Best portable SSD of 2019: top external solid state drives

Welcome to TechRadar’s guide of the best portable SSDs on the market right now. We’re going to dive into all the most dependable portable SSDs that combine speed, capacity and mobility to ensure that you can safely keep all your important files during your travels.

Just like any other of the best SSDs, you’re going to need a capacious drive, so you won’t run out of space when backing up your important files, like photographs, while also making use of the inherent speed benefits of a solid state drive. 

So, when looking to buy the best portable SSD, you'll want to consider how much storage space it has. Around 500GB should be enough for many people, but if you want to store lots of large files, such as uncompressed videos, photos or music, then you should consider 1TB or higher of storage space.

You'll also want to consider what type of connection the portable SSD has. Older connections, such as USB 2.0, will cause a bottleneck, as the connection cannot transfer files as fast as the SSD can read and write.

So, the best portable SSDs, then, will come with a more modern connection for faster SSDS. USB 3.1 Type-C, or ideally Thunderbolt 3 will be the way to go. And, you should make sure that your laptop or computer supports these connections.

Read on to find out what our picks are of the best portable SSDs money can buy in 2019.

1. Samsung T5 SSD

Our pick for the best portable SSD of 2019

Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB | Interface: USB Type-C

Incredibly fast
Highly compact
Expensive

Samsung is a company that has made some brilliant portable SSDs, and you'll see a number of its devices on this list, however the Samsung Portable SSD T5 is our pick of the best portable SSD of 2018. It builds on the brilliant design and performance of its predecessor, the Samsung T3 SSD (also on this best portable SSD list), but brings it up to date with an incredibly fast USB Type-C connection that ekes out every last drop of performance from the solid state drive inside. Of course, it's also backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 if your PC doesn't have USB Type-C. It's expensive, but it's well worth the cash.

Read the full review: Samsung Portable SSD T5

2. Seagate Fast SSD

One of the best value portable SSDs in 2019

Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB | Interface: USB Type-C

Impressive performance
Good price
Short cable length

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. This is an impressively slim external SSD, at only 9mm thick with a footprint of 94 x 79mm. Best of all, it's affordable – with prices likely to drop – and it’s an excellent performer, relatively small, plus it has a nice design and a three-year warranty. Well worth considering if you're looking for a the best portable SSD for a low price.

Read the full review: Seagate Fast SSD 500GB

3. Samsung X5 Portable SSD

Thunderbolt 3 and NVMe come together to deliver top notch performance

Capacity: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB | Interface: Thunderbolt 3

Exceptional performance
Hardware encryption
Expensive
Not compact or waterproof

If you want speed above all else, and money is (almost) no object, than the Samsung X5 Portable SSD is the best portable SSD for you. It comes with a Thunderbolt 3 connection that takes full advantage of the super-fast speeds of the brilliant Samsung 970 Evo NVMe SSD that comes inside. However, that pure dedication to speed comes at some expense. First, there's the financial expense, as this is a pricey external SSD. It's also larger and bulkier than the Samsung T3 or Samsung T5, which are also on this list. The device is fairly heavy at 150g, triple the weight of the Samsung T5, and at 116 x 60 x 18mm, it can best be described as portable rather than miniature. However, when it comes to performance, the Samsung X5 Portable SSD is definitely the portable SSD to go for.

Read the full review: Samsung X5 Portable SSD

Adata SE730H External SSD

4. Adata SE730H External SSD

The best high-speed external storage device

Capacity: 256GB, 1TB | Interface: USB 3.1 (Gen 2)

Small
Great performance
Expensive
Lack of color options

This small and compact external hard drive offers very decent speeds, as well as a rugged body that keeps it safe from water - as well as drops and knocks. It's not the fastest drive out there - as it's still reliant on the aging SATA technology, rather than the newer - and faster - NVMe tech, but for the money you're still getting a brilliant performer. Adata claims this is the most compact external SSD, and with dimensions of 72.7 x 44 x 12.2mm and weighing only 37g excluding the cable, it is smaller and lighter than Samsung’s T3 and T5 drives - which are also on this list of the best portable SSDs. While it is pricey compared to some of the other external SSDs we have on this list, remember that it comes with military-certified protection. The stringent MIL-STD-810G 516.6 impact resistance test so it should survive accidental drops and shocks without much damage. If you shop around, you can also get it for less than its RRP.

5. WD My Passport Wireless SSD

The best portable SSD for travelling photographers

Capacity: 250 GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB | Interface: USB 3.0

Drop-resistant rubber bumper
Excellent USB transfer speeds
Premium price
Extra SSD speed useless over Wi-Fi

Storage giant Western Digital is no stranger when it comes to storage gear aimed specifically at pro photographers, and with the WD My Passport Wireless SSD it has created another brilliant device that photographers (or even regular users) will love. It joins WD's growing stable of wireless hard drives, which allow you to view and move files via a Wi-Fi connection, rather than with a cable, which is handy. However, over Wi-Fi, you're not utilising the full speed of the SSD. It also connects via USB 3.0, which offers very good speeds, but not quite as fast as USB Type-C or Thunderbolt. But the flexibility and durability of the WD My Passport Wireless SSD is certainly tempting, plus it comes with a built-in SD card reader, making it one of the best portable SSDs for photographers.

Read the full review: WD My Passport Wireless SSD

6. Adata SD700 External SSD

One of the best cheap portable SSDs

Capacity: 256GB, 512GB or 1TB | Interface: USB 3.0

Great performance
IP68 rating
No USB Type-C

The Adata SD700 will suit those looking for a rugged storage device that can provide ample capacity without costing too much. It offers good speeds, and it's IP68 rated, which means you can carry it around with you without worrying about it getting damaged. It  comes in capacities up to 1TB, so you don't have to worry about missing out on storage space just because it uses an SSD. However, it doesn't come with the new USB Type-C connection, which means speeds aren't quite as fast as they could be.