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.
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.