The best portable storage drives

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Although you’re almost always better off installing an internal hard drive or SSD, the best portable drives make it possible to carry your Steam collection with you wherever you go. Especially now that more drives are taking advantage of the faster USB Type-C Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3 interfaces, the difference in speed between an internal drive and an external one is almost negligible. Plus, portable drives are becoming more and more affordable as capacities grow larger. 

Of course, massive sales holidays like Black Friday only double down on the cost efficiency of these storage peripherals. ‘Tis the season for PC gaming deals. What complicates matters is that determining the best portable drives is a subjective process, which is why we’ve broken up our list into three categories: best portable SSD, best rugged portable USB drive and best high-capacity portable hard drive. 

Having tested a wealth of candidates for all three titles, we’ve found that the Samsung Portable SSD T5 is the best SSD, the LaCie XtremeKey 128GB is the best rugged drive and the WD Passport 4TB is the best high-capacity drive. Keep scrolling and you’ll see why.

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Best portable SSD

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Best rugged portable USB drive

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Best high-capacity portable hard drive

Storage, especially hard drives, has gotten cheaper and cheaper as time has gone by. It wasn’t long ago that a 1TB HDD was an achievement. Now, you can fit that much storage in your pocket in the form of high-speed flash memory. After all, being able to easily take 220 DVDs worth of data with you is way more convenient than having to burn and store all of those discs. 

Solid state storage is still far more expensive than a hard drive, but the cost for SSDs is declining. As storage declines in cost, so too will external drives that rely upon those same components. However, an external drive will always cost more than an internal bare drive of the same capacity, since you’re paying for the USB interface that talks to the drive. 

If you prefer to roll your own portable drive, there are hard drive enclosures available for both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch HDDs and SSDs.

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