Best portable SSDs Windows Central 2021

A portable SSD has a number of benefits over a portable HDD, the biggest being that they're much smaller and much faster. There are trade-offs like ultimate capacity and a generally higher price tag, but if you move a lot of data on the go then one of these is what you need.

Samsung T7 500GB Portable SSD

Top choice: Samsung T7

Staff pick

Samsung makes some of the best SSDs around, and the Korean electronics giant's portable offerings are also fantastic. The Samsung T7 is the latest model, with capacities up to a whopping 2TB. Read and write speeds are up to 1,050MB/s, and it connects to a USB-C Gen 2 port. The T7 is also ridiculously small, shock-resistant, and has an optional fingerprint scanner for added security.

From $80 at Amazon
Owc Envoy Pro Elektron

Tough performance: OWC Envoy Pro Elektron

It's exciting to see external storage that can beat out internal SATA drives and the OWC Envoy Pro Elektron is another such example. This pocket-sized SSD is built to withstand a beating, and because it uses USB-C 3.2 you're getting read and write speeds around 1,000MB/s. It's IP67 rated, too, and only really loses out to the Samsung T7 because it's hardly the most affordable SSD in town.

From $119 at Amazon
Sandisk Extreme

Budget toughness: SanDisk Extreme USB drive

If you're the outdoors type, perhaps needing a tough portable SSD to stick in your camera gear bag, then the Extreme from SanDisk is worth your time. Shockproof and IP55 rated for water and dust resistance, it's not going to let you down when you need it most. Read speeds are up to 550MB/s, it uses USB-C, and has a ring on it that you can use to clip it to your backpack.

From $73 at Amazon
PNY Elite

Basic option: PNY Elite

The PNY Elite is a no-frills portable SSD smaller than a credit card with 24/7 U.S.-based customer support and, oh, a pretty low price tag for its 240GB model. Need more? Fine! With 430MB/s read and 400MB/s write speeds, it's at least four times quicker than a portable HDD. The icing on the cake is the included license for Acronis True Image, a simple way to make a full backup of your drive in the event that anything bad happens.

From $48 at Amazon
Samsung X5

Super speed: Samsung X5

Thunderbolt allows simply insane data transfer speeds on this SSD, utilizing NVMe technology to match performance from some of Samsung's best internal drives. We're looking at read and write speeds of 2,800MB/s and 2,300MB/s respectively wrapped up in a shock-resistant shell. Not everyone can use one or would want to pay the asking price, but this is the future of portable storage.

From $200 at Amazon
CalDigit Tuff nano

Tuff enough: CalDigit Tuff Nano

The idea of a portable SSD is that you take it places, so having one that can stand up to a beating is a good idea. The CalDigit Tuff Nano can do that and then some. As a USB-C 3.2 SSD it's really fast, with insane transfer speeds and equally impressive read and write. It's incredibly tough, tested against dust, water and shock, and the only real downer is that out of the box it comes formatted for Mac.

From $120 at Amazon

If we had to choose ...

When we're choosing an internal SSD for a PC, there's one brand we always go for, and the same can be said now for external ones, too. Samsung makes some of the best quality products on the market, and the tiny T7 is one excellent SSD. You get a range of sizes, even colors to choose from, it's fast and reliable and doesn't even cost that much. It's a definite winner.

At the other end of the scale, Samsung is now pushing out Thunderbolt 3 drives with the performance that once was a fantasy for portable storage. They're pricey and not everyone can even use them, but if you're looking for the future, today, then it's here with the X5.

SanDisk is also another trusted brand in storage, and the Extreme is particularly good if you're outdoors a lot, say as a photographer or a drone operator, and need a storage solution that won't let you down when the going gets tough.

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