9 SSD External Hard Drives That Can Transfer Your Files And Photos In A Flash

More From Vetted

Forbes Vetted

The best external SSDs offer a level of storage performance, read/write speed, and reliability that wasn’t possible with older external hard drives. They’re also lighter and much less susceptible to fall damage, making them a great solution for carrying data or media around with you, while offering quick and immediate access to that data no matter where you are.

The SanDisk Extreme 1TB is a super fast, tough, external SSD

SSDs also provide a reliable data, file, and photo (or video) backup solution while you’re on-the-go and a cloud-based solution isn’t available or fast enough.

SSDs are still typically more expensive than a traditional (mechanical) hard drive, but as prices for flash memory have come down in recent years, some of the best external SSDs—even with 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB capacities—have become much more affordable.

There are a number of great SSD options, whether you want to take your files on the road, or you need a blazing fast drive for transferring huge files between your computers. An external SSD is also a great local backup solution for your desktop computer, which you can rely on in addition to (or instead of) a cloud-based backup option. Whichever use case you’re after, we’ve identified nine of the best SSD drives currently available for Windows PCs, Macs, gaming consoles, and even some mobile devices.

15 Gifts For Pets That Show How Much You Really Love Them

The Best Beauty Gifts For All The Skincare And Haircare Lovers On Your List

Best Overal External SSD

Samsung T7 1TB

Samsung – T7 1TB External USB-C

The Samsung T7 offers a perfect blend of price, performance, and portability. Its 1TB capacity gives it plenty of space for games, movies, photos, music, and work documents – or anything else you want to load it with. Its USB-C (USB 3.2) interface and 1,000/1050 MBps (megabytes per second) read/write speed makes it fast enough to handle streaming and gaming right from the drive.

The T7 is slimline and lightweight (0.13 ounces), making it easy to slip into your pocket if you want to keep it close at hand. It also supports 256-bit AES encryption if you want to keep your data especially safe, and it’s powered by the USB port of your computer or the device it’s connected with. For a great all-round external SSD, the Samsung T7 is a great solution for the job. Larger capacity Samsung T7 SSDs are available.

Biggest External SSD

U32 Shadow 8TB

U32 Shadow 8TB External SSD USB-C Portable Solid State Drive

Unlike mechanical hard drives, SSDs don’t typically come in massive storage capacity sizes. One exception, however, is the U32 Shadow 8TB drive. While it offers four times more storage space – compared to a typical (and affordable) 2TB SSD – the downside is it’s far more expensive than any other SSD drive featured in this article. It’s also not as fast as many of the other options.

This drive is best for rapid file transfers or backups, rather than live access. Some users have reported relatively weak performance for random file access, so it may not be the best for streaming video or gaming from. That said, there’s nothing quite like this in terms of capacity, so if you can’t deal with using multiple, smaller-capacity SSDs, but still want the benefit of SSD read/write speeds, then the U32 is the best external SSD you can get. It’s compatible with USB and Thunderbolt 3 ports, and the entire unit weighs just six ounces.

Best Budget External SSD

PNY Elite 480GB

PNY Elite 480GB USB 3.0 Portable Solid State Drive

External SSDs are getting cheaper all the time, but with its recent sale price drop, this PNY Elite SSD is astonishingly affordable. At almost a third of its usual price, this half a terabyte SSD offers fast access to heaps of space for storing data, backing up important information, or acting as an external game drive if you want to take your games with you.

Despite its size and price, it still enjoys SATA SSD speeds of 430 MBps read and 400 MBps write, making the most of its USB 3.1 Gen 1 connector for high-speed data transfers. It works just as well with Windows and Mac OS, using a standard USB Micro-B to USB-A cable for connectivity. A 960GB version is also available, which on Amazon, is priced at just $75.

PNY PSD1CS1050-960-FFS Elite 960GB USB 3.0 Portable Solid State Drive (SSD)

Fastest External SSD

Samsung X5

SAMSUNG X5 2TB – Up to 2800MB/s -Thunderbolt 3 NVMe External Solid State Drive

If you need the fastest external SSD performance money can buy, then the Samsung X5 is leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. Leveraging NVMe technology, it offers a near 3,000MBps data read rate—almost six times that of traditional SATA external SSDs. It’s compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, so there are a broad array of devices that can take full advantage of its incredible transfer speeds.

It comes in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities, but the best value for money, if you’re willing to spend it, is with the largest capacity. It’s a lot more expensive than other SSD options, but if you need cutting edge performance, there’s nothing quite like the Samsung X5.

The shock resistant casing will protect this SSD, allowing it to withstand drops from up to two meters. An optional password protection feature that utilizes AES 256-bit encryption can be used with this drive. It weighs just 5.3 ounces.

Best External SSD for Gamers

Seagate Storage Expansion Card

Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S 1TB Solid State Drive

SanDisk is the official Microsoft drive partner for the Xbox Series S/X Storage Expansion card, which is the only external SSD that can offer comparable performance to the internal SSD found inside the new-generation gaming console. It’s not quite as fast, but it gets very close, taking full advantage of NVMe technology to load games faster than anything seen on last-generation consoles and gaming PCs. It not only helps your games load faster, but supports quick resume, so you can jump between games seamlessly whether they’re on the internal SSD or Expansion Card.

The 1TB capacity doubles the Xbox Series X and quadruples that of the Series S, making for a sizeable upgrade to what the consoles ship with. The Seagate Storage Expansion Card isn’t cheap, but it’s a lot more affordable than some other external NVMe drives – and it’s the best external SSD you can use with the Xbox Series X.

A less expensive 500GB, and more expensive 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB version of this SSD is also available, as are special themed versions of the drive based around Avenger Assemble, Avengers Hulk, and Halo Master Chief.

Best External SSD for Travelers

SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD V2 – 2TB

SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD – Up to 1050MB/s – USB-C

There are plenty of drives out there that have a few rubber bumpers on their casing’s corners, but the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD goes to a whole new level of protection and durability – without sacrificing speed.

Encasing an NVMe drive in a heat-dispersing aluminum chassis, it maintains high read/write speeds of around 2,000MB/second, but protects it completely with a robust IP55 rating. In other words, this SSD is almost impervious to dust and can handle a sustained blast of water from a nozzle for up to a minute.

Combined with a rating that allows it to withstand up to a two meter drop, this drive should be safe from most of the threats and hazards it’ll come across during your travel adventures. This SSD is also extremely portable and easy to transport. The handy lanyard ring makes it easy to keep the unit close at hand, or you can use an optional carrying case for even more protection during transport.

Best Best External SSD for Photographers & Videographers

SanDisk Extreme Pro V2 – 4TB

SanDisk 2TB Extreme PRO Portable SSD V2 – with Slinger Hard Drive Case

This SSD has the same basic specifications as the 2TB version, but offers double the amount of storage space (4TB), which is ideal for storing and having quick access to a very large digital photo collection – or useful for someone whose focus is on editing and storing HD video content.

While there are other SSDs that offer as much (or more) storage for less money, what you’re paying for here is the durability and design of the drive. So whether you’re shooting on location near your home or office, or traveling to exotic destinations to shoot photos or video, you know your content will be safe and secure once it’s transferred to this SSD drive. The transfer process from your camera or to and from your computer will be quick, as this second-generation edition of the SanDisk SSD is twice as fast as the original generation with a 2000MB/second read/write speed.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD V2 supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 and has a built-in USB-C connector. The drive is powered by the computer it’s connected to. An added benefit to this SSD is that it supports the free San Disk Memory Zone app (for Android devices only). The app allows you to backup your phone and transfer files to and from your mobile device with ease.

Best External SSD for Security-Minded Users

Samsung T5 SSD – 1TB


In addition to a fast read/write speed (up to 540MB/second) and USB 3.1 Gen 2 support, the Samsung T5 1TB SSD offers a very compact design (77.3mm by 75mm, with a total weight of 51 grams). It can sustain a drop from up to two meters. However, for security-minded people, it’s the optional password protection feature that utilizes AES 256-bit hardware encryption that will keep your personal and private data more secure.

The SSD comes with free software for Windows PCs, Macs and Android mobile devices that allow you to easily set up and manage the SSD and its security features. The drive comes with a USB-C-to-C cable and USB-C to-A cable for seamless connectivity to your computers or mobile devices without needing extra adapters. In addition to the popular 1TB version, there are 250GB, 500GB and 2TB versions available.

Best NVMe External SSD

SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorLock SSD (2TB)

SanDisk Professional 2TB G-DRIVE ArmorLock SSD

The focus of the SanDisk Professional 2TB G-Drive is to provide you with a pro-level SSD with a 1000MB/second read/write speed and password-enabled 256-bit AES-XTS hardware encryption, which includes the ability to use your smartphone as the key. It also offers USB 3.2 Gen 2 connectivity.

This SSD is MacOS Time Machine compatible for creating full computer backups, and also supports Windows PCs. If you don’t need 2TB of storage, but like this SSD’s other specs, you can pick up the 1TB version of the G-Drive for a bit less money. A 4TB version is available if you need that much extra storage.

From a durability standpoint, the SanDisk Professional 2TB G-Drive can withstand a three meter drop and has 1,000-pound crush resistant. It’s also dust and water resistant. The unit measures 5.28-inches by 3.23-inches by 0.75-inches and weighs 7.04 ounces.

The SanDisk Professional 2TB G-Drive utilizes MVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express). This means that communication between the storage drive and your computer’s System CPU is optimized and more advanced, so input/output tasks performed using NVMe drives begin faster and allow for more data to be transferred at higher speeds. This is particularly useful to gamers, for example, who will experience significantly faster game load times using this drive.

External Hard Drives vs. External SSDs

Too often used interchangeably, (mechanical) external hard drives and external SSDs are very different pieces of technology, although they have the same job, which is storing your data and information outside of your computers or mobile devices. Mechanical hard drives and SSDs operate in a vastly different manner to give a very different usage experience. Their price and capacities tend to vary considerably too.

External hard drives use a spinning platter technology that has low limits on read and write speed as well as access time, leading to much slower data transfers and load times. They also use moving parts, which makes them susceptible to drop damage and mechanical failure. They are, however, far cheaper than SSDs and come in much larger capacities.

External SSDs are based on NAND Flash memory and can operate anywhere between two and 20 times faster than the best external hard drives. Their lack of moving parts make them more durable too, although they are still more expensive, especially at larger capacities.

If you’re using a desktop computer with an internal mechanical hard drive, but you also have a digital photo library that contains more than 100,000 images, for example, you’ve probably noticed a tremendous lag in performance when it comes to working with your photos – even if your computer is otherwise state-of-the-art. This also applies to games or when working with and editing HD video.

This lag is likely due to the slow read/write speed of your computer’s traditional internal hard drive. Either by replacing your computer’s internal hard drive with an SSD, or transferring your digital image library, gamesor video content to an external SSD (that remains connected to your computer), you’ll immediately experience a vast improvement in speed and reliability.

Should You Buy An External SSD?

In one word—yes! If you don’t mind loading your photos, video files or favorite high-action and graphic intensive games, for example, from an external drive, an SSD is a viable solution.

SSDs are far faster and are also worth considering if you make regular data backups, or need quicker access to large digital file content. Also, because they have no moving parts, there is far less chance of a mechanical failure or crash over time when you use an SSD compared to a mechanical hard drive. It’s definitely worth investing in SSD technology to store your data, documents, files, photos, videos, and games.

Jon Martindale

I’m a tech journalist working and living in Gloucestershire, in the UK. I ran my own PC hardware review website for many years before transitioning into freelance

I’m a tech journalist working and living in Gloucestershire, in the UK. I ran my own PC hardware review website for many years before transitioning into freelance writing. I’ve covered everything from the rise of Bitcoin and the encroachment of anti-privacy laws, to tabletop wargaming and advances in virtual reality. I’ve written, authored, edited, and copywritten for a broad array of the most prominent publications, including Digital Trends, Lifewire, PCGamer, The Inquirer, and KitGuru. I’ve also written two novels, and contributed backstory and dialogue to a handful of games. I am passionate about all the cutting-edge hardware inside and out the latest gadgets, PCs, and consoles, even if I can’t always afford them.

Jason R. Rich

I am an accomplished author, journalist, and photographer who specialized in consumer technologies. Please visit my website at www.JasonRich.com, and check out my eBook,

I am an accomplished author, journalist, and photographer who specialized in consumer technologies. Please visit my website at www.JasonRich.com, and check out my eBook, “iPhone 12 Pro Max Digital Photography” (www.iPhoneBookShop.com). An all-new edition for the iPhone 13 Pro Max is coming soon.