What’s the Best External SSD? A Definitive Guide & Review

If you’ve been shopping around for portable storage, you’ve no doubt come across external solid state drives – or SSDs for short. You’ll often see manufacturers quote that SSDs are superior to traditional HDDs in every way.

You might also notice that they can be pretty expensive. This is because the technology is newer and, honestly, just better.

So, is it worth buying an SSD? And what is the best external SSD to get for your needs?

Today, we’ll answer those questions and more.

 

The Best SSD External Hard Drive 2020

ProductCapacitySpeedInterfaceOur Rating
Samsung T5 SSD2 TB540 MB/sUSB 3.0, USB-C, USB-A4.6
Seagate One Touch 500GB SSD500 GB400 MB/sUSB 3.04.5
VectoTech Rapid 4TB SSD4 TB540 MB/sUSB 3.0, USB-C, USB-A4.9
Sandisk Extreme PRO 1TB SSD1 TB1.050 GB/sUSB 3.1, USB-A, USB-C4.8
Samsung X5 1TB SSD1 TB2.8 GB/sThunderbolt 34.8
Crucial X8 1TB SSD1 TB1.050 GB/sUSB 3.0, Thunderbolt 34.5
iStorage diskAshur2 - 128GB to 8TB SSD1 TB361 MB/sUSB 3.0, USB 2.04.7
WD My Passport Go500 GB300 MB/sUSB 3.0, USB 2.04.4

Samsung T5 SSD

  • Capacity: 2 TB (also available in 1TB and 500GB variant)
  • Dimensions: 2.3 x 0.4 x 3.0 inches
  • Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Speed: 540 MB/s
  • Interface: USB 3.0, USB-C, USB-A

In the world of SSDs, there’s one brand that can stand head-to-toe with the usual big names like Seagate and Western Digital. That brand is Samsung, and nowhere is this more evident than the T5 SSD.

The Samsung T5 is one of the best 2TB external SSD options you can buy today. It combines speed, portability, and durability in one great package. The largest capacity variant (2TB) is arguably the best in value.

The T5 clocks in at 540 MB/s, a speed that’s at the upper range of consumer SSDs. If you use it with the supported USB 3.0 standard, then you’ll notice a substantial increase in copy and load speeds. Incidentally, the T5 is one of our favorite SSDs for console gaming.

The T5 also has a slim form factor, which is no larger than a matchbox. It’s fantastic for carrying around almost anywhere. It comes in various colors, so you can certainly buy one that matches your style. The drive also has limited shock resistance and can survive a 2-foot drop without issues.

Beyond the basics, the T5 has added features built into the drive. AES-256 bit hardware encryption and password protection give your data a sense of security. At the same time, a software suite helps with data management and backup tasks.

Overall, what you’ll love best about the Samsung T5 is its pure performance factor, all while being smaller than most external drives out there.

Pros

  • Shockproof from 2 feet
  • Various color models
  • Compact and portable
  • Security and data management features

Cons

  • Needs to be reformatted for use with a Mac

 

Seagate One Touch 500GB SSD

  • Capacity: 500GB (also available in 1TB variant)
  • Dimensions: 2.95 x 2.19 x 0.39 inches
  • Weight: 2.29 ounces
  • Speed: 400 MB/s
  • Interface: USB 3.0

The Seagate One Touch is perhaps the best external solid state drive in terms of value. It’s one of the more affordable SSDs in the market, perfect for those who want to experience its power without shelling out a fortune

All the hallmarks of the One Touch point to ease of use for the casual user. It’s lightweight and compact, making it very easy to carry in your pocket or bag. The textile design also looks great and gives the One Touch a very user friendly vibe. Despite that, it still has the durability of an SSD drive with a reasonable level of impact resistance

The cost isn’t too bad, either. And while the price per GB is still not on par with that of an HDD, it’s considered budget in the realm of SSDs.

Speed is where the One Touch falls down a bit. It can only transfer at a maximum rate of 400 MB/s, so what you’ll actually see is a little less than that.

That’s why the One Touch is an entry-level SSD best suited for casual users. It’s for those who just want a faster experience when copying files or watching movies from their external hard drive. If this best describes you, then this is one of the better drives you’ll buy

Pros

  • One of the more affordable SSDs in the market
  • Lightweight and compact, perfect for everyday carrying
  • One year subscription to Mylio Create and two years for Adobe CC Photography

Cons

  • Below average transfer speeds for an SSD
  • No USB-C cable included (but it is supported by this drive)

 

VectoTech Rapid 4TB SSD

  • Capacity: 4 TB (available in 1TB and 2TB variants)
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 3.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Speed: 540 MB/s
  • Interface: USB 3.0, USB-C, USB-A

The VectoTech Rapid is one of the best portable SSD with a large capacity. It’s actually one of the few models that reaches a capacity of 4TB (most SSDs are only 2TB on average).

At 4TB, this SSD is reaching the point of becoming a long term storage drive of sorts. We love using it as a high capacity media hub for all our movies. We also know of some pro photographers who swear by this SSD.

Despite the huge capacity, the VectoTech Rapid still ticks many of the boxes that make SSDs so great. It has above-average speeds, reaching 540 MB/s. The reliability is there as well.

Exterior wise, the Rapid SSD has an elegant and edgy aluminum case, which does double duty as a durable and scratch-resistant enclosure. It’s also much hardier than its delicate look suggests. It’s capable of surviving a 6-foot drop and violent vibrations without affecting its operation at all. It can also withstand extreme temperatures (from -25C up to 85C).

All in all, the VectoTech Rapid SSD is a fantastic solution if you want speed and capacity at the same time. This USB-C SSD is excellent for a wide variety of situations.

Pros

  • Elegant exterior
  • More durable than most SSDs, with shock, vibration, and temperature resistance
  • Cross compatibility with both Mac and Windows

Cons

  • Premium pricing

 

Sandisk Extreme PRO 1TB SSD

  • Capacity: 1 TB (also available in 500GB and 2TB variants)
  • Dimensions: 4.34 x 2.26 x 0.4 inches
  • Weight: 6.1 ounces
  • Speed: 1.050 GB/s
  • Interface: USB 3.1, USB-A, USB-C

The Sandisk Extreme PRO is an upgrade to the popular Extreme line of SSD, at double the typical speed. This is one of the fastest USB external SSD that’s also portable, clocking in at 1.050 GB/s of sequential read speed. Actual speeds vary, of course (ours registered at a little over 900 MB/s), but it’s still relatively quick.

The speed boost makes everything way faster with the Extreme PRO, even at SSD standards. Copying files is cut in half, and launching times for software almost become non-existent. We tried booting Mac OS from this drive, and it loaded up in 19 seconds flat.

Aside from this, the Extreme PRO is also made for extreme conditions thanks to its increased durability. The rugged aluminum body forms both a shockproof enclosure and a natural heat sink, cooling down the unit. The drive is IP55 rated, making it resistant to water flows and drips, plus dust exposure.

For all of these reasons, we reserve the Extreme PRO for the most demanding of applications. Videographers and digital artists we know had no trouble working with files directly off the drive. It is flawless and smooth without overheating.

So if you’re looking for an exceptionally fast external drive and your typical USB SSD still isn’t enough, get the Sandisk Extreme PRO. You’ll be surprised (like we were) at how fast an external SSD can get.

Pros

  • Superfast transfer speeds of 1.050 GB/s
  • Exceptional durability with IP55 rating
  • Long five-year warranty
  • Cross compatibility

Cons

  • Higher cost per GB

 

Samsung X5 1TB SSD

  • Capacity: 1 TB (also available in 500GB and 2TB variants)
  • Dimensions: 7.00 x 5.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Weight: 2.83 lbs
  • Speed: up to 40 GB/s (with Thunderbolt 3), average of 2.8 GB/s read and 2.3 GB/s write.
  • Interface: Thunderbolt 3

We like to think of the Samsung X5 as the extreme version of the Samsung T5. This external SSD for Mac is for you if you want to maximize the power of the Thunderbolt 3 port in your machine. With it, you can achieve one of the fastest speeds ever achievable.

We’re talking about average speeds of 2.8 GB/s, which is around five times that of a typical SSD and 20 times that of the fastest HDD. This is the drive of choice for creative professionals on the go, giving them the ability to transfer high-resolution 4K footage in as little as minutes (our 10GB video took around 5 seconds flat).

The X5 also inherits the extra features that are typical of a Samsung SSD. One of the useful ones is the password protection feature that protects your data using secure AES-256 bit hardware encryption. It also uses the same SSD software as the T5.

The X5 also has comparable durability to other SSDs. It has a temperature management technology (called Dynamic Thermal Guard or DTG) and a heat sink that keeps it working at a cool 45 C. It’s also shockproof from up to 6 feet.

Overall, if you’re in the market for an impressive Thunderbolt SSD drive, the Samsung X5 should be your go-to pick.

Pros

  • Superfast transfer speeds that are 5x that of other SSDs
  • Temperature management
  • Edgy design

Cons

  • Needs Thunderbolt 3 to maximize its speed; otherwise, it’s not much faster than a T5

 

Crucial X8 1TB SSD

  • Capacity: 1TB (also available in 500 GB variant)
  • Dimensions: 4.33 x 0.45 x 2.09 inches
  • Weight: 3.53 ounces
  • Speed: 1.050 GB/s
  • Interface: USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 3

The Crucial X8 is a compact SSD that offers fast performance at an affordable price. Compared to other 1TB SSD external hard drives, it has one of the lower cost per GB rates.

The X8 promises fast speeds of up to 1.050 GB/s, and with a price like that, it’s certainly attractive. However, while we didn’t quite reach the quoted speed, we found that the X8 is faster than average. When used as a USB-C SSD, we achieved around 410 MB/s, while Thunderbolt 3 topped 905 MB/s (if you’re curious, we used the Disk Speed Test by Blackmagic Design).

The drive itself is durable enough to be used as your go-to transport drive. It’s also reasonably compact – no bigger than a smartphone. The design of the X8 is simple, featuring a black aluminum body core and a rubberized exterior on both ends.

The X8 is also shockproof and can withstand a higher drop height of up to 7.5 feet. Maybe it’s the lightness of the unit that makes it less damaging upon impact. In addition, you also get resistance to hot/cold temperatures and vibrations.

The one big drawback of the X8 is the lack of an activity drive. Since SSDs are silent as a mouse, you’ll have no idea if the SSD is active or not.

But despite this minor issue, the Crucial X8 is a great value buy as far as high-speed SSDs are concerned. You get above-average transfer rates, exceptional durability, and a compact form factor – all at a surprisingly affordable price point.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Above-average transfer speeds
  • Compact form factor
  • Three-year warranty

Cons

  • No activity light or indicator

 

iStorage diskAshur2 - 128GB to 8TB SSD

  • Capacity: 1 TB (also available in multiple capacities from 128GB to 8 TB)
  • Dimensions: 4.72 x 3.15 x 0.59 inches
  • Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Speed: 361 MB/s read and 358 MB/s write
  • Interface: USB 3.0, USB 2.0

The iStorage diskAshur2 is one of the most secure external drives on the planet and is available from a small 128GB SSD all the way up to a massive 8 terabyte SSD. It’s loaded with more security features than most banks put into their workstations (no, really!)

The main security roadblock of this SSD is the 7-15 digit PIN, which you need to enter onto the drive’s numeric keypad. Only by correctly entering this PIN can the drive become accessible to your computer. The keyboards themselves have a wear-resistant coating, which prevents hackers from guessing commonly pressed numbers (an easy technique for narrowing down your PIN to specific numbers).

Military-grade AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption ensures nothing else can access your data.

And it doesn’t stop there. The diskAshur2 has a Self Destruct Feature, which automatically erases the drive’s data when you enter a unique code. It also auto-locks the drive when it’s unplugged from the computer.

Indeed, if you’re transporting ultra-sensitive data and need the best security the world has to offer, the diskAshur2 is second to none.

However, the diskAshur2 has some glaring drawbacks. Take away the robust security, and the drive is actually pretty lackluster in terms of speed. It has a data rate of just around 350 MB/s, which is on the lower end of SSDs. It’s also pretty bulky, although with the added security, this is understandable.

Overall, if you value security more than anything else, get this drive. The diskAshur2 might be slower than usual, but for sensitive applications, it might not matter too much.

Pros

  • High range of capacities (up to 8 TB)
  • Robust, second-to-none security features
  • Wear-resistant keypads

Cons

  • Lower transfer speeds than most SSDs

 

WD My Passport Go

  • Capacity: 500GB (also available in 1TB and 2TB variants)
  • Dimensions: 3.7 x 2.6 x 0.39 inches
  • Weight: 1.94 ounces
  • Speed: 300 MB/s
  • Interface: USB 3.0, USB 2.0

The My Passport Go is Western Digital’s take on a budget portable SSD and its answer to the Seagate One Touch. Both have very similar price points, making this a great entry-level drive as well, and we honestly couldn’t pick between the two when it comes to choosing the best cheap external SSD.

First, we like the form factor of the WD drive a bit better. While it’s not as compact as the One Touch, it’s still reasonably portable. In addition, the My Passport Go includes a built-in USB cable with a nice little holder so you’ll never have to worry about misplacing it.

This WD SSD drive is durable as well and can withstand drops of up to 2 meters. This is thanks to the My Passport Go’s rubber edges, which do an excellent job of absorbing much of the impact of a fall.

One drawback of the My Passport Go is the slower than average transfer speed of 300 MB/s maximum, which is even lower than that of the Seagate One Touch.

Nevertheless, the WD My Passport Go is still a great option if you’re on the market for a budget travel external SSD. For casual users, even the reduced speed will create a big difference in everyday tasks.

Pros

  • Budget-priced SSD
  • Compact form factor
  • Integrated USB cable with a convenient holder

Cons

  • Slower transfer speed of 300 MB/s

 

How Does An External SSD Work?

While they’re both used as external storage, a solid-state drive works differently from a traditional hard disk drive (HDD). The latter is made up of a rotating magnetic platter where the data is written. A mechanical arm is then used to “read” the surface of the disk to access the data.

Solid state drives, on the other hand, don’t have any moving parts. Instead, they rely on semiconductor cells to store data, which can be accessed almost instantaneously.

The cell is usually in the form of flash memory, which is the same technology behind USB flash drives. In fact, you can think of solid state drives as just bigger capacity versions of these USB dongles.

The two main components of SSDs include the controller and the memory. The memory, made of either flash or volatile DRAM, is where the actual data is stored. The controller is a small processor embedded in the drive and is responsible for managing and accessing data in memory.

 

Pros and Cons of External SSDs

Because solid state portable hard drives don’t feature any moving parts, they have several advantages over hard disks that make them such an attractive storage option.

For one, they’re much more durable. Delicate hard disks can suffer irreversible damage if dropped for more than a few feet. Solid state drives can survive such a scenario with zero issues. Various studies have also shown that SSDs have very high reliability and low failure rate, even going beyond the length of time specified by the manufacturer.

They’re also virtually noise-free since there are no mechanical movements that produce any whirring sound as hard disks do.

Solid state drives also tend to be much more compact. Flash memory technology can compress more storage capacity using smaller circuits as compared to the larger magnetic disks of hard drives.

But probably the most significant advantage of solid state drives is speed. They can access data much, much faster – at around 540 MB/s (megabytes per second) on average. That’s up to four to five times compared to a hard disk. This can speed up everything from copying files to loading programs off the drive. Portable SSDs are so fast, in fact, that you can even load your operating system from one.

Of course, solid state drives have their drawbacks.  If they didn’t, then HDDs would be pretty much obsolete by now! There are two main issues with SSDs – price and capacity.

The current maximum capacity of SSDs is much less than that of a hard disk drive and looks like it won’t catch up anytime soon. The average storage space of SSDs is around 1 – 2TB, with higher tier ones at about 4TB. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a drive beyond 5TB.

Price is also the other issue. The cost per GB of an SSD is around two to three times that of a hard disk drive. This can make them quite impractical as a long term storage solution for a large volume of files.

 

Why Buy A Solid State External Hard Drive?

Now that you know what a solid state drive is and why it’s such a big deal, the question is: should you get one?

The bottom line is that if your work or situation requires a high-speed storage solution, then an SSD is the logical pick. Here are a few examples:

It’s great for creative professionals like videographers and photographers.

If you work in creative media, you’ll know how large files can get. Tasks such as manipulating images, editing videos, arranging sound clips, and building 3D assets all require high resolution, raw files.

The problem is that these files can be a couple of gigabytes in size. Managing, copying, and loading them off an external HDD can be very slow.

An SSD is a great tool to have in these situations. Most editors, for example, use 4K uncompressed video in their projects, which can be as big as 5 GB per minute. It’s near impossible to get smooth playback from an external HDD, but an SDD can play that footage back flawlessly.

Graphic designers and architects are also some professionals who work with excessively large files. Photoshop and Autocad projects can balloon up to hundreds of GB, especially with large formats like billboard designs. SSDs allow lightning-fast loading times while providing a sufficient capacity to work with.

In addition, SSDs have the advantage of being durable and compact. As a nature photographer, for instance, you can take photos and save them to the SSD in the field, without the risk of losing your files due to a drop or bump.

It’s a gamer’s dream storage.

Aside from media files, games are some of the biggest space hogs in your hard drive. Modern PC and console games can be up to 50 GB on average, with AAA titles reaching 100+ GBs. That doesn’t even count the numerous patches and DLCs that a game receives throughout its lifetime.

SSDs are an excellent storage solution for games. They’re large enough to store a few dozen titles for convenience. Plus, they’re fast enough that you can play the games off them directly.

A USB SSD is especially useful for console gamers, whose internal drives just aren’t large enough compared to a high-end PC rig. It also allows them to bring downloaded games and play them on a friend’s console. Most consoles are also stuck with slow 5,400 RPM hard drives, and an SSD can dramatically speed up the loading times of most games.

But even PC gamers can benefit from an SSD’s speed. You can dedicate an SSD to your Steam game library, and simply plug it in your computer to play them. This frees up your internal drive for other files.

You can use it to speed up an older (or any) computer.

One of the biggest reasons older machines are slow is because of the hard drive. More often than not, it will be equipped with a low speed 5,400 RPM hard drive. In addition, it might have worn out over the years due to wear and tear, bogging down performance even more.

External SSDs are a fast workaround that doesn’t require you to open up and replace your computer’s internal drive.

You can place a copy of your operating system on an external SSD, together with all your other vital applications. Then instruct the computer to boot from the device.

You’ll often see a colossal speed boost from doing this. Older PCs can load Windows in less than a minute. Our old Macbook Pro even booted up in a record 30 seconds.

You’ll also notice that every program or file launches faster. Large PDFs can open up as quickly as simple text files. Microsoft Word even opened as fast Notepad in our case. Not to mention that copying files takes way faster than before.

You can even multi-task with an external SSD. It’s possible to load multiple large files, browse the SSD, and even run a program all at the same time.

In a nutshell, an SSD feels as if it’s your computer’s native drive on steroids.

It’s excellent for fieldwork in extreme locations.

SSDs are a fantastic solution if you frequently take your work in rugged environments. Examples include wildlife or nature photographers, scientists, contractors, and engineers.

Professionals who work in the field can take advantage of the natural durability of external SSDs to give them peace of mind that their data is safe. They are often vibration proof, and some can even survive submersion in water. Plus, these drives are very compact, so they take little to no space in your bag.

You can use it as your media hub.

SSDs are often used as an entertainment storage hub for all of your music and movies. You can store and play them directly from the drive.

Of course, you can also use an external HDD for this, and it’s probably how you have been doing it. However, SSDs offer a faster bandwidth enough to play 4K HD movies without a trace of lag or stutter. Managing your movie or music library is also easier with the faster copy speeds of an SSD.

 

When NOT to Buy an External SSD

As we mentioned, SSDs are superior to HDDs in almost every way. And the latter would’ve been phased out if not for one fact – SSDs are expensive.

From a practical standpoint, then, it only makes sense to buy an external SSD if your usage can justify the price tag. Based on what we covered in the previous section, you’ll see that it often involves high-performance applications. SSDs are prized more for their speed, rather than their storage power.

If you’re a casual user who mostly wants a hard drive to store a few photos or as a backup for office documents, then an SSD might not be an economical choice. You’ll see almost negligible upside in speed between an HDD and SSD.

SSDs are also not meant for long term archiving of huge files, either – it’s simply not cost-effective. Furthermore, magnetic hard disks can last for far more extended periods of inactivity without power or electricity than SSDs.

The bottom line is that HDDs are still fast enough by today’s standards for most everyday tasks. If you’re interested in high-performance HDDs, you can check out our roundup of 4TB and 10TB HDD models.

But if you’re looking for fast storage to match your high-performance needs, then it’s SSD for you!

 

What to Look for in an External SSD Drive

Storage Space

How much storage space to get is one of the critical factors in buying a storage drive, and more so with SSDs. That’s because the price per GB is higher, so you’ll end up paying much more for capacity that you might realize you don’t need later on.

It’s easy to get a fairly reasonable estimate of how much storage space you’ll need. However, most people are “blinded by the TBs” and want to buy the biggest drive available. Resist this urge and just buy the space you’ll need.

For example, if you often work with large media files or have an extensive collection of movies, then you’ll want to tap into a larger external SSD. A 2TB is reasonable enough, with 4TB being the ultimate choice. The same is true if you’re a hardcore gamer that plays plenty of AAA titles.

On the other hand, if you just want to utilize the speed and power of an SSD to boot your OS or for select applications, then a smaller capacity drive would suffice. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 500GB to around 1TB is enough for most everyday users.

If you’re after a drive for long term storage of a large volume of files, then an SSD might not be the most practical solution. In this case, it might be cheaper to consider an HDD drive instead (you can check out our recommendations for 4TB and 10TB drives).

Transfer Speed

Transfer speed refers to how fast files are read and written on the disk. All drives, regardless if they’re HDD and SSD, are measured in MB/s, or megabytes per second. It tells you how many megabytes the drive can process in a single second – an intuitive way to visualize speed.

However, because SSDs work differently than HDDs, their speed is measured differently as well. SSDs are asymmetrical; that is, their read and write speeds are different. Data in SSDs are stored in blocks, and it’s necessary to erase the entire block first before writing in new data. This extra step is the reason why writing is much slower than reading.

When looking at specs, the transfer speed will almost always be the read speed (or sequential read speed).

Do note, however, that transfer speed also depends much on other factors. For example, the connection type or interface limits how fast the drive can actually process the data (we’ll cover this one next). Even the speed of your internal drive and computer is a limiting factor.

Two factors affect transfer speed the most, however: the SSD interface and the connection type.

SSD Interface

At its core, an external SSD is nothing more than an internal SSD placed inside an enclosure. It, therefore, works similarly to how your desktop or laptop’s internal drive works, and that includes the bus type or interface.

You’ll encounter two types: Serial ATA (SATA) or PCI Express (PCIe). SATA-based SSDs are much more common and relatively slower, topping just around 500 MB/s. PCIe drives are slightly more expensive, but offer faster transfer speeds of 800 MB/s and up.

Sometimes, manufacturers don’t list the bus interface used by the SSD. In this case, simply look at the advertised transfer speed will give you a clue. Anything above 800 MB/s is most likely PCIe, and anything less than 500 MB/s is SATA.

Connection Type

The connection type or interface refers to how the external SSD is going to connect to your computer. This is important because it has a significant impact on how fast your SSD can perform. A better interface will have a larger bandwidth to accommodate more data transfers.

There are plenty of interfaces out there, but you’ll often encounter two when it comes to external SSDs: USB and Thunderbolt.

USB is the more widespread of the two and will be familiar if you’ve ever used a modern device. The current standard is USB 3.0, which is up to 5x faster than the older 2.0. You’re looking at rates of around 480 MB/s, and getting 3.0 is an absolute must for SSDs.

It’s worth mentioning that USB 3.0 has a lot of naming conventions that will frustrate and overwhelm you if you don’t know about it. You’ll often see manufacturers label their devices as ‘USB 3.1 Gen 1’ or ‘USB 3.1 Gen 2’ apart from the vanilla ‘USB 3.0’. So what does all of that mean?

Fortunately, it’s pretty simple once you’re aware of it:

  • USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.2 Gen 1 all refer to the ‘original’ USB 3.0 standard. It has 5 GB/s speeds and can be identified with the blue colored port.
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 is the upgraded USB 3.0 interface, which achieves speeds of 10 GB/s. You’ll see them as having red-colored ports.
  • Separate from the interface is the physical shape of the connector, referred to as either USB-A or USB-C. USB-A is the older rectangular USB port that you know. The newer USB-C features a smaller, rounder port and a reversible connector.
  • USB 3.0 supports both USB-A and USB-C. Most USB-C drives will have a USB-A adaptor to support backward compatibility.

Aside from USB, there’s also Thunderbolt, an interface developed by Apple and Intel. It has several distinct advantages, chief of which is that it’s four times faster than USB. It also supports daisy-chaining or connecting up to six devices together in sequence using only one Thunderbolt port.

Of course, there’s a reason why you see more USB devices than Thunderbolt – the former is much more universally accepted. At the time of this writing, you’ll only see Thunderbolt in Apple computers and select Windows laptops.

Choosing your interface, fortunately, is pretty straightforward. You simply pick the fastest standard your computer supports. For Macs, you’ll almost always choose Thunderbolt as it can maximize your SSD beautifully. For everything else, select the corresponding USB standard for your hardware.

Endurance

Even though SSDs are durable storage mediums, they’re not invincible. Just like any electronic device, it will eventually become unusable due to regular wear and tear.

SSDs have a metric called endurance, which is a measure of their lifespan (and, therefore, reliability). It measures how many read and write operations can be done on the memory before it becomes unreliable. Past this point, the memory slowly loses its ability to hold data and becomes unusable.

When looking at SSD specs, endurance is usually expressed in terms of TBW, or terabytes written. This tells you how much data can be written onto the SSD’s flash memory before it starts to become unreliable – a reasonable measure of its longevity.

TBW ratings can vary, and it usually increases with capacity. The Samsung T5 external SSD, for example, has a quoted TBW rating of 150 for the 1 TB model and 300 TBW for the 2TB and 4TB variants.

In many ways, TBW is a much better guarantee of longevity than warranty, because it takes the actual usage of the drive into account, and not just an arbitrary length of time.

Note that the actual TBW of an SSD depends on several factors, and often last longer than the manufacturer has projected. An SSD that’s nearing full capacity, for instance, will see a reduced TBW rating since the remaining free memory cells will be subject to repeated read/write cycles.

Cost

By now, you already know that SSDs are more expensive than HDDs, so, to answer your question “is external SSD worth it?”, the answer is simply yes. Remember that doesn’t mean you should still buy the highest-priced one. It’s always worth comparing the prices of different models and manufacturers.

The best way to do this is through the drive’s price per gigabyte, which makes comparing drives easier and allows you to see if buying a bigger or smaller drive makes more economic sense.

Computing this is easy as well – simply divide the price of the hard drive by its capacity in GB.

Once you compare enough models and brands, you’ll notice that the price per GB is not uniform across the board. You’ll usually expect to see the GB price go down the bigger capacity you get. However, this isn’t always the case.

Hopefully, in this external ssd reviews guide, you have managed to find exactly what you were looking for.

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