Samsung T5 Portable SSD (500 GB)
The best portable solid-state drive
The Samsung T5 Portable SSD has the best balance of reliability, speed, and size for about the same price as its competition.
The 500 GB Samsung T5 Portable SSD is about as expensive per gigabyte as other external SSDs. It’s also very light and compact, so you can easily throw it in your bag (or even tuck it inside your pocket) when you’re on the go. The T5 has one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port that supports USB transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps, and unlike other portable SSDs we tested, it includes cables to connect to both new and old devices, as well as useful AES 256-bit hardware encryption to protect your sensitive data. The T5 had software that was pleasant to navigate, with a clean layout; other portable SSDs we tested didn’t include software, or their software was bloated and less intuitive. With the T5, it’s a breeze to set up encryption or check for updates. Plus it has an indicator that lights up when it’s connected and blinks while it’s actively transferring (a minor perk, but one that makes life easier), and it comes with a three-year warranty.
Samsung T5 Portable SSD (1 TB)
More storage for more money
The 1 TB version of our top pick provides twice the space for about twice the price.
You save $30 (18%)
If you want more storage and you’re willing to pay for it, we recommend the 1 TB Samsung T5 Portable SSD. Since higher-capacity solid-state drives often provide slightly improved performance, we expect the 1 TB version to be a little faster than the 500 GB model, although we weren’t able to test it. It’s otherwise identical to the 500 GB model in size and features, and it costs about the same per gigabyte as the 500 GB version.
Western Digital My Passport SSD (512 GB)
A more portable, but slightly slower, drive
The Western Digital My Passport SSD is as quick, reliable, and compact as the Samsung T5, and it costs about the same. But its software is less convenient, and it lacks an indicator light.
If the Samsung T5 is sold out or unavailable, or if the T5 is significantly more expensive, we recommend the 512 GB Western Digital My Passport SSD. Like the T5, the My Passport SSD supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 transfer speeds, and in our testing it was about 10 MB/s slower than the Samsung T5, a borderline imperceptible difference. The My Passport SSD is longer, thinner, and a bit lighter than the Samsung, but they’re both pretty darn compact—and they’re smaller than everything else we tested that performed comparably. It has one USB-C port and comes with a USB-C–to–USB-C cable, as well as a tiny USB-C–to–USB-A adapter, which seems easy to lose compared with the USB-C–to–USB-A cable that comes with the Samsung T5. Like the Samsung—and unlike its competition—the My Passport SSD has AES 256-bit hardware encryption to reliably protect your sensitive information. And it comes with a solid, three-year warranty. But some Amazon reviewers found its software annoying, and it lacks the Samsung’s helpful activity indicator light.