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Top Five Best Portable Drives: The Ultra-secure, Extra-rugged, and Super-fast

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Portable drives are storage devices that 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.

This post includes the best SSD-based portable drives I've tested. There are quite a few of them -- more than enough for you to find one that goes well with your situation, including excellent gifts -- everyone can use a good portable SSD nowadays.

Important note

Since late 2022, many SanDisk Extreme/Pro and WD My Passport SSD portable SSDs have been reported to randomly wipe off their data, likely due to firmware issues.

While I haven't experienced that with any of my drives, I decided to remove them from the current best lists -- they will still be included in the alternatives.

Dong's note: I first published this post on June 24, 2021, and last updated it on August 30, 2023.

Micron Crucial X10 Pro vs X9 Pro are among the best portable drives
With the latest Crucial X10 Pro and X9 Pro, Micron has become one of the best providers of portable SSDs.

Best Portable Drives: The top-five lists

There are two top-five lists. When applicable, I'll also include similarly-excellent alternatives in each case.

One list includes traditional portable drives for general usage -- casual or gaming. The other is for portable drives with what I'd call the "storage vault" level of security or ultra-fast performance for professional use.

Both lists consist of only SSD-based portable drives. As solid-state drives become more and more affordable, there's no reason you should get a mobile storage device that still uses a hard drive on the inside.

The lists also include devices of different interfaces, including USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps), Gen 2 (10Gbps), Gen 2x2 (20Gbps), and Thunderbolt 3 or 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.

The number before each name is the review order, 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 their performance charts.

A. The day-to-day or gaming portable drives

This list includes portable drives designed for daily usage or gaming needs and similar alternatives when available.

Synology BeeDrive in hand Micron Crucial X10 Pro in Hand Samsung T7 Shield Portable SSD 6 WD Black P50 Cables Crucial X6 3
NameSynology BeeDrive's RatingCrucial X10 Pro Portable SSD's RatingSamsung T7 Shield's RatingWD Black P50 Game Drive SSD's RatingCrucial X6 Portable SSD's Rating
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Design and Setup
Value
Performance
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Design and Setup
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Buy this product

5. Synology BeeDrive: An unique and exellent backup solution

In case you didn't read the intro: This is the latest member on this list. The number is not the ranking.

Synology BeeDrive with cable
Best portable drives: The Synology BeeDrive

The BeeDrive is Synology's first non-NAS storage device. The drive is designed for those needing a relative backup solution and yet not ready for a NAS server.

In testing, the BeeDrive has proven to be a terrific backup solution. You can also use it to transfer photos and videos from a phone to your computer in real time. And even without all that, it's still an excellent portable SSD.

Synology BeeDrive's Rating

8.9 out of 10
Synology BeeDrive in hand
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Setup
9 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

Fast USB 3.2 Gen 2 performance

Robust and effective personal backup/sync solutions thanks to the well-thought-out BeeDrive for Desktop and mobile app

Compact, practical design; runs cool

Cons

No hardware encryption, no macOS support (yet), no option for system imaging, and users can't exclude subfolders from a sync; the iOS app could be better

The BeeDrive mobile app only works within the local network; the desktop app doesn't work with third-party hardware


4. Crucial X10 Pro: Representing Micron’s NVME-based portable SSDs

Micron Crucial X10 Pro Box Content
Best portable drives: The Micron Crucial X10 Pro

The Crucial X10 Pro is the latest and the best among Micron's many excellent portable SSDs. It's one of a few featuring the 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 standard and, in testing, proves to be the fastest among its peers.

Excellent and similar alternatives to consider:

Crucial X10 Pro Portable SSD's Rating

8.5 out of 10
Micron Crucial X10 Pro in Hand
Performance
10 out of 10
Features
8 out of 10
Design and Setup
9 out of 10
Value
7 out of 10

Pros

Fast performance overall with top NVMe USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 performance

Super-compact yet spacious; rugged, practical design

Supports all platforms, including Android.

Cons

No USB-A cable or adapter included

A tad expensive


3. Samsung T7 Shield: The best Samsung portable SSD to date

Samsung T7 Shield Portable SSD 15
Best portable drives: The Samsung T7 Shield.

The Samsung T7 Shield is more than just the rugged version of the T7/Touch above. The new drive proved to be faster in testing, especially in tests using USB 3.2 Gen 1.

On top of that, it comes with a reasonable price tag at launch. It's an easy recommendation.

Similar alternative:

Samsung T7 Shield's Rating

8.5 out of 10
Samsung T7 Shield Portable SSD 6
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

Fast performance, compact and rugged design

Hardware encryption with effective password protection

USB cables included

Cons

The Android app is a joke

Attracts dirt easily


2. WD Black P50 Game Drive: Representing WD and SandDisk brands

WD Black P50 Portable SSD
Best portable drives: 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 2x2, which caps at 20Gbps.

In my testing, it was the fastest on the market until the SanDisk Extreme Pro and Micron Crucial X10 Pro (above) came around.

Similar alternatives:

Important note

Since late 2022, many SanDisk Extreme/Pro and WD My Passport SSD portable drives have been reported to randomly wipe off their data. While I haven't experienced that with the drives I used for the reviews, you're advised to update their firmware to the latest immediately. Or you can opt for a different brand, to be sure. In any case, never put the only copy of your data on a portable drive.

WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD's Rating

7.9 out of 10
WD Black P50 Cables
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
7 out of 10
Design and Setup
8.5 out of 10
Value
7 out of 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 2x2

No security feature for general use


1. Crucial X6: An excellent SATA-based portable SSD

In case you didn't read the intro: This is the oldest member on this list; the number is not the ranking.

Crucial X6
Best portable drives: The Crucial X6 is easily one of the tiniest portable SSDs.

The Crucial X6 is the only SATA-based portable SSD on this list. But despite the diminutive storage standard and physical size, it's an excellent device thanks to its fast performance and affordability.

Crucial X6 Portable SSD's Rating

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


B. The ultra-secure, rugged storage vaults and professional-grade portable storage

This list includes ultra-secure portable drives -- and their similar alternatives when applicable -- that deliver the type of performance professionals require.

The iStorage diskAshur M2 Portable SSD 4 Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD 1 Samsung T7 Touch iStorage datAshur PRO2 X5
NameiStorage diskAshur M2's RatingApricorn Aegis Padlock SSD's RatingSamsung T7/Touch's RatingiStorage datAshur PRO2's RatingSamsung Portable SSD X5's Rating
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Description
Statistics
Performance
Features
Design and Setup
Value
Performance
Features
Design and Setup
Value
Performance
Features
Design and Setup
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Performance
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Design and Setup
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Performance
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Design and Setup
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Buy this product

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

In case you didn't read the intro: This is the latest member on this list. The number is not the ranking.

The iStorage diskAshur M2 Portable SSD
Best portable drives: 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 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 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


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

Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD
Best portable drives: The Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD has a practical design with an integrated USB cable and a built-in keypad.

Like the diskAshur PRO2 below, the Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD portable drive has an integrated USB cable that makes it work 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 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 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 incurs extra cost

Manual management can be daunting

Runs a bit hot


3. Samsung T7/Touch: Security on the fingertip

Samsung T Touch
Best portable drives: 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, 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 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Setup
8.5 out of 10
Value
8 out of 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


2. iStorage datAshur PRO2: The storage vault thumb drive

iStorage DataShur Pro
Best portable drives: The iStorage datAshur Pro2 is one tough thumb drive.

This tiny thumb drive is the most secure of its kind. It's a 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 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Setup
7.5 out of 10
Value
8 out of 10

Pros

Top-notch security against data breach

Rugged, weatherproof, compact design

Fast performance

Cons

Expensive

No safeguard against deliberate data deletion

Loose sleeve


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

In case you didn't read the intro: This is the oldest member on this list; the number is not the ranking.

Samsung X Thunderbolt 3 SSD
Best portable drives: 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 environments, at least for now.

Similar alternatives:

Samsung Portable SSD X5's Rating

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


Best Portable Drives: The performance

The copy performance is among the most important in picking a portable drive.

Find below how the drives mentioned above, including the alternatives, stacked against one another in my testing. The charts are sorted in review order, with the latest on top.

Best Portable SSDs Write Performance Best Portable SSDs Read Performance
Best portable SSDs' real-world copy performance

Again, these charts include drives of different connection grades. It's always a good idea to read their reviews to find out how they fit your storage needs.

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17 thoughts on “Top Five Best Portable Drives: The Ultra-secure, Extra-rugged, and Super-fast”

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  1. I’d like to know more about the WD Passport SSD issue, I recently purchased the 4Tb WDBAGF0040BGY-WESN and have not started to use it but your comment concerns me … I do not want a drive that I can lose my data so, if there is any specific information available I’d like to see it and approach WD on the issue before I start to put data that I can not lose on it! Has WD been questioned and how can it be fixed before I use it.

    Reply
    • You want to download and install the latest firmware, Dave. Follow the link mentioned in the WD Black P50 section above.
      WD’s response hasn’t been stellar on the matter.

      Reply
  2. People need to avoid those Sandisk Extreme Pro Portable drives at all costs. The drives are faulty and cause sudden data loss. theverge has an article this month about this issue. Dong, please research about these drives. We would love your insight on this issue. Check out amazon reviews and verge article.

    Reply
    • I mentioned that at the top of this post and their reviews. I haven’t experienced similar issues with mine and I have a few. Seems like a firmware issue.

      Reply
  3. Extremely interesting write up. Your reviews are some of the best to be found.

    I believe the SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD would work on a Thunderbolt 4 port (which I do have on my laptop), but would it be able to reach near it’s maximum advertised speeds of 2,000 MB/s reading and writing on that port? Or would one have to have the specific USB 3.2 GEN 2×2 port in order to reach near those advertised speeds.

    I noticed it did not even get close to those speeds in your test, but I am guessing you did not test it on a USB 3.2 GEN 2×2 port. Please correct me if I am wrong on that guess.

    Thanks for your time.

    Reply
  4. 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
  5. 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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