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Mac or Windows computer not recognizing your external hard drive or flash drive? This is a common problem, especially when connecting hard drives between Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. It can also happen on a single system where it was working just fine for a long time and then suddenly stops being recognized by the operating system.

Sometimes the fix is easy and sometimes it is a bit more complicated. In this article, I’ll try to go through the different solutions on Mac and Windows for fixing this issue. How the drive is formatted and what file system is being used is the most common reason why drive is not recognized.

Table of Contents

Assign Drive Letter

The other main reason is that the drive simply is not being recognized by Windows or Mac and therefore won’t even show up on your system at all. This is usually a problem with drivers or hardware. In order to figure out whether your problem is related to formatting or to not being recognized, go to Disk Management in Windows or Disk Utility on OS X and see if the drive shows up there.

Pick a letter for your drive and you should be good to go. If the drive is showing, but you’re getting messages about the drive needing to be formatted, etc., then read the next section below.

On Macs, the drive should automatically appear on the desktop. If not, go to Disk Utility and check to see if it appears under the heading External.

If the drive is not showing up in Disk Management or Disk Utility at all, you have some other type of problem. Scroll down to the Not Showing Up section below.

Format Drive

When it comes to file formats, there are a couple of major formats that are used about 99% of the time: FAT32 and NTFS for Windows and HFS+ (Mac OS Extended) for Macs. Now OS X can read and write to FAT32 formatted drives, but can only read NTFS volumes.

Windows is worse in the sense that it cannot even read or write to HFS+ formatted volumes by default. You can get Windows to do it, but you have to purchase third-party software. The only other option is to format the hard drive and use the FAT32 format for the best compatibility.

When you connect a HFS+ formatted drive to Windows, you’ll get a message stating that the drive needs to be formatted in order to be used.

If you see this message, it just means that Windows does not recognize the file system on the drive. Make sure you connect the drive to the appropriate operating system and backup any data that you might need before performing a format.

So what’s the best format to use so that you can see your hard drive on multiple operating systems? The legacy format that is most compatible is FAT32, but it limits you to only 4 GB for max file size. You can read my previous post on how to format an external hard drive using FAT32.

If you need support for bigger files, then you should use the exFAT format. It’s newer and supports much larger files, but only works with newer versions of OS X and Windows. You’ll have to be running OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) or higher or Windows XP or higher.

In Windows, you can choose exFAT as the file system format in addition to NTFS and FAT32. When you format a drive in OS X using Disk Utility, you can also choose the exFAT format if you like.

Drive Not Showing Up

If you connect the drive to the computer and nothing happens, one of several things could be going on: your hard drive might have a problem, the correct software or drivers are not installed on your system, or there is something not working properly with the operating system. Let’s start with some common problems and their solutions.

Windows – Device Manager

Sometimes old drivers can cause a device to malfunction when connected to Windows. You can try fixing this by first going to the command prompt (Start and type in CMD) and running the following command:

set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1

In addition to Portable Devices, you can expand out Disk Drives and try to uninstall the device from there if it is not showing up properly in Windows Explorer.

Windows – USB Device

If you connect your USB drive to Windows and get a USB Device Not Recognized error, make sure to check out the link on how to fix that particular problem. Windows tries to blame the device for malfunctioning, but it’s normally a problem with Windows.

USB Ports/Secondary PC

You can also try plugging the drive into another USB port on the computer to make sure it’s not a problem with that particular port. If you are connecting to a USB hub, disconnect that and try to connect the drive directly to the computer.

The only way you can really tell if the problem is with the computer or the hard drive at this point is to connect the drive to another computer. If the drive doesn’t work on another computer, it’s highly likely something is wrong with the drive itself.

Drive Tools

If it appears that there is a problem with the drive itself, you can try to download the diagnostic tools from the drive manufacturer. Just about all the major brands like Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba, etc., have these diagnostic tools.

You can also read my previous post on checking your hard drive for errors for more information and more tools to test hard drives. If the drive has become corrupt or has bad sectors, these tools can fix it.

USB 3.0 Drives

If you have a USB 3.0 external hard drive, there are a couple of extra considerations you have to take into account. Firstly, make sure you are using an appropriate cable. I’ve run into several clients that had this problem and fixed it by simply using a different USB cable. So try out several cables before you give up.

Power Issues

The only other possibilities with this type of problem are lack of power or complete hard drive failure. Make sure the hard drive has the correct external power adapter and that the light on the front of the drive is turning on and is not orange or red. Also, try using different cables as some are able to carry more power than others.

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External Hard Drive Not Showing Up On Mac? 9 Working Fixes

External hard drives are among the perfect storage solutions to locally save gigabytes of data. You just have to plug the drive into your Mac and access them on the desktop or Finder. However, when an external drive fails to mount and appear, things get problematic.

But don’t worry! I have rounded up the best fixes to eliminate the issue of an external hard drive not showing up on a Mac. But first, let’s understand the possible reasons behind this.

Why is my external hard drive not showing up on Mac?

Here are 7 reasons why your external pen drive, HDD, SSD, or other such drives may not be appearing on your Mac.

The drives are underpowered.

There is a problem with Mac’s USB port.

The external drive is not formatted in a macOS-recognized file format.

There is a temporary issue with your Mac.

You have chosen not to show external drives on your Mac’s desktop.

The cable connecting the disk and Mac is broken, loose, or damaged.

Your external drive has physical damage.

Note: If it’s either of the last two, the mentioned fixes won’t work. You will have to buy a new cable or contact a data recovery service like DriveSavers.

Now that you know the basics, let’s look at the fixes. External Hard Drive Not Recognized on Mac

How to fix an external hard drive not recognized on Mac

1. Change Finder preferences to show the drive on Mac

The first step is to ensure that external drives are allowed to show up on Mac’s desktop.

If the options are already checked, move on to the next fix.

2. Make sure the drive is powered adequately

Small hard drives, SSD, and pen drives might not require additional power. The power they get from Mac’s USB port is sufficient.

But if you have a big hard drive that requires external power, ensure you satisfy that. Secondly, some drives have two ports, and both must be plugged into the computer. If everything is fine here, move on to the next step.

3. Change USB ports or USB Dongle

This is a pretty common trick to solve such problems. I am confident you already tried this. But if you did not, unplug the drive from the current Mac’s USB port and plug it into another. Give it a few seconds and see if it is visible.

Secondly, if you are using a USB-C dongle/hub, unplug it from your Mac and plug it into a different type-C port. In case the dongle is too hot, give it a few minutes to cool, and then try. This should probably fix the issue.

If it didn’t, don’t panic! Move on to the next one.

4. Check the connecting drive cable

Is the cable connecting your hard drive to the Mac wobbly at either end? If yes, do not force it as it may aggravate the problem. Place the Mac on a table or floor. Now, do the same for the drive and connect it to Mac carefully. See if it appears on the desktop or in the Finder.

In case the hard drive is not visible on your Mac, gently move the cable on the joints (where it connects with the drive and Mac) and see if it helps.

5. Restart your Mac

Important Tip: If a simple restart does not help, go ahead and boot your Mac in safe mode. This will help you understand if the problem is related to any software/app on your Mac.

If you see the external drive after booting in safe mode, that means the problem is caused by some app or software (like ones for cleaning your Mac, antivirus app, security apps, etc.). You might have to uninstall those apps.

6. Try using another Mac or PC

Before we move to the subsequent fixes, it is essential to determine whether the problem is with the drive or the Mac itself. To check this, borrow a Mac (or Windows PC) from a family member or friend. Plug the drive in that Mac and see if it shows up there.

If the drive shows up on a Windows PC but not on Mac, that means there is a formatting conflict. We will see how to fix that below.

7. Access the drive using macOS Disk Utility

8. Change the drive format

If First Aid doesn’t solve the problem, you will have to change the drive format, which will erase everything that is on it. Before you do that, it is essential to know more about it.

File FormatOperating SystemHFS+ (also known as Mac OS Extended or HFS Extended)Mac running macOS Sierra and beforeAPFS (Apple File System)Mac running macOS High Sierra and laterNTFSThis is the file format used in Windows PC. macOS can read NTFS but not write to it.exFAT or FAT32Both Windows and Mac can read and write this file format. If you have to choose between the two, in almost all cases, choose exFAT. It is newer and better than FAT32 (shown as MS-DOS (FAT) in Disk Utility).

Looking at the above table, we can derive the following:

If you are on a new macOS version and wish to use the external drive only with Mac, format it in APFS format.

Next, if you also have an old Mac, you can format it in HFS+, which you can use on both new and older Macs.

If you wish to use your external drive on both Mac and Windows, format it in exFAT (or FAT32 if you have Windows XP or earlier).

And if you wish to use your external drive mainly with Windows PC, format it in NTFS. You can still read files on it when you connect this drive to Mac.

Thus, depending on your situation, here is how to format the external drive using Disk Utility.

Note: It will erase all data currently on it. Thus, ensure to copy it somewhere before proceeding. You may also connect the drive to a Windows PC, copy everything on the PC or other drive, and then format it using Mac to the desired file format.

How to format an external drive using Disk Utility on Mac

Once done, you will be able to see the drive on your Mac.

9. Reset NVRAM or PRAM on Mac

Finally, is the file format correct? Are the cable, USB ports, and everything else works fine? But you still cannot see the external drive? Go ahead and reset NVRAM. If your Mac shuts down when you plug an external drive, fix it by resetting the SMC.

These are the ways to solve the problem of ‘external drive not showing on Mac.’ I hope the solutions helped, and now you can use your drive. If you have some queries, check the following section.

FAQs

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Author Profile

Arshmeet

A self-professed Geek who loves to explore all things Apple. I thoroughly enjoy discovering new hacks, troubleshooting issues, and finding and reviewing the best products and apps currently available. My expertise also includes curating opinionated and honest editorials. If not this, you might find me surfing the web or listening to audiobooks.

External Hard Drive Not Recognized In Windows 10!

With the reduction in the cost of available external storage options, there are many ways possible to not only store information, but also take it with us on the go. Carrying important files with you in an external hard disk can come in handy for many users who use more than one device in different locations and need these files across devices.

However, many users have reported across forums that they face an error where ‘external hard drive not recognized Windows 10’. Here I shall discuss the easy ways in which you can solve this error.

We have shown a VIDEO walk through at the end of the post for easy solution.

If the USB hard drive not showing windows 10 Disk management, this can be a serious problem as there can be some connection issue between your hard drive and your computer.

For some reason, if you can’t see external hard drive Windows 10, you may also have to assign a different drive letter as the default drive letter may be already assigned to a network drive or some other file or drive.

If the external hard drive not showing Windows 10, there can also be an issue with your drivers and USB controllers. These can be very annoying, albeit very easy to solve.

Now that you know the potential reasons that you are facing this error, you can start resolving this error by following some of the simple ways here to solve the ‘external hard drive not recognized Windows 10’ error.

You can start resolving this error by performing the basic checks, which will help you diagnose if your operating system is at fault, or you have a faulty hard drive.

Connect your hard disk to another computer port, and to a different computer altogether to check if there are any connection issues between the two.

If the external hard disk is recognized in the other computer port, there may be some issues with the port or cable.

If it is recognized in another computer but fails to recognize in all ports on your PC, there can be problems with the operating system on your device.

If the storage device is not recognized on any port on any computer, your drive is at fault and may need physical repairs to run properly.

Sometimes, the device configuration files for a certain device may get corrupted due to some recent application or settings installations. This can cause the external hard disk not showing in Windows 10 error on your device. You can try uninstalling the disk and then reinstalling it to solve your error.

Open a Run window by pressing Win + R.

Type devmgmt.msc and press Enter to launch the Device Manager window.

Unplug the USB external hard disk and restart your computer.

Reconnect the USB and wait for the driver to install it.

Look for the drive-in File Explorer.

This should solve the ‘external hard drive not recognized Windows 10’ issue on your device if it was being caused by a driver issue.

If you can’t see the external hard drive in Windows 10 due to an error from the loaded USB driver, this is the solution that you can use to resolve your error. This method shall be useful to you if there is an unstable or corrupt USB driver loaded onto your device.

Open a Run window by pressing Win + R.

Type devmgmt.msc and press Enter to launch the Device Manager window.

Wait for the device to uninstall.

Then, repeat the procedure for all the devices.

Reboot your computer.

This should solve the ‘external hard drive not showing Windows 10’ error if it was being caused by faulty USB drivers.

Sometimes Windows turns off your USB devices which draw power using the USB cable, to save the device power if it is running on battery. A faulty Windows bug may also enable this setting even if you are plugged into the wall power supply. You need to turn off USB selective suspend setting to resolve this error.

Expand USB selective suspend

You can use the disk management tool to fix partition and file system issues with your drive. This can be helpful if your drive shows up in the Disk Management tool as unallocated space and does not show up in File Explorer. Simply follow these steps to diagnose and solve the ‘USB hard drive not showing up Windows 10’ error.

Open a Run dialog by pressing Win + R.

Type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter to launch the Disk Management tool.

If your removable drive shows only unallocated space, you’ll need to create a new partition on it. This allows Windows and other operating systems to use it.

Follow the on-screen instructions through the wizard to create a new partition.

Fix: Windows Server Not Showing Up In Network In File Explorer

Fix: Windows Server not showing up in Network in File Explorer

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Some users utilize Windows Server PCs for their local networks. However, a few users have stated in forum posts that their Windows Server PCs don’t show up in Network within File Explorer on their client PCs.

Thus, File Explorer does not display all network devices within Network on its navigation pane. This has become a more prevalent issue since Microsoft removed HomeGroup from Windows 10 1803.

However, the same error can also arise on Windows 7 clients.

How can Users Fix Windows Server not Showing Up in Network? 1. Check That Network Discovery is Enabled

First, check that network discovery is on (for all the networked PCs), which enables the connected PCs to find each other. Users can do that by pressing the Windows key + R hotkey.

Is the Turn on network discovery option selected? If not, select the Turn on network discovery setting.

2. Turn the FDResPub Service On

Users have confirmed they’ve fixed File Explorer Network not displaying Windows Server by turning the Function Discovery Resource Publication (FDResPub) service on. To do that, open the Run accessory with the Windows key + R hotkey.

Select the Automatic option on the Startup type drop-down menu.

3. Check the DNS Client, SSDP Discovery, and UPnP Device Host Services Are On

If turning FDResPub on doesn’t do the trick, there might be other services users also need to switch on. So, check if the DNS Client, SSDP Discovery, and UPnP Device Host services are turned off.

4. Turn on SMB 1.0

The SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support feature needs to be on for network discovery. To check if that feature is enabled, launch the Run accessory.

Then select the SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support check box if that isn’t currently selected.

Press the OK button.

Restart Windows after turning SMB 1.0 on.

5. Turn Off Windows Defender Firewall

To ensure Windows Defender Firewall isn’t blocking network discovery, turn off the WDF. Open the search utility by pressing the Windows key + S hotkey.

Select the Turn off Windows Defender Firewall settings, and press the OK button.

Then select all the Network Discovery check boxes.

Press the OK button.

Then users can turn the firewall back on, which will no longer block network discovery.

6. Turn Off Third-Party Antivirus Software

So, that’s how users can fix File Explorer when it doesn’t display all networked devices. Then File Explorer will show all networked devices in Network.

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How To Use An External Hard Drive With Xbox One

As you may or may not know, all Xbox One games must be fully installed to your console’s hard drive for optimal play experience. This is regardless of whether or not you purchased a game on a physical disc.

Waiting for the installation isn’t so bad, but the rate at which your storage space disappears is. The problem stems from the fact that Xbox One games are huge. For example, The Master Chief Collection weighs in at a whopping 62.74 GB. Grand Theft Auto V is a hefty 49.03 GB. To put these numbers in perspective, the Xbox One ships with 500 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB of built in storage space. With big budget titles often clocking in around the 50 GB mark, you can see how storage space can quickly become a problem.

It used to be that if you found that you were running out of space, you had limited options, none of which were particularly appealing. One potential fix was to replace the internal drive of your Xbox One with a larger one. Unfortunately this isn’t condoned by Microsoft and voided your console’s warranty. The only other option was to delete a game and reinstall it if you wanted to play it again. This meant that people with large libraries of games hoping to be able to play whichever they wanted at any given time were out of luck.

Fortunately, Microsoft heard the collective groan of anguished Xbox owners and released an update that enables users to attach an external hard drive. Currently, the Xbox One supports two external drives at once, allowing users to easily expand their storage.

Ready to give your Xbox One a storage boost after that massive Mass Effect Andromeda patch? We thought so.

Requirements

Before you take an old flash drive out of a drawer and stick it into one of the Xbox One’s USB ports, there are a handful of stipulations. First of all, the drive must be at least 256 GB. This means that you can use a USB flash drive, provided it’s large enough.

Secondly, the drive has to be USB 3.0. The reason behind this is simple: USB 3.0 provides faster transfer rates. USB 3.0 supports a data transfer speed of 5 Gbit/second (or 625 MB/second). This speed is necessary to ensure games and apps load quickly. The last thing Microsoft wants is bad publicity that could damage the Xbox brand because people used a cheap drive with sluggish data transfer rates. Most modern hard drives and USB flash drives support USB 3.0 nowadays, but double check before you hit the checkout counter.

It has been reported that external storage for the Xbox One is capped at 16 TB which is huge. The size of your external drive will depend on how much space you need and how much you can afford. If you have a large collection of games and apps, you’ll probably want to opt for a fairly large drive. Seagate produces a “game drive” that is marketed to those wishing to increase the storage on their Xbox One. The drive comes in 2 TB and 4 TB varieties, and aside from the Xbox logo stamped in the corner, doesn’t seem to be any different from other portable hard drives. This means that you can use any off-the-shelf external drive. If you have a spare hard drive from an old laptop or desktop computer, you could even throw it in an enclosure and use that.

Portable or Desktop?

There are two different types of external hard drives on the market, commonly referred to as “desktop” and “portable.” Portable drives are much smaller and rely solely on the USB cable for both power and data transfer. Desktop drives are considerably larger and require a separate power supply in addition to a USB cable.

Portable drives are a bit more convenient, but desktop drives tend to be faster. Hard drive speed is measured in RPMs, and more RPMs means better performance. Portable hard drives tend to spin at 5400 RPM, whereas desktops spin at 7200 RPM. Faster performing hard drives offer faster boot times and shorter load times.

Note: SSDs may seem like a good choice due to their improved performance over mechanical drives. However, Eurogamer concluded that there wasn’t much benefit in using one with your Xbox One.

Installing

Plug your hard drive into one of the free USB ports on your Xbox One console. This can be done whether your console is on or powered off. The Xbox will detect the drive and ask if you want to use it as external storage. Say “Yes” and your drive will be formatted. Be aware that any data on the drive will be wiped clean. Also, take note that the Xbox format is a proprietary one, so you won’t be able to use that drive with anything but your Xbox.

The console will then ask if you want games and apps to be downloaded to the external drive by default. It’s up to you but you might see a slight improvement in performance if you opt for the external drive. The internal Xbox drive is of the 5400 RPM variety, so if the external is faster, you might see shorter load times, etc.

Managing Games and Apps

If you want to move an existing game or app from your console’s internal storage to the new external storage, you’ll have to do so manually. Head to the “My Games and Apps” menu. Highlight a game you want to move and press the Menu/Start button. Select “Manage Game” from the menu that appears. Select “Move to External,” and in a few seconds your game should start transferring. You can automate the process by selecting “Move all.” This will transfer all of the games on your internal drive to the external one, saving you from having to move each one individually.

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Best Portable Hard Drive & Ssd 2023: External Storage Reviews

There are plenty of portable hard disk drives (HDD) as well as much-faster solid-state drives (SSD) to choose from and we’ve reviewed and ranked some of the best ones. We are focussing on SSDs here but hard drives like the WD Black P10 get an honourable mention.

Portable USB drives are powered by the connected computer, so you can use them on the move without the need to plug into the mains or use batteries. Some will even connect your phone or tablet and let you extend storage that way, or allow you to transfer or open files.

Best portable hard drives & SSDs 2023

1. Crucial X6 – Best Overall

Pros

Enhanced performance

Highly affordable

Easily transportable

Cons

Lacks hardware encryption

No activity light

500GB model slower

Best Prices Today:

SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 836MB/s

It might not be quite as fast as the Adata SE760 but a recent upgrade to the 1- and 2TB models makes the X6 unbeatable in terms of value for money with the 1TB model costing well under £100/$100.

Furthermore, it comes in an ever more portable form factor than its bigger brother, the X8, which is still drop tested to 2m and comes with the same three-year warranty.

As an all-rounder goes, it’s our top pick, even if it lacks things like hardware encryption and an activity light.

Read our full

2. Adata SE760 – Best Value

Pros

Cheap

Great performance

Type-A & Type-C cables

Cons

No encryption

Limited to 1TB

Best Prices Today:

SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 934MB/s

Adata has come up with an excellent rival to the Crucial X8 and importantly done so at a cheaper price.

Like the X8 there are no features like a rugged design or encryption but there are alternative options if you need those things.

Instead, the SE760 provides a hassle-free way of carrying around a large amount of speedy storage without breaking the bank. It even comes with Type-C and Type-A USB cables included.

A solid choice if you want between 250GB and 1TB of capacity.

Read our full

3. Kingston XS2000 – Affordable Performance

Pros

Reasonably priced

Headline performance

Small and lightweight

Cons

Needs USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 for full speed

Limited SLC cache size

No USB Type-A adapter

Best Prices Today:

SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 1986MB/s

If you want the top performance then the XS2000 is aptly named as it offers headline speeds with read peaking at 2092MB/s, though you will need a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port to access this level of performance.

That’s around double many rivals if you do and the price here is surprisingly affordable, plus this is a very portable drive.

On the downside, the limited cache means you won’t get sustained performance for larger files and Kingston doesn’t provide a USB adapter to use the XS2000 with older Type-A ports.

Read our full

4. Seagate One Touch (2024) – Best Backup Software

Pros

High performance

Up to 2TB

Free Sync Plus software

Cons

Short cables

Could be more robust

Best Prices Today:

SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 1,007MB/s

As long as you don’t need hardware encryption then the latest version of the One Touch SSD is an excellent choice.

Plug it into the right USB port and you’ll get double the speed of the previous version, matching many rivals. Capacity goes up to 2TB and Seagate provides useful and free, Sync Plus software to make backing up files easy.

It’s also highly portable and although it’s not as rugged as some alternatives, it’s hardly fragile. The main pain point here is the ridiculously short cables, but that’s not uncommon either.

Read our full

5. CalDigit Tuff nano – Best Speed and Durability Combo

Pros

Super fast

Super tough

Super small

Cons

Not the cheapest

SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 891MB/s

The CalDigit Tuff nano blew us away with its super-fast speeds, which are twice as fast as comparable portable SSDs. using NVMe technology, the 512GB drive we tested achieved Read and Write speeds close to 1,000MB/s!

It’s also robust, being IP67 certified – meaning that it can be immersed in water and is dust-tight. It can also withstand drops up to 3M.

It is compatible with most computers (it comes with USB-C and USB-A cables), and, being USB-C, can also work with Apple’s iPad Pro.

While it might be a little pricy for the casual user, professionals such as photographers and filmmakers will appreciate its blistering speed and tough travel credentials.

Read our full

6. Crucial X8 – Good Value Performance

Pros

Top performance

Affordable

Cons

Short cable

Plain design

Best Prices Today:

SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 1,015MB/s

The Crucial X8 is a great option for those looking for reliable portable SSD.

It’s well-made, compact and offers excellent speeds via USB 3.2 Gen 2 and offers great value for money, too.

There might not be any encryption but for many users, this won’t be an issue. If it is, then there are plenty of other options such as the Samsung T7 Touch and SanDisk Extreme.

Read our full

7. Samsung T7 Touch – Best Encryption

Pros

Excellent speeds

Fingerprint scanner

Compact

Cons

No admin backdoor

Best Prices Today:

SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 929MB/s

Samsung has improved on the popular T5 with a portable SSD that’s both faster and is more secure.

The fingerprint scanner works well but the drive is lacking in a simple way to reset it should you not have the registered finger so just be careful. You’ll also need to be using the right port to get the most out of the T7’s potential speed.

Those are just caveats for an excellent drive which has a lot to like. If you won’t make use of these new features then you may as well grab the cheaper T5.

Read our full

8. SanDisk Extreme Portable SDD V2 – Most Portable

Pros

Faster than SATA SSDs

USB-A + USB-C

Lightweight

Cons

Costly

Confusing naming

Best Prices Today:

SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 930MB/s

SanDisk has done a great job of improving its rugged portable SSD with this new model, although the naming is a little too similar with just ‘V2’ at the end which isn’t even on the box.

If you make sure you’re buying this new model, you’ll benefit from double the speed as well as built-in encryption. The Extreme Portable is also one of the lightest drives we’ve ever seen if that’s important and also has an IP55 water and dust rating.

The drive offers both USB-A and USB-C, just note that you’ll need a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port on the device you plug this SSD into to benefit from the fastest speeds.

Read our full

9. WD Black D10 – Best Gaming Storage

Pros

Lightweight

Reasonably fast

Military styling

Cons

Short USB cable

Can’t run all console titles

Expensive

Best Prices Today:

HDD, Average Read/Write speed: 625MB/s

If you’re lacking in space for your console or PC games then the WD Black D30 is a decent option to gain a lot of storage in a small and stylish package.

The metal container style shell is really the only gaming element of this drive, but it is highly portable and ready to use out the box. You’ll get decent speeds from the USB 3.2 standard.

As usual, we’d like the cable to be longer. If you need more space than 2TB and can cope with slower speeds, the Black P10 goes to 5TB.

Read our full

10. SanDisk Professional PRO-G40 – Best Performance

Pros

Headline performance on Thunderbolt

USB connectable

Ultra-resilient design

Cons

Expensive

Limited capacities

No USB Type-A adapter included

Best Prices Today:

SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 2682MB/s

Those looking for serious speeds in an ultra-rugged casing that will survive the likes of water, drops and more have just found it.

The PRO-G40 gets close to 3000MB/s in read speeds if you use it over Thunderbolt. With USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds significantly slower, it’s not worth the high cost of this drive compared to rivals.

That’s the main issue here, with seemingly most of the cost going on the casing, while the drive inside only comes in 1- or 2TB sizes at launch. At this price, a longer cable and some kind of carry pouch would be nice. The G40 will be a better buy once it starts getting discounted.

Read our full SanDisk Professional PRO-G40 review

How to choose a portable SSD

Even the smallest portable drives are likely to be 128GB in size, which is enough to space thousands of CD albums in lossless FLAC format, or even more in lower quality MP3 or AAC formats. Off-loading your music collection alone from a computer to a portable drive can be a godsend in freeing valuable space if your laptop has limited storage.

Another popular application of portable storage is for keeping critical backups of your data held on a PC or laptop. You may be able to keep a perfect clone of your entire computer’s internal drive, on standby and ready in the event that the computer is lost or its drive should malfunction.

Alternatively, you may choose just to back up the most important files and documents from your user libraries, such as text documents, photos, films, music and stored email. Some portable drives include software that can help automate this process, keeping your selected directories in sync whenever you plug in the drive or by a daily schedule.

Performance

Now that USB 2.0 has been banished from all self-respecting storage, we find USB 3 as the standard for connection, letting these portable drives perform as quickly as the little disks inside will allow.

USB 3 is confusing, as USB 3.0 was retrospectively renamed to USB 3.1 Gen 1. There’s also a newer version, USB 3.1 Gen 2. This doubles the potential throughput from Gen 1’s 5Gb/s to 10Gb/s. In megabytes per second, these equate to 625 and 1,250 respectively. Pretty fast, then.

In reality, most SSDs top out at around 1000MB/s (although you can get faster), and this speed is highly dependent on the device you’re connecting it to so don’t automatically blame the drive if you experience slower speeds. Note that USB-C Gen 2 won’t go any faster when USB 4.0 arrives.

Check out the average speeds in the summaries above, and go to the full review for more detailed benchmark results.

Protection

A rugged exterior will be handy if you want the freedom of being able to throw around the unplugged drive with less worry that it will damage the unit, and more importantly, lose your data.

Look out for shock-resistance ratings such as the US military MIL-STD-810F 516.5 (Transit Drop Test). This means that it should withstand being dropped 26 times onto a hard floor, once on to each face, edge and corner, from a height of 1.22m.

Flash storage – more commonly known as SSDs – can survive more brutal treatment, and some portable drives are even water-resistant. If you were to accidentally drop a portable SSD drive in water, then as long as the port covers are firmly closed, it will work fine to use it after it has been fully dried.

Some drives have an IP waterproof rating like phones.

Reliability

It’s tough to say definitively which manufacturer makes the most reliable hard drives. While there’s a big difference between the technology used in traditional hard drives and SSDs, both have a limited lifespan, and this is why warranties are relatively short – typically two or three years.

What’s important is that you have a well-thought-out backup process and you don’t rely on any single drive to store precious files. Ideally, you should have three copies: one on a PC, phone or tablet, one on a backup drive and one in the cloud.

Value

For many users, a portable storage drive may be an unavoidable commodity, and price will be the deciding factor. 

Often an older drive will be cheaper thanks to a drop in price so you might get a bargain, but make sure you’re not missing out on new tech you’d benefit from.

Professionals will be willing to pay more for the faster and tougher SSDs out there.

Security

The larger the drive, the more you can store – and the more you stand to lose in the event of losing the drive or having it stolen. This is where it pays to lock down that drive.

There are two ways to ensure the data is unreadable by other users. You can scramble the contents through hardware encryption. Or you can use a software application to encrypt either parts or all of the drive.

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