one for $14.

This new moveable drive from SanDisk trounces the whole lot 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 discipline and need to get it finished as quick as doable, it is your finest wager. 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.

Other Speedy Drives

Another various: 

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 onerous surfaces, OWC drives are your best option. It’s robust to choose a winner right here as a result of there are a lot of strong choices, however OWC’s Elektron drive narrowly beat others in benchmark checks. I additionally like you could swap out the drive contained in the aluminum casing (it is simple to unscrew), which implies two years from now, you may decide up a quicker naked SSD and drop it within the Elektron. 

If you need a bigger drive, each bodily and when it comes to storage capability, OWC’s Envoy Pro FX ($349 for 1 TB) makes an important selection as properly. 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 most, the 2-TB mannequin is loads, although nonetheless dear at $400. It’s IP67-rated and fairly drop-proof. (Take all claims of “military standard” with a grain of salt—there’s no one actually doing independent tests, which isn’t to choose on OWC, as each “rugged” drive maker claims issues like this.) What impressed me probably the most about this drive, although, is how extremely cool it stays even below a heavy load (like modifying 4K video footage straight from the drive).

Other Rugged Options: 

  • Sabrent Rocket Nano SSD 1 TB for $120: I actually like this one. It’s smaller and barely quicker than the OWC, but it surely has two drawbacks. The first is that it may well get actually sizzling. If you are making an attempt to work with it in your lap, it may be downright uncomfortable. The different situation is that generally it is sluggish to be acknowledged by my PC. I might discover no sample to this; generally it appeared straight away, different instances it took a few minutes. If these issues do not trouble you, this drive is tiny, cheaper, and comes with a padded rubber case.

The go-anywhere drives above are a strong answer for individuals who have to make backups within the discipline, like photographers and videographers. But if you would like 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 difficulty, 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 related scenario the place it must occur quick, the SSD model is what you need.

Other Padded Options:

  • Samsung T7 Shield 2 TB for $200: It is not as padded as LaCie’s rugged drives, but it surely’s cheaper and delivers practically the identical pace. It has an IP65 rating, which implies it is high-quality within the rain and protected against mud and sand, and Samsung says it’s going to survive a fall from 9.8 toes. The T7 line is notable for its built-in security measures like hardware-based encryption, however in contrast to the (*6*), the Shield doesn’t have a fingerprint reader. Still, for those who do not want the complete padded safety of the LaCie and need to save a bit cash, the T7 Shield is an efficient possibility.

If you need to put a much 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. Consult your producer’s documentation to seek out out. In my expertise, the commonest kind issue is M.2 2280, which is the lengthy skinny drive within the picture above. More compact laptops could use the same, however shorter, M.2 2242 design. Again, test your PC to substantiate 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 collection has stood out for pace, and so they do not run extremely popular. 

The SN 770 M.2 2280 achieved speeds of 5,100 MB per second in my testing, which is blazing quick. If you are doing plenty of drive-intensive duties, like modifying video or gaming, this drive is properly definitely worth the cash. The largest model you may get proper now’s 2 TB, however the worth is affordable contemplating the pace improve. I’ve been utilizing it as my foremost 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 making an attempt to export video, however rapidly cools off as quickly because it’s finished.

Picking the appropriate onerous drive comes right down to balancing three issues: pace, dimension, and worth. If you make nightly backups, then pace most likely does not matter. Go for the most cost effective drive you’ll find—up to some extent. Drives do not final ceaselessly, however some positively last more than others. I recommend sticking with identified manufacturers which have a superb popularity like Seagate, Western Digital, and the others featured right here. This relies partly on expertise and partly on the drive failure knowledge that Backblaze has been publishing for years now. Backblaze goes by way of large quantities of onerous drives backing up prospects’ knowledge, and its report is value studying. The takeaway is straightforward: Stick with names you recognize.

If pace trumps worth, you then need to take a look at the solid-state drives we have listed right here. SSDs do not simply have a pace benefit. They additionally lack transferring components, which implies they will stand up to the bumps and falls of life in a bag on the highway higher than spinning drives. The drawback is that they will put on out quicker. Every write operation to an SSD—that’s, while 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. Just how a lot quicker is dependent upon how you employ it. That stated, I’ve a number of SSDs which might be greater than 5 years previous, 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 nearly all the time sure—for those who can afford it. But they’re particularly helpful for any drive you are working with often: your foremost 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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