If you want a complete rundown on the best portable hard drives on the market, check out our exhaustive post – “Best Portable External Hard Drives for Urban Nomads“. What follows here is a shortlist of some of the newer products that have come onto the market that you might have missed.
Ultra portability – Portable External SSD Drives
If ultra portability is important to you, then we’d suggest you look at the latest SSD drives from Samsung, Oyen Digital and Transcend. SSD has no moving parts, so it isn’t susceptible to shocks (although, it does have a limited lifetime of several years and can be sensitive to extreme temperatures).
Things to bear in mind:
(1) Interface: the Samsung T3 External supports USB 3.1, whereas the Oyen Shadow Mini and Transcend have a USB 3.0 interface (not 3.1). However, the Transcend also supports Thunderbolt (which the others do not).
(2) Storage: the Samsung T3 and the Transcend are both 2TB drives, whereas the Oyen Shadow Mini is only 1TB.
If you don’t mind a little DIY, you can purchase your own SSD drive and put it into an enclosure of your choice, which means you can choose whatever interface you want. We recommend the Samsung 850 Pro series, as they have a longer warranty for data use (5 years vs. 3 years) and have a good reputation. As for enclosures, if you choose one that supports UASP, you’ll get better data transfer rates. We have listed two enclosures that support both USB 3.1 and UASP.
If you want something really small but not with a lesser storage requirement, then the Patriot Vex Flash Drive fits in your pocket and sports a USB 3.1 interface and up to 128GB in storage. It won’t be as fast as an SSD but it can be useful in a pinch – particularly for backing up lots of digital photos on the fly.
Ultra Durability – shockproof, waterproof, dust proof HHD
SSD’s will be handle most of your requirements but if you need to use the hard drive in extreme temperatures or require a degree of water-resistance, you’ll need to get a military grade external hard drive.
We like the Silicon Armor product line but also think the Transcend and Caldigit look interesting. The Caldigit has a special feature in that it has a USB 3.1 interface (that can be used with the upcoming Thunderbolt 3 protocol).
Ultra Capacity – huge hard drives that can be docked, put into an enclosure and/or portable RAID array.
If you need to back up large amounts of data on the road, then we’d suggest you purchase 10TB or 8TB internal hard disks and either dock them on the fly or put them into an enclosure. This year has seen a number of portable RAID arrays come onto the market that also support Thunderbolt 2 (and even Thunderbolt 3), which will be useful for Mac users.
In terms of price/performance, we’d recommend one of the Seagate NAS 10TB disks or the Western Digital NAS 8TB disks.
As for enclosures, we’d suggest getting either a USB 3.1 (for upwards compatibility) and/or Thunderbolt 2 support (we’ve included one of each). We’re also including three really good RAID arrays (two that support Thunderbolt 3 and one that supports Thunderbolt2).
That’s it for now. As we said earlier, if you want to keep abreast of the best portable hard drives on the market, bookmark our page of urban nomads hard drives, as we’ll keep it up to date.
Thanks for reading!