Last Updated on May 30, 2021
For users who are constantly traveling, picking among the best external hard drives for travel might seem like a daunting task.
Chances are that you want a hard drive that can store your files and still manage to be hardy enough to survive the ups and downs.
Depending on your needs you should pick a hard drive that fits into your lifestyle so that you get its full benefits.
Luckily, getting a hard drive that fits your needs is not too hard. Read on to discover some of the best hard drives you can buy.
Disclosure: PCGearLab is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comparison of Top External Hard Drives for Travel
|WD My Passport|
List of Best External Hard Drives for Travel in 2021
In terms of popular, performance and value, the following hard drives are excellent for travelers.
- SanDisk Extreme Portable – Rugged Recommended External Hard Drive for Travel
- Samsung T5 – Popular 540MB/s USB 3.1 SSD
- Seagate Backup Plus Slim – Portable USB 3.0 External Hard Drive for Travel
- Silicon Power Armor A60 – Great for gaming, water-resistant
- WD My Passport Wireless – Wireless Streaming and internal Battery
1. SanDisk Extreme Portable – Rugged Recommended External Hard Drive for Travel
If you’re looking for a rugged hard drive that is so small and portable that you can take it almost anywhere, this will be a great choice.
The drive has an external case made of plastic and hard rubber. This makes it rugged and as a result, you get better tolerance to vibrations, shocks, and accidental drops.
Furthermore, the drive has an IP55 rating for dust and water resistance. With good dust protection and resistance to certain levels of water jets, the drive can easily accompany you and survive some mild water splashes during your travels.
The device’s performance is also great as you get speeds of up to 1050MB/s. This can come in handy when you need to rapidly transfer large files. Compared to older gen external SSDs, this is twice as fast thanks to the NVMe protocol.
To make this possible, the device ships with support for USB 3.1 via the more modern Type-C interface.
2. Samsung T5 – Popular 540MB/s USB 3.1 SSD
A very popular thin and light SSD with 540 MB/s transfer speed.
Samsung T5 is a very popular device. It owes much of this popularity to its great performance and sleek design that makes it very portable.
While it does not come with ruggedized features like the one we saw above, it does however, come with a very affordable price tag for an SSD.
That said, you get 540MB/s of transfer speeds which is great and will even let you run programs straight off the hard drive with minimal issues like lags.
It also features a USB 3.1 interface that supports the fast transfer seeds and large bandwidths that can be transmitted between the device and a computer.
Compared to hard drives with spinning disks, you can get up to 5X better performance with this drive.
For those who love pocket-sized devices, the Samsung T5 SSD is the best external hard drive for travel.
Besides being secure, your data is kept safe thanks to its 256-bit encryption. Once set up, any user would need a password to access your files which is great for privacy while out traveling.
3. Samsung T7 – Fast NVMe SSD
A high performance NVMe SSD which is an upgrade over the Samsung T5. Offers double the speed of T5.
If you are inspired by the form factor as well as the design of the Samsung T5 above, then you will love this SSD offering a phenomenal upgrade over its predecessor.
While the Samsung T5 only manages to offer 540 MB/s, which is still 3 -4 times faster than an average hard disk drive, the latest Samsung T7 offers a whopping 1050 MB/s transfer speeds.
This is made possible due to the fact that it features the newer NVMe SSD.
Moreover, this external hard disk also comes with a newer USB 3.2 Gen2 port for catering to the higher transfer speeds.
The only drawback here is that the per GB cost of the Samsung T7 is a bit higher than that of the Samsung T5.
But if you are still looking for a reasonably priced high performance NVMe SSD, then this is the best external hard drive for travel because of its portability factor.
4. Seagate Backup Plus Slim – Portable USB 3.0 External Hard Drive for Travel
A popular external 2.5″ hard disk drive with an affordable per GB cost and backup service.
This drive is great for users who just want a simple hard drive for use while traveling. It is capable of offering great performance and has support for USB 3.0 as well as USB 2.0.
It is a bit robust than average 2.5″ external hard disk since with purchase you get access to a files backup software that helps keep your files safe and reduces chances of facing catastrophic losses.
You can schedule automatic backups to keep the files between your computer and the hard drive in-sync.
MacOS users will be glad to know that the drive has support for Apple Time Machine, a software for backups that lets you backup and restore your entire system in case of a failure.
It is very easy to use as it comes formatted for a Windows OS. Nevertheless, with a quick reformat, you will be able to get it working on most other common Operating Systems.
The drive is very portable and has a brushed metallic case that keeps it firm and secure. This is important for ensuring that the internal components are safe from major issues.
5. Silicon Power Armor A60 – Great for Gaming, Water-Resistant
A ruggedized 2.5″ external hard disk drive. Marginally more expensive than an average non-ruggedized external hard disk.
Just as the name implies, the Power Armor A60 from Silicon is both a great performer and a durable device.
This hard disk drive is made with rough travel in mind. As such this is a ruggedized hard disk drive with several forms of protection against the environment.
It has a rugged case and an internal suspension system that provides a high level of shock absorption and paired with the rubber case helps keep the drive safe in case of falls or shocks. It can also withstand some crushing force.
To add to its durability, you get an IPX4 rating which means that the device can handle water sprays. However, dust protection is not guaranteed at all.
You can easily set it up and while it does offer ease of use, you also get access to large storage capacities of up to 2TB. Users who constantly forget to pack their USB cables when traveling will be glad to know that the device allows you to store it by winding around its case.
This is great for travelers and if you have a lot of files you can be sure that the drive will sort you out until you get to offload them. This makes it one of the best external hard drive for travel.
6. WD My Passport Wireless – Wireless Streaming and internal Battery
Unlike all the other external hard drives mentioned, this is the best external hard drive for travel because of the myriad of connectivity features it offers.
Not only can you connect this with the standard USB 3.0 port, but it also offers files transfer via WiFi connectivity.
On top of that, it also offers an SD card slot for file transfer. This is a great for those with a camera such as GoPro who want to quickly transfer their files from the SD card to the hard disk.
Moreover it can recharge your phone when you run out of power. This is a handy feature for travel. The drive comes with a battery pack and can serve as a power bank to use when one of your devices runs out of power.
If you’re on the move and want to browse your files, you can get the hard drive’s companion app and with it, you’ll also be able to stream videos, at the expense of battery life which is rated for about 10 hours of regular use on a full charge.
The drive is fairly affordable and depending on your needs you can get one from 1TB to 4TB.
How to Choose the Right External Hard Drive for Travel?
Before we can get on to seeing the hard drives, when picking a hard drive that you can travel with, there are a few things you will need to consider.
The final choice will boil down to your needs. However, here’s what you should consider in the hard drive.
The thought of having sufficient storage while traveling might lead you into buying a large capacity hard drive that’s physically large.
There’s no problem with this, especially if you have no trouble carrying it around.
However, for a traveler, aiming for portability should be the best thing to consider. This means getting a compact unit that’s enough for your files.
When traveling, chances are that the hard drive will be subjected to some rough handling. If you’re keen on durability, you should opt for a rugged drive that has shock-absorbing features.
This will give it some added protection against extreme conditions and improve its chances of surviving the lots of movement you will be doing.
For those who love the outdoors and for one reason and another need to bring their hard drives along, getting one that has some water and dust resistance can also go a long way.
When getting a small portable external hard drive, you will also need to contend with the fact that the storage space might be limited.
Nevertheless, the space you get will, in most cases, be sufficient because you can easily get a couple of terabytes of space.
As with travels, one thing you always have to keep in mind is that in the worst-case scenario, you may end up losing or misplacing your luggage or your gear.
If your hard drive has sensitive or private information like your pictures, it’s best to get a device that has an encryption feature.
This will keep your files safe even after a loss by ensuring that whoever’s hands the hard drive falls into won’t be able to view your files.
Finally, you need to consider your budget. You may not be looking to spend a lot on a hard drive that will be used to store some files during your travels.
If this is the case, you can always find an affordable drive that can meet your needs.
At the same time, you can opt for a high-performance drive if that’s what you need and your budget allows.
Alternatives to Ruggedized Hard Disk for Travel?
Ruggedized hard drives can get fairly expensive and therefore, not everyone would find them appealing.
A good alternative to Ruggedized external hard drives is to invest in a water proof and a shock resistance case.
These cases are generally very cheap and cost a fraction of what a ruggedized hard drive would cost.
The best part about these cases is that sometimes they provide you with other accessories and conveniences as well such as pockets for inserting the cables, hook to harness the case on your backpack and even space to put other essential items like earphones or SD cards etc.
Turning an Internal Hard Drive into External Hard Drive
Another great altnerative is to turn your internal hard drive into a traveling hard drive.
If you have a 2.5″ HDD or an SSD lying around, just get an enclosure of your choice and turn it into a reliable storage for traveling.
You can get enclosures for all sorts of drives including NVME SSDs.
Also Read: Best Hard Drives for External Enclosures
SSD vs HDD
In this article we look at popular and the best external hard drives for travel and adventure.
Generally, whether you plan to go for an HDD or an SSD, we recommend that you pay particular attention to whether it is ruggedized or not.
If it has a certified ingress protection rating making it water proof, dust resistance and shock proof, then that is the optimal choice to go for.
There are plenty of ruggedized external hard disks out there fortunately.