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

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If you are working out of space for storing in your laptop computer, or if you’ll want to again up your knowledge and retailer that backlog of movies you are going to edit in the future (I’m, I swear), an exterior onerous drive can remedy your drawback. The bother is, there are a whole bunch of drive choices starting from dust low-cost to loopy costly—which one is true on your wants? I’ve examined dozens with totally different use circumstances in thoughts to seek out the perfect transportable storage drives on 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 transportable onerous drives, and that is decidedly not transportable, 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’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 few 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 verify the costs; generally you may get a 10- and even 12-terabyte drive for not far 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 should you do need a number of backups, use drives from totally different manufacturers, since it would scale back the possibility that each fail on the similar time. This 8-terabyte mannequin is commonly on sale for round $150.
  • Western Digital Elements 5-TB Portable HDD ($108): You may also get a way more transportable model of the Western Digital drive for a lot much less, and it would not require exterior energy. The 4-terabyte mannequin is commonly on sale for beneath $100.

These Crucial drives are my favourite transportable 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 under). These are light-weight, which implies they’re perfect for if 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 building. Don’t anticipate it to outlive many drops. If you are frightened 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 transportable drive from SanDisk trounces every part else I’ve examined. It’s light-weight, with IP22-rated enclosures so it will stand as much as life on the go. It’s not the most affordable drive, however should you’re backing up within the discipline and wish to get it performed as quick as doable, 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 monitor of in my bag.

Other Speedy Drives

Another different: 

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 most suitable option. It’s powerful 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 assessments. I additionally like you could swap out the drive contained in the aluminum casing (it is easy to unscrew), which implies two years from now, you may choose up a quicker naked SSD and drop it within the Elektron. 

If you need a bigger drive, each bodily and by way of storage capability, OWC’s Envoy Pro FX ($349 for 1 TB) makes an important alternative 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 expensive 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 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).

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 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 may discover no sample to this; generally it appeared instantly, 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 answer for individuals who must make backups within the discipline, like photographers and videographers. But if you’d 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 problem, as with making nightly backups, then the cheaper spinning drive makes extra sense. If you are truly backing up in the course of a photograph shoot or comparable state of affairs 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 fantastic within the rain and protected against mud and sand, and Samsung says it will survive a fall from 9.8 toes. The T7 line is notable for its built-in safety features like hardware-based encryption, however in contrast to the (*6*), the Shield doesn’t have a fingerprint reader. Still, should you do not want the total padded safety of the LaCie and wish to save somewhat cash, the T7 Shield is an effective choice.

If you wish to put a much bigger SSD in your laptop computer, all you want is a naked drive, which is mostly 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 might use the same, however shorter, M.2 2242 design. Again, verify your PC to verify the drive it wants before you purchase. There are a ton of those in the marketplace and I have never had time to check many but, however to date, out of the half dozen I’ve tried, Western Digital’s WD Black sequence has stood out for pace, they usually 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 loads of drive-intensive duties, like modifying video or gaming, this drive is properly well worth the cash. The largest model you may get proper now’s 2 TB, however the value is cheap contemplating the pace improve. I’ve been utilizing it as my essential drive for a number of months and located it to be quick sufficient for every part 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 would not get sizzling till I begin making an attempt to export video, however shortly cools off as quickly because it’s performed.

Picking the suitable onerous drive comes all the way down to balancing three issues: pace, dimension, and value. If you are making nightly backups, then pace in all probability would not matter. Go for the most affordable drive you’ll find—up to some extent. Drives do not final eternally, 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 is predicated partly on expertise and partly on the drive failure knowledge that Backblaze has been publishing for years now. Backblaze goes via large quantities of onerous drives backing up clients’ knowledge, and its report is price studying. The takeaway is easy: Stick with names you realize.

If pace trumps value, 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. They additionally lack transferring elements, which implies they’re going to face up to the bumps and falls of life in a bag on the street higher than spinning drives. The drawback is that they will put on out quicker. 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 quicker than a spinning drive. Just how a lot quicker will depend on how you utilize it. That stated, I’ve a number of SSDs which can be greater than 5 years outdated, and I’ve used them for every 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—should you can afford it. But they’re particularly helpful for any drive you are working with commonly: your essential boot drive, an exterior drive you utilize to edit paperwork from, and even for backups should you want them to occur quick.

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