Want More?
This report is for members only.
Member-only content

Portable storage drive reviews

We test 17 portable storage drives in both 1TB and 2TB capacity.
 
Learn more
 
 
 
 
 

01.Introduction

external-hard-drive-lead

We review 17 pocket storage drives, priced from $85 to $255.

Through our rigorous testing, we reveal which pocket storage drives:

  • Perform the best
  • Are the easiest to use

On this page:

For more information about storage for your computer, see Computers and accessories.

With some portable hard drives now available in up to 2TB (terabyte) capacity, and prices dropping across the board, they’re an even more attractive alternative to desktop hard drives.

CHOICE's experts independently test a wide range of products and services to bring you unbiased reviews, product comparison tools and buying advice that is trusted by 160,000+ members.
Get access to all
CHOICE benefits.
$7.98
/month
Subscribe to Choice
*Billed quarterly as $23.95

Portable drives are now fast and roomy enough to be used as your main storage drive, yet small enough to fit in your pocket or bag.

We bought and tested 17 portable hard drives, including three 2TB models, five of which are ruggedised and two of which feature built-in hardware encryption to secure your data. We found several drives to be faster than any previously tested models – with speeds in some cases eclipsing even some desktop drives – making them suitable for almost any kind of storage job. And three cost less than $100.

Brands and models tested

2.5 inch Portable Hard Drives

  • Buffalo Mini Station (2TB)
  • Buffalo MiniStation (1TB)
  • Buffalo MiniStation Extreme
  • Buffalo MiniStation Plus
  • HGST Touro Mobile
  • LaCie Porsche Design P'9220
  • LaCie Rikiki Anthracite
  • LaCie Rugged Mini Mobile
  • LaCie Rugged Mobile USB3.0/Thunderbolt
  • LaCie Rugged Triple Mobile
  • Seagate Backup Plus Portable drive
  • Seagate Expansion Portable Drive
  • Toshiba Canvio
  • Verbatim Mobile Hard Drive
  • Verbatim Store’n’Go Superspeed
  • WD Elements
  • WD My Passport

How we test

We test performance and assess ease of installation and use. Performance testing utilises NTFS drive formatting, which doesn’t have the maximum drive volume size limitation (typically 32GB) of FAT32 format, nor the 4GB individual file size limitation.

We time multiple transfers of two multi-gigabyte sets of data (one set of large files, one of small files) to each drive using each connection port included, recording the read and write speeds and averaging them for a final figure. Where there is more than one option, the fastest interface speed is used for the performance score.

The overall score is made up of:

  • Performance (70%) is assessed with drives formatted as NTFS. The performance score is relative for the drives on test and not directly comparable to our previous hard drive tests. However, the average read/write throughput figures are directly comparable, as they are raw data.
  • Ease of use (30%) comprises an assessment of backup (40%), hardware installation, design advantages/disadvantages and overall style (25%), software installation (20%) and security (15%). All connection ports are tested and the fastest interface speed is for the performance score.
  • Annual energy cost is calculated at 26c/kWh on standby 24hrs/day.
Want more?
Get access to our independent testing reports and save yourself time and money.
Subscribe to Choice
 
 

 

Sign up to our free
e-Newsletter

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.

 
Your say - Choice voice

Make a Comment

Members – Sign in on the top right to contribute to comments