The 5 Toughest, Most Durable Portable Hard Drives and SSDs
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Hard disk drives (HDDs) can get damaged when dropped. Solid state drives (SSDs) have limited read and write cycles. So what should you buy when you want a portable drive that’s tough and will store your data safely?

The 2TB Seagate Backup Plus Slim is the overall best portable drive today, but it’s not rugged. Manufacturers have an entire class of different toughened drives, meant for people who travel a lot or lead adventurous lifestyles. Here are the best ones, depending on your needs.

Waterproof SSD: ADATA SE730

ADATA SE730 250GB USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C Waterproof Shockproof Portable External Solid State Drive (ASE730-250GU31-CGD) ADATA SE730 250GB USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C Waterproof Shockproof Portable External Solid State Drive (ASE730-250GU31-CGD) USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C interface for ultra-fast read-write speed of up to 500 MB/s Buy Now At Amazon $109.99

Hard drives usually have open ports, so making them waterproof is difficult. But it’s not a problem for the ADATA SE730, a tiny portable SSD with a concealed port.

Of course, this is technically water-resistant, not waterproof What Makes a Device Waterproof or Water-Resistant? What Makes a Device Waterproof or Water-Resistant? A lot of devices are marketed as waterproof, but that can be severely misleading. Most are actually water-resistant. What's the difference? Here's everything you need to know about it. Read More , but that’s what you’ll get in any gadget. ADATA claims an IP68 rating, which means it is also dust-proof. The device has also been drop-tested with military standards (MIL-STD-810).

Portable SSDs are generally a lot faster than HDDs in copying data, so that will help those who need to copy-paste quickly. And the SE730 supports USB Type-C, making transfers that much faster if your laptop also has a Type-C port.

The small size of the ADATA SE730 is a big bonus — portable drives are lighter and easy to carry.

Tough but Not Waterproof: Samsung T3 250GB

Samsung T3 Portable SSD - 250GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PT250B/AM) Samsung T3 Portable SSD - 250GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PT250B/AM) Portable Design with Internal SSD-level Performance Buy Now At Amazon $106.86

Waterproofing is usually not that important for most people. Unless you expect the drive to be dropped into a pool or something, the level of protection isn’t necessary for SSDs like the Samsung T3. On the other hand, you get much faster speeds.

Don’t get me wrong: it is a durable, tough drive nonetheless. The lack of moving parts, coupled with its metallic body, make it safe from drops. And as far as accidental water protection goes, it will work fine if you were to spill a glass on it or if it was in your pocket while walking in the rain.

The Samsung T3’s claim to fame is its speed, offering a scarcely believable 300 MB/s write speed and 350 MB/s read speed. Plus, it is formatted in exFAT to use with Windows or Mac FAT32 vs. exFAT: What's the Difference and Which One Is Better? FAT32 vs. exFAT: What's the Difference and Which One Is Better? A file system is the tool that lets an operating system read data on any hard drive. Many systems use FAT32, but is that the right one, and is there a better option? Read More out of the box, no extra tools required.

While the ADATA is definitely more rugged, the Samsung T3 is the portable SSD most people should buy. If you are truly worried about waterproofing it, buy a case.

Since this article was published, Samsung has released a newer version of the portable SSD, the Samsung T5 250GB
Samsung T5 Portable SSD - 250GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PA250B/AM) Samsung T5 Portable SSD - 250GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PA250B/AM) Superfast Read-Write speeds of up to 540 MB/s. Includes USB Type C to C and USB Type C to A cables Buy Now At Amazon $109.99

Why You Might Want HDDs over SSDs

SSDs are more durable because they don’t have any moving parts. Plus, HDDs can’t match solid state speeds, especially for data transfer.

That said, HDDs offer better safeguards against data loss. For example, some Samsung SSD drives slowly degrade How Ultrabook Performance Degrades Over Time with a Samsung TLC SSD How Ultrabook Performance Degrades Over Time with a Samsung TLC SSD Samsung's TLC SSDs are screwing their customers! A bug with Triple Level Cell NAND memory causes performance to degrade and voids warranty early. Find out whether you're affected and get a fix. Read More over time. On top of that, a comparison of how long your storage media lasts Hard Drives, SSDs, Flash Drives: How Long Will Your Storage Media Last? Hard Drives, SSDs, Flash Drives: How Long Will Your Storage Media Last? How long will hard drives, SSDs, flash drives continue to work, and how long will they store your data if you use them for archiving? Read More found hard drives were the longest-lasting option.

Hard drives also offer more capacity than SSDs for the same price. You can usually get double or quadruple the amount of storage on an HDD.

So if you want more capacity for a longer time, a rugged hard disk drive might be the better option for you. If you use the portable drive for regularly transferring files from one computer to another, or while traveling around, stick with an SSD.

Waterproof and Toughest: Silicon Armor A85 4TB

Silicon Power Armor A85 IP68 Shockproof 4TB Waterproof USB 3.0 2.5-Inch Military Grade Portable External Hard Drive for PC, Mac, Xbox One and Xbox 360 (SP040TBPHDA85S3S) - Silver Silicon Power Armor A85 IP68 Shockproof 4TB Waterproof USB 3.0 2.5-Inch Military Grade Portable External Hard Drive for PC, Mac, Xbox One and Xbox 360 (SP040TBPHDA85S3S) - Silver Military-grade shockproof protection Buy Now At Amazon $179.99

The Silicon Armor A85 is the toughest, most durable hard disk drive you can buy. With a sealed flap for the port, double-layer protection for the drive, and a way to carry the cable with it, this is a winner.

The A85 looks quite snazzy in its aluminum casing, which can take up to 500 kg of force. Under that is a unibody rubber case enveloping the drive for double protection. The port on the tap has a rubber flap to protect it from water ingress.

The portable HDD is compatible with all operating systems, as well as the Xbox One Everything You Need to Know About Xbox One External Hard Drives Everything You Need to Know About Xbox One External Hard Drives Adding an external hard drive to your Xbox One brings many benefits. Here's why you should consider buying one, and what to look for in an external HDD. Read More and PlayStation 4 gaming consoles. A neat little rubber band at the back holds the cable for a standard USB 3.0 port.

The Armor A85 has a three-year warranty and has passed military-grade drop tests. While it failed a test by The Wirecutter, it passed similar tests from other reviewers.

Waterproof and Cheap HDD: ADATA HD720 1TB

ADATA HD720 1TB USB 3.0 Waterproof/ Dustproof/ Shock-Resistant External Hard Drive, Blue (AHD720-1TU3-CBL) ADATA HD720 1TB USB 3.0 Waterproof/ Dustproof/ Shock-Resistant External Hard Drive, Blue (AHD720-1TU3-CBL) Capacity: 1TB Buy Now At Amazon $69.49

ADATA has a tendency to make reliable portable drives for a low cost. The HD720 is the perfect example of that, giving you a TB of storage and water-resistance for just $70.

Like the SE730, ADATA has a flap for the connector port, which is an important feature for such drives. The IP68 protection means it can be submerged in up to two meters of water for two minutes. And there is reliable dust protection too.

The HD720 also has a sensor that detects if it has fallen or gotten a jolt. The drive will immediately stop operations in such a case. Once the shock has subsided, it will resume working. It’s a small feature, but it can go a long way in protecting your data on a hard drive How to Care for Your Hard Drives and Make Them Last Longer How to Care for Your Hard Drives and Make Them Last Longer Sometimes an early death is the fault of the manufacturer, but more often than not, hard drives fail earlier than they should because we don't take care of them. Read More .

Overall, the HD720 isn’t the toughest or most rugged drive we have seen, but it’s an excellent entry-level option.

USB Type-C: LaCie Rugged USB-C 2TB

LaCie Rugged USB-C and USB 3.0 2TB Portable Hard Drive STFR2000400 LaCie Rugged USB-C and USB 3.0 2TB Portable Hard Drive STFR2000400 New USB-C connector for next-generation computers Buy Now At Amazon $159.94

LaCie is the brand most synonymous with rugged hard drives. It has loyal followers worldwide who swear by the products. That orange rubber shell with the aluminum case in the center is also a distinct, recognizable style. And now it has been updated for the newest standard.

There aren’t yet many portable hard drives with the USB Type-C port What Is USB Type-C? What Is USB Type-C? Ah, the USB plug. It is as ubiquitous now as it is notorious for never being able to be plugged in right the first time. Read More , a new global standard used in smartphones, laptops, and tablets. The LaCie Rugged does, and it comes with two cables: USB-C to USB-C, and USB-C to USB-A (the standard port you are used to).

Like all its famous hard drives, LaCie claims this one survives falls from up to four feet, getting crushed by a one-ton car, and being exposed to rain. There’s a two-year warranty thrown in for good measure. And yes, it is compatible with both Windows and Mac, including automatic backups with macOS’s Time Machine Schedule & Browse Time Machine Backups With These Powerful Tools Schedule & Browse Time Machine Backups With These Powerful Tools From custom backup times to finding out where those 2 GB of new files are, the right apps can give you power and knowledge Apple's own tools just don't provide. Read More .

If You Really Want Protection, Buy a Case

As you can see from these picks, portable hard drive protection is a pretty simple thing. It will be more durable with more solid layers between the disk and external elements. That’s why if you are really serious about protecting it from harm, get yourself a shockproof case.

This isn’t a range of products that tech reviewers spend their time on, so you’ll need to look at what customers have to say. Make sure you know how to trust an Amazon review How to Know If You Can Trust an Amazon Product's Reviews How to Know If You Can Trust an Amazon Product's Reviews Amazon product reviews are hit or miss. Sometimes they're helpful, sometimes they're fake. Here's a tool you can use to check the integrity of a given product's reviews. Read More , or you’ll fall for the company’s shills.

Based on similar research, the LTGEM EVA Hard Case seems like a good purchase. It’s water-resistant, adds some extra padding for the drive, and has a hard shell instead of a soft cover.

LTGEM Case for 2.5-Inch Toshiba,Seagate,Western Digital WD,Transcend Portable Hard Drive Fits USB Cable-Black LTGEM Case for 2.5-Inch Toshiba,Seagate,Western Digital WD,Transcend Portable Hard Drive Fits USB Cable-Black Safe guarantee: Hard quality EVA material is semi-waterproof, shockproof and durable to protect hard drives from impacts and splashes Buy Now At Amazon $7.99

If you found some other great case, or a tough and durable hard drive, we’d love to know in the comments. What did you buy?

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