So, whether you’re adding more storage capacity to an overwhelmed laptop, needing something to back up sensitive files, or just want a drive that will let you take your files with you wherever you go, getting one of the best portable SSDs might be the way to go.
This month, we gathered our top picks in this guide, including popular offerings from Seagate, Western Digital, and Samsung. We've compared everything from capacity and interface to speed, cost, and security to find an SSD that fits your needs and budget. Speaking of being on the budget, the included price comparison tool should let you find the best SSD deals available.
Collin Probst, B2B Hardware Editor
That is, as long as you’re prepared to spend a little more, they aren’t as cheap as portable hard drives, though they continue to drop in price and rise in popularity.
As expensive as they are, the best portable SSDs are worth the investment. While the best external hard drives still have a place in this world – and are terrific options for those who want to keep the cost down – external solid-state drives you can bring anywhere with you bring a wealth of unique advantages.
What makes portable SSDs so stellar is their ability to quickly give you access to your files while ensuring they are kept safe. Because they are being made increasingly robust and efficient, they’re designed to be fast, secure, and less prone to failure. On top of that, due to their portable nature, they’re also more ruggedly built to survive drops, bumps, and any other potential accidents and let you easily share files between PCs.
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Backup your portable SSD with cloud storage (opens in new tab)
IDrive, the cloud backup veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 10TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.
Best portable SSD of 2023 in full:
If you’re looking for a portable SSD with lots of features, then you might want to take a look at the Samsung T7 SSD. This external storage is not only fast – with sequential read and write speeds of up to 1,050 and 1,000 MB/s, respectively – but it also boasts quite a few nifty features in its palm-sized package.
The most important of those features is, of course, its built-in security options that use AES 256-bit encryption and give you the option to use fingerprint sign-in, which you can set up through its own management software.
Sure, the Samsung T7 SSD doesn't come cheap and it could do with a rugged case, but it remains one of the best portable SSD's currently available and well worth considering for purchase.
Read the full review: Samsung T7 SSD
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 2023.
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. It comes with a 10Gbps USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2, making it capable of delivering twice the maximum theoretical transfer rate of its predecessors.
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
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. This means that it can easily slip into your pocket and be carried around comfortably. At 82g, it is also extremely light as well as compact, although not as compact as the My Passport SSD.
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.
The Seagate Fast SSD is well worth considering if you're looking for the best portable SSD for a low price.
Read the full review: Seagate Fast SSD 500GB
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
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.
Read the full review: Adata SE730H External SSD
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.
The WD My Passport Wireless SSD 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 utilizing 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
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 as it should be protected against water ingress to a maximum depth of 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes, as well as being protected against dust.
The Adata SD700 External SSD comes in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB versions – in black or bright yellow colour schemes – 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.
Read the full review: Adata SD700 External SSD
There’s a reason why LaCie is among the few brands trusted by creators and digital nomads alike. The manufacturer has designed its hard and solid state drives to be travel-friendly, making them rugged enough to survive most accidental drops, as well as being lightweight (it weighs just 100g) and shock-resistant.
That is, while it may not have that rugged build that Lacie’s storage drives are known for, it is still built for travel. It's certainly not short of space, with a storage capacity of up to 2TB, equivalent to 20,000 photos or 65 hours of video content.
It's also versatile when it comes to connectivity options. For while it does have that USB-C connection that’s best for MacBooks and the Dell XPS line, it also allows USB 3.0 connectivity for the other laptops out there.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to choose the best portable SSD for you
If you’ve already made the decision of opting for an SSD over an external hard drive, then you’ll know by now that you’ll be needing to shell out a little more for the additional security advantages the SSD can bring.
But there remains a variety of options on offer and to decide which suits you best, the key thing to consider is the reason you’re looking to buy on in the first place. Do you travel a lot for work and need somewhere safe and secure to store your files in transit? Then be sure to prioritise an SSD that is especially compact, lightweight, and portable.
Do you work with highly-sensitive files and need an especially robust option? Then you’ll be wanting the SSDs that come with IP67 water and dust resistant guarantees. Are you a photographer or videographer needing a swift and simple way to store your files when your SD card is full? Then there is one option on this list that you should target straight away.
Once you’ve nailed down the purpose of your new SSD, your final thing to consider is your budget, as prices on these devices can vary quite wildly.
What is NAND flash?
Anthony Spence, from SSD and memory specialist Silicon Power (opens in new tab), answers this question.
"NAND Flash is a type of non-volatile storage technology. Non-volatile simply means that NAND, unlike DRAM (or system memory), does not require power to retain data. The ability to retain data after turning off the power makes NAND a great option for external on-the-go storage devices.
In contrast to hard disk drives (HDD), NAND Flash isn’t a magnetic technology, instead it makes use of electric circuits and a number of memory cells to store data.
NAND holds several advantages over HDD, for instance it has no moving parts, thus in theory data won’t be affected by accidental drops or falls. NAND Flash devices tend to be smaller and lighter in comparison to HDD, but most importantly, the performance of NAND Flash devices is considerably larger than the one from HDD ones.
The major drawback from NAND comes from the fact that they tend to be expensive on a dollar per gigabyte basis, especially when compared to more traditional hard drives. The two most common ways to offset this problem are by either adding bits per cell or by moving away from 2D planar technology to 3D NAND technology and beyond."
What is 3D NAND flash?
3D NAND also known as V-NAND technology enables NAND cells to be layered up. Layering NAND contributes to overcoming planar NAND capacity limitations. As NAND cells are stacked vertically instead of horizontally higher density can be achieved without sacrificing data integrity.
3D NAND not only offers higher memory density when compared to 2D NAND, but also is able to achieve lower power consumption, better endurance, higher read and write speeds and an overall lower cost per gigabyte.
The best portable SSD: How we test
Storage capacity is naturally one of the first features we ran the rule over when comparing the best portable SSD, with several models on the market now capable of storing up to 2TB of data.
Of course, this may be way more than you require, and opting for a model with less capacity may be one way to save some cash - with budget another of the comparisons we've considered in this article.
We also looked at connectivity and interface, with options ranging from USB Type-C to the nippier Thunderbolt 3. Lastly, we've considered just how well built these devices have been made, and how robust they are in the face of typical - or even non-typical (ie. drops and water damage) - use.
- Want an internal SSD? Check out our collection of the best SSDs
- Or for something even more portable, here's our list of the best USB flash drives
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