The Best SSD External Hard Drives Of 2020

April 23, 2020

As a video editor and photographer by trade, dealing with large amounts of photos and videos is something I’ve been forced to master over the years.

One valuable lesson I’ve learned is just how important it is to have everything backed up, twice or more if you can.

It’s not a matter of if your laptop, phone, ipad will fail you, but when. You want to make sure you’ve got everything valuable stored in a separate location for when that day comes. I am speaking from experience here.

That’s where an external hard drive comes into play.

What is an external hard drive?

An external hard drive is a little device that you can plug into your computer in order to copy and store photos, videos, and other files. It’s like a storage closet for your digital files.

Other primary uses for external hard drives aside from just storage might include the ability to travel and be mobile with your photos/videos. You can offload your camera or drone while out an about directly to a hard drive. They are also helpful for sharing data or information between employees if you have a shared work project that is often used by multiple workers and perhaps too large to store via dropbox.

In today’s article we’ll be going beyond just a simple external hard drive and covering the best SSD external hard drives of 2020.

We’ll explore the best brands for the price and quality, as well as why you may decide to purchase an SSD hard drive instead of just an external hard drive.

What is an SSD external hard drive?

SSD stands for Solid State Drive, meaning there are no (fragile and slow) moving parts inside them, unlike traditional hard drives (see image below). While they tend to be much more expensive than portable hard drives, they have many benefits to make it worth the extra cost.

Pictured: the insides of a traditional external hard drive. It looks cool, but how easy would it be to damage these fine, moving parts?
Pictured: the insides of a traditional external hard drive. It looks cool, but how easy would it be to damage these fine, moving parts?

Great for travel (more durable)

Portable SSDs are much more rugged and durable since they have less tiny spinning parts inside than traditional hard drives which are made up of spinning glass or metal platters. This makes them the perfect travel companion and gives much more peace of mind that any of those small parts will fail you and your valuable data.

Faster and more efficient (perfect for video editors)

Not only that, but SSDs are much faster at reading and writing lots of data, so they are perfect for video editors, photographers, or others that need to access large amounts of data quickly or in real time.


This post does contain Amazon product recommendations. As an Amazon associate, I receive compensation for qualifying purchases, however any commission that I earn comes at no cost to you.

The Top SSD External Hard Drives of 2020

To put together this list, we analyzed the top brands that offered the best quality without breaking the bank, so that you can have the best of both worlds.

1 | Sabrent Rocket Nano (available in 512GB, 1TB, 2TB)

Main benefit: Best all around price and quality.

I received one of these as a gift last year and I was blown away with the size, speed, and quality of this little device. Here are some of my favorite features about the Sabrent Rocket Nano SSD

  • Compatible with both Mac and PC, very easy set up, no installation or separate programs required. You can just plug and play on any device.
  • Super fast (technicals: 10Gbps throughput, low latency and power efficient, up to 1000MB/s)
  • Design is ultra slim, sleek, durable, and perfect for convenient travel
  • Quality: the enclosure is built to absorb the heat and protect the drive from overheating which ensures a longer life expectancy from the drive

2 | Samsung Portable SSD (available in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB)

Main benefit: most affordable.

This next handy drive meets all the same requirements: it’s fast, durable, well designed, and affordable. Here are some key pros to this particular drive.

  • Up to 5x faster than a traditional external hard drive (technicals: 540 MB/s, Samsung V-NAND flash memory and USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface)
  • Great for travel - small enough to fit in your hands, weighs 1.8 oz. and less than half an inch thick. Perfect for portability.
  • Durable - it has no moving parts and a sturdy metal body so you don’t have to worry about drops or travel through a busy airport, for example.

3 | Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD (available in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB)

Main benefit: fingerprint security.

With added fingerprint and password security, this drive is made for those that want to keep their information extra safe. Without sacrifice to any of the typical SSD benefits, this drive includes all that and more.

  • Fingerprint and password secure
  • Transfers 9.5x faster than hard drives
  • Speed: up to 1,050 MB/s
  • Durable: shock-resistant drops up to 6ft

4 | Sandisk Extreme PRO Portable External SSD (available in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB)

Main benefit: most durable.

This next drive is built extra tough for the content creator on the go, the adventurer, the enthusiast. It’s made to withstand extreme temperatures, as well as harder bumps and bruises, while also being water and dust resistant.

  • Speed: up to 1,050 MB/s, USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface
  • Silicon rubber coating to protect against bigger falls and bumps (up to 2M on a concrete floor)
  • Water and dust resistant
  • Operating temperature of 0-45 degrees celcius
  • Compatible with Mac and PC

5 | Samsung X5 Portable SSD (available in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB)

Main benefit: ultra fast speeds.

While you may pay extra for this next drive, what you’ll receive in return are reading and writing speeds much faster than even the best SSDs on this list. That makes this drive the perfect choice for gamers and video editors.

  • Delivers up to 40 Gb/s data transfer speeds: Thunderbolt 3 and NVMe Power
  • Reads up to 2,800 MB/s and writes up to 2,300 MB/s (that’s more than double any other on this list, which are already fast)
  • Claims to transfer a 20GB 4k video from your PC to the X5 in as little as 12 seconds
  • Durable: built to withstand drops up to 2 meters as well as dynamic thermal guard technology to protect against overheating
  • Password protected and hardware encryption to keep personal and private data more secure
  • 3-year limited warranty available

How to organize your hard drive?

Believe me, I know how daunting it can be to try and keep everything organized, but it’s so important. In fact, I wrote an entire post about exactly how I organize my folders and structure them for various purposes. I encourage you to check that out here.

I hope you’ve found this list helpful in narrowing down your hunt for the perfect SSD drive. Let me know your thoughts below.

Thanks!

-Beth

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Hi, I'm Beth.

I started Handcraft Films to give other filmmakers and photographers the gift of documenting their own stories for years to come. I hope you'll learn something new and share your creativity here.
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