Saturday, November 27, 2021 • Welcome to the 💯 No-Nonsense Zone! 🎁 Happy Holidays! 🎉

Best Portable Drives of 2021: The Ultra-secure, Extra-rugged, and Super-fast

Portable drives are storage devices that allow you to conveniently carry a large amount of data from one computer to another.

Or you can use one as an offline backup — tuck it away, and nobody can hack into your essential information.

Find below the list of the best portable drives I’ve tested. Chances are you’ll find one that goes well with your situation or makes a great gift for any occasion.

Dong’s note: I last updated this frequently revised post on September 24, 2021.

Portable SSDs
Best Portable Drives of 2021: Portable SSDs come in all shapes and sizes.

Best Portable Drives: The lists

There are two lists.

One is portable drives that have what I’d called the “storage vault” level of security. The second list includes traditional portable drives for general usage.

Both lists consist of hard-drive-based and SSD-based portable drives. They also include devices of different interfaces, including USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps), Gen 2 (10Gbps), Gen 2×2 (20Gbps), and Thunderbolt 3/4 (40Gbps).

If you’re confused about these interfaces, you’re not alone. Check out this post on the USB-C port type where I explained them all.

See also  Device Connections Explained: It's All about USB-C

Important note: The number in front of each name is just the review order and not the ranking. Any of these will serve you well. It’s a question of how well, and that requires some reading — check out the full review!

Scroll to the bottom of the page to find out how their performance stacks up against one another.

A. The ultra-secure storage vaults

Again this list includes a portable drive for those with serious concerns about data breaches. They keep information absolutely safe from prying eyes.

In return, though, they will not keep the information from being destroyed, so don’t use any of them to store the only copy of your important data.

5. iStorage diskAshur M2: Super-Secure and rugged with a bit of Oddity

The iStorage diskAshur M2 Portable SSD
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The iStorage diskAshur M2 portable SSD looks like a flattened Zippo lighter.

The diskAshur M2 is another ultra-secure drive from iStorage that has two other members on this list.

The M2 is an ultra-compact portable SSD that has an interpreted keypad. The drive was excellent in my testing, except it uses a Micro-B SuperSpeed USB port instead of USB-C.

iStorage diskAshur M2's Rating

8.4 out of 10
The iStorage diskAshur M2 Portable SSD 4
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8.5/10
Design and Setup
8/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Strong hardware encryption and security keypad

Fast USB 3.2 Gen 1 performance

Rugged compact design

USB cables included

Cons

Micro-B Superspeed port instead of USB-C

PIN management can be overwhelming

Capacity caps at 2TB

Software patch needed for each Windows computer

See also  iStorage diskAshur M2 Review: A Tiny Ultra-Secure Storage Vault Oddity

4. Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD: The convient keeper of secrets

Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD has a practical design with an integrated USB cable and a built-in keypad.

Similar to the diskAshur PRO2 below, the Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD portable drive has an integrated USB cable that makes it works right away out of the box — you’ll need a converter before it can connect to a USB-C port, however.

However, it’s a portable SSD and not a hard drive, so it’s much faster.

Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD's Rating

8.3 out of 10
Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD 1
Performance
8/10
Features
8.5/10
Design and Setup
8/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Built-in strong hardware encryption and security keypad

Compact, rugged, light-weight and practical design

Fast SATA-based SSD performance

Built-in USB cable with the included extension

Fool-proof security approach

Cons

No USB-C, USB 3.2 Gen 2, or NVMe storage

Aegis Configurator software costs extra

Manual management can be daunting

Runs a bit hot

See also  Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD Review: A Tough Storage Vault that Makes Sense

3. Samsung T7 Touch: Security on the finger tip

Samsung T Touch
Best Portable Drives of 2021: Super-compact, the Samsung T7 Touch fits right in one’s palm.

The Samsung T7 Touch doesn’t have an integrated keypad, but it’s super-secure nonetheless, thanks to the built-in fingerprint scanner.

It’s also the only drive on this list that features USB-C, USB 3.2 Gen 2, and an NVMe SSD on the inside — it’s the fastest among ultra-secure portable SSDs.

Samsung T7 / Touch's Rating

8.4 out of 10
Samsung T7 Touch
Performance
8/10
Features
9/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Hardware encryption with an optional integrated fingerprint scanner

Compact and rugged design

USB 3.2 Gen 2-Class performance

Includes both USB-C and compatible cables

Cons

Write speed reduction during extended operations

More expensive than similar portable SSDs

See also  Samsung T7 and T7 Touch Review: Well-Rounded Portable SSDs

2. iStorage datAshur PRO2: The storage vault thumb drive

iStorage DataShur Pro
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The iStorage datAshur Pro2 is one tough thumb drive.

This tiny thumb drive is the most secure of its kind. It’s a type of storage device you can entrust your most confidential information. It’s a storage vault that fits inside your pocket.

iStorage datAshur PRO2's Rating

8.4 out of 10
iStorage datAshur PRO2
Performance
9/10
Features
9/10
Design and Setup
7.5/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Top-notch security against data breach

Rugged, weatherproof, compact design

Fast performance

Cons

Expensive

No safeguard against deliberate data deletion

Loose sleeve

See also  iStorage datAshur PRO2 Review: A Tough Little Data Vault

1. iStorage diskAshur PRO2: A Real Storage Vault in Your Palm

iStorage disAshur PRO2 USB Cable
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The built-in USB cable makes the diskAshur PRO2 super convenient to use.

The iStorage diskAshur PRO2 is the only hard-drive-based storage vault on this list. Other than the fact it’s the slowest one, it has the same security level as the next guy.

iStorage diskAshur Pro2's Rating

7.9 out of 10
iStorage disAshur PRO2
Performance
8.5/10
Features
9/10
Ease of Use
7/10
Value
7/10

Pros

Genuinely secure

Fast performance

Compact design with built-in USB cable

Cons

Expensive

Keypad combos take some getting used to

No USB-C support

See also  iStorage diskAshur PRO2 Review: A Real Storage Vault in Your Palm

B. The day-to-day traditional portable drives

This list includes traditional portable drives, including those without any security features at all.

11. SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD: Western Digital’s latest tough guy in town

SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD looks the part.

The G-Drive SSD is the fruit of merging SanDisk and G-Tech, two storage brands Western Digital acquired over the years, into a new professional lineup.

The new compact portable NVMe SSD is indeed quite pro. It has excellent performance, rugged chassis, and looks the part.

Though a bit pricey, the SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD has enough to be worth your consideration.

SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD's Rating

8.2 out of 10
SanDisk Professional G Drive SSD 5
Performance
9/10
Features
8/10
Value
7.5/10

Pros

Fast NVMe-based performance

Rugged, water-resistant, compact design

USB-C with included cables

Effective security feature

Cons

No USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 or USB 2.0 support

A bit pricey

Not convenient for Windows users

Runs a bit warm

See also  SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD Review: An Exciting Pro-Grade Portable Drive

10. OWC Envoy Pro SX: Underwhelmingly super-fast

OWC Envoy Pro SX Portable SSD
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The OWC Envoy Pro SX is another Thunderbolt-exclusive portable SSD.

The OWC Envoy Pro SX is the second Thunderbolt-exclusive portable SSD on this list. It’s the direct competitor of the Samsung X5 below.

As such, it’s a bit underwhelming due to the slower performance, but supporting Thunderbolt, this is still one of the fast, portable drives on the market.

OWC Envoy Pro SX Thunderbolt Portable SSD's Rating

8 out of 10
OWC Envoy Pro SX Portable SSD 13
Performance
7.5/10
Features
8.5/10
Design and Setup
8/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Rugged and compact

Fast Thunderbolt read performance

Relatively affordable

Cons

Write speed could be better

Not compatible with USB 3.2

See also  OWC Envoy Pro SX Review (vs Samsung X5): A Bit Underwhelming

9. WD Black D30 Game Drive SSD: Well-balance console add-on storage

WD Black D30 Portable SSD
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The WD Black D30 Game Drive SSD is a cool portable drive with a practical stand.

The WD Black D30 Game Drive SSD is an excellent alternative to the P50 below. No, it’s not faster, but it sure is more affordable and has just the right specs for many game consoles and computers on the market.

On top of that, it has a little stand that makes the whole package quite cute in use.

WD Black D30 Game Drive SSD's Rating

8.4 out of 10
WD Black D30 Portable SSD 5
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Fast and reliable NVMe-based performance

Cool-looking, rugged design, with a practical stand

USB-C port with included USB-A-to-USB-C cable

Runs cool

Cons

No USB 3.2 Gen 2×2

No security feature for general use

USB-C cable not included

Not water resistant

A bit pricy

See also  WD Black D30 Game Drive SSD Review: Solid Add-on Storage for Consoles

8. SanDisk Extreme Pro: The fastest USB portable SSD to date

SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD in Water
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The new SanDisk Extreme Pro can handle water submersion easily.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro is the latest version to replace the model that came out last year.

It’s the first in the SanDisk Extreme family that sports the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20Gbps) and standard and, among other things, proved to be the fastest USB portable SSD to date.

SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD's Rating

9 out of 10
SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD 10
Performance
9.5/10
Features
8.5/10
Design and Setup
9.5/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Super-fast performance thanks to the combo of USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and NVMe SSD

Compact, rugged and beautiful design

Excellent security feature with built-in hardware encryption

Android support

Cons

A bit expensive

Slightly bulkier than the non-PRO model

Runs hot

See also  SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD Review: A Tough Little Performer

7. WD Black P50 Game Drive: First USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 portable SSD

WD Black P50 Portable SSD
Best Portable Drives of 2021: You can get the WD Black P50 in any color as long as it’s black.

The WD Black P50 is the first portable SSD on the market that supports USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, which caps at 20Gbps.

And in my testing, it was one of the fastest on the market. That, plus the fact it’s super rugged and cool looking, means it looks the part as a storage device designed for gamers.

WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD's Rating

7.9 out of 10
WD Black P50 Cables
Performance
9/10
Features
7/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
7/10

Pros

Super-fast NVMe-based performance

Compact, rugged design

Top USB specs with USB-C port

High compatibility

Cons

Expensive

Currently, there are no game consoles with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2

No security feature for general use

See also  WD Black P50 Review: Potentially the Fastest USB Portable SSD

6. SanDisk Extreme: And excellent sweet-sport portable SSD

SanDisk Extreme
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The Sandisk Extreme is a safe buy.

This portable SSD is the non-PRO version of the SanDisk Extreme PRO above.

The only difference, though, is the lack of support for USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. Instead, it uses the older USB Gen 2 (10Gbps), which is slower.

To compensate for that, it’s significantly more affordable and a tad more compact. That and the fact USB Gen 2 is a popular USB standard — most computers don’t have a faster option anyway — mean it’s an excellent buy.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD's Rating

8.9 out of 10
SanDisk Extreme 2020 4
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8.5/10
Design and Setup
9.5/10
Value
9/10

Pros

Fast NVMe-based performance

Compact, yet rugged and beautiful design

Excellent security feature with built-in hardware encryption

Android support

Cons

No support for USB 3.2 Gen 2×2

Runs a bit hot

See also  WD Black P50 Review: Potentially the Fastest USB Portable SSD

5. WD My Passport: The most complete portable SSD to date

WD My Passport SSD
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The latest WD My Passport SSD version has a new design.

The latest WD My Passport SSD is an entirely new drive compared to the previous model.

It now has everything you’d ask from in a portable SSD: Top speed, compact design, storage space, and security. While it’s not perfect and slightly more expensive than competing drives, it’s easily one of the best portable SSDs on the market.

Samsung T7 / Touch's Rating

8.4 out of 10
Samsung T7 Touch
Performance
8/10
Features
9/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Hardware encryption with an optional integrated fingerprint scanner

Compact and rugged design

USB 3.2 Gen 2-Class performance

Includes both USB-C and compatible cables

Cons

Write speed reduction during extended operations

More expensive than similar portable SSDs

See also  WD My Passport SSD Review: A Sleek, Fast, and Secure portable Drive

4. Crucial X6: The tiniest 4TB portable SSD

Crucial X6
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The Crucial X6 is easily one of the tiniest portable SSDs on the market.

In many ways, the Crucial X6 is the mini (and lesser) version of the Crucial X8 below. Since the latter is already ultra-compact, we’re now talking about a tiny portable storage device.

Despite the diminutive physical size, the X6 is a formidable portable SSD. It delivers up to 4 TB of storage space and has the performance that can match that. You won’t need to wait for a long time, even when you want to fill it up.

Crucial X6 Portable SSD's Rating

8.6 out of 10
Crucial X6 3
Performance
8.5/10
Features
7.5/10
Design and Setup
9.5/10
Value
9/10

Pros

Fast performance

Super compact, yet rugged, beautiful design

USB-C-ready

Cons

Comparatively low perform cap

No USB-A converter or cable included

See also  Crucial X6 Review: The Tiniest, yet Fast and Spacious Portable SSD

3. Crucial X8: Micron’s first portable SSD

Crucial X8
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The Crucial X8 is a USB portable SSD, but it will work well with any Thunderbolt 3 port.

Micron joined the portable SSD market with a bang. The Crucial X8 delivers stellar speeds via USB 3.2 Gen 2 and is one of the fastest among its peers. And the fact the drive comes with a beautiful design and a friendly price tag doesn’t hurt.

Crucial X8 Portable SSD's Rating

9 out of 10
Crucial X8 Portable Drive
Performance
9.5/10
Features
7.5/10
Design and Setup
9.5/10
Value
9.5/10

Pros

Fast USB 3.2 Gen 2 performance

Friendly pricing

Compact, rugged, aesthetically pleasing design

USB-C ready, USB-A converter included

Cons

No bundled software or security feature

See also  Crucial X8 Review: The Fastest USB Portable SSD to Date

2. WD Black P10: The ultra-spacious rugged gamer’s portable hard drive

WD Black P 0 Game Drive
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The WD Black P10 has a look that means business.

It’s a portable hard drive for gamers. The rugged, cool-looking drive delivers tons of storage space inside a tough casing.

It’s the only hard-drive-based portable drive on this list and suitable for those who need a ton of storage space instead of performance.

WD Black P10 Game Drive's Rating

7.6 out of 10
WD Black P10 Box
Performance
8/10
Features
6/10
Ease of Use
8.5/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Solid and stylish design

Fast performance

Plug-n-play out of the box

Cons

Expensive

A little bulky

No USB-C or encryption support

See also  WD Black P10 Review: More than a Gaming Drive

1. Samsung Portable SSD X5: The Thunderbolt 3 bootable speed demon

Samsung X Thunderbolt 3 SSD
Best Portable Drives of 2021: The Samsung X5 is a Thunderbolt 3 drive and won’t work with a USB-C port.

The X5 is the fastest portable SSD by far. The catch is it only works with Thunderbolt 3 and not USB. For this reason, it’s more suitable for professional Mac-based environments.

Samsung Portable SSD X5's Rating

8 out of 10
X5
Performance
9.5/10
Features
7/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
7/10

Pros

Super-fast performance

Solid, pretty, rugged design

Compatible with Windows and Mac right out of the box

Useful and effective security feature

Can work as a boot drive

Cons

Only works with Thunderbolt 3

Expensive

Only one Thunderbolt 3 port

The 3-year warranty is a bit short.

See also  Samsung Portable SSD X5 Review: Crazy Fast Portable Drive

Best Portable Drives: The performance

When it comes to portable drives, the most important performance is copy speeds. Find below how the drives mentioned above stacked against one another in my testing.

Best Portable Drives Performance

Again, keep in mind that this chart includes drives of different connection and storage types, not to mention the pricing, and therefore is only for references.

That’s because comparing them using their performances alone is like comparing apples to oranges. It’s a good idea to read their reviews to find out how well they fit your needs.

☕ Appreciate the content? Buy Dong a Ko-fi!
🔥 Itching to Shop? Check out Amazon's Hot Deals! (•) 🔥

11 thoughts on “Best Portable Drives of 2021: The Ultra-secure, Extra-rugged, and Super-fast”

  1. Hi, Dong! Thanks for the article!

    Wondering if you could review the OWC Envoy Pro FX (Thunderbolt 3).

    It’s rather pricey, but I’m looking for an external option for a Mac Mini (instead of paying Apple’s price for internal storage) – something that could get close to Apple’s internal storage read/write speeds.

    I’d love to know your thoughts on the OWC! Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Will any of these storage devices allow me to download pictures and movies from my Samsung S10+ phone to the storage device?

    Reply
    • It’s a matter of power delivery and app and you can make many SSD drives here work, Thomas. But if you want to make sure, get the Samsung T7 (Touch).

      Reply
          • Picked up the 500gb drive. Works well and is easy to set up. The supplied USB C to USB C cable will not work with the Samsung S10+ phone. It will not stay locked in the phone. I suspect it is because of the rounded bezel on the phone. I ordered another cable that is supposed to work with the USB C connector on the Samsung S10+ phone

Leave a Comment