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.
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.
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 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
- Strong hardware encryption and security keypad
- Fast USB 3.2 Gen 1 performance
- Rugged compact design
- USB cables included
- Micro-B Superspeed port instead of USB-C
- PIN management can be overwhelming
- Capacity caps at 2TB
- Software patch needed for each Windows computer
4. Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD: The convient keeper of secrets
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
- 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
- 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
3. Samsung T7 Touch: Security on the finger tip
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
- 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
- Write speed reduction during extended operations
- More expensive than similar portable SSDs
2. iStorage datAshur PRO2: The storage vault 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.
1. iStorage diskAshur PRO2: A Real Storage Vault in Your Palm
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.
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
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.
9. WD Black D30 Game Drive SSD: Well-balance console add-on storage
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
- 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
- No USB 3.2 Gen 2x2
- No security feature for general use
- USB-C cable not included
- Not water resistant
- A bit pricy
8. SanDisk Extreme Pro: The fastest USB portable SSD to date
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.
7. WD Black P50 Game Drive: First USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 portable SSD
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
6. SanDisk Extreme: And excellent sweet-sport portable SSD
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
5. WD My Passport: The most complete portable SSD to date
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)
- 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
- Runs a bit hot
- Useless WD Backup and WD Utilities applications
- Slightly more expensive than competitors
4. Crucial X6: The tiniest 4TB portable SSD
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.
3. Crucial X8: Micron’s first portable SSD
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.
2. WD Black P10: The ultra-spacious rugged gamer’s portable hard drive
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.
1. Samsung Portable SSD X5: The Thunderbolt 3 bootable speed demon
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
- 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
- Only works with Thunderbolt 3
- Only one Thunderbolt 3 port
- The 3-year warranty is a bit short.
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.
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.