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Portable media storage device reviews

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Last updated: 18 July 2018

Portable storage lets you take all your files anywhere in your pocket, but what type of drive will best suit your needs? We lab test and review the latest portable storage drives to help you find the best one for you. Our buying guide reveals what to look for and how we test explains how our experts get their results.

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  • USB flash drives are the most portable
  • Portable SSDs are usually the fastest
  • Portable HDs cost the least per gigabyte (GB)

Our test covers high capacity USB flash drives, solid state drives (SSDs) and hard drives.

  • USB drives with 128GB capacity
  • SSDs with around 500GB capacity
  • Portable hard drives with 4TB (terabytes) capacity

Our interactive comparison tool helps you find out which drives are the fastest, come with back-up software and which have hardware encryption. Our recommended list will help you see quickly which models come out on top.

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Brand

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List of brands we tested in this review.

Price

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Price paid in May 2018.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 69 and 478

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Drive type

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USB flash drive (AKA thumb drive), solid state drive (SSD), or portable hard drive (HD).

Average read speed (MBps)

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Connected with USB 3.0, 3.1 gen-1 or 3.1 gen-2 using either a USB-A or USB-C connector. Real-time throughput is averaged over multiple runs of transferring data sets (large and small files) to and from each drive. Megabytes (MB) were used because this is usually the measurement used on packaging.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Average write speed (MBps)

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Connected with USB 3.0, 3.1 gen-1 or 3.1 gen-2 using either a USB-A or USB-C connector. Real-time throughput is averaged over multiple runs of transferring data sets (large and small files) to and from each drive. Megabytes (MB) were used because this is usually the measurement used on packaging.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Capacity (GB)

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Storage capacity in gigabytes (GB). One terabyte (TB) is equivalent to 1000 gigabytes.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 128 and 4000

Image backup software

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Creates a full snapshot "image" of the entire drive including all software and files. Many drives will include backup software that will back up all files, but it may not create a full disk image for easy restoration of the entire drive and all contents.

Test results

Ease of use score

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Ease of use makes up 30% of the overall score. We assess the time to get set up, how easy it is to install software (if any), and whether a drive works on both Mac and PC out of the box.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Performance score

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Performance makes up 70% of the overall score. We transfer 20GB worth of large files (movie files) and 20GB worth of small files (photos, music, and office documents), and record the read and write speeds. Units with two connector options (USB-A and USB-C) are tested using both connectors.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Software versatility score

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Software versatility score is based on assessment of the software that comes with the drive such as encryption, power management, or backup software, if any. This doesn't contribute to the overall score.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Included in this review

Members-only access
  • Recommended
  • Overall score
  • Performance score
  • Ease of use score
  • Software versatility score
  • Average read speed (MBps)
  • Average write speed (MBps)
  • Weight (g)
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Brand
  • Model
  • Price
  • Drive type
  • Capacity (GB)
  • Available user space (GB)
  • Cost per GB
  • Size DxWxH (mm)
  • Default file format
  • Needs reformatting for Mac
  • Power management software
  • Hardware encryption
  • Software encryption
  • File backup software
  • Image backup software
  • Cloud storage
  • USB-A connection
  • USB-C connection
  • USB 3.1 (Gen-1)
  • USB 3.1 (Gen-2)
  • Warranty (yrs)
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