Best External Hard Drive for Travel
by Daniel | Last Updated January 25th, 2020
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If there’s something anyone who travels for work or a hobby needs to invest in, it’s a durable, external hard drive. The benefits of these devices are many. They protect your invaluable information by securely transferring photos, videos, and files to and from your laptop.
You may be considering investing in an inexpensive hard drive – the same you use to save important documents and keep in your office drawer. Let us just say, that if you’re going to spend time in remote, rugged areas, you need a drive that can handle falls, dust, rain, among similar elements. Usually, these cheaper options don’t make the cut and could end up damaged destroying all your files.
Portable hard drives are more reliable and let you roam anywhere while having access to important files at all times. While cloud storage is convenient, many of these services have limited data storage for free. And when you’re traveling, you won’t always have a reliable internet connection. External hard drives get around all these issues. You can carry all your important files and free up RAM and memory storage on your laptop. Plus, you can connect to these files anytime, anywhere. With travel-ready hard drives, you can transport a considerable amount of data without being weighed down.
Finding the right drive for your adventure can be difficult with the many options on the market. There are several factors to consider like size, storage capacity, design, etc. While some external hard drives are very small and light, others are a little bigger. The larger ones usually have a wider capacity and can upload files within seconds.
We’ve compiled this list of the top 6 external hard drives for travel. Our reviews take into consideration drop protection, resistance to outdoor elements, as well as price. We’ve included the pros and cons of each so that you can get a good idea of what you’re buying.
Factors to Consider
Before diving into our reviews, there are a few things that you should consider when deciding on a hard drive. For starters, consider the connection. Is it a standard hard drive or is it a solid-state drive (SSD)? Most options use USB 2.0 connections. For quicker speeds, you’ll need at least a USB 3.0 type connection.
Another important element is the storage space. If you’re just starting off, we suggest you go with 500GB. That will give you a lot of space, and the hard drive won’t cost you too much money. If you already know you’ll be working with large, high-resolution files, consider a bigger driver that offers terabytes (TB).
If you know the storage and the connection needed, finding the right model will be a breeze. Here are our top 6 choices for you to consider:
1. SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD
Capacity 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Item Weight 1.44 ounces
Product Dimensions 3.8 x 1.9 x 0.3 inches
Hardware Connectivity USB-C
Max Transfer Speed 550MB/s
First on our list is the SanDisk 1TB drive. SanDisk is known for its quality, durable products, and the Extreme Portable External SSD doesn’t fall short. It offers high-speed transfers, water and dust resistance, and shock resistance for those occasional drops and falls.
This is surprisingly one of the less expensive options on our list. It’s extremely lightweight and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. You can easily carry this in your pocket or backpack until it’s time to conduct the transfers. The transfer speeds are quick with this hard drive (550 MB/s). You can move your files over to your laptop through the use of a USB-C or USB-A cable. Finally, it’s compatible with both PC and Mac users and comes with a 3-year limited manufacturer warranty.
What we like best: We really enjoy the fast performance of the SanDisk 1TB external hard drive as well as it’s shock, dust, and water-resistant capabilities.
Compact and lightweight
6-foot drop protection
Fast transfer speed (550 MB/s)
A bit larger than similar models
2. Samsung T5 Portable SSD
Capacity 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Item Weight 1.8 ounces
Product Dimensions 2.9 x 2.3 x 0.4 inches
Hardware Connectivity USB-C
Max Transfer Speed 540 MB/s
The first thing that caught our eye about the Samsung T5 Portable SSD 1TB was the sleek, small look of this model. About the size of a credit card (2.3 x 0.4 x 3.0 inches), this Samsung option can easily be taken with you anywhere you go. Simply slide it into your pocket or backup until it’s time to use.
If the 1TB storage capacity is not enough for you, or it’s too much, you can get this hard drive in a different capacity ranging from 250GB to 2TB. You’ll benefit from fast transfer speeds using a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port. Additionally, even though it’s super small, it’s actually very robust and durable. It has shock-resistant capabilities able to handle a drop up to 6 feet.
The biggest downfall of this model is that it is not dust or water-resistant. This means you need to take extra care of it. If you’re willing to sacrifice this feature, this is the perfect model for travelers.
What we like best: We love the small size of this model. It fits right into your pocket, and though it’s lightweight, you’ll benefit from a rugged, durable build.
Not water or dust-resistant
3. Seagate Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0
Capacity 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB
Item Weight 6.72 ounces
Product Dimensions 4.6 x 3.15 x 0.58 inches
Hardware Connectivity USB 3.0
Max Transfer Speed 120 MB/s
With capacities up to 5TB, the Seagate Portable hard drive is a great option for those looking for convenience. When it’s time to back up your files, all you need to do is plug the USB 3.0 cable into your laptop and drag and drop files. This is a very quick process that shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
Spacious and easy to use, as a traveler you’ll never have a problem with this drive. If you run into a question, simply refer to the quick start guide included for clarification. The device itself weighs .54 pounds and has a size of 4.5 x 3.1 x .807 inches. It also backs up photos uploaded to social media platforms like Facebook or Flickr.
One downfall is if you use a Mac, you’ll need to reformat the hard drive. This means it will erase all the content. Of course, you can back up your files on another drive.
What we like best: We really like the slim, sophisticated design of this external hard drive. It’s easy to carry around and offers a simple design that suits all likings!
High capacity storage
4. WD My Passport Ultra Portable External Hard Drive, USB-C
Capacity 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Item Weight 4.64 ounces
Product Dimensions 4.33 x 3.21 x 0.5 inches
Hardware Connectivity USB-C, 3.0, 2.0
Max Transfer Speed 130 MB/s
We love everything about the WD Passport Ultra hard drive – its design, software, and technology. It’s available in several different colors, and you can choose from 4 different storage capacities. The 1TB is compact in size and lightweight at only 3.2 ounces, making it an ideal option when moving around.
Additionally, it is password protected and offers 256-bit AES hardware encryption. To use, simply plug it into your laptop and start saving/backing up your files. This product comes with a 3-year limited warranty. If you’re looking for an external hard drive with an innovative style, USB 3.0 compatibility, and top security, the My Passport Ultra is the option for you!
What we like best: This is a well-rounded option when it comes down to appearance, design, and performance.
Wide range of colors
Not shock resistant
5. WD My Passport Wireless Pro Portable external Hard Drive - WiFi USB 3.0
Capacity 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB
Item Weight 13.8 ounces
Product Dimensions 5 x 5 x 0.91 inches
Hardware Connectivity USB 3.0
Max Transfer Speed 121.9 MB/s
The Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro comes in different sizes ranging from 1 TB to 4 TB. This brand has its own software suite, 256-AES encryption, and includes a 2-year limited warranty. It doesn’t offer as quick of transfer speeds as the other models we’ve reviewed. However, it makes up for performance in other ways like its fast media offloads, large storage capacity, and wireless transfers using the built-in SD card reader.
This is a great option for individuals who travel without their laptops. The wireless uploads are quick and can be accessed through your mobile phone. As of the battery life, it lasts up to 10 hours depending on a few factors like the file size, devices connected, format, Wi-Fi connectivity among other settings.
What we like best: Hands down, we really enjoy the wireless features of this hard drive.
Large storage capacity
Software suite included
6. G-Technology G-DRIVE mobile SSD Durable Portable External Storage - USB-C
Capacity 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Item Weight 3.04 ounces
Product Dimensions 3.74 x 1.97 x 0.57 inches
Hardware Connectivity USB-C, 3.0/2.0
Max Transfer Speed 560 MB/s
You may already be familiar with G-technology and its high-end products. Water and dust-resistant, this SSD can be transported anywhere. It does have a 3M drop feature, making it shock resistant for falls or tumbles. When it comes to the transfer rate, you can expect fast performance with rates up to 560 MB/s.
Moreover, this is an excellent selection for your laptop (old or new). It comes with a USB-C port compatible with most computers. You also won’t ever have to worry about it overheating as it’s engineered with a protective aluminum core. The G-Technology 1TB also offers an industry-leading warranty of 5 years.
What we like best: You can’t beat the long 5-year warranty of the G-Technology SSD!
5-year warranty included
On the expensive side
In concluding the best external hard drives for travel reviews, this list gives you a solid idea of the best products on the market. These are the highest rated options and our top choices for hard drives for travel. Remember that investing in an external hard drive is one of the best ways you can protect your data and ensure its security. These devices let you transport and backup data no matter the circumstances, and you can have all the information you need within reach! Plus, many of the items reviewed here can take a bump or two. With so many benefits, the hard drives reviewed here are all optimal for your travel needs, whether you’re flying for business, a traveling photographer who lives on the move as a digital nomad, or anything else. Opt for any of the travel hard drives reviewed here and you’re ready to take off!
Best of luck & happy traveling!