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Best portable SSDs

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A portable SSD has a number of benefits over a portable HDD, the biggest being that they're much smaller and much faster. There are trade-offs like ultimate capacity and a generally higher price tag, but if you move a lot of data on the go then one of these is what you need. 

Top choice

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Samsung T5

Pick the right size for you

Samsung makes some of the finest in-PC SSDs around and the Korean electronics giant's portable offerings are also fantastic. The T5 is the latest model, with capacities ranging from 250GB up to a whopping 2TB. Read and write speeds are up to 540 MB/s, on par with an internal 2.5-inch SSD, which is quite fast compared to a portable HDD. The T5 is also ridiculously small, shock resistant, and uses USB-C 3.1 for superfast transfer to and from your laptop. 

Most rugged

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Sandisk extreme

Bring it with you no matter where you roam

If you're the outdoors type, perhaps needing a tough portable SSD to stick in your camera gear bag, then the Extreme from Sandisk is worth your time. Shockproof and IP55 rated for water and dust resistance, it's not going to let you down when you need it most. Read speeds are up to 550MB/s, it uses USB-C, and has a ring on it that you can use to clip it to your backpack.

Great value

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PNY elite

Portable pick

The PNY Elite is a no-frills portable SSD smaller than a credit card with 24/7 U.S.-based customer support and, oh, a pretty low price tag for its 240GB model. Need more? Fine! With 430MB/s read and 400MB/s write speeds, it's at least four times quicker than a portable HDD. The icing on the cake is the included license for Acronis True Image, a simple way to make a full backup of your drive in the event that anything bad happens. 

Most versatile

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Samsung X5

Super fast read speeds

Thunderbolt 3 allows simply insane data transfer speeds on this SSD, utilizing NVMe technology to match performance from some of Samsung's best internal drives. We're looking at read and write speeds of 2,800MB/s and 2,300MB/s respectively wrapped up in a shock-resistant shell. Not everyone can use one, or would want to pay the asking price, but this is the future of portable storage. 

Bottom line

When we're choosing an internal SSD for a PC, there's one brand we always go for, and the same can be said now for external ones, too. Samsung makes some of the best quality products on the market, and the tiny T5 is one excellent SSD. You get a range of sizes, even colors to choose from, it's fast and reliable and doesn't even cost that much. It's a definite winner. 

At the other end of the scale, Samsung is now pushing out Thunderbolt 3 drives with the performance that once was a fantasy for portable storage. They're pricey and not everyone can even use them, but if you're looking for the future, today, then it's here with the X5.

Sandisk is also another trusted brand in storage, and the Extreme is particularly good if you're outdoors a lot, say as a photographer or a drone operator, and need a storage solution that won't let you down when the going gets tough.