Not too long ago, it was possible to get by with low storage on your laptop, PC, and even on your phone. This isn’t really the case these days. Most people like to have instant access to their favorite games, shows, movies, etc. That’s why having storage in excess can be important for a lot of people. But what if you don’t have any room for an internal drive? Well, that’s where external drives come in.
Of course, you can get both external hard drives and SSDs. For higher capacities, hard drives will always be cheaper. With that said, it’s a bit frustrating to have a slow drive while your PC/laptop is so fast. It only feels natural that storage should be fast too. That’s why an external SSD is always a safe bet. They also allow you to easily organize things.
Unfortunately, things can get confusing very quickly. With so many options on the market, which one is right for you? Well, we’ll be trying to answer that question today. This list is narrowed down to five of the best picks. These are the best external SSDs in 2021.
1. SanDisk 1TB Extreme Pro Portable SSD
Best Of The Best
- Easily pocketable size
- Blazing fast speeds
- Aluminum build
- 5-year warranty
- Dust and water resistance
- Different variants might confuse buyers
Capacities: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB | Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C | Read Speeds: 2000MB/s | Write Speed: 2000MB/s
It’s hard to decide on what’s the best external SSD for this list. Do we simply go with the one with the fastest speed or one with rugged protection? Will people value portability or capacity? Well, how about a bit of everything, and a few extra features to serve as the icing on the cake. That’s exactly why we love the SanDisk 1TB Extreme Pro (V2).
We need to clear up the confusion first. There are several variants of this same drive. Of course, there are different capacities, but they have a few with different speeds as well. We’re taking a look at the one with an advertised speed of up to 2000MB/s. The SanDisk Extreme Pro works just as well as it looks.
An aluminum chassis on the outside serves its purpose well as a heatsink. It also gives the external drive a solid feel in the hand. The orange accents on the mostly black exterior are a nice touch. It looks large in pictures, but in reality, it fits in the palm of your hand. You can easily throw this into your backpack and not notice it.
As for the interface, it uses a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port. It advertises a speed of up to 2000MB/s, and it surprisingly delivers. This is much faster than a lot of SATA SSDs. It can hold up well, even for larger file transfers. Potentially, this drive can serve as quite the treat for someone who produces content of some sort.
Sandisk gives you a 5-year warranty, which is quite generous. It even has two-meter drop protection and IP55 water and dust resistance. Other than that, it even features 256-bit AES hardware encryption. The only knock we have against is that the several different variants are confusing. Keep that in mind and don’t end up buying a slower drive.
The Samsung Portable T5 SSD isn’t exactly the fastest drive on this list. Nor is it exactly the most feature-rich. The real reason is on here is because it works well, and does that with great value. Of course, there is more to the story here. But if you don’t want to overspend and get a reliable 500GB or 1TB SSD, the Samsung T5 is an easy choice.
This drive is arguably the most popular external SSD to date. It’s also quite popular among video producers and photographers. One of the many reasons for that is because of the design. It is compact and portable. The width is about the same as a credit card, and it 10.5mm thick. It is also lightweight as it comes in at 51g. It easily slides into a bag or your pocket. Other than that, it feels solid and the metal feels cold to the touch.
The T5 portable SSD features a V-NAND flash for good read/write performance. It uses USB 3.1 Type-C, so it’s not exactly the latest or greatest port. But it still delivers at around 520 MB/s for the write speed and around 540 MB/s for the read speeds. Testing shows that these numbers are close to accurate. Of course, outside factors such as the speed of your system depend on that as well.
In the box, you get USB-C to USB-C cable. Samsung also includes a USB-C to USB-A cable if your device lacks a USB-C port. It works well with laptops, desktop PCs, phones, and even tablets. Other than that, it features optional password protection and AES 256-bit hardware encryption. Samsung also includes a 3-year warranty, which is a good bonus.
It’s an ideal choice for video editors or filmmakers. Sure, you can get a faster drive quite readily these days. But those can cost quite a bit of money. If you need something that has a high capacity, is faster than a hard drive, and can serve as a scratch disk for video editing, this is a great option.
3. LaCie Rugged SSD Pro Thunderbolt 3 Drive
Fast Thunderbolt 3 Option
- Blazing fast speeds
- Perfect for macbooks
- Rugged exterior design
- Complimentary one month Adobe cloud
- Overkill for most folks
Capacities: 1TB, 2TB | Interface: Thunderbolt 3 USB-C | Read Speeds: 2800MB/s | Write Speed: 2000MB/s
Next up on our list, we have an SSD for folks who need an external Thunderbolt 3 drive. Now, if you are the person who is looking for a specific Thunderbolt 3 drive, you’re most likely after speed. Fortunately, the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro is the perfect fit for your needs. It’s fast, durable, and has a few perks from LaCie.
LaCie’s most popular product is most likely their rugged hard drive. The idea for this SSD Pro is quite similar. It features a rubberized exterior which is what gives it that rugged design. This thing can survive a drop from three-meters, no problem. It is also rated to have IP67 water and dust resistance. To put it shortly, this thing can handle anything you throw at it.
The best part is that you get that rugged design paired with blazing fast speeds. Thanks to Thunderbolt 3, this drive can rival desktop-level NVMe SSDs. Sometimes, it’s even faster than that. It features an overall speed of up to 2800MB/s. If you’re editing 4K, 6K, or even 8K video, this thing is an excellent pick. Of course, you get that Thunderbolt 3 cable in the box. You also get a few perks that serve as incentives from LaCie.
These include things like a one-month complimentary membership to Adobe creative cloud. They know people buying these are most likely video editors, so it’s a good incentive. Other than that, you get a five-year limited warranty. That warranty plan features data recovery services as well. So the overall support here is top-notch.
But with all of those top-notch features comes a hefty price tag. This thing costs considerably more than your average external SSD. Of course, it’s much faster than those. So you have to decide if it’s worth your money. Some people just like to get the fastest drives for the sake of it. The conclusion is this: get this drive if you need the speeds, otherwise it’s a tad bit overkill.
Not everyone needs the highest-end external SSD. Many people just require a mass storage drive, but don’t want something as slow as a hard drive. For those people, the Adata SD700 is a great choice. It’s reliable, works well, and has a ruggedized exterior. It’s not the fastest or sleekest look thing on the planet, but it gets the job done.
ADATA is a reliable brand, and we’d rather go with something that has some recognition than a random off the shelf SSD. This one comes in four capacities: 250GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. For the price, it’s a great option to go with if we go by Gigabytes per dollar. It works with Desktops, laptops, consoles, and even your phone.
The exterior has a simple black coating on it. However, it has IP68 dust and water resistance which is always great to see on a cheaper drive. Apparently, the exterior is military-grade shockproof as well. While we would not treat any certain external SSD too roughly, having some re-assurance is always a good thing. It works with Windows, macOS, and Android. But that’s about it as far as features go.
This drive is not slow by any means, as a 440 MB/s speed isn’t frustratingly bad. However, it is slow compared to other drives out there. As for the interface, it uses USB 3.2 Gen 1, and the connector is Type-A. If your laptop only has a Type-C connector, you’ll need to get a separate cable for that. But apart from that, there is nothing inherently bad about this drive.
Sure, if you are a video editor or someone who needs speed, go for a faster drive. If you just need an external SSD for things like movies, pictures, etc, this is a great drive. It’s also a great way to store your Steam library and other games on a separate drive. For the money, we can’t complain too much here.
5. WD My Passport Wireless External SSD
A Reliable Wireless Option
- Wireless convenience
- Perfect for photographers
- Durable exterior design
- Slow speeds over Wi-Fi
- Steaming videos isn't smooth
Capacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB | Interface: USB 3.0 | Read Speeds: 390MB/s | Write Speed: 390MB/s
We have already covered several areas in this buying guide. This includes budget, speed, and reliability. But the WD My Passport Wireless SSD is an interesting one. It might prove to be foolish of us to skip this one. Backing up all of your photos and videos just got a lot more interesting thanks to this external SSD. It uses Wi-Fi to back up your data automatically. It works quite well, so let’s see what else it has to offer.
This SSD version replaces the old hard drive version of this drive. Externally, it’s much larger than your average hard drive. This is because of the several ports on this device. It has a black exterior with grey/orange accents. On the back, we have a port for the connection and a regular USB Type-A port. On the side, we have an SD card reader. This built-in card reader can copy everything on the card with the touch of a button.
The drive is quite durable and has a rugged shock-resistant outer shell. For the Wi-Fi feature, you need to connect the drive to your Wi-Fi or phone’s data connection. Next, download the My Cloud app on either your phone or your PC. From here, you can wirelessly drop any files you want to this hard drive. You can even create folders and such from within this app. It also works well with DSLR cameras.
For the most part, the functionality works quite well. They say you can stream videos or photos from the app itself as well. While that does work, this is a bit of lag and isn’t exactly a smooth experience. But in terms of pure wireless convenience, it works well. It has a battery life of up to 10 hours. Overall, this is quite an interesting concept, and it works wonders in a pinch.
However, just know that the transfer speeds aren’t exactly the fastest. This is using an older USB 3.0 connection, not the new 3.1 Gen 2 port. That’s why it is limited to about 390MB/s, and that’s not exactly blazing fast. Mind you, it’s a decent speed for a wireless drive, but nothing groundbreaking. It’s also quite expensive.