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The Best Portable SSDs

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Falling prices have moved solid-state drives (SSDs) from a premium upgrade you’d save for the boot drive on your main computer to something inexpensive enough that you can throw a portable SSD into your laptop bag and go. Here are our top picks.

As with most things, there are many, many different options to consider when picking up an SSD, or Solid State Drive. The key factor for you may be price, or perhaps it’s sheer amounts of storage. For others, speed could be of the essence. If you’re using your drive out in the field—or literally in a field—you’re going to need something a little more rugged, too.

The chances are that a combination of all of these things are what you consider when making your purchase, but no matter what your focus is there will be an SSD for you. Here are our picks of the best all-round SSD, the fastest, and also the most rugged—so nobody is left out.

Update, 5/23/22: Updated links for Samsung and SanDisk.

Best Overall SSD: Samsung T5

The Samsung T5 500GB portable SSD in blue

Samsung has established itself as one of the biggest players in the portable SSD market, and with good reason. The Samsung T3 was a super popular SSD, and its replacement comes in the form of the Samsung T5.

With the T5, Samsung has another hit on its hands, thanks to its combination of super-fast speeds and reasonable pricing. Thanks to the USB 3.1 connection, you can expect real-world speeds of up to 540MB/s thanks to the use of USB 3.1 connectivity via either USB-C or USB-A ports (the drive has a USB-C port, but includes cables for both USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A). On top of all that it’s quite compact. This version offers 50GB of storage, but there are other options ranging from 250GB up to 2TB.

Best Overall

Samsung T5

The Samsung T5 is super-small, super-fast, and reasonably priced. What more could you ask for?

Fastest SSD: Samsung X5

The Samsung X5 portable SSD

If money is no object, then the Samsung X5 is where you should be putting yours. The use of the blazing fast Samsung 970 Evo NVMe SSD inside this thing should tell you that it’s going to be quick, and it really us. But it’s not cheap, and it’s slightly larger than the T5.

So how fast is the X5? In a word, very. Connected over Thunderbolt 3, it boasts speeds of up to 2.8GB/s, which is ming-bogglingly quick. You might not get those speeds in the real world, but even if you get anywhere resolving them, you’re going to be very happy indeed.

Given the cost, you might not want to splurge on the 2TB model, but with 1TB and even 500GB options available, there’s room for most budgets.

Fastest SSD

Samsung X5

Need a portable solid-state drive that's fast? Go with this one.

Best Rugged SSD: SanDisk Extreme

The SanDisk Extreme portable SSD with a built-in handle loop

If you’re taking your portable SSD out and about, you’re going to want it to stay safe while you do it. SSDs are already naturally more rugged than their HDD counterparts (on account of their lack of moving parts), but that doesn’t make them indestructible. You still need them to hold up to rough treatment, and the SanDisk Extreme will do just that.

With IP55 dust and water resistance, you won’t need to worry about taking the Extreme on location whether that’s poolside or on a photography adventure. If your drive is full to the brim with important data, that peace of mind is worth its weight in gold.

Just like most portable SSD models, there’s a capacity to suit everyone here—starting at 500GB and going all the way up to a whopping 4TB.

Best Rugged SSD

SanDisk Extreme

The SanDisk Extreme offers plenty of storage and a durable design.

Oliver Haslam Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam is a professional freelance writer with nearly ten years of experience. His work has been published on Macworld, PCMag, 1Password's blog, and other websites. Read Full Bio »