Samsung T7 Shield SSD sitting on top of an Apple MacBook keyboard
Justin Duino / How-To Geek
Update, 01/29/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best external SSDs you can buy.

What to Look For in a Solid State Drive in 2023

Solid-state technology has progressed so much over the past few years that you only need to be considering two things when buying an external SSD: storage and use-case.

When it comes to storage, that’s relatively straightforward. Most people tend to go for larger capacities, but that’s not always necessary, especially if you’re willing to do some storage management in the form of deleting old files.

The truth is that SSD storage space gets exponentially more expensive as you go up in tiers, so it’s best to aim for a 1TB or 2TB external SSD. If you need more space, it may be better to look into an external hard disk drive (HDD) and deal with the slower speeds instead.

The next thing you want to consider is how you’re going to use the SSD. Are you going to be carrying it around a lot? If so, you’ll probably want to pick a more rugged design, especially ones that are resistant to shock.

On the other hand, if you’re primarily using it to supplement low capacity internal storage for a laptop or a console, you should focus on an SSD with a read/write speed.

Finally, and equally as important, pick something you like the look of! It’s probably going to be spending a lot of time right next to you, so getting something you find nice to look at is a good idea.

With all this in mind, let’s get into the best SSDs you can buy.

Are external hard drives solid state drives?
No, they are not. Hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs) are two different types of digital storage. Hard drives are slower in terms of read and write speeds, but can come in much larger capacities at a more affordable price. To determine which you need, you need to figure out what’s more important—storage space or speed.
How do you format a solid state drive?

To format a solid state drive on Windows, open File Explorer, then navigate to the drive in the ‘This PC’ section. Right-click the drive, and choose ‘Format…’ from the drop-down menu. Choose the settings you think are best for your drive (read our guide for more information), click ‘Start’, and the drive will be formatted.

For Mac, you’ll be using Disk Utility. Once you navigate there, find the SSD under the External drives section, and click on it. Once there, you choose ‘Erase’ and it will format the drive for you.

How long do solid state drives last?
The age of a solid state drive will depend on three factors: The actual age of the hardware, terabytes written (which is how many terabytes a drive can write over the life of the SSD), and how much data you write during a specific amount of time. These three factors vary a lot from drive to drive, so there is no standard amount of time an SSD will last.
Are solid state drives more reliable than hard drives?
It is generally believed that solid state drives are more reliable than hard drives, due to the fact that hard drives have moving mechanical parts that could break. A Backblaze report from 2022 determined that the two are equally reliable, but more data is needed to know the actual reliance rates of the two drive types.
Do solid state drives fail?
Yes, solid state drives will eventually fail, much like hard drives will. When they fail will be dependent on the three factors mentioned above.

Best External SSD Overall: Samsung T7

Samsung T7 Shield SSD next to a standard Samsung T7
Justin Duino / How-To Geek


  • Small and stylish
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Long included cable
  • Excellent overall performance


  • Only 3-year warranty
  • No water or dust resistance rating
  • Lack of DRAM cache

While at first glance, the Samsung T7 Portable SSD may not look like much, on further inspection it ends up being more than the sum of its parts.

Take, for example, the read/write speed, which comes in at a rough 1,050MB/second. That’s a pretty middle-of-the-road speed for an SSD, but when you consider that the 1TB version only costs $139, that’s a great price compared to some of its competitors.

Then, add on to that the form factor—it’s truly tiny, about the size of a credit card, which means it’s really easy to carry around.

When you combine the speed, price, and size, the T7 punches outside its weight class. But when you realize that it also has 256-bit AES encryption, a military-grade encryption protocol, you know that Samsung is going all out on this one.

Finally, in the round-up of great features, it comes with two different 18-inch long cables, a USB Gen-C to C cable, and a USB-A to C cable. These are cables that can support speeds up to 20Gbps, which is very fast. It’s also impressive that these two high-end cables come in the box; it’s not something you often see with these SSDs at this price range.

The only real downside that the T7 has is that it doesn’t have any IP rating for water or dust, which means you’ll have to be somewhat careful with it, affecting portability. It also only comes with a 3-year warranty compared to the 5-year warranty most other SSDs come with.

Still, the positives overwhelmingly outweigh the negatives, making the T7 the best overall external SSD.

Best External SSD Overall

Samsung T7 Portable SSD

Put together a great speed, lots of space, a small size, and an excellent price, and you get the Samsung T7 Portable.

Best Budget External SSD: SanDisk 1TB Extreme

SanDisk SSD on lanyard


  • Rugged design to protect against the elements
  • Excellent speed for the cost
  • Small and easy to carry
  • Has 256-bit AES encryption


  • Included cable relatively short
  • Not a lot of storage space

If you’ve been thinking of upgrading from an external HDD to an SSD but don’t want to spend a ton of money, the SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD has your back. The rugged design and IP55 rating mean that it can handle both rain and a drop from up to two meters.

In terms of speed, the 1TB version comes with 1,050 MB/second of read/write speed which should be more than enough for most use cases. Just be aware that this SSD gets decreasing speeds as the capacity goes down, so be sure to double-check depending on the storage size you want.

Of course, this all comes at a great price at just over $100. If you’re willing to put down a bit more money, you should consider getting the second generation of this lineup, the SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD Gen 2×2. It’s a little over $200 for 1TB but comes with 2,000MB/second of read/write speed and is a good upgrade if you need a lot of speed for editing work.

Also, even though this is technically a rugged SSD, it’s best to buy a carrying case for it anyway. The Yinke Hard Case was made specifically for the SanDisk Extreme, so it’s more than worth picking up.

Best Budget External SSD

SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD

A small form factor combined with a rugged design at a $119 means that this little drive will last you a long time.

Best External SSD for PS5: WD_Black P50 Game Drive

WD Black SSD on desk near accessories
Western Digital


  • Fast read/write speeds
  • Looks great
  • 5-year warranty


  • Not great for PC use
  • A bit on the expensive side

If there’s ever an external SSD that looks like it means business, it’s the WD_Black P50. At 2,000 MB/seconds, this small drive can transfer files between your SSD and your PS5 relatively quickly, and while it won’t likely beat installing an internal NVMe drive, it is the best external PS5 SSD you’ll find.

While at first glance the P50 is a bit expensive per GB, when you consider how well it works for the PS5, it’s actually a good price. The value proposition for PC users, on the other hand, is middling. The rated speeds of the WD_Black are mainly reserved for USB 3.2 gen 2×2, which isn’t something that most laptops or desktops have. So, if you are mostly planning to use this for a PC or Mac, better to look elsewhere.

As for sizing, you can find the P50 from 500GB to 4TB. If you can do some good storage management, then 1TB or 2TB is the size we’d suggest since they have the best price point. There’s also a 1TB Call of Duty edition, which looks great and is an excellent option if you’re a fan of CoD.

Warning: Be aware that you cannot play PS5 games off an external SSD; that can only be done by an internal SSD expansion card. You can still store PS5 games, as well as play compatible PS4 games off of it.
Best External SSD for PS5

WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD

A stylish look and some of the best read/write speeds around means that this little drive is perfect for the PS5.

Best External SSD for Xbox Series X/S: WD_Black P50 Game Drive

WD Black SSD next to computer tower
Western Digital


  • Fast read/write speeds for copying games
  • Fits the Series X look
  • 5-year warranty


  • Not great for PC use
  • A bit on the expensive side

It should come as no surprise that the WD_Black P50 is also a great external SSD for the Xbox. Given that the Xbox Series X comes with 1TB internal storage, and the Series S only comes with a relatively small 500GB, you’ll almost certainly need some form of expandable storage, and the P50 is a great option.

Of course, if you are willing to throw in a little bit more money, you can get the official Seagate expansion card explicitly made for the Xbox Series consoles. While they come at a steep cost for 2TB, they also take advantage of Microsoft’s Velocity Architecture, allowing you to play Series X/S and optimized games.

Warning: Just like with the PS5, you cannot play Xbox Series X/S games off an external SSD or optimized games from the previous generation. Instead, external SSDs are an excellent option for storing games that you aren’t currently playing or backward compatible games that are not Series X/S optimized.
Best External SSD for Xbox Series X/S

WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD

If you want great speeds and need that extra little bit of storage, this is an excellent and cost-effective option.

Best External SSD for Mac: LaCie Rugged SSD Pro

Orange LaCie being plugged in


  • Thunderbolt 3
  • IP67 water and dust rated
  • Rugged exterior coating
  • Compatible with USB-C 3.1 and 3.2
  • 5-year warranty with data recovery


  • On the expensive side
  • Short cable
  • No 256-bit AES encryption

One of the best things that the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro has going for it is that it’s extremely fast for an external SSD. In fact, it not only competes and supersedes the WD_Black P50, being able to hit 2,800 MB/second, but it can easily hit them given that it runs with Thunderbolt 3.

Even better, it can use USB-C and is compatible with USB 3.1 and 3.2, so you don’t have to worry about it working with any current gear you have.

Speaking of gear, The LaCie is pretty rugged and has an IP67 rating, making it pretty durable. This is great if you do a lot of live shows, film in the desert, or generally like to do production work outside of the house. With the LaCie, you don’t have to worry about it falling and getting damaged, and even if it does, it comes with a 5-year warranty and data recovery.

Of course, you do pay a pretty penny for all these features, but it’s well worth it for the peace of mind.

Best External SSD for Mac

LaCie Rugged SSD Pro

The LaCie can keep your data safe and do it with blistering speeds too, and while the 256-bit encryption is missing, it’s still a beast of an external SSD.

Best Rugged External SSD: Samsung T7 Shield

Samsung T7 Shield transferring data from a computer
Justin Duino / How-To Geek


  • Fast read/write speeds
  • IP65 dust and water resistance
  • Can survive drops from up to 9.8 feet


  • Relatively short three-year warranty
  • More expensive than the base T7 model

Our best overall pick—the Samsung T7—is a fantastic external SSD for most people. But if you are looking for something more durable, then the Samsung T7 Shield will be a better bet. It keeps everything we love about the T7 and adds IP65 water and dust resistance. As a result, you don’t have to worry about dust, and the SSD can even survive low-pressure jets of water.

In addition, you get a rubber sleeve on the T7 Shield that can absorb the impact of drops from as high as 9.8 feet.

Like Samsung’s other T7-series SSDs, the T7 Shield supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 and has an advertised read/write speed of up to 1,050/1,000MB/s. However, you are more likely to get around 800MB/s write speeds and 700MB/s read speeds, as we found out in our testing.

Among other highlights, the Samsung SSD includes support for hardware-based AES-256 encryption. So if you want, you can secure your data with a password. However, you will need the company’s Portable SSD software to unlock the drive.

The Samsung T7 Shield is available in 1TB and 2TB sizes, and you can choose from three color options.

Best Rugged External SSD

Samsung T7 Shield

Read How-To Geek's Full Review

The Samsung T7 Shield gives you peace of mind thanks to its dust, drop, and water resistance. Additionally, the SSD is extremely fast and supports encryption.

Best Portable External SSD: Adata SD700

Adata SSD on blue background


  • IP68 rating
  • Mil-standard shockproofing
  • Very compact design
  • Great pricing


  • Performance is a bit slow
  • No USB-C

When someone thinks of portable SSDs, they think of something that can withstand the elements relatively well. The Adata SD700 manages that in spades, with its IP68 rating, one of the highest for water and dirt resistance.

Similarly, it also has a MIL-STD-810G 516.6, a standard created by the United States military and encompasses various tests and different products. This even includes even MIL-STD phone cases, although millage can vary.  Regardless, all that means for you is that it can withstand a drop of 2 meters without damaging the internals.

Of course, it’s not a perfect external SSD, and one of the more significant downsides is that it doesn’t use USB-C connections. ADATA’s SSD uses a SATA cable instead, so if you lose the one that comes with the drive, you’ll have to buy a new SATA to USB cable. It’s not something you generally have laying around!

Also, the speeds are slightly slower at 440MB/second compared to some other drives on the list. This isn’t a deal-breaker given how rugged it is, but certainly something to consider.

Overall, the downsides aren’t too bad given what you’re getting and for the price point, and if you’re willing to put up with the slower speeds and lack of USB-C, this is an excellent portable SSD.

Best Portable External SSD


Having a rugged outer coating, IP68 rating, and a great price, the Adata SD799 can handle pretty much any environment.

The Best External Hard Drives of 2023

WD My Book Duo RAID
Best External Hard Drive Overall
WD My Book Duo RAID
WD My Passport Ultra Blue
Best Budget External Hard Drive
WD My Passport Ultra Blue
Sandisk G-DRIVE ArmorATD
Best External Hard Drive for Mac
Sandisk G-DRIVE ArmorATD
Best Hard Drive for PS5
WD_BLACK 8TB D10 Game Drive
Best External Hard Drive for Xbox
WD_BLACK D10 Game Drive For Xbox
LaCie Rugged Mini External Hard Drive
Best Portable External Hard Drive
LaCie Rugged Mini External Hard Drive
Samsung T7 Portable SSD
Best External Solid State Drive
Samsung T7 Portable SSD
Profile Photo for Albert Bassili Albert Bassili
Albert Bassili is a freelance writer at How-to-Geek with eight years of experience in both commerce and tech writing. He's been a life-long lover of all sorts of tech and gadgets and has been building his own PCs for just under two decades now, and he has more gadgets than he actually needs. He's written for a variety of sites from SFGate to GameGavel.
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Profile Photo for Gaurav Shukla Gaurav Shukla
Gaurav Shukla is a technology journalist with over a decade’s experience reporting and writing about consumer technology. His work has appeared in Android Police, XDA Developers, and NDTV Gadgets 360.
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