Tech

5 Best Portable External Storage Drives (2021): SSDs, Hard Drives, Rugged


If you are working out of space for storing in your laptop computer, have to again up your information, or retailer that backlog of movies you are going to edit in the future (I’m, I swear), an exterior laborious drive can resolve your downside. The hassle is, there are a whole lot of drive choices starting from dirt-cheap to loopy costly—which one is true to your wants? We’ve examined dozens with totally different use circumstances in thoughts to search out the perfect transportable laborious drives to 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.

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Best for Backups

Western Digital Elements laborious drive

Photograph: Western Digital

I do know this information is for transportable laborious drives, and that is decidedly not transportable, 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 laborious drive to make incremental backups of my information for greater than a decade now. They’re massive and require exterior energy, however these are a few of the least expensive, most dependable drives I’ve used. Check the costs on bigger drives too; generally you will get a 6- and even 8-terabyte drive for not rather more.

Other Great Backup Drives:

  • Seagate Expansion Desktop HDD 4 TB ($95): 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’s going to lower the probabilities that each fail on the similar time.
  • Western Digital Elements 4-TB Portable HDD ($105): If you do not thoughts spending a bit extra, you will get the identical measurement drive in a extra transportable kind issue that does not require exterior energy. The 4-terabyte mannequin is commonly on sale for underneath $100.

Best Portable Drive

Crucial X6 transportable SSD

Photograph: Crucial

These Crucial drives are my favourite transportable drives. They’re fairly priced (for a conveyable SSD) and really speedy. The solely drive I examined with sooner learn speeds was the Samsung T7 (see under), and it prices $90 extra. These are additionally light-weight, which suggests they’re best for while you’re working away from house. 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 development. Don’t count on it to outlive many drops.

Best for Speed

Samsung T7 transportable SSD

Photograph: Samsung

If cash is not any object, and all you care about is pace, these transportable drives from Samsung trounce all the things else I examined. They’re light-weight but have metallic enclosures that make them fairly indestructible. The catch is the value. The per-gigabyte value is the very best on this information. If you need transportable and quick, you are going to must pay.

Another speedy various: Seagate’s One Touch SSD ($300 for 2 TB) pulled a really shut second in our pace assessments behind the Samsung T7, and it is barely cheaper.

Best Go-Anywhere Drives

OWC Envoy Pro Elektron

Photograph: OWC

OWC Envoy Pro Elektron SSD

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, the OWC drives are your most suitable option. It’s powerful to select 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 can swap out the drive contained in the aluminum casing (it is simple to unscrew), which suggests two years from now, you’ll be able to decide up a sooner naked SSD and drop it within the Elektron. 

Another indestructive drive: I actually like Sabrent’s Rocket Nano SSD ($159 for 1 TB). It’s smaller and barely sooner than the OWC above, but it surely has two drawbacks. The first is that it might get actually scorching. If you are attempting to work with it in your lap, it may be downright uncomfortable. The different problem is that generally it’s totally 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

Photograph: LaCie

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 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 problem, as with making nightly backups, then the cheaper spinning drive makes extra sense. If you are really backing up in the course of a photograph shoot or related scenario the place it must occur quick, the SSD model is what you need.

Hard Drive Buying Advice

Picking the best laborious drive comes all the way down to balancing three issues: pace, measurement, and worth. If you are making nightly backups, then pace and measurement in all probability do not matter. Go for the most cost effective drive yow will discover—up to a degree. Drives do not final endlessly, however some positively last more than others. I recommend sticking with recognized manufacturers which have status like Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba, 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 by huge quantities of laborious drives backing up clients’ information, and its report is value studying. The takeaway is easy: Stick with names you understand.

If pace trumps worth, then you definately wish to have a look at solid-state drives. SSDs do not simply have a pace benefit, in addition they lack shifting 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, 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 relies on how you utilize it. That mentioned, I’ve a number of SSDs which can be 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. 

When would you need SSD over a spinning drive? The reply is sort of at all times—for those who can afford it. But particularly 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 for those who want them to occur quick.


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