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Computers and Technology

What is External Storage Devices? Types and Reviews.

Portable Data Storage: Devices & Types

INTRODUCTION

If you’re looking to expand your gaming habits, what you really need is more storage space. That’s where External Storage Devices come in. Your PS5 and Xbox X can’t run games off external drives yet, but transferring games between the two will still be quick and easy if you choose the right one for your needs and budget. In addition to a huge selection of hard drives and solid-state drives, there are also plenty of high-quality options available.

Traditional hard drives used mechanical platters and a moving read-write head to access data, which was adequate for most people thanks to the speedier USB-C and USB 3.0 interfaces. However, while they’re much cheaper than Solid State Drives (SSDs), they’re slower by up to four times. With prices falling dramatically in recent years and high capacity models costing only $100, it’s not difficult to see which the better option is these days!

The majority of the top External Storage Devices models on this list will work across all platforms, regardless of whether you’re using a Windows PC or Mac computer.- so long as they are formatted properly for that platform. However, many of them will be labeled as working with a specific platform out of the box, and sometimes they’ll come with backup software designed specifically for that platform. Unless otherwise specified, all the PC drives mentioned here are compatible with Windows but can be formatted for Mac. Many of them include cables or adapters to accommodate USB-C and USB-A ports. If their dongles aren’t included, then you can easily buy one for about $12.

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And Remember:

A backup system that only includes one of the two kinds of backups (either off-site or using cloud storage) is not sufficient. It’s best to have both key data and large files backed up in case of theft, fire or other unforeseen events where your data could be lost. You should also make sure to encrypt your data before storing it elsewhere.
And that’s it!

One important note for console gamers is that newer consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X are much more restrictive about using external drives. The PS5 can store and play PS4 games from an external drive, but not PS5 games; the Xbox Series X can store Series X games, but you’ll have to transfer them to your main SSD so you can actually play them. The Xbox Series X offers a proprietary Seagate-made storage expansion card, and you can now install an M.2 SSD in your PS5 for expanded storage for PS5 games.

External hard drives and solid-state drives both have their benefits and drawbacks. But, if you’re looking for the best option in these categories, we suggest checking out our list of the top external hard drive and external solid-state drive choices below. These models (or nearly identical ones with less storage) have been used or tested by CNET editors in an anecdotal fashion. We’ll keep testing new products and provide updates to our list of the best external hard drives and SSDs as they come out on the market.

It can be tough to find the best one when it comes to purchasing a portable hard drive or External Storage Devices because there are a lot of choices. There are also many things you need to consider before choosing a drive, such as how often you need access to your data, what is your budget and what do you plan on using it for? To help you make your decision, we include important features and benefits in our reviews.

External Storage Devices

When you have dozens of portable storage options available, which one should you get? Should you go for the fastest external SSD or the slower but cheaper portable hard drive? Do you need more space for your content? There are a slew of factors to consider.

We test and review portable hard drives as they become available and publish our list of recommendations for the best portable hard disks on this page.

We have three great picks for this week. These drives are different from one another, so it’s important to plan ahead before choosing the best drive for your needs. Do you need a rugged drive or something more delicate? Consider how much storage space and connection options you need in addition to travel considerations like how well your drive will handle bumps while rumbling around work or school. Whatever your needs, there’s a perfect competitor waiting for you here.

A lot of interesting things are happening at the intersection between external drives and the USB standard. For example, read about the future potential features in the cutting-edge USB 4.0, as well as the emerging (and sometimes confusing) USB 2.0 (80 Gbps) standard .

If you’re looking for a new external SSD with Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2, we are excited to check out the SanDisk Pro-G40 by WD. This drive promises 2700 MB/s sequential read speeds and 1900 MB/s sequential write speeds, as well as 10 Gb/s throughput in USB 3.2 mode and 40 Gb/s throughput in Thunderbolt 3 mode. We can’t wait to test the drive and get it into our office!

If you’re looking for a high capacity external drive that’s small and affordable, we recently reviewed Crucial’s 4TB X6. This drive has a lot of potential with its price and capacity, but it didn’t make our list because it didn’t perform well in our tests.

Western Digital Elements Desktop Hard Drive:

 

External Storage Devices

Portable hard drives are ideal for storing your incremental backups, which we recommend. They’re easy to transport, and you might need to bring them far from home. That’s why the first drive I recommend is this Western Digital Elements.

For more than a decade, I’ve been using WD Elements desktop hard drives to make incremental backups of my important data. These large drives require external power; but they’re the most reliable drives I’ve used, and their storage options go all the way up to 20 terabytes. Make sure you check prices though- sometimes 10 or even 12 terabyte hard drives are actually cheaper.

Crucial X6 Portable SSD

External Storage Devices

My favorite portable SSDs are Crucial. They’re inexpensive and very speedy, but the only thing that is faster than their read speeds is the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD (see below). They’re lightweight, which means they’re perfect for when I’m on the go, so I use one to store video clips.

The design isn’t made of metal or anything like that, so it’s not really rugged. If you’re really worried about damaging it, grab a padded case. I haven’t tried it myself, but there are plenty out there like this one for $14.

Extreme Portable SSD by SanDisk (v2): 1TB storage capacity

 

External Storage Devices

I really like this new SanDisk portable drive. It offers IP22-rated enclosures, so it’ll be able to withstand life on the road without breaking down. It’s not the cheapest drive, but if you’re looking for something fast and lightweight, this is your best bet. I also like that it doesn’t take up a lot of space—sometimes it can be hard to find things in my bag when they’re too small.

A drive that’s built for the professional market, SanDisk Extreme Pro v2 will be a great addition to any computer. It has a durable, secure design and is fully compatible with USB 20 Gbps systems. But what really makes it stand out is its fast file transfer speeds, which rival Thunderbolt 3-based competitors. With WD’s SN730E PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD and an ASMedia ASM2364 USB Gen 2×2 Bridge chip, this is one of the fastest flash drives for your cash.

Not only is this drive fast and well-designed, but it is also secure. This drive features AES 256-bit full-disk encryption and is password protected. You can keep your data locked away from prying eyes knowing that your information is safe.

Kingston XS2000 isn’t as fast as SanDisk Pro v2 but it costs about $50 less at 1TB and does the job for most of the high-end users.

Other Speedy Drives

We’ve removed this as our top pick, but it’s still a worthy choice. These drives are slightly slower than the SanDisk, but they’re still decent sellers.

Seagate has a new SSD that offers plenty of storage space. It costs $240, but if you want to increase your computing speed then it’s worth the price.

OWC Envoy Pro Elektron SSD

 

External Storage Devices

We offer rugged, durable drives that can handle life in a backpack or camera bag, get wet, or will even handle a drop onto hard surfaces. The OWC Elektron drive we offer is our pick for the best option available because it completely beats out competitors in benchmark tests. Plus, you’ll be able to replace the drive inside and upgrade to better hardware two years from now.

If you’re looking for a high-quality drive, the OWC Envoy Pro FX is an excellent choice. It’s fast and available in sizes up to 4 TB; however, it can be quite expensive at $900. We recommend the 2-TB model to most people at $400. It is rated as IP67 and offers decent protection (though claims of “military grade” cannot always be trusted – there are no independent tests being done which means no one is officially testing these drives). What impressed me most about this drive was its very low temperatures while it is running even when busy with tasks like editing footage at 4K resolution right off the drive.

LaCie Rugged SSD

 

External Storage Devices

Portable drives are an excellent addition to any company that needs to take backups with them on the go. These LaCie models offer extra protection for those who travel often or need a lot of storage space. You can choose from either an SSD or a standard spinning drive, depending on what’s more important to you: speed or cost-savings. If you plan is to make numerous nightly backups, then the traditional spinning drive is the better option. But if you’re really in the middle of a photo shoot and need a quick backup, choose the SSD version of this hard drive.

WD Black SN770

External Storage Devices

If you’re looking for a larger SSD in your laptop, an M.2 drive will serve that purpose without the need for an enclosure. The first thing you’ll need to figure out is which type of M.2 drive your computer needs. Consult your manufacturer’s documentation to find out what type of drive your PC uses, because it varies from one make and model to the next. A Western Digital WD Black has been my personal choice so far.

The SN 770 M.2 2280 has speeds of 5,100 MB per second. If you’re doing a lot of multimedia tasks like editing video or gaming, then this drive is well worth the money. The largest version you can get right now is 2 TB and it comes at an affordable price considering the speed increase. I’ve been using it as my main drive for several months now and found it to be fast enough for all my needs including editing 5.2K video footage and compiling software. One of my favorite things about this drive is that it generates very little heat. My older Dell XPS 13 used to get too hot to use without something between it and my lap but not with this one! Now that I have this drive I find myself less likely to burn my legs on my laptop if I’m sitting too close to a heater or fire, which haha has actually happened before so thank you DeathPlusLives!

Samsung T7 Shield Portable SSD

External Storage Devices

In today’s tech-hungry world, storage is more important than ever. Samsung’s new T7 Portable SSD makes transferring data five times faster and saves energy. Plus, the lightweight design and improved shock resistance makes it perfect for taking on the go!

Samsung has updated their T7 drives with newer, faster flash. The new iteration doesn’t skimp on performance either – it’s optimized to maintain very high sequential write speeds, making these external drives a must-have for cameras and drones. With an IP65 dust and water rating and ruggedized durability, the T7 will be essential when completing outdoor work or shooting in harsh conditions.

The T7 Shield is a speedy, reasonably-priced SSD drive that is great for photographers and videographers on the go. Especially considering its write consistency, it’s worth a look.

WD My Passport

External Storage Devices

The My Passport from WD is an excellent external drive. People often buy it to store all their data and keep it safe, which is appropriate given that it has a solid track record, password protection, and capacities up to 5TB.

As street prices have dropped, so has the value of the iPod Touch. No wonder it’s a better deal than ever before. It looks good and comes with a 3-year warranty for your peace of mind. To make it even better, it provides top-notch AES 256-bit hardware encryption password protection to keep your files unobstructed by prying eyes.

LaCie Rugged Raid Pro

External Storage Devices

Expensive, but still worth it! The LaCie Rugged RAID Pro drive comes with a 3-year data protection plan (which usually costs thousands of dollars) that gives you one month of Adobe Creative Cloud and three years of data recovery.

No matter what your needs are, this drive has you covered. It’s not easy to find a HDD solution that has a perfect blend of features, accessories and capacity. With nearly 4 terabytes of space combined with its durable chassis and backup abilities, it’s a great option for creative professionals on-the-go. LaCie Rugged RAID Pro is the perfect travel companion!

Samsung T7 Touch

External Storage Devices

Samsung’s T7 Touch blends high-performance USB 3.2 Gen 2 with convenient AES 256-bit encryption that’s unlocked with a few taps on your finger. The fingerprint scanner is the most easy and convenient way to unlock your data that we’ve seen yet. The design is sophisticated and not what we’re used to seeing from a regular portable drive. It has an aluminum construction, and it comes in various colors to match your style.

G-Technology’s recent ArmorLock drive gives Samsung tough competitors in the storage space. It has an app and key that you store on your Android or iOS smartphone to unlock the drive. This is a more secure option than using a finger swipe sensor on your external SSD, but it still isn’t as convenient.

Samsung X5

External Storage Devices

Powered by an OEM variant of a Samsung 970 EVO and an Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3-to-PCIe bridge, the Samsung X5 is the fastest Thunderbolt 3 portable SSD we’ve had the opportunity to test. It’ll make your workflow faster, and it includes a layer of AES 256-bit hardware based encryption and password protection for those who need to meet compliance requirements. The three year warranty may not be enough for professionals, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for development. We hope the company will offer more colors, like those offered on other models such as the T5 or T7 portable SSDs.

Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q Portable TB3 SSD

External Storage Devices

The Rocket XTRM-Q promises high capacity, with speeds that are comparable to TLC-based rivals. It clocks in on both Thunderbolt 3 and USB devices, and isn’t as expensive as you’d expect for a device that pumps out so much storage space.

Rocket XTRM-Q is an excellent choice if you plan on using the drive with a variety of different devices or across platforms. It’s a surprisingly affordable pick, especially when compared to other TB3 drives at lower capacities. The fact that there aren’t many options currently in the market as high in density as Sabrent’s Rocket XTRM-Q makes it a top contender.

The Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q is an attractive, durable portable SSD. It comes with an 8TB model and impressive QLC NAND flash that delivers impressive price-to-performance ratio.

16TB Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q SSD

Sabrent has pushed the boundaries of fast flash and high capacity SSDs with its recent models, surpassing the industry standards. We thought 8TB of storage was niche and extreme enough for most prosumers and enthusiasts when we first reviewed Sabrent’s 8TB Rocket-Q, but now they’re going even further. The company is doubling down and pushing storage to new limits with its 16TB model.

The new 16TB XTRM-Q offers double the capacity of the original 8TB model but due to its larger form factor and power requirements, it is less portable. The old XTRM-Q contained one fast SSD inside, while the new 16TB model offers two of them behind a different Thunderbolt bridge. It delivers a ton of fast storage and potentially saturating speeds for those who need them—but costs $2,899.99 for the privilege. It’s both one of the higher-capacity and most expensive storage devices we’ve tested, but if you want plenty of External Storage Devices with an Intel Optane performance boost, nothing else compares to it. But if you can’t spend as much or need USB connections as well as Thunderbolt 3 support, go with one of the lower-capacity XTRM-Q drives instead.

Seagate Backup Plus

One of the most important things you can do after taking the leap into self-employment is backup your data. With the Seagate Backup Plus, you can store up to 4TB of your data for safekeeping – and get easy access with an included USB cable.

Seagate has six different external hard drive family ranges, and the Backup Plus is unique because it’s affordable but with additional features like a range of colors to choose from (seven in total) and a 1-year data recovery warranty.

This hard drive is portable, which means that it’s easy to carry around. It doesn’t need an external power supply and is much smaller than a desktop hard drive. The one we reviewed is the largest size and comes with storage pre-formatted for Windows and Mac OS.

To create a winning business strategy, it’s important to look at the differentiators and unique selling points. This drive has three unique benefits, a free data recovery warranty (up to two years, terms and conditions apply), a 1-year subscription to Myliocreate (worth $99.99), a 4-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud photography (worth a tidy $39.96).

Silicon Power Armor A66

External Storage Devices

The Silicon Power A66 is like the equivalent of an Olympic Heptathlon specialist. It’s a portable hard drive that has three important features that everyone should look for when going external storage shopping: it has a large capacity (2.5TB), it’s cheaper than other drives and your data will be better protected as long, as you’re not planning on submerging it in water (it’s only rated IPX4).

The A66 comes with a few software programs and its accompanying cable is of type-A both ways (Type-A connectors are different to Type-C, which makes it difficult to replace). In real world tests, it performed in line with the others; you’ll have to spend considerably more on a rugged SSD like then for anything faster, more resilient, smaller and compatible with mobile computing devices.

ADATA HD710 PRO

 

External Storage Devices

Hard disk drives, or HDDs, are small devices with tiny parts that can easily break. All your data can be completely inaccessible in a matter of seconds. Most failures of these drives are attributed to physical shocks; the sudden movement, impact or force that causes the drive head to crash or damage platters. This damage often comes from being hit or dropped, but direct exposure to harsh environment conditions, such as a hot car or damp basement, can also cause the failure. That’s why using an external drive while traveling is risky–it makes physical shock more likely.(opens in new tab)

The HD 710 Pro is rated IP68, meaning it’s resistant to dust, dirt and sand. It also has an anti-shock silicone housing and triple-layer construction that makes it ready for up to 30 minutes of underwater operation.

It’s fast with a 5Gbps USB 3.1 interface and its 4TB capacity will suit the needs of the average mobile worker on the go. Plus, it comes in four colors which makes separating projects by color-coded drives simple. The wrap-around cable system means the cable is always with the drive, so it doesn’t tangle or get in the way when you’re taking it with you in your backpack. It’s super useful when traveling with this model – which I’ve been doing a lot of lately.

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme

External Storage Devices

The MiniStation Extreme NFC from Buffalo is water-resistant and shockproof, so it’s not indestructible, but the PC and Mac compatibility make this a better option than many of the flimsy external hard drives out there.

The rugged chassis is designed to store a 2.5-inch laptop hard drive enclosed in bumpers that protect against drops from up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) and will not sustain any damage from being knocked off the table. It has an IP5X certification which means that it is almost dust-proof, and it is rated at IPX3 for its resistance against water sprays at 60 degrees.

Better yet, if you format the drive as exFAT, it will work on both Mac and PC computers. Plus, it’ll still be compatible with Playstation 4 and 5 game consoles!

The drive comes preloaded with Buffalo’s ModeChanger utility that provides you with a quick, one-time switch between Open and Secure modes. The drive requires reformatting after the switch is completed.

If a USB is plugged in, the lights on the drive’s front will indicate its type. Green means it connects to a USB 2.0 port and blue means it connects to a USB 3.0 port.
Its one, permanently attached USB cable should save you from not being able to find your other end after you take it out of the laptop, but if you need a longer cable than what’s provided, plug in an additional, male-to-male cable between your original and desired cables.

Aegis Desktop

External Storage Devices

Choosing to leave data unencrypted is a big risk, and while you can encrypt your information in software, that isn’t anywhere close to as effective as doing it through hardware. Hardware-based encryption frees you from the need for any sort of software configuration, making it much more efficient.

The Aegis Desktop 4 TB drive is available in capacities from 2TB to 18TB, and comes in a sturdy aluminum casing. One of the most convenient features is its secure Padlock button panel, which has an ATM-like layout with 0-9 digits plus cancel and lock/unlock. There are three lights to show the status: locked (red), unlocked (green), or admin mode (blue). All configuration is software-free.

If you’re thinking of buying this external drive, you should know that it has a perforated ventilation panel on the front and one on the back. The back panel also includes the USB 3.0 port, power connector, power switch, and a lock slot for anchoring the drive to a desk. Inside is an NTFS formatted hard drive. It’s shielded by an epoxy coating that limits physical access to its circuitry for encryption purposes.

This remarkable device is fully configurable and easy to use. If you forget your password, you lose access to the drive permanently. And once that internal drive is removed from the computer, all its contents are unreadable.

It features features like an unattended auto lock, and as soon as the USB connection is lost – e.g. if the USB cable is removed – the drive will automatically lock up. The drive is especially suited for scenarios where software-based encrypted devices can’t function, like in diagnostic machines or any embedded system.

WD BLACK 5TB P10 Game Drive

External Storage Devices

It’s not a shipping container but it looks like one, with ribbed sides and hex screws. It features an activity LED that is similar to the one on many external drives. The physical interface is USB 3.2 Gen-1, which can be connected via a Micro-B connector on the side of the device. A standard 18-inch (45.7 cm) A-to-Micro-B cable is also included for easy connection with systems that don’t have an available USB port.

This new external hard drive is not only compatible with PCs and Macs, but it’s also formatted for the popular file system ExFAT. This makes it plug-and-play compatible with Sony PlayStation 4 and 5, as well as Xbox One.

The WD Black hard drive comes with a 2.5″ 5,400 rpm SATA drive so you shouldn’t expect SSD speeds. However, your data will still be stored securely with 140MBps maximum read and write speeds. The drive is intended to be used for storing downloaded games on your console, but PC users can also download the WD Drive Utilities app as well as the WD Security app for added safety and utility.

DiskStation is a versatile and fully integrated multimedia file server that is ideal whether you connect it to a Windows PC or want to stream music and videos to your PlayStation. With external disk support, you can also use it as an additional hard disk for those large-screen smart TVs that may only support either NTFS or FAT32 (occasionally the two systems work together).

WD sales literature states that the drive can store 150 games, but dimensions will vary. The average size is 36GBs, but reviews state it’s 80GB on average. That’s a lot of storage for your gaming needs.

Seagate Storage Expansion Card

External Storage Devices

The only way to expand your storage on an Xbox is with a Seagate Expansion Card. You can use any external drive with the Xbox but you can only have games on the original Xbox and the PS5.

The One X console is the fastest Xbox to date, with peak speeds of more than 2.4GBPS – more than 40x the speed of the Xbox One.

The new 512GB storage card is only $140, which is 50% the cost of the 1TB and 2TB versions. The new 512GB variant can be difficult to find in stock.

Seagate FireCuda 530 with Heatsink

External Storage Devices

For the PS5, you can’t add a standard external SSD to expand storage for games because you would need to play PS5 games from that external drive. However, on the PS4, you can play games directly from an external drive like a standard SSD. That’s not possible for PS5 games though; they take up way too much space and have to be played directly from the internal drive or one installed in an M.2 expansion bay inside your console.

Seagate’s FireCuda 530 storage expansion card is not technically an external SSD, but its use of the NVMe standard leads to very high transfer speeds (up to 7,300MBps). Microsoft lists the top rate at 6,800MBps in their Xbox Series X/S specs.

You need a M.2 SSD that has a built-in heatsink for the PS5 or you’ll have to install one. We have a complete list of compatible M.2 SSDs in our product guide.
Ok, this is all done now!

The most popular Seagate FireCuda 530 starts at $95 for 500 GB and goes up to $140 for 1 TB, $400 for 2 TB and up to $882 for the 4TB version.

WD Black 2TB

External Storage Devices

The WD Black P10 is a great external hard drive for Xbox One, especially because it offers 2TB of storage. At around $80 now ($120 for 5TB), this drive also includes a digital code that gives you one month of Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate if you’re new to the service. The standard version of the hard drive delivers speeds up to 130MBps while still functioning on both PCs and the Playstation 4.

Seagate Game Drive 4TB

External Storage Devices

Unfortunately, if you have a PS4 and don’t want to worry about managing storage space, you’ll need an external hard drive. The 2TB version of the Seagate Game Drive is only $20 cheaper than the 4TB version at $80 – but it’s well worth the extra $30.

Seagate makes an SSD Game Drive for the Xbox, but not PS4. The storage drive costs around $160 for 1TB of space.

Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB

External Storage Devices

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB is one of the more compact non-SSD drives, making it great for those who are looking to save space. Although it can’t compete with the price of some other drives, with less than $60 you’ll nevertheless be getting a good value. The Seagate external hard drive can be connected to Macs with a thunderbolt port. Available in a few color options, this drive also comes in 1TB ($55), 4TB ($93) and 5TB ($115) versions; the higher-capacity drives are thicker, but still offer plenty of storage space.

 SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD – Best for photographers

External Storage Devices

While Thunderbolt 3 external SSDs typically offer higher performance, they’re not always ideal because many laptops don’t have a port that supports this type of drive. SanDisk’s G-Drive SSD is the better choice for you if you mainly use your laptop for photography. It doesn’t offer the more advanced and rare USB SuperSpeed 10Gbps speeds, but its top tier performance with USB 10Gbps speed is more than enough. More importantly, it carries an IP67 dust-resistance rating and 2,000 pounds weight resistance—so you can rest easy knowing this photo of “ghost cat in the mountains of Alghandistan” won’t get lost!

Crucial X6 (2TB) – Best budget

External Storage Devices

The Crucial X6 Portable SSD is square, which means it’s both stylish and easy to keep in your pocket. If you’re sick of stuck fingernails from other portable SSDs and their hard edges, the round sides of the X6 should be a welcome sight. It may not be top of the line fast, but it can keep up with most users and is extremely affordable.

Adata Elite SE880 SSD – Most portable external drive

External Storage Devices

We’ve never seen an external SSD as portable as the Adata Elite SE880. The device measures in at only 2.55 inches long, 1.38 inches wide, and 0.48 inches thick. It’s so small that you could easily forget it was there – even while it weighs just 1.1 ounces.

The Elite SE880 is a speedy SSD at everyday tasks but slows down during long writes. In real-world 48GB transfer tests, it outperformed most competitors on this list. It lost some ground in the longer contiguous write tests, though, so someone who’s constantly working with photo and video files might want to choose another option.

Kingston XS200 USB SSD – Most portable high-capacity drive

External Storage Devices

Kingston’s XS2000 is a mix of size, capacity, and speed—for a great price. With 4TB in capacity, it can be comparable to the biggest drives on this list (while still fitting in your pocket).

The Kingston XS2000 has data transfer rates of up to 20Gbps, but it’s not the fastest product in its class. Still, it’s a speedy SSD that’s well-suited for portability and carrying around large amounts of data.

Portable SSD X5 – Best Thunderbolt 3 drive

External Storage Devices

With Thunderbolt 3 on your system, give yourself a treat and check out Samsung’s SSD X5. While it’s not the fastest portable drive available, it’s absolutely perfect when you need fast reading and writing speeds.

The Portable SSD X5 is the best drive we tested, but because of it’s compatibility with Thunderbolt 3/4 ports on PCs, we can’t recommend it universally. The release of USB4 might solve this problem but only if vendors incorporate USB4 into a superset technology like Thunderbolt 4. Of course you could also just buy a USB4 drive that has the same 40Gbps transfer rates as Thunderbolt 4. It gets complicated.

WD My Passport 5TB – Best for backups

External Storage Devices

You’ve been with us long enough to know that capacity matters when it comes to backups. WD’s My Passport 5TB is a great way to expand your External Storage Devices and stay prepared for the age of 4K.

Backup Plus Portable

External Storage Devices

Like WD’s My Book above, Seagate’s Backup Plus Portable maxes out at 5TB of capacity. There are also 2TB, 4TB, and 1TB versions.

Our tests have shown that the Seagate 4 TB hard drives completed large file transfers slightly faster than Western Digital, but transferred small files slower. Overall, these were two great options.

WD My Book (WDBBGB, USB 3.0, 4TB)

External Storage Devices

Performance may vary, but tests find that the 4TB WD My Book is still the best external hard drive when it comes to money. It offers hardware-based 256-bit AES encryption and WD Backup software, and you get 4TB of HDD space for about $100. Plus, capacities up to 18TB are available.

The My Book might not be the cutting-edge hard drive of today, but it’s tried and true technologies result in a product that is reliable and inexpensive. With capacities that range from 2TB to 8TB, this is storage you can afford without compromising peace of mind. Plus, it’s thin design means it won’t take up too much room on your desk or floor.

Customers who have purchased this product on Newegg rate it 4 out of 5 eggs. “The casing is attractive and gives the product a feeling of higher quality than a standard enclosure,” one reviewer says.

G-Technology ArmorATD (0G10435, USB 3.1, 2TB and 4TB)

External Storage Devices

G-Technology is designed to be rugged – It’s shock resistant, whether it’s during the rigors of everyday use or during accidental falls. It’s made from aluminum, and is fairly resistant to rain, dust, and crushing up to 1,000 pounds.

The 2TB and 4TB models are both small and portable, and the 2TB includes a USB Type-A adapter, so they should work with any computer that has a USB port.

The 2TB and 4TB capacities we tested didn’t offer significant speed increases. However, the 2TB drive is clocked at marginally higher speeds, so if you’re looking for a compact and cost-effective choice, this might be the answer.

SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD (SDSSDE80, USB 3.1, 1TB)

External Storage Devices

There’s nothing an external hard drive can’t do with SanDisk Extreme Pro.

Suave looks? Its rounded corners and delicately pockmarked front give it a sleek, modern appearance that also has a sense of class. After all, its soft-touch back is available in both black and red – completing the look with a dash of buzz-worthy cool.

When it comes to speed, the USB 3.1 version of the Extreme Pro Portable SSD is rated for sequential reads of 1,050MBps. When our team tested it ourselves, we routinely found that it was among the top scoring benchmarks for performance. The SanDisk Secure Access application also offers general encryption, and you won’t find a flash drive more secure than that!

This drive is a bit expensive, and the carrying loop is too big to easily attach to a standard keychain. That being said, this is an excellent drive with plenty of storage for heavy everyday use.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD is one of the fastest external hard drives available. We put it to the test, and found that it was among the fastest drives we looked at in our recent testing. It’s an older model, but if you want super-fast reads and writes, then this would be a good option for you.

Adata SE800 External SSD Ultra Fast (USB 3.2, 1TB)

External Storage Devices

The Adata SE800 External SSD Ultra Fast measures 2.8 x 1.7 x 0.4 inches ( weighing at 1.4 ounces) and is rated IP68 protection against dust and 30 minutes of submersion in up to 4.9 feet of water (1.5 meters).

Our Type-C drive is designed to withstand the rigorous shocks of military-level testing. It can be connected with either a Type-A or a Type-C cable to your computer.

We didn’t quite see the 1,000MBps read/write speeds in our tests. But it’s still a pretty fast drive. It’s inexpensive too – the 8TB version with plenty of storage is just $440 online, and the 4TB version is available for under $200.

Your SE800’s two capacities are your only options, so there’s no software to install. This SSD is an outstanding value – even compared to the slower Adata SC685 or some of its smaller competitors.

Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 Portable SSD (MU-PB, 2TB)

External Storage Devices

If you have a laptop with a Thunderbolt 3 port and you don’t have a problem spending top dollar, the Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 Portable SSD is your best external hard drive.

This SSD is rated for stratospheric speeds and delivered on that in our tests. It’s slower to load than a typical external SSD, but that’s because it contains more storage space (288GB). The exterior features sloping lines and a bright-red undercarriage.

The Samsung X5 performed inconsistently, and didn’t show up to beat every test. Its performance also requires a Thunderbolt 3 connection, which means that features won’t work with other types of USB ports.

The storage capacity, starting at 500GB and going up to 2TB, is expensive. This makes other drives a better option for most people. But if you want the best and are willing to pay for it, then X5 is the right choice.

WD My Passport SSD (WDBAGF, USB 3.2, 1TB)

External Storage Devices

The WD My Passport SSD with USB 3.2 might not look like its shiny, red predecessor, the My Passport Go, but this small and sleek device is ready to travel. At 3.9 inches by 2.2 inches by 0.4 inches (HWD), the passport SSD offers a maximum theoretical read speed of 450MB/s. Choose between five trendy colors: blue, gold, gray, red, or silver for your favorite color.

The My Passport SSD comes equipped with software, which offers a variety of tools for all your needs and dives deep into hard-to-find data. It’s fast too – the My Passport zoomed through our performance tests and was typically among the best performers in each benchmark.

For $0.19 per gigabyte, the 1TB model is one of the most expensive drives we tested. It’s included USB Type-C cable is short, 6.5 inches long, which can make this drive difficult to use on a laptop or desktop computer. (A Type-A adapter comes in the package to ensure compatibility with different systems though.) These are small nitpicks for one of the best external hard drives around.

Samsung Portable SSD T7 (MU-PC, USB 3.2, 1TB)

External Storage Devices

The Samsung Portable SSD T7 is a nearly identical cousin to the T5. It’s a tad bit bigger and heavier, though, and its software is exactly the same. You can choose from three different colors: Indigo Blue, Titan Gray, and Metallic Red. They come in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB variations.

Perhaps the biggest difference between Samsung and Western Digital is that Samsung rates its products at 1,050 MBps. We saw this huge discrepancy in our tests. Our file copy test was 20 seconds faster in every case.

Though it’s $0.23 per gigabyte and is one of the most expensive drives we’ve seen, this is probably the most rock solid drive we’ve ever laid our hands on. We can’t imagine anyone encountering a single issue with it in daily use, let alone having to hunt for a replacement, thanks to a 5-year warranty. If you don’t mind breaking the bank and care more about design, sleekness, and speed than value, you won’t be disappointed with this HDD.

Seagate BarraCuda Fast HDD (STJM1000400, USB 3.0, 1TB)

 

External Storage Devices

The Seagate BarraCuda Fast SSD is a powerful, though somewhat pricey, portable SSD that offers excellent performance. In most of the performance tests we ran, it turned in better results than most of the other SSDs we’ve tested of this caliber.

The Seagate Backup Plus shows off some sleek style. It’s a svelte black rectangular metal piece with a raised square in the middle and green lights. The lights will illuminate when the drive is connected, and they’re sure to give you that satisfying sci-fi feeling.

Aesthetically, the Seagate BarraCuda Fast looks and feels like other Seagate drives; it’s pretty bare-bones in terms of software. The issue is that it lacks any 4K compatibility options so is limited to 1920×1080 files at 30 frames per second with a capture resolution of 3648×2072. And while the drive may not be the cheapest on the market, it does offer unlimited storage.

If you’re looking for a value-packed SSD that delivers a lot of punch, the BarraCuda Fast SSD is your answer. Combining incredible speed and an awesome visual spark, this SSD gives you plenty of bang for your buck.

Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch (STHH, USB 3.0, 2TB)

External Storage Devices

The Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch is a portable HDD-based external hard drive for people who care about how their computer hardware looks as much as how it functions (or even more).

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim combines the classic rectangular look of a hard-drive with a more trendy, yet still simple aesthetic that includes solid-color sides and back with an easy-to-clean front panel. Comes with a color-coordinated 19.3-inch USB Type-A cable for connecting to your computer and a Type-C adapter for USB Type C ports.

The Backup Plus Ultra Touch is the same software as our Backup Plus Portable. And despite some claims, in the majority of cases, this drive outperformed in our tests. The Ultra Touch comes with two storage capacity options that are more affordable than many high-capacity drives on the market. So, you can have a stylish and competitive device without breaking your budget.

Seagate Backup Plus Portable (STHP, USB 3.0, 4TB)

External Storage Devices

Our review unit of the Seagate Backup Plus is 4TB, significantly bigger than its competitors when compared by size. It still only measures in at 4.5 x3.2 x 0.8 inches; just slightly larger than a deck of cards.

Once you register your drive, download Toolkit to take automatic backups and Mylio for organization purposes. A two-month membership to the Adobe CC Photography Plan, with Lightroom and Photoshop for organizing and editing your photos, is also provided.

Even so, the square shape and two-tone design make it one of the most unattractive drives on the market. It also performed poorly in all of our tests.

If you want a spacious hard drive that can store lots of files and data, but don’t mind that it’s not so speedy, the Seagate Backup Plus Portable is a decent choice.

Crucial X6 – Best Overall

External Storage Devices

The Adata SE760 might be a little faster but the recent upgrade to both the 1TB and 2TB models make the X6 unbeatable in terms of value for money. The 1TB model is well under $100, which is great for shoppers on a budget.

The X3 comes with a smaller form factor than the X8, and it is still drop-tested to 2 meters. It comes with the same 3-year warranty as the X8 and has similar specifications.

Despite the fact that this all-rounder doesn’t have hardware encryption or an activity light, it’s still our top pick.

Adata SE760 – Best Value

External Storage Devices

Adata has recently created an excellent alternative to the Crucial X8 with a strong focus on affordability.

The X8 is a simpler option than the X5, but also a cheaper one. For example, it lacks features like rugged design and encryption. However, you can find all sorts of other devices with these features if that’s something you need.

Instead of dragging one cable out of your briefcase or laptop bag, the SE760 provides a type-C and type-A USB cables for whatever device you need to attach it to. You also get a large amount of speedy External Storage Devices without paying too much.

If you’re looking for a solid solution in the 250GB to 1TB range, this option is a good choice.

Kingston XS2000 – Great Performance at a Great Price

External Storage Devices

If you want the highest possible performance, then the XS2000 is aptly named. Peak reads can reach 2092MB/s when connected to a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port.

The price is surprisingly affordable, and unlike our competitors, you won’t find any hidden fees. You’ll get around double the storage here at this price, which is one of the cheapest available if you do the math.

One drawback, the smaller cache means that you won’t get sustained performance with larger files and Kingston doesn’t provide a USB adapter so you can use the XS200 in older power outlets.

UGREEN

External Storage Devices

Here are some highlights of the Ugreen USB 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Enclosure:
It can be used to mount your 2.5″ HDD or SSD hard drive as an additional USB drive. This will give you more convenience and flexibility in digital data storage.
– Comes with the USB 3.0 connection enhanced with the UASP protocol, and significantly increases the data transfer rate, delivering up to 70% faster performance than conventional USB 3.0 connection
Protect your hard drives from scratches and improper shaking with the soft EVA foams installed on the inner sides- Compatible with laptops running Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista, Mac OS, Linux or Chrome OS; game consoles like PS4, PS4 Pro, PS3, Xbox one, Xbox 360; Raspberry Pi; TV; router, etc. – SATA 16+7 pin female connection for 2.5″ HDD and SSD compatible with Seagate Barracuda HDD 2.5″, Samsung 860 EVO/850 EVO SATA III SSD, WD Blue/Green 2.5 SATA SSDs; SanDisk SSD PLUS, SanDisk Ultra 3D SSDs; Crucial BX500s

High Capacity Supported

The USB to SATA III docking station can accommodate both 2.5″ and 3.5 ” SATA I/II/III HDD/SSDs. Supports a maximum capacity of 12TB and thickness up to 26mm, such as Seagate Barracuda Internal Hard Drive 3.5 or WD Blue SATA III HDD 3.5, Crucial MX500 SSD 2.5, TOSHIBA TR200, ADATA ASU650, YUCUN / Gigabyte Internal Solid State Drives.

Super Easy

External Storage Devices

Plug & play, driver-free, and hot-swapping. Your laptop doesn’t need to power off when you swap out connected hard drives. A supplied power cord is required for 3.5″ hard drive disks.

Mac, PC, iOS, Android

USB 3.0 Male Connection: Laptops running Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista, Mac OS, Linux or Chrome OS; Game consoles like PS4, PS4 Pro, PS3, Xbox one, Xbox 360; Raspberry Pi; TV; Router.

Our new short-reach SATA + power connector is compatible with the following drives: 2.5″ SATA III, II and I; WD Blue PC Hard Drive, WD Black 3.5″, WD Green SATA 3, Seagate Barracuda 3.5/2.5, Seagate IronWolf, Toshiba P300 3.5″, Seagate FireCuda, Samsung 860 EVO / 850 EVO SATA III, Crucial BX500 (and more).

Warm Reminder:

It’s important to make sure that UASP is enabled on your device and operating system. Additionally, you may want to enable it on the controller for best performance.

Always unplug your device by safely removing the disc first. 3. For the 7mm hard drive, please add an additional EVA pad.

It’s important to use a version of Windows that can support two terabytes of storage.

If you want to change the USB cable, please make sure that it is within 3ft from the enclosure.

How to select the best external hard drive

External Storage Devices

Are you more concerned about speed, capacity or price when it comes to storage? If you’re looking for speed, SSDs store data on flash memory rather than traditional spinning platters. In addition, the interface could affect your choice – Thunderbolt 3 will always be faster than USB.

SSDs offer more options for capacity compared to HDDs, but the same amount of storage can be housed in less space with an HDD drive.

It’s easy to find massive hard drives at a low price (think 4TB) for under $100. SSDs are expensive, but cheaper ones (1-2TB) can be found from $100-$200.

Today, many manufactures market their portable drives as an accessory. They offer various colors and sizes of portable drives so that it’ll be easy to find the one you’re looking for.

The external hard drives we test

External Storage Devices

We hooked up each external hard drive to a Dell XPS 17 laptop, using the best connection interface available and always in the same port.

We followed the same test sequence for each drive, so that we could account for any differences in real-world testing. Our suite included:

Black Magic Disk Speed Test 3.2.1 (5GB stress loads)

Crystal disk mark is perfect for testing the performance speed and throughput of your disks and External Storage Devices drives. The program features single-thread sequential read, tests for random reads, and also tests for random write throughput in 8 queue depths.

PC Mark 10 data drive benchmark

Future File Transfer Test (25GB)

Often, we take a look at how the different drives perform in order to see if there is any noticeable difference. In some cases, we need to do more tests on the drives’ functionality in order to get a better understanding of what they have to offer.

CONCLUSION

Choosing the best External Hard Disk can be difficult because there are so many different brands on the market. Knowing which one should be your top priority is essential. Besides being able to store large amounts of data, you should also consider things like speed and reliability.

Finding the best hard drive is not always as easy as it seems, which is why you should refer to this list of some of the top products. You can also check out the comparison table below if you want that quick snapshot.

When it comes to external hard drives, the WD Elements Portable External Drive is the best option. It features a 1 Gbps transfer speed and 2 TB storage space.

Now that we’ve looked at all of the best External Storage Devices hard drives on the market, you should have a better idea about what to look for and which models are most appropriate for your needs.

There are three criteria to consider when working out your storage needs. The first is how much space you’ll need. If you only need to store simple files like photos, music, and videos you won’t require a lot of space.

If you’re a professional video editor, then a hard drive with more capacity is necessary. If budget is an issue, stick to HDDs- but don’t lose sight of the benefits of SSDs. Lastly, make sure that whatever your buying is compatible with your OS.

In case you don’t know where to start, the guide includes a section that is aimed at helping you narrow down what you need. Afterwards, we include recommendations that we think would be suited for your needs. For most people, this will help them find an External Storage Devices hard drive that meets their criteria and provides enough benefits without being too complicated or expensive.

If you’re looking for an external hard drive for your Mac, then check out this guide for Mac external hard drives.

 

Also Articles : The best USB cables for your Device in 2022

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