The Best External Hard Drives and SSDs of 2023


The best external hard drives and SSDs are the ones that resolve all your storage needs without breaking the bank. Whether you need one for backup purposes, transferring projects from one computer to another, or to function as a data depot while you’re out in the field, external hard drives and SSDs are among the most important—and most irreplaceable—accessories you’ll own.

Considering how critical it is to get an external hard drive or SSD that addresses all your needs, we put together this list of our favorites.

Best Portable SSD: Samsung T7 Shield

The best portable SSD for the most people

Samsung T7 Shield

The Samsung T7 Shield is our pick for the best external SSD overall. When we reviewed the T7 Shield earlier this year, we were thoroughly blown away. Samsung makes some of the best SSDs around and this NVMe drive offers everything you could ask for in an external SSD.

It’s fast, secure, and the T7 Shield’s combination of performance, price, and size is hard to beat. It’s so compact you could store it just about anywhere and this latest iteration is extra secure, thanks to its rugged, rubber exterior. It’s IP65-rated for dust and water resistance, and can handle drops of up to 3 meters.

What’s even more impressive is that the T7 Shield is an iterative upgrade compared to its predecessor, the T7, which is an outstanding SSD in its own right. The T7 Shield offers users read and write speeds of up to 1,050 MB/s and 1,000 MB/s respectively. It’s available in 1TB and 2TB versions.

If you want the full rundown of the T7 Shield’s specs, you should definitely check out the full specs on our product page. But if you’re pressed for time and just want the verdict, then hear this: The Samsung T7 Shield is the best external SSD available today. If you’re looking for speed, security, and portability in a rugged package, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better external storage solution.

Best External SSD for Pros: SanDisk Extreme PRO V2

SanDisk Extreme PRO V2

SanDisk’s Extreme PRO Portable SSD V2 gets our vote for the best external SSD for professionals. When connected to a device via its USB 3.2 Type-C connection, the Extreme PRO V2 churns out blazingly fast read and write speeds rated up to 2000 MB/s. That’s almost twice as fast as our top pick, the T7 Shield. Of course, it’s significantly more expensive than the T7.

On top of being lightning fast, the Extreme PRO V2 features an IP55 dust- and water-resistance rating that makes it plenty durable. It’s not quite as rugged as the T7 Shield, but it’s sturdy enough to survive daily wear and tear and drops of up to 6'. In addition to its environmental protection, it also utilizes 256-bit AES encryption and supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB read and write speeds rated for up to 2000 MB/s.

Most of the improvements to the Extreme Portable SSD are internal, with SanDisk keeping the durable design largely intact. The drive is available in capacities of 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB and comes with a five-year warranty.

It’s an excellent storage device that’s ideal for daily wear and tear, which is why it’s so easy to recommend. The biggest con, however, is the price. But if you’re looking for incredibly fast transfer speeds while still retaining that rugged exterior, it’s hard to beat this choice from SanDisk. Alternatively, if you’re in the market for a rugged design but don’t need the speed, you can't go wrong with our first pick, the T7 Shield instead.

Best Rugged External Hard Drive: LaCie Rugged RAID Pro

LaCie Rugged RAID Pro

LaCie’s Rugged RAID Pro has long been one of our favorite hardcore hard drives. While it might seem a little pricey at first, the Rugged RAID Pro returns incredible value, not to mention serious peace of mind.

For starters, the Rugged RAID Pro is backed by a three-year Rescue Data Recovery Services plan. Without a warranty, data recovery services can be very pricey. The Rugged RAID Pro also includes a free, one-month membership to Adobe’s Creative Cloud All Apps plan, which as of this writing, normally costs more than $80. And those are just the freebies.

In addition to those perks, what you’ll get from the Rugged RAID Pro is an external HDD that combines performance, plenty of storage, and portability into a secure package. And when we say secure, we mean from everything: the elements, shocks from drops, almost anything you can throw at it.

On top of all that, we absolutely love the Rugged RAID Pro’s signature orange vest. It doesn’t help performance any, but it looks cool all the same.

Best Value Hard Drive: Crucial X8 External SSD

The Crucial X8 External SSD is our pick for the most budget-friendly external hard drive. It’s available in storage capacities ranging from 1 to 4TB, with the base model priced well below the century mark.

But don’t let the low price fool you. The Crucial X8 t is a tremendous value buy, offering more bang for your buck than any other drive on our list. Not only do you get gigs of memory for pennies on the dollar, but the drive also features AES 256-bit hardware encryption and USB 3.2 connectivity for super-speedy transfers: up to 1050 MB/s read and 1000 MB/s write.

We also really dig the X8's design. It's slim and sleek, meaning it looks great and travels easy. It's also surprisingly rugged. It can withstand exposure to the elements and the shock from long drops. 


Best External Desktop Drive: Seagate Backup Plus Hub

Seagate Backup Plus Hub

Unlike many of the external drives on our list, the Seagate Back Plus Hub is not a portable drive. It’s not supposed to be. The Backup Plus Hub is a dedicated desktop drive. It requires a wall outlet to plug into and should not be moved.

However, what it lacks in portability, the Backup Plus Hub makes up for in transfer speed, storage capacity, and the ability to handle more demanding tasks—a major benefit for users who tend to work directly from their external drives. It also features two front-mounted USB 3.0 Type-A ports, so you can charge compatible devices while simultaneously transferring files—neat!

To sweeten the pot further, the Backup Plus Hub includes a four-month membership to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan and two years of data rescue services.

Best External Drive for Gamers: Western Digital WD_Black P40 Game Drive

Western Digital WD_Black P40 Game Drive

The WD_Black P40 Game Drive is an ideal solution for console gamers who need extra storage space for their game libraries. Not only does the WD_Black P40 provide the storage gamers need (up to 2TB), but it does so at a relatively inexpensive price.

In addition to its great value and expansive storage options, the P40 is also plug-and-play compatible with the PS5, making it super convenient to use. While it’s primarily intended for console gamers, PC users can use the P40, too. They won’t see the same performance compared to an internal SSD, but for anyone looking for a budget-friendly storage solution for their PC, the P40 will do nicely.

That does it for our external hard drive and SSD roundup—for now. There are a lot of great drives available that could have made our list (maybe we’ll see them in a future article). In the meantime, let us know what drives should be added to the list and why.


Really not acceptable to be advertising Gearbox as an option now that they have gone out of business. Mine still works fine, but no support, no firmware updates and spares will doubtless dwindle. Great product but I would not buy one now that they have gone broke and out of business

I appreciate you taking the time to let us know your concern. Definitely a shame because it really is a great product otherwise. I know the app is once again downloadable so thankfully it can still be used. I'll definitely be sure to add a disclaimer about it though!

I have been using the SanDisk 2 TB Extreme SSD and have found it was able to be fast and reliable for the last several months. I archive my most important documentary photographs as TIFF images. My concern is how long can a TIFF image last on this media before cosmic rays or background radiation noise degrades the image? For archival storage, would a physical media such as a gold DVD or CD be longer lasting? When it comes to preserving my life’s work for the long haul, price is of lesser concern than speed.

I meant to say that price and speed are of lesser concern than longevity.