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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: This is a frequently updated post and I last updated it on September 9, 2021.

Portable SSDs
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. These are devices that you can use to store information that you want to keep absolutely safe.

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: Thunderbolt or Not, It's All about USB-C

Important note: The number in front of each name is just the review order and is not meant to be 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
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 drives on this list.

This is an ultra-compact portable SSD that has an interpreted keypad. The drive was all-around great in my testing, except for the fact it uses a Micro-B SuperSpeed USB port, instead of USB-C.

iStorage diskAshur M2

$197.00
8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

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
The Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD has a cool 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

$426.44
8.3

Performance

8.0/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

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 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 dauting
  • 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
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 Portable SSD

8.4

Performance

8.0/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

8.0/10

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
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

8.4

Performance

9.0/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

7.5/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Top-notch security against data breach
  • Rugged, weather-proof, 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
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 Portable Hard Drive

7.9

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Ease of Use

7.0/10

Value

7.0/10

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 portale drives

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

10. OWC Envoy Pro SX: Underwhelmingly super-fast

OWC Envoy Pro SX Portable SSD
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

0.00
8

Performance

7.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.0/10

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
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

$269.99
8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.0/10

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 2x2
  • 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
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

8.3

Performance

8.5/10

Features

7.0/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Fast performance
  • Pretty, rugged, and compact design
  • USB cables included
  • Generous 5-year warranty

Cons

  • A bit larger than previous version
  • Dust magnet
  • Terrible security software
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 Hand
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

7.9

Performance

9.0/10

Features

7.0/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

7.0/10

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 console with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2
  • No security feature for general use
See also  WD Black P50 Review: A Fast, Rugged, and Bold Portable SSD for a Price

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

SanDisk Extreme
The Sandisk Extreme is a safe buy.

This 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

$169.99
8.9

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

9.5/10

Value

9.0/10

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 2x2
  • Runs a bit hot
See also  SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD (2020) Review: A Worthy Upgrade

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

WD My Passport SSD
The WD My Passport SSD version has a completely 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.

WD My Passport SSD (2020 version)

9

Performance

9.0/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

9.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Fast USB 3.2 Gen 2 performance
  • Compact, rugged, practical design
  • USB-C-ready with cable and adapter included
  • Useful security feature
  • 5- year warranty

Cons

  • Runs a bit hot
  • Useless WD Backup and WD Utilities applications
  • Slightly more expensive than competitors
See also  WD My Passport SSD Review: A Sleek, Fast, and Secure portable Drive

4. Crucial X6: The tiniest 4TB portable SSD

Crucial X6
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

8.6

Performance

8.5/10

Features

7.5/10

Design and Setup

9.5/10

Value

9.0/10

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
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

9

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: (Still) the Fastest USB Gen 2 Portable SSD to Date

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

WD Black P 0 Game Drive
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 rugged 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

7.6

Performance

8.0/10

Features

6.0/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

8.0/10

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 Just a Simple Gaming Drive

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

Samsung X Thunderbolt 3 SSD
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

8

Performance

9.5/10

Features

7.0/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

7.0/10

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 X5 Review: A Crazy Fast Thunderbolt 3-Exclusive Portable SSD

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 Chart

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.

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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

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