Best External SSD

To find the best external hard drive SSD, we researched critical factors such as speed, capacity, durability and overall form factor. Depending on how much data you need to store and where you will be traveling with your drive, these factors and more need to be examined so the product can best fit your lifestyle. Whether you are looking to backup your computer at home or trek across the alps, we’ve got a solution for your needs.

With reliability and price being essential factors, our top pick, the Samsung T5 SSD, quickly rose to the top. Offering a promising combination of features with up to 2TB of storage space in a compact, shock resistant form-factor and sporting a high-speed USB 3.1 connection with a 540 MB/s read/write speed, those looking to grab the best external hard drive SSD for day-to-day usage should look no further. However, we also have a few more options, so keep reading to learn about our top pick and 6 others.

Top 6 Best External Hard Drive SSD

 #1  Samsung T5 SSD

AwardTop Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: Samsung’s T5 SSD offers fast read/write speeds (up to 540 MB/s) while providing shock resistance up to 2 meters, all at a stellar price.

Pros
  • High-speed USB 3.1 connection
  • Shock resistance
  • Outstanding price
Cons
  • Scratchable metal case

In many ways, Solid State Drives (SSDs) are the upcoming replacements for older hard drive technology. Samsung’s T5 Portable drive shows why that’s the case; fast speeds of up to 540MB/s provided by the T5 series makes it an excellent option for those transferring large amounts of data, and those who need it done fast. The drive’s added shock resistance protects the unit from drops of up to 2 meters, although you may find the metal easily scuffed.

The Samsung T5 is also one of the smallest and lightest drives in our list coming in at only 51 grams. The drive is offered in a few capacities dependent upon your needs including 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. We also love that Samsung’s drive includes both a USB-A and USB-C cable depending upon which port your computer has built-in. For those seeking a bit of customization, the Samsung T5 can be purchased in a variety of colors, including blue, gold, red, and black. For Mac users who want specific drives for Mac, see our best external hard drive for Mac you can buy list.

 #2  Seagate Expansion SSD

Award: Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: Seagate delivers a very reliable, compact and durable SSD that will fit most people’s needs at a great price point.

Pros
  • Best Budget
  • Excellent shock resistance
Cons
  • Uses slower USB 3.0 connection

Seagate’s Expansion SSD offers everything most people would want to see in an external SSD; it provides a collection of capacity options from 500GB to 10TB, provides speeds faster than a standard hard drive, and stands upon the reliable reputation of Seagate. What kept the Seagate Expansion from reaching our top spot is its lack of USB 3.1 support, meaning its stuck with the older USB 3.0 standard. For most users, USB 3.0 should be sufficient, but those transferring large amounts of multimedia might want to look elsewhere for a bit more speed.

Returning to the highlights of the Seagate, this SSD also features shock resistance, which should help protect your data in the event the unit is dropped. Additionally, the company’s soft finish means your latest purchase is less likely to end up a remnant of a Picasso painting, full of scratches. Speaking of storage, the best micro SD card will work for all of your portable devices.

 #3  SanDisk Extreme SSD

Award: Most Durable

WHY WE LIKE IT: Not all external drives will remain at a desk, and the SanDisk Extreme SSD gives us an excellent option for those on the move with its ruggedized exterior and shock-resistant solid state core.

Pros
  • High-speed USB 3.1 connection
  • Shock, dust, and water resistance
  • Supports extreme temperatures
Cons
  • More expensive than other SSDs

There is no getting around it, the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is a bit expensive, but if you find yourself in situations where a ruggedized external drive could come in handy, there is no better option. SanDisk’s drive impressed us with its ruggedized features, including a water and dust resistance rating of IP55. The drive also includes a shock-resistant solid-state core that can withstand both vibrations and shocks of up to 1500G. Those working in extreme temperatures need not worry as the drive can operate in conditions down to freezing and up to 113-degrees Fahrenheit.

Designed with trekking in mind, the SanDisk Extreme can be attached to a carabiner and clipped onto your backpack. The included USB 3.1 support also helps to ensure files move quickly, making sure you don’t have to remain too long out in the cold or heat before your file transfers finish. But what about none SSD drives? You can find some of those on our best external hard drives list.

 #4  My Passport Go SSD

Award: Most Affordable Durable

WHY WE LIKE IT: Western Digital provides a 2 meter drop protection, a 3 year warranty and high-durability in the world of external SSDs thanks to the My Passport Go’s special rubber housing.

Pros
  • Durability on a budget
  • Integrated cable design for travel
  • Excellent value
Cons
  • Uses slower USB 3.0 connection

If you’re seeking out an external SSD with high durability, Western Digital makes sure you can accomplish your goals without breaking the bank. When first laying eyes on the My Passport Go, you can quickly identify the unit’s rubber protective bumper and know that it’s packing something extra. The unit can be dropped up to 2 meters, or ensure shakes and bumps even while in use – that’s impressive. For a drive that has been designed for individuals on the move, we also appreciate the My Passport Go’s built-in USB-A cable, meaning that you won’t need to stumble around to find a cable.

The Western Digital isn’t the fastest drive we researched, including only USB 3.0 technology, so don’t expect to move around large files in record times. However, if you’re using the drive to back up your machine or keep a collection of data on the go, we believe you’ll enjoy this option. Just keep an eye on the price when you purchase as the 500GB is quite affordable, but easily skyrockets for the 1TB and 2TB options. For a more portable storage solution, read about the best USB flash drive.

 #5  Fantom Drive SSHD

Award: Best Value

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Fantom Drive answers the question of whether you can have the best of both worlds with its hybrid drive design; offering 2TB of storage space and near SSD speeds in a small on-the-move form-factor.

Pros
  • High-speed USB 3.1 connection
  • Excellent 5-year warranty
Cons
  • Not fast as a true SSD
  • Lacks shock resistance

Fantom Drives has given us a portable storage option that attempts to bridge the gap between high-speed SSDs and high capacity HDDs; the result is utilizing a hybrid drive with USB 3.1 support. The hybrid concept is not a Fantom technology, but the company has boxed it up into a well-priced, well-designed portable form-factor. We do however wish that the company had included some form of shock resistance, as well as additional capacity options.

The Fantom utilizes a Seagate Firecuda SSHD under the hood, a hybrid drive from a reputable brand that has been manufacturing storage technology since the late 1970s. We also appreciate the overall design of the Fantom Drive, with its aluminum enclose that doubles as a heatsink, and its air ventilation design on the side for better cooling. While not as fast as a pure SSD, this SSHD from Fantom is an excellent balance between speed and storage. You can compare it to the best nas hard drive to see if it fits your storage needs.

 #6  Silicon Power Bolt B75 Pro SSD

Award: Best For Travel

WHY WE LIKE IT: The B75 offers up 1TB of storage space while providing a military-grade shockproof casing and an ultra-thin design great for travel.

Pros
  • High-speed USB 3.1 connection
  • Shock resistant
Cons
  • Lacks water and dust resistance
  • Limited capacity options

Silicon Power offers a compelling solution for individuals seeking out a rugged and speedy external drive great for traveling. Featuring a scratch-resistant groove surface treatment, the B75 Pro stands up to scratches unlike other metal drives on our list and you won’t need to worry about it in your bag. The thin, yet rugged, design of the B75 Pro is suited towards individuals who want a bit more protection for their drive as they carry it around with shock resistance up to 1.2 meters.

Beyond a drop-proof design, the B75 Pro also features fast transfer speeds thanks to its inclusion of USB 3.1. We also appreciate the fact that Silicon Power includes a high-quality nylon USB cable in the box. On the other hand, we would have liked additional capacity options beyond just 1TB.

How We Decided

With troves of external hard drive SSDs available on the market, we sought to find the best options for every individual. We began by assembling a list of the top options based on storage capacity, connection technology which affects speed, and overall design. The external SSDs that we selected needed to feature a portable design that could be solely powered by a USB port, minimum of a USB 3.0 connection with a 400 MB/s transfer speed – no slow USB 2 drives found here, and a price-point that was reasonable for the specs provided.

Drives that featured extra durability were highlighted for those who may need a bit more protection on the go, sporting features including drop resistance from up to 2 meters on a concrete floor, as well as water and dust resistance – features required by those working in extreme environments. External drives that included other standout features, such as anti-scratching coatings to keep your drive beautiful or a more budget-friendly hybrid design, were noted so that even if your needs are a bit more niche, they can be fulfilled with ease.

Buyer’s Guide

  1. Storage Capacity: When selecting an external drive for your data, one of the most essential aspects to consider is the amount of storage you will need. While individuals merely needing to share documents might be able to survive with lower capacity drives, those looking to back up their entire computer or store multimedia files such as videos, photos, or music, will need more capacity.
  2. Form Factor: When we talk about form factor, we aren’t just mentioning the size of the external drive, but also its rugged design. All of the drives on our list are portable and feature a small form factor, but a rugged design is something you may also wish to consider if you are in an environment where your drive might be dropped or exposed to conditions such as water or dust.
  3. Ports: While USB-A was the primary port ruling the computer world for years, newer computers are beginning to ship with USB-C. It is essential to ensure that the drive you are purchasing includes the correct connector for your machine. Additionally, USB 3.1 standards allow SSDs to communicate with your computer faster than the previous USB 3.0 generation and are a must for anyone transferring large amounts of data.

External SSD FAQs

Windows vs Mac: Is my computer compatible with these hard drives?

Whether you have a Mac or a PC, all hard drives can properly be set up to work with your operating system. The most essential factor of compatibility is whether the drive you are eyeing for purchase includes the correct connector port, USB-A or USB-C, for your computer.

What is the best external hard drive?

We recommend looking at our guide above, depending on how you intend on using your hard drive and for what applications, we have different selections that may fit your life best.

How much is an external hard drive?

Depending on your needs, an external hard drive can cost anywhere from under $100 to a couple of hundred dollars. Features such as storage capacity, transfer speed, and overall design will affect the final price.

What is an external hard drive used for?

One of the most common uses for an external hard drive is to use it to back up a computer such as a PC or a Mac. In the event that your computer’s internal drive fails, you can ensure you have a backup of your data accessible. External hard drives are also commonly used to easily add more storage to a device.

How do external hard drives work?

An external hard drive works the same as an internal hard drive with the key difference being how you connect the two solutions. While an internal hard drive is connected inside your device, an external hard drive typically uses a USB port on your device’s exterior for a fast and easy connection.

How long do external hard drives work?

When treated properly, external hard drives have the same life expectancy of a standard internal hard drive of around five years. You can rely on your drive to work without problems for up to around five years, according to the team at Prosoft Engineering.

How do I transfer files to an external hard drive?

Similar to any other USB storage device such as a thumb drive, once connected to a computer, your external hard drive should be accessible. From this point, you can simply drag and drop your files onto or off of the drive as if it were any other folder.

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Michael Archambault

Michael Archambault is a technology writer and digital marketer located in Long Island, New York. For the past decade, Michael has covered the consumer technology space, reporting on the latest industry offerings while crafting comprehensive how-to guides, hands-on-reviews, and opinion-editorials. Michael has worked for Amazon.com's DPReview, Mobile Nations' Windows Central, onMSFT, PetaPixel, Dotdash’s Lifewire, and Digital Trends.

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