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

If you are operating out of cupboard space in your laptop computer, or if you’ll want to again up your information and retailer that backlog of movies you are going to edit sooner or later (I’m, I swear), an exterior exhausting drive can remedy your downside. The bother is, there are lots of of drive choices starting from filth low cost to loopy costly—which one is correct on your wants? I’ve examined dozens with completely different use instances in thoughts to search out the most effective moveable storage drives on your workflow. 

Be certain 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 inner SSD. We’ve additionally added the newest drive stats report from Backblaze.

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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 prime 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 exhausting drive to make incremental backups of my information for greater than a decade now. They’re large 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 be sure you verify the costs; generally you may get a 10- and even 12-terabyte drive for not way 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 in case you do need a number of backups, use drives from completely different manufacturers, since it’ll cut back the possibility 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 ($108): You also can 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 conveyable SSD) and really speedy. The solely drive I examined with sooner learn speeds is the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD (see under). These are light-weight, which implies they’re preferrred for while you’re working away from residence. I exploit one to retailer video clips, and it is lots 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 apprehensive 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 $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 will stand as much as life on the go. It’s not the most affordable drive, however in case you’re backing up within the area and wish to get it executed 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 monitor 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 exhausting surfaces, OWC drives are your most suitable option. It’s robust to choose a winner right here as a result of there are lots of strong choices, however OWC’s Elektron drive narrowly beat others in benchmark assessments. I additionally like you can 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 sooner naked SSD and drop it within the Elektron. 

If you desire a bigger drive, each bodily and when it comes to storage capability, OWC’s Envoy Pro FX ($349 for 1 TB) makes an important alternative as nicely. It’s even sooner 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 lots, 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 essentially the most about this drive, although, is how extremely cool it stays even below a heavy load (like enhancing 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 sooner than the OWC, but it surely has two drawbacks. The first is that it will probably get actually sizzling. If you are making an attempt to work with it in your lap, it may be downright uncomfortable. The different concern is that generally it is sluggish to be acknowledged by my PC. I may discover no sample to this; generally it appeared straight away, different occasions 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 resolution for individuals who have to make backups within the area, like photographers and videographers. But if you’d like an additional stage 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 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 positive 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 not like the (*6*), the Shield doesn’t have a fingerprint reader. Still, in case you do not want the total padded safety of the LaCie and wish to save just a little cash, the T7 Shield is an effective choice.

If you wish to put an even 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 search out out. In my expertise, the commonest type 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, verify your PC to substantiate 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 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. If you are doing loads of drive-intensive duties, like enhancing video or gaming, this drive is nicely well 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 predominant drive for a number of months and located it to be quick sufficient for the whole lot I do, together with enhancing 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 shortly cools off as quickly because it’s executed.

Picking the appropriate exhausting drive comes right down to balancing three issues: pace, dimension, and worth. If you are 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 eternally, however some undoubtedly last more than others. I counsel sticking with identified manufacturers which have a very good fame like Seagate, Western Digital, and the others featured right here. This is predicated partly on expertise and partly on the drive failure information that Backblaze has been publishing for years now. Backblaze goes by way of huge quantities of exhausting drives backing up clients’ information, and its report is value studying. The takeaway is straightforward: Stick with names you recognize.

If pace trumps worth, you then wish 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 shifting components, which implies they will face 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, while 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 is dependent upon 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 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 at all times sure—in case you can afford it. But they’re particularly helpful for any drive you are working with commonly: your predominant boot drive, an exterior drive you utilize to edit paperwork from, and even for backups in case you want them to occur quick.

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