Portable hard drives
Keep your photos and videos mobile without sacrificing storage or speed
Six ways to back up your images when you are at home or abroad
G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD R-Series £140-425 / $170-740 www.g-technology.com
Technology: Solid-state drive Available capacities: 500GB-2TB
Dimensions: 94 x 50 x 14.5mm Image read/write speed: 307/298MBps (500GB) Video read/write speed: 410/353MBps (500GB) Best price per gigabyte: 21p (1TB & 2TB models)
1 Despite nearly tying with the Samsung SSD for top spot in the speed stakes, this drive also boasts the cheapest price per gigabyte here for an SSD, with the £215 1TB version offering the most tempting value.
It comes formatted for macOS and therefore won’t show up in Windows, but the drive can be easily reformatted for a PC using third-party software: we recommend the free MiniTool Partition Wizard (www.partitionwizard.com).
G-Technology’s case design is thicker than the other SSDs on test, but this reflects the drive’s IP67 water and dust resistance, three-metre drop resistance, and even a 1,000lb crushproof rating. Its USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface fronted by a USB-C connector is bang up to date.
PROS Stunning speed; fair pricing; very compact; built to last
CONS Still inevitably much pricier per gigabyte than a hard disk drive
Lacie DJI Copilot £330 / $350 www.lacie.com
Technology: Hard disk drive Available capacities: 2TB Dimensions: 136 x 110 x 36mm Image read/write speed: 84/82MBps (2TB) Video read/write speed: 127/127MBps (2TB) Best price per gigabyte: 16.1p
2 This hard disk-based drive also packs a full-size SD card slot, so at the touch of a button you can back up your shots in the field without needing a laptop. Despite the DJI branding, it’s a trick that works just as well with conventional camera stills as drone footage.
Download the Copilot Boss app, and files stored on the drive can be viewed on your smart device via a cable connection, avoiding any wireless pairing or buffering headaches. The app is slick and works well, but the single-button control on the Copilot isn’t immediately intuitive. We were also underwhelmed by the relatively slow image transfer speeds, though video read/write rates are more respectable. Finally, this is the bulkiest drive here, although it does contain a power bank.
PROS Versatile drive with plenty of storage capacity and a clever display readout
CONS Relatively slow; pricey when compared with the rival WD My Passport Wireless Pro
Samsung Portable SSD T5 £104-587 / $100-698 www.samsung.co.uk
Technology: Solid-state drive Available capacities: 250GB-2TB
Dimensions: 74 x 57 x 10.5mm Image read/write speed: 308/298MBps (500GB) Video read/write speed: 415/365MBps (500GB) Best price per gigabyte: 27.5p (1TB model)
3 Samsung’s contender sports a slick satin metal enclosure, making it arguably the most stylish drive of the bunch, and it’s also one of the smallest and lightest at just 74mm long and 51g. Plump for the 250 or 500GB flavours and you’ll get a blue finish, while the larger capacities come in black. All drives get 2-metre shock protection and the latest USB 3.1 Gen 2 connectivity. (It’s backward-compatible using the included USB-C to USB-A cable.)
Our 500GB review sample led all our speed tests – albeit by a slim margin, making the 30-40% price premium over an equivalent G-Drive SSD seem high. Samsung does at least include a hardware data encryption feature that lets you password-protect your media.
PROS Super-sleek and compact design; blazing fast; discreetly rugged
CONS Relatively expensive, especially for larger-capacity drives
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD £100-600 / $100-630 www.sandisk.com
Technology: Solid-state drive Available capacities: 250GB-2TB
Dimensions: 96 x 50 x 9mm Image read/write speed: 266/281MBps (2TB) Video read/write speed: 412/361MBps (2TB) Best price per gigabyte: 29p (500GB model)
4 Here’s another ultra-compact SSD. It’s longer than the Samsung T5, but is even narrower and incredibly thin. The mildly ruggedised plastic shell feels solid and is IP55 rated to resist water and dust. Like the Samsung drive, it’ll withstand a 2-metre drop.
We observed slightly slow image read speeds – oddly, writing photos to the drive was faster – but video performance is top-notch and a match for the fastest SSDs here.
Our only other complaint is pricing, which is even more than the faster Samsung drive for 1TB and 2TB capacities; although at £150, the 500GB version slightly undercuts the T5 and is a tempting buy for its compactness. It’s also pre-formatted to work with both Windows and macOS out of the box.
PROS Very compact; super speedy video transfer speeds; PC and Mac formatting
CONS Pricing too high for larger capacities; mediocre image read speed
Transcend ESD400 Portable SSD £75-343 / $85-550 www.transcend-info.com
Technology: Solid-state drive Available capacities: 128GB-1TB
Dimensions: 92 x 62 x 10.5mm Image read/write speed: 315/226MBps (256GB) Video read/write speed: 398/258MBps (256GB) Best price per gigabyte: 33.5p (1TB model)
5 At £75, the 128GB version of the ESD400 is the cheapest SSD here, but it’s also the lowest capacity, so you’d better be selective about what you store. Step up to a more practical size like the 512GB model and you’ll need to part with £246, making it more costly than a 1TB G-Drive. Sadly, performance doesn’t justify the price premium: while image and video read speeds are very good, write rates are much more modest.
This is also the bulkiest SSD on test and it doesn’t boast any ingress or shock protection ratings, although it’s still extremely compact and weighs only 56g. We also like the convenient one-touch auto-backup button, which makes it easy to synchronise backups in conjunction with Transcend’s Elite software for Windows or macOS.
PROS Fast read speeds; 128GB option; useful one-touch backup feature
CONS Relatively slow write performance; way too pricey; no water/dust resistance
WD My Passport £50/$50-£95/$100 www.wdc.com
Technology: Hard disk drive Available capacities: 1-4TB
Dimensions: 110 x 82 x 14mm (1-2TB); 110 x 82 x 22mm (3-4TB) Image read/write speed: 112/112MBps (2TB) Video read/write speed: 114/114MBps (2TB) Best price per gigabyte: 2.3p (4TB model)
6 WD’s My Passport range of portable hard drives has long been a popular choice for well-priced and spacious mobile storage. This latest My Passport design is unashamedly plastic but comes in black, white, red, blue, orange and yellow colour options. It’s about as light and compact as a conventional portable hard drive gets, though the 3TB and 4TB versions are over 50% thicker than the lower-capacity models.
File transfer speeds may not be blistering, but considering this is a mechanical hard drive, it managed decent speeds across the board. However, it’s value that’s the My Passport’s biggest selling point, with the 4TB version being especially enticing thanks to its unbeatable price per gigabyte. WD’s included backup software and encryption software sweeten the deal even more.
PROS High capacity for little money; fairly quick
CONS Not USB-C; no exterior shock protection