Best Portable SSD External Hard Drive 2024

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As file sizes balloon, portable SSD drives offer a perfect blend of ultra-fast transfer speeds and compact carry anywhere form factors. With more affordable high-capacity SSD options available in 2024, we tested the top contenders to help you secure essential data and media through rugged use. The best models outshined traditional hard drives for real-world practicality.

SAMSUNG T9
1
SAMSUNG T9

Crucial X9 Pro
2
Crucial X9 Pro

WD_BLACK P40
3
WD_BLACK P40

SanDisk Extreme Pro V2
4
SanDisk Extreme Pro V2

SAMSUNG T7
5
SAMSUNG T7

6
Crucial X6

1. SAMSUNG T9

The first one on our list is the Samsung T9. The new T9 SSD from Samsung is making waves as a top-tier external solid-state drive, especially for creative professionals who need portable storage. This slick little device has the features to demand attention. 

More than just fast speeds, the T9 offers thoughtful design. Measuring 0.3 by 3.5 by 2.4 inches and weighing only 4.3 ounces, it strikes an ideal balance of portability and ample capacity. The textured wave pattern on its rubberized metal casing gives it a unique style while providing extra grip.  

In testing, the T9 delivers excellent real-world speeds, albeit not record-setting. With support for USB 20Gbps SuperSpeed, it nearly doubles the throughput speeds of its well-regarded predecessor, the T7. While it doesn’t top the benchmark charts for 20Gbps drives, it holds its own with great sustained performance, especially on larger 48GB file transfers where it bests comparable models. Available in massive capacities up to 4TB, it has plenty of space for even the biggest media projects.  

Security is also a highlight, with 256-bit AES hardware encryption allowing peace of mind when taking sensitive data on the go. On top of fast speeds, Samsung built the T9 to be durable, giving it shock and drop protection up to 9.8 feet thanks to the tough rubber exterior. 

Inside you’ll find NVMe solid-state drive components paired with simple USB-C connectivity. Handy cables for both USB-C and USB-A ports are included for broad compatibility. Installing the updated Samsung Magician software opens up convenient features for monitoring drive health, optimizing performance, controlling power use, and protecting data. 

For these reasons, even with a slightly higher price tag, the new Samsung T9 external SSD stands out as a fast, resilient, and attractive portable storage solution. As pricing comes down over time, it seems poised to become a favorite drive among creative pros and power users who demand both form and serious function.

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Up to 4TB capacity
  • Excellent compatibility
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • Needs a USB 3.2 Gen 2 x2 interface to get the best out of it
  • A bit pricey
  • No IP ratings

2. Crucial X9 Pro

Next up, we have the Crucial X9 Pro. The new Crucial X9 Pro portable SSD packs a punch, cramming speedy performance and robust design into a tiny, take-anywhere package. For those needing reliable on-the-go storage, this drive checks all the boxes.  

Despite its diminutive size, measuring just 0.3 by 2.6 by 2 inches and weighing only 1.5 ounces, the X9 Pro offers up to a whopping 4TB capacity. It connects via common USB-C or USB-A ports, supporting USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds. The rugged yet sleek aluminum housing features an eye-catching black rubber base for extra shock protection. An IP55 rating for dustproofing and water resistance plus 7.5-foot drop protection ensures the X9 Pro can survive life on the go.  

Security is a priority, with the X9 Pro supplying 256-bit AES hardware encryption to keep sensitive data safe from prying eyes. And Crucial covers the drive with an impressive 5-year warranty for added peace of mind.

In testing, the X9 Pro delivers blazing file transfer speeds across USB standards, topping its class for USB 3.2 Gen 2 portable SSDs. From large media files to backups, it handles heavy workloads with ease while running cool and quiet.  

A few caveats hold the X9 Pro back from absolute perfection. The included USB-C cable skews short, and there’s no handy USB C-to-A cable or adapter, requiring an extra purchase for broader compatibility. 

But for shoppers prioritizing performance, durability, and security in an ultra-portable SSD, the Crucial X9 Pro packs an unbeatable combination of features and value. For on-the-go data storage needs, it’s a standout choice.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • No USB-A cable adapter
  • The included USB-C cable is short

3. WD_BLACK P40

The WD_BLACK P40 is on our list as well. Western Digital’s P40 Game Drive SSD seems tailor-made for gamers who bounce between Xbox and gaming PCs. Leveraging WD’s reputation for quality storage devices, the P40 brings a compact, durable design plus blazing speeds to portable gaming storage.

Visually, the P40 Game Drive resembles WD’s earlier P50 model, encased in textured metal with a lone USB-C port. It shrinks the chassis to an even more portable form factor while nixing ventilation grills in favor of passive cooling through the metal shell. WD rates the drive as shock-resistant for drops up to two meters, though it lacks official waterproofing. 

Gamers will appreciate the P40’s subtle built-in RGB lighting, which can pulse colors and patterns when connected to a Windows PC through WD’s Dashboard software. It’s a fun customization flair for your battle station. 

The P40 Game Drive aims for wide compatibility, supporting PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X as well as Windows and Mac. Storage options range from 500GB to 2TB to suit different needs.
 
Performance is where the P40 really shines, with zippy USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 speeds hitting up to 2,000MB/s reads and writes in testing. Real-world use cases like game installs, patches, and video captures proved fast and reliable with no failures or errors. The P40 makes an excellent drive for high-speed PC gaming, though consoles won’t tap into its full potential.  

For gamers wanting portable, durable, and fast storage to work across their Xbox and gaming PC, WD’s P40 Game Drive SSD checks all the boxes at a reasonable price point for the performance.

Pros

  • Excellent data transfer speed
  • Compact, rugged design
  • Competitively priced
  • RGB lighting

Cons

  • No 4Tb capacity
  • No security feature 
  • Write performance could be better in extended operation

4. SanDisk Extreme Pro V2

The next one on our list is the SanDisk Extreme Pro V2. SanDisk’s new Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2 sets its sights on photographers needing robust on-the-go storage. With smart construction and blazing speeds, this solid-state drive feels purpose-built for life in a camera bag.  

The Extreme Pro impresses right from the durable chassis, machined from single-piece aluminum for strength while staying feather-light. Silicon rubber coating adds splash and shock resistance, with SanDisk rating the drive to withstand 2-meter drops. And the whole package is backed by a 5-year warranty for peace of mind. The only outward omission is a simple power/activity light.

Performance is where the Extreme Pro truly stands out, harnessing NVMe technology to hit blistering 2,000MB/s read and write speeds. This lightning transfer capability proves invaluable when working with massive raw photo and video assets. The Extreme Pro posts numbers to rival top-tier portable SSDs in its class.  

Real-world use does uncover a couple of limitations. The included USB cables skew short at around 25cm, which may annoy some desktop users. And Mac-specific software options feel lacking compared to Windows. But these are small caveats for a drive that otherwise checks every box.

With body and soul built for photography, SanDisk’s Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2 brings elite performance and resilience to photographers and creative pros perpetually on the move. The rugged charm and blazing transfers earn it a spot in every camera bag.

Pros

  • Excellent read and write speeds
  • 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • No power indicator
  • Expensive
  • Included USB cables are short
  • Silicone coating collects fluff

5. SAMSUNG T7

Next up, we have the Samsung T7. Samsung’s T7 Portable SSD brings speedy portable storage in a sleek, vibrant package. Available in eye-catching titanium gray, indigo blue, and metallic red, it’s as much a fashion statement as a functional drive. 

Incredibly compact at just 0.3 by 3.3 by 2.2 inches and a mere 2 ounces, the T7 squeezes up to 2TB of storage into a tiny, pocketable form factor. It utilizes a speedy USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface and ships with both USB-C and USB-A cables for broad 10Gbps compatibility right from the box.  

Inside, Samsung’s latest 96-layer V-NAND flash memory teams up with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface to enable zippy sequential read/write performance clocking over 1,000MBps in testing. Real-world transfers stay swift and snappy, although the lack of DRAM cache can bottleneck extremely large single-file transfers.

Security is a priority, with the T7 supplying 256-bit AES hardware encryption to lock down sensitive data. The tradeoff is a lack of fingerprint unlocking found on pricier Samsung models.
  
Other caveats include a shorter-than-average 3-year warranty with no splash/drop durability ratings. And while blisteringly quick in real use, max interface speeds may outpace real-world devices.  

For shoppers craving fast, stylish, and secure portable storage, the Samsung T7 Portable SSD brings together vibrant design, compact size, and real-world performance at an affordable price point. The snappy speeds and colors help it stand out from the external SSD crowd.

Pros

  • Tiny size
  • Durable construction
  • Hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption

Cons

  • Only short cables included
  • Three- rather than five-year warranty
  • No IP rating

6. Crucial X6

The last one on our list is Crucial X6. Crucial’s X6 portable SSD squeezes speedy, affordable storage into a uniquely slim and pocketable design. Ditching the typical blocky shape, the X6 stands just 0.35 inches thin while measuring 2.4 x 2.6 inches across – more a square card than a drive. The rounded corners and edges make it disappear comfortably into any pocket. 

Connections come care of a lone USB-C port, paired with both USB-C and USB-A cables in the box for broad compatibility. Despite the compact shape, the X6 feels reassuringly solid, having been tested to withstand 6.5-foot drops, shocks, vibration, and extreme temps. So it’s built and ready for life on the go.

Performance-wise, the X6 leverages SATA speeds to deliver snappy real-world file transfers – quick enough for everyday use and work tasks. The lack of a DRAM cache can cause some slowdown when the write buffers are filled by especially large singular files. But for general usage, read and write speeds stay consistently zippy.  

Available from 500GB to 4TB capacities, the X6 also brings value to users with their budget-friendly price. There are faster drives available, sometimes for less. But the X6 strikes an excellent balance of speed, design, and affordability. 

For shoppers wanting a slim, rugged portable SSD without breaking the bank, Crucial’s uniquely compact X6 brings high marks for real-world use. The smart rounded shape, resilient build, and real-world performance stand out as excellent portable storage value.

Pros

  • Light and pocketable
  • Faster than the original X6
  • Highly affordable
  • Drop resistant

Cons

  • Lacks an activity light
  • No USB-C to USB-A adapter
  • Lacks hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption

Conclusion

After evaluating real-world usage across travel and adventure settings, the best portable SSD hard drives provide the ideal mix of resilience, speedy transfers and travel-friendly size. As onboard device storage remains limited, devices like the SSD drives highlighted here offer plenty of capacity so you can carry immense libraries wherever you roam, while standing up to demanding environments. For ample storage you can swiftly access from anywhere, these portable SSD drives deliver.