The 10 Best Portable SSDs

Updated June 13, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

Best High-End
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We spent 40 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Unlike their mechanical hard disk counterparts, which can wear down and fail the more they're used, these external SSDs benefit from dramatically-improved speed and performance without any moving parts to malfunction. They also feature cores of flash memory designed to store large amounts of personal data reliably within very small packages, for quick, easy transport to almost any location. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best portable ssd on Amazon.

10. AData SV620H

With its high-shock tolerance chassis, scratch-resistant surface, and driver-free plug-and-play operation, the AData SV620H is an excellent storage unit at an affordable price. It's compatible with Android, Mac, Linux, and Windows operating systems.
  • can be used to run a virtual machine
  • included cable is low quality
  • transfer speeds aren't that fast
Model ASV620H-256GU3-CTI
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Oyen Digital MiniPro

Despite its name, the Oyen Digital MiniPro is not nearly as small nor as sleek as most other units, but it is one of the most versatile. It offers both USB and eSATA connections, making it ideal for consumer and professional use.
  • very solid construction
  • two power options
  • weighs nearly one pound
Brand Oyen Digital
Model E31M-SSD-1000-BK
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. U32 Shadow

With USB 3.1 generation 2 transfer speeds, the U32 Shadow can transfer a full Blu-ray movie in just a few seconds, so if you are constantly moving a lot of large files, it is a smart buy. It comes in models ranging from 250 GB to 4 TB.
  • dissipates heat well
  • comes with a padded carrying pouch
  • included cable is bulky
Brand Oyen Digital
Model U32-SSD-1000-BK
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Western Digital BK3E

The Western Digital BK3E is made by a well-respected company and can backup your files automatically on a regular basis, so you will rest easy your data is always safe and waiting for you when you need it. It offers compatibility with USB Type-A and Type-C connectors.
  • included cable is a decent length
  • feels very sturdy
  • runs slightly warm
Brand Western Digital
Weight 4.2 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. SanDisk G25

Built with durability and performance in mind, the SanDisk G25 delivers four times the operating speed of its portable hard disk drive competition, and is made with a durable rubber bumper, making it a decent choice for travelers.
  • ip55-rated water resistance
  • fits in the palm of your hand
  • comes with encryption software
Brand SanDisk
Model SDSSDE60-1T00-G25
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. VectoTech Rapid

The VectoTech Rapid may not be as small as some of the other models, but it makes up for that with two gigabytes of storage space at an affordable price. There is even a four gigabyte model available, though it does cost a pretty penny.
  • vibration and impact resistant
  • can be formatted for macs and pcs
  • near-silent operation
Brand VectoTech
Model Rapid
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. PNY Elite

Whether you're a photographer or an everyday technology user with the need to back up your large files, the PNY Elite can help you get the job done in mere seconds. Its Acronis True Image data protection software can be used to maintain your information in the cloud.
  • led status indicator
  • consumes a minimal amount of power
  • smaller than a credit card
Brand PNY
Model PSD1CS1050-480-FFS
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Transcend ESD400K

The Transcend ESD400K is equipped with a USB 3.0 connection interface that supports the UASP protocol, which is specially dedicated to ensuring improved data speeds to and from mass storage devices. It comes with a limited 3-year warranty.
  • one-touch auto backup button
  • includes data management software
  • scratch-resistant exterior
Brand Transcend
Model TS1TESD400K
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Glyph Atom

The compact Glyph Atom is slim enough to fit comfortably in a pocket when you want to take it on the go, and a ruggedized shock-resistant housing will keep it protected the whole time. It comes in your choice of four colors and can store 275 GB of data.
  • usb 3 and type-c connections
  • simple plug-and-play use
  • transfers files very quickly
Brand Glyph
Model A250SLV
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Samsung T5

Experience enhanced levels of performance and power over your internal drives with the Samsung T5. It offers lightning-fast transfer speeds of up to 540 megabytes per second, while its vertical NAND technology can store massive amounts of data in a very compact design.
  • shock-resistant metal case
  • aes 256-bit data encryption
  • pc mac and android compatible
Brand Samsung
Model MU-PA2T0B/AM
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Over 70 Years Of Storage Innovation

Every time a computer boots up, it processes countless ones and zeros. Every character typed, sound produced, and video played is the result of a combination of binary data. There's so much data involved in every process that, naturally, some data is best saved for later. But when your computer isn't actively processing that information, where is it stored? Long ago, the answer was made clear: on a hard drive.

In 1956, if you had the space equivalent to two refrigerators, as well as access to cutting-edge research labs, you could have used the IBM 305 RAMAC to store your data. Pick your number one favorite song to archive, though, because it offered a whopping 3.75 megabytes of storage space — considerably less than a modern Blu-ray release. Multiple companies continued to further the realm of long-term storage, but it would be over three decades before these drives would become more than a high-end novelty and see widespread use.

As technology marched forward, the modern hard drive form factors were solidified. For a few decades now, 3.5" and 2.5" units have been standard in desktops and portable computers, respectively. What has really changed is the way some of those drives store and read memory. Recent advances have made solid state drives, or SSDs, available for use by many consumers. This evolution has provided us with great opportunities for speed and reliability of storage in the modern computing era.

What Makes Solid State Drives So Solid?

Let's start off with the concept of volatile vs. non-volatile memory. Volatile memory requires a constant power source in order to retain what's stored on its circuits. Your PC's RAM (Random Access Memory) is a perfect example of this. This is, of course, incompatible with long-term storage, which has to remain digitally recorded even when the computer is turned off. Non-volatile memory, on the other hand, can store information until the cell is rewritten or until the drive itself wears out. For this reason, engineers have been developing larger, faster, and more reliable non-volatile options for decades.

Traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) utilize multiple magnetically sensitive disks whose charges are altered on a microscopic level by a laser at the end of a mechanical arm. The disks spin, the arm reads and writes data, and the drive communicates with the system's chipset. Solid state drives, however, have zero moving parts. Their memory is comprised of many cells of NAND flash memory strung together. This type of memory has the advantage of being completely electronic. Because of that, it can eschew the mechanical parts of the process while retaining its stored memory — even when the power is cut.

This fundamental difference in construction makes a number of improvements over the traditional HDD design. One huge advantage of SSDs is their durability. With no motor, no bearings, and no mechanical arm to worry about, these units can take significantly more physical use without showing signs of wear or tear. This has obvious benefits to people whose usage demands more durable tools that can take some abuse. Even this author has felt the sting of personal documents being lost at the drop of a laptop — it's not a good feeling. Solid-state technology can help prevent such heartbreak, especially in portable devices.

Why Should I Buy In?

While the durability of flash-based, long-term data storage is a great boon to many, one of the most important things SSDs offer is pure speed. Electrons travel faster through superconductors than mechanical parts do across surfaces, so it's no surprise that a lack of moving parts leads to higher read and write times. In fact, the entire contents of a modern Blu-ray release, roughly 50 gigabytes, can be transferred by one of these beasts in under a minute.

The problem is that high-capacity NAND-based drives can, sometimes, be awfully pricey. They're fast and reliable, sure, but they cost a pretty penny. Not everyone with a highly portable computing setup can afford a four-terabyte internal drive to share their massive video-editing archives with their ultrabook. But video editors, engineers, and media executives always need portable access to high-resolution video and audio files and massive data caches at extreme speed. Also, you can purge flash-oriented storage much more easily, streamlining confidential use for security firms or government arms. For those reasons, portable SSDs are flourishing now more than ever.

There's one note that we should make at this point: don't be confused by hybrid solid state drives. These use a large flash-memory cache to coordinate the data drawn from multiple, smaller, traditional HDD faces. These lose most of the advantages of portable, fully solid-state models, although they do offer a speed increase over traditional, less expensive technology. Because they're more expensive than the traditional HDD but lower-performing than actual SSDs, they haven't become very popular.

Completely solid-state units, however, are so capable that they can support entire operating systems (even dual-booting via separate partitions) and serve as alternate boot drives for any system, starting up in the blink of an eye. Using the newest, fastest protocols in connectivity helps, too. Remember that sub-one-minute Blu-ray transfer time? USB 3.1 support from the top models available lets you do exactly that with the most popular plug-and-play connection standard in the world.

With all of today's advancements in engineering and consumer awareness, many companies have provided models that are perfect for the constantly commuting executive or the rock-climbing videographer. With terabytes of resilient, high-speed storage options available, you're sure to find one that suits your specific needs.

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Last updated on June 13, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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