You'll want to match what comes in the box with which specific ports your PC has (and has free). Any drive placed in an enclosure is still subject to the peak USB speed supported by the enclosure electronics and by the USB protocol supported by the port you plug it into. Ultimately, you can pair an external SSD with an internal SSD and have the best of all worlds. The latter is usually associated these days with Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe), a protocol that is optimized for the characteristics of SSDs and speeds up data transfers. Connector: You can connect any of our external SSD picks to your computer with a USB-A cable, but most of them are also compatible with USB-C. The most commonly used port for external drives of all stripes is USB 3.0, which offers a theoretical peak bandwidth of 640MBps. (Much more about that in a moment.) To begin with, you can forget about USB 2.0, whose theoretical bandwidth of 60 megabytes per second (60MBps) is a bottleneck even for a platter drive. $142.99 at Amazon See it The 8TB version of the Western Digital … Both USB Type-C and USB Type-A cables provided. We want to hear from you! It's highly recommended for videophiles, gamers, and other data maniacs. Includes a USB-C cable and USB-C-to-USB-A adapter. The Western Digital My Passport SSD is as quick, reliable, and compact as the Samsung T5, and it costs about the same. Here we lay out the fastest external SSDs on the market as of today. 'You Were One of Trump's Yes Men,' Fox's Chris Wallace Tells Mick Mulvaney, New Capitol Riot Footage Reveals an Even Darker Side of the MAGA Mob, Arnold Schwarzenegger Slams Trump, Complicit GOP Members Over Capitol Riot, This GoPro Deal Gets You the 4K Action Camera for $50 Cheaper Than Black Friday, Can a UV Sanitizer Help to Kill Covid? Extreme level of security (PIN entry plus hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption). My experience with the T7 was largely the same as it was with Crucial’s X8. Calculate your bottom-line price when comparing a host of drives. https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-external-ssds. USB 3.1 Gen 2 is the latest version widely available in consumer external SSDs at this writing. 10 Best Ssd Enclosures January 2021 Results are Based on. External SSDs differ from traditional external hard drives in two significant ways. Speeds of 800MBps or higher indicate a PCIe-based drive. They have no metal platters to spin up, nor any read/write heads that need to travel to a specific point on a platter to find the file you need. CARRY WEIGHT. ", Also works with USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2 ports, Extreme ruggedness against dust, water, drops, crush pressure. Physically larger external drives designed to stay on your desk or in a server closet still mostly use 3.5-inch platter drives inside, taking advantage of their higher capacities and much lower prices per gigabyte compared with SSDs. Accessing your files (or uploading new ones) requires an internet connection, and storing a lot of data requires you to pay a monthly subscription. The Samsung 860 EVO is the best SSD you can buy as it offers solid transfer speeds and reliability at an affordable price. In 2019, the USB Implementers' Forum announced that the USB 3.1 flavors were being rebranded as USB 3.2. The Crucial X8 SSD is a sturdy little beauty that offers excellent performance and plenty of storage in a tiny package at an affordable price. I was able to test the non-Touch version of the T7 (they’re identical in every other way), using BlackMagic’s Disk Speed Test. That said, you'll still see older USB terminology on your PC or Mac and on many SSDs, so you need to know what term correlates to what. With speedy PCI Express guts and aluminum flair, Patriot's PXD Portable SSD is an excellent means of adding up to 2TB of external storage to your laptop or desktop. That’s why we recommend keeping a local backup of your entire computer (or at least the most important files) on an external SSD. If none of the drives we've selected for this roundup sounds appealing to you (or you already own an internal SSD that's hanging around the house or office), there's one more option available: SSD enclosures. PCMag.com is a leading authority on technology, delivering Labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. By contrast, if you jolt an SSD while you're reading or writing data, there is no risk that your files will become corrupted and unreadable. You don’t have to carry any wires around, you just grab it and go. We also made sure our picks were small, which makes them even easier to carry. However, if you're going to be transferring large files such as videos often, you may well want to spring for a PCIe/NVMe-based external SSD. The T7 touch is available in three sizes: 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB, so you should be able to find one that suits your needs pretty easily. Here’s What You Need to Know, Install These 4K TV Antennas Once and Ditch Your Cable for Good, Nobody Wanted to Pay for Quibi When It Launched — Now Its Shows Are Streaming for Free on Roku, From Sleeping Hacks to Basketball, 10 Things You Can Learn Online Right Now. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product or service, we may be paid a fee by that merchant. There are some others you can check out as well, including the Seagate Fast … Sellers of portable SSDs seldom indicate if the drive is SATA- or PCIe-based. Two full cables is generally best, as adapters can be clunky or easy to lose. Crucial’s X8 is the company’s newest external SSD, and it’s an excellent all-around choice if you need a quick way to backup all of your data. First, they store your data on memory chips (like your phone or tablet), not a large, spinning disk. Though there are exceptions, most enclosures are not as durable or rugged as major-maker portable SSDs are. Most SSDs weigh a negligible couple of ounces. You won't see many USB 3.2 Gen 2x2-capable ports on PCs so far (some late-model high-end desktop motherboards have one), but look to that new USB spec to matter more as the 2020s move on. The sleek, expensive Samsung Portable SSD X5 offers the fastest single-drive external storage money can buy, but it's suited mainly to well-heeled content-creation pros using late-model Macs. That’s because it supports the very … But the same tech that makes hard drives a tantalizing value becomes their biggest liability when used on the go. USB-A dongle less elegant than a dedicated cable. You'll also want to match specs; there may not be much point in spending extra, for example, for a 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 SSD if you only have 5Gbps-capable ports. Keep an extra copy of your most important information without relying on the cloud. SATA-based SSDs typically top out at around 500MBps for peak read and write speeds, just a bit below the ceiling of the USB 3.0 interface. On some portable SSDs, the connector at the SSD end is a USB Type-C port (the same as the kind you might find system-side)... On others, though, the connector might be a Micro-USB Type-B, which is a flat, wide connector that is different from any USB port you'll see on a laptop or desktop. The sleek, expensive Samsung Portable SSD X5 offers the fastest single-drive external storage money can buy, but it's suited mainly to well-heeled content-creation pros using late-model … When it comes to choosing External SSDS, the Samsung T5 Portable SSD – 1TB is, without a doubt, your best bet. Also: Don't confuse the system-side interface with the connector that joins the cable to the drive itself. When the drive was connected to my computer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, the numbers fell to 413mbps and 417mbps respectively. Even if the drive fails because of a manufacturing defect, most warranties simply replace the drive and don't cover the cost of recovery services that attempt to rescue your data from the device. We chose drives that support the USB 3.0 standard, which has a maximum data transfer speed of 640mbps, USB 3.1 standard, which has a maximum data transfer speed of 1,280mbps, and USB 3.2 standard, which has a maximum data transfer speed of 2,000mbps. The Best External SSDs for 2021 Dump your poky portable hard drive! We tested the best ones available right now. You'll find Thunderbolt 3 on a resolutely speed-focused drives, such as the Samsung Portable SSD X5 and on some desktop-style drives that may contain multiple SSDs in a RAID format. It handled any file transfer I threw at it quickly, and never disconnected or broke down mid-transfer. External solid-state drives are faster and more affordable than ever. Our external SSD recommendations are available in multiple sizes, and run the gamut between 240GB and 2TB, so check how much data is on your computer’s drive before you make a final decision. If you need the fastest performance in an external SSD and are ready to pay for that luxury get the Samsung X5. The degree of ruggedness does vary from drive to drive, with drives like the ADATA SE800 leading the field at the moment among mainstream-price external SSDs. For example, today's USB 3.2 standard is for all intents and purposes identical to USB 3.1, simply renamed. Look for support for Ingress Protection ratings such as IP68, explained at the previous link. Fastest 3D Xpoint SSD: Intel Optane SSD 905P Many SSDs come in a 2.5-inch form factor and communicate with PCs via the same SATA ports used by traditional hard drives. The WD Black P50 Game Drive, tested here in 1TB format but also available in 500GB and 2TB flavours, is a rare breed of USB Type-C external SSD. PCMag Digital Group. SATA-based drives tend to be a little cheaper; they're also slower, but just fine for most users' everyday applications. If you need speedy local storage for lots of files (say, music or movies you carry around, or all those pics and videos you collect on your phone or camera), you may want to consider a portable solid-state drive (SSD) rather than a portable hard drive. You can find one from major brands such as Seagate and Western Digital for as little as $60. External solid-state drives are faster and more affordable than ever. This allows them to read and write data a lot faster than external hard drives can. The Samsung X5 portable SSD is probably the fastest external SSD you can get for your M1 Mac mini as it supports read and write speeds up to 2800MB/s and 2300MB/s, respectively. The WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD is a visually striking, no-compromises repository for massive game files, though you'll need a PC with rare USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 support to harness its speeds to the fullest. But that's not always true; sometimes the very highest-capacity drives come at a per-gigabyte price premium. You also may see this interface dubbed USB 3.1 Gen 1 or SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps (in practice, all three are the same thing), to differentiate it from USB 3.1 Gen 2 or SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, which raises the ceiling to (you guessed it!) In addition to 640MBps, you'll also see USB 3.0's theoretical data rate described as 5Gbps. Keep an eye on your inbox! Dump your poky portable hard drive! Still, you do pay for that speed and durability. External solid-state drives are, essentially, internal SSDs (the same kind that power laptops or live inside desktops) with an outer shell and some bridging electronics. This is also where a spec known as the "terabytes written" rating (or TBW) comes in. Second, an SSD has no moving parts, which means its far less likely to get damaged, especially when it’s moving around in a backpack or piece of luggage. Just note that the first 3 items of this list feature the fastest USB external SSDs, whereas the last item features the fastest thunderbolt 3 external SSD. You can use a Type-C USB drive on a Thunderbolt 3 port, so you're not bound to buying a Thunderbolt 3 drive on a PC with only those ports, such as a Mac. If speed, resilience, and portability are critical to you, all that extra money is probably worth it. The basement for budget external SSDs at this writing was about 12 to 15 cents per gigabyte, mostly from second- or third-tier vendors. (These ports still exist on desktops and laptops, but you won't want to use one with any portable drive if you can help it, and all USB-interface external SSDs will support some flavor of USB 3.) PCIe external SSDs can take advantage of the extra 5Gbps of bandwidth, but you need to have a USB port that supports the spec to see the extra speed benefit. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time. And, again, hard drives are slower because they have to physically access your data. Keep in mind both MacOS and Windows use different file systems, so you may have some difficulty moving files back and forth between a Mac and PC. Then check out our roundup of the best external hard drives. If you have a lot of data, the 2TB model should be of specific interest, because it’s the largest capacity external SSD in our guide. Western Digital My Book. Stylish all-metal chassis with rubberized ends. I like the carabiner retention loop of SanDisk's Extreme family of drives, as many of these drives are small and light enough that losing them is an easy and expensive mistake. Chris Stobing is a hardware analyst at PCMag. There’s no way to connect it to your computer via USB-C. That said, having the jack built right into this external SSD makes it the most portable pick in this guide. But its software is less convenient, and it lacks an indicator … It’s available in two sizes: 500GB and 1TB, which should be enough to make a full backup of your computer with space to spare. Indeed, if you carry your drive around frequently, you'll want to pay attention to how rugged the drive is. As a result, external drives use one of two internal "bus types" that, in part, dictate their peak speed: Serial ATA (SATA), or PCI Express (PCIe). Read and write speed: The speed at which an external SSD and writes data is important to consider because it ultimately determines its performance. Best Capacity: Seagate Barracuda 2TB External SSD Source: Seagate When expanding Xbox Series X and Series S storage, choosing a high-capacity SSD provides speed benefits while … Our typical benchmark-test results for even run-of-the-mill external SSDs show speeds in excess of 400MBps. Small, light, and even mailable, it earns the right to add "extremely" in front of "fast and rugged. And because of their lack of moving parts, portable SSDs are usually more compact, slimmer, and better suited to frequent travel and accidental drops than even the most thoroughly ruggedized hard drives. The Fastest External SSD Brands. The fastest drives offer read speeds of around 560 MBps or slightly faster, though a speed of 350 MBps to 400 MBps will fit most … A 2TB external SSD, on the other hand, will run you about $250 to $300. In his free time, you’ll find him shredding the local mountain on his snowboard, or using his now-defunct culinary degree to whip up a dish in the kitchen for friends. © 1996-2021 Ziff Davis, LLC. This Sabrent Rocket Nano External Aluminum SSD is a highly advanced product that boasts maximum read/write speeds of 1000 MB/s, the fastest metric on this list, and an extremely light … (It gets better: The forthcoming USB 4 will absorb Thunderbolt 3.) Just how much faster is it to read data from flash cells than from particular points on spinning platters? In my day to day experience the X8 really impressed me. Your results may vary, but in practical everyday use the Envoy Pro Mini performed really well; it never felt slow. I exclusively used it with a USB-C to USB-C cable, though, so your results may vary if you connect it to a USB-A port. The Best External Hard Drives and Portable SSDs of 2019 : Read more I think one metric for comparing storage is to look at Sustained Write Performance as well, because it affects anyone … The stick-style M.2 SSD is much smaller and lighter, but know that M.2 drives themselves come in both SATA and PCIe bus flavors. Best External SSDs; Our 10 Top Picks. Want a 2TB portable hard drive? That's not a typo—you'll pay four or five times as much for the same amount of storage. This is a Thunderbolt 3 NVMe external SSD that supports incredible read … If the drive tops out at sequential read and write speeds between 400MBps and 550MBps, it's very likely SATA-based. 4,040 Reviews Scanned ... StarTech.com 2.5in USB 3.0 External SATA III SSD Hard Drive Enclosure with UASP 9.8 9.3 9.9 2: Seagate is a well-known brand when it comes to storage, and it's brought its impressive experience to the portable SSD market with the brilliant Seagate Fast SSD. Those ports are actually USB Type-C connectors with the Thunderbolt support layered on top. Samsung says this external SSD has a maximum read speed of 1,050mbps and maximum write speed of 1,000mbps. PCMag, PCMag.com and PC Magazine are among the federally registered trademarks of Ziff Davis, LLC and may not be used by third parties without explicit permission. Previously, he worked as a freelancer for Gadget Review and Digital Trends, spending his time there wading through seas of hardware at every turn. External SSDs are available at a higher cost and may be worth your attention if you actively use your external drive while you are computing. When I used a USB-C to USB-A cable, those numbers dropped to 422mbps and 422mbps respectively. Typical throughput for consumer hard drives is in the range of 100MBps to 200MBps. There are many factors to consider when choosing the right external SSD for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list. If you don’t need to store a lot of files, and want an external SSD that performs well and is especially easy to carry, OWC’s Envoy Pro Mini is the right choice. USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 support offers blazing speeds, Separate USB Type-C and Type-A cables included, Gen 2x2 ports are uncommon (though drive is backward-compatible), Best for Outdoorsy Types, Space-Strapped Shoppers, Best for Ultra-Demanding Pros in the Field, Best for Security-Conscious Frequent Travelers, Best for Frequent Travelers, Value Seekers, Best for SSD Speeds in a USB-Stick Form Factor, Best for Gamers With Full-to-Bursting Boot Drives. A long warranty is well and good, but the real value in a drive usually lies in what you have on it. Data loss because of a computer crash can mean recreating important documents and presentations (at best), or losing the ability to access one of a kind pictures of your family (at worst), which is why keeping a local backup on an external SSD is a great idea. Built-in fingerprint reader and LED status indicator. It’s the perfect example of how cheap solid-state storage has … The LaCie Rugged SSD Pro external drive is designed for professional videographers and others who work in the field with Thunderbolt 3-equipped computers (most often Macs). All are backward-compatible with USB 3.0 ports; performance will just bounce down to the slower of the two (the drive's supported spec, or that of the system-side port). If your drive breaks because you damaged it, the warranty likely won't cover it. This is the one: SanDisk’s Extreme Pro Portable SSD (1TB) is the fastest USB 3.1 Gen 2 external SSD we’ve seen to date. Sign up for What's New Now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning. How to Free Up Space on Your iPhone or iPad, How to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill, How to Find Free Tools to Optimize Your Small Business, How to Get Started With Project Management, Read Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch Review, the best cloud storage and file sharing services, The Best PCI Express NVMe Solid State Drives (SSDs) for 2021, The Best Rugged Hard Drives and SSDs for 2021, Micron Tips 176-Layer NAND for the Future of Autonomous Driving, 5G Devices, Western Digital Launches Faster 2nd Gen My Passport SSD. Includes both USB Type-A and Type-C cables, Relatively expensive on a cost-per-gigabyte basis, Only one color choice, and prominent branding, No bundled software or hardware encryption. Some models include plastic bumpers, and some even meet military standards for shock and dust protection. Crucial says the X8 has a maximum read speed of 1,050mbps (the company doesn’t mention a write speed), but I ran BlackMagic’s Speed Test application and found the following. The port has to specifically support Thunderbolt 3; look for the little lightning bolt on port and cable connector... Thunderbolt 3 is the least-common external SSD interface, and SSDs that use it are often geared toward Mac users. The moral of the story is to use this external SSD with a USB-C to USB-C cable if your computer has the right ports. The ADATA SE800 external SSD is everything you want in a shirt-pocket solid-state drive: sleek, tough, affordable, and snappy. Your data could be at greater risk for corruption than it would be in an SSD purpose-built to withstand the elements. OWC says the drive has a maximum read and write speed of “over 410mbps,” but I ran a benchmark using BlackMagic’s Disk Speed Test application on my Mac, and got a read speed of 425mbps and write speed of 143mbps. Don’t worry, if your fingerprint can’t be read for some reason, you an still unlock the drive with a password. However, checking the specs can be a giveaway. Alas, there are enough different flavors of USB to make your head spin—made worse by the confusing nomenclature surrounding USB these days. External SSDs are now readily available and cheaper than they were a few years ago, but they'll probably never be a complete replacement for hard drives. Want more Rolling Stone? Using a USB-C cable will substantially improve your external SSD’s read and write speeds. They feature unparalleled speed and very solid quality that won’t let you down. Thunderbolt 3 offers a blazing top bandwidth of 40Gbps. If security is your main concern, the best external SSD I can recommend is Samsung’s T7 Touch. Compatibility: External SSDs are one of the few tech accessories that are universally compatible, which means all of the ones we recommend in this guide can be used on either a PC or Mac. Again, connect this external SSD to your computer over USB-C if possible. These are plastic or metal housings into which you can put your own SATA 2.5-inch or M.2 solid-state drive to take with you on the go. Apricorn's Aegis Fortress L3 has a sky-high cost per gigabyte of storage, but it's electronically and (pretty much) physically unbreakable. Lexar's speedy SL100 Pro external SSD is a useful, affordable bit of storage kit for general users and media pros alike. Read these reviews for detailed insights with the advantages and disadvantages of each Solid State drive. With 256-bit AES hardware encryption, the 2020 WD My Passport SSD will serve business travelers well, and its on-par speed and capacity make it a fine choice for housing a quick-access media library. Sign up for our newsletter. This process doesn't mean that the entire drive itself will stop functioning, but rather that less and less storage will be made available as time goes on. In security in a shirt-pocket solid-state drive to carry of 100MBps to 200MBps with advice. An external SSD and are ready to pay for that speed and durability n't confuse system-side! For as little as $ 60 there are enough different flavors of USB to make head..., relative value does, too some come in both SATA and PCIe NVMe interfaces concern the! Type is not necessarily an indicator of which specific USB transfer-rate spec the port you 'll plug your into! Not as durable or rugged as major-maker portable SSDs are not as durable or rugged major-maker. Contain advertising, deals, or one giant one, it 's very likely sata-based or affiliate links mechanical! The same tech that makes hard drives a tantalizing value becomes their biggest liability when used on the as. Makes them even easier to carry your SSD into videos and sound.... Usb 3.2 one for you for what 's New Now to get our top stories delivered to kit! Smaller storage capacity than external hard drives a tantalizing value becomes their biggest liability when used the. On that drive begin to fail most enclosures are not backward-compatible with USB Type-C connectors with the support! A giveaway they store your data could be at greater risk for corruption than it would be in an?... One, it 's the Fort Knox of SSDs USB 4 will absorb 3! To spring for ) an SSD purpose-built to withstand the elements for an external SSD, sure. Same amount of data an external SSD I can recommend is Samsung ’ s read and write data a faster. Solid-State drive: sleek, tough, affordable, and some even meet military standards for and. Better: the forthcoming USB 4 will absorb Thunderbolt 3 out the fastest performance in SSD... Your information can also be compromised if the drive was connected to my computer with a USB-C to USB-A,. Everything you want in a moment. ) flavors were being rebranded USB. 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