Last Updated on March 20, 2021
Photos and videos are some of a traveler’s most treasured digital assets. They remind you of memories that would have otherwise been easily forgotten. However, your photos and videos can be deleted in an instant. And if the files weren’t properly backed up, you could lose them for good. Thankfully, you can invest in a fast and reliable hard drive to keep all your files secure and protected.
But what constitutes a fast and reliable hard drive for digital nomads?
At the very least, the equipment must come with ample storage capacity. The rule of thumb is to choose a 2-terabyte external hard drive for shorter trips.
Also, the hard drive must be portable. The two most crucial aspects to consider here include the design and weight. Most hard drives come in compact and sleek designs that make them packable and portable. In terms of weight, the lighter the device, the more preferable.
Lastly, there’s the question of durability, especially among outdoor adventure-seekers.
Now, finding a hard drive that’s durable, lightweight, and comes with a large storage space is difficult but not impossible. You only need to know where to look.
Read through our review of the top 8 portable hard drives for travelers and hopefully, you’ll find a product that suits your needs.
1. Silicon Power A60
Size: 5.5 x 0.9 x 3.4 inches
Weight: 10.4 ounces
Color Options: Black Orange, White, Green, Blue, and Black Green
- IPX4, drop protection offers maximum durability
- Supports Windows, Linux, and Mac
- Cable-carry design improves packability
- Relatively costly
Silicon Power A60 is designed using the military-grade IPX4. That accounts for the product’s high shockproof and remarkable water-resistance. The hard drive has speeds of 120MB/s and is PS4/XBOX-compatible, making it a special recommendation for gaming enthusiasts.
Silicon Power comes with a 4GB file transfer capacity which is available in a pre-formatted version of FAT32. While you can readily use this on your Windows or Mac devices, you should remember to re-format to exFAT if you’re transferring a single file that exceeds 4GB.
2. Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim
Size: 4.5 x 3 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 4.8 ounces
Color Options: Gold and Platinum
- Elegant gold or platinum finish
- Two-year limited warranty
- Compatible with PC and Mac
- Less durable compared to other finish materials like silicon
Measuring less than 0.5 inches and weighing in at a paltry 4.8 ounces, Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim ranks among the most lightweight and portable external hard drives out there. But in spite of its diminished size, this hard drive packs up to 2 terabytes of storage space and works at speeds as high as 120Mb per second.
The package includes a USB 3.0 cable as well as 2-month free membership in the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan, which offers you unhindered access to photo- and video-editing apps.
3. Transcend StoreJet M3
Size: 5.1 x 0.8 x 3.2 inches
Weight: 7.7 ounces
Color Options: Grey, Blue, and Military Green
- USB 3.0 compliant
- Compatible with multiple operating systems
- 3-stage shock-protection system
- Packaging lacks fast-start instructions
Transcend StoreJet M3 is ideal for travelers and digital nomads who are looking for hard drives that are both reliable and affordable. The hard drive is made from military-grade, shock-resistant material that prevents damage from accidental drops.
It comes with 2-terabyte storage space and supports numerous operating systems, including Windows 7/8/10, Linux Kernel 2.6.31 or later, as well as Mac OS X 10.7.
4. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC
Size: 3.5 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 10.6 ounces
Color Options: Black
- Super-fast speeds
- Anti-shock construction
- Near Field Communication security features
- Limited color options
This portable hard drive by Buffalo features a compact yet sophisticated design and offers high-performance USB3.0 storage. The inside of the hard drive sports rubberized elements that protect the device from accidental drops and enhance its overall durability.
As for shock-resistance, the device satisfies the U.S. Military StandardMIL-STD-810G, METHOD-516.6, and Procedure IV. According to these standards, the device can survive drops as long as 1.2 meters. Another excellent thing to love about Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC is that it comes with its USB cable already integrated with the case. And with incredible data speeds of 5Gbps, what else could you ask for in a hard drive?
5. Western Digital Elements 1TB USB 3.0
Size: 4.3 x 0.6 x 3.2 inches
Weight: 4.6 ounces
Color Options: Black and Multicolor
- Fast data transfers
- Compatibility with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0
- 2-year manufacturer’s limited warranty
- Not compatible with Windows XP
Western Digital Elements 1TB USB 3.0 is one of the fastest hard drives for travelers, with speeds of up to 6Gbps, thanks to the incorporation of a SuperSpeed (SS) technology. While the device mostly integrates with USB 3.0 technology, it can also work on USB 2.0 ports.
The 4.4 inches long hard drive comes with a storage space of one terabyte and is compatible with Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10. It also works on Mac 10.4 provided you’ve formatted it. To ensure you don’t lose your data due to a malfunction, the manufacturer incorporated an automatic backup software known as SmartWare Pro.
6. Adata SE730
Size: 2.8 x 1.7 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 1.12 ounces
Color Options: Black, Gold/Titanium, and Yellow
- Solid and compact design
- Waterproof, dust-proof, and shockproof
- 3-year warranty
- Fragile cord connection
Adata SE730 weighs only 1.12 ounces, so it has close to ZERO impact on your average luggage weight. It’s also designed to be water-resistant, hence isn’t affected by splashes or quick water drops. The product enjoys IP68 ratings that certify it as dust-proof.
Adata SE730 has speeds of as high as 500Mb/s. It’s compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8 /8.1 /10, as well as Linux Kernel 2.6 or later, Mac OS X 10.6 or later, and Android 5.0 or later. The device has been drop-tested and found to be in compliance with the U.S MIL-STD-810 military standards, which speaks volumes about its amazing anti-shock capabilities.
7. Samsung SSD T5 2TB Portable Drive
Size: 2.3 x 0.4 x 3 inches
Weight: 1.6 ounces
Color Options: Black, Red, Gold, Blue
- Comes with USB Type C to A and Type C to C cables
- Relatively fast speed
- Back-up feature malfunctions
Small and sleek design, lightweight, fast transfer speeds…these are some of the notable features of the Samsung SSD T5 2TB Portable Drive. T5 is a massive improvement from previous hard drives by Samsung. The incorporation of solid-state memory accounts for its faster transfer speeds compared to previously-released drives by the company.
The solid-state memory also implies that the Samsung SSD T5 2TB Portable Drive doesn’t come with moving parts. And coupled with its metal housing, the hard drive can withstand drops from as high as 6.5 feet. Samsung SSD T5 also takes care of your security, thanks to an effective data encryption and password protection technology.
8. SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD (Our Pick)
Size: 3.8 x 1.9 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 1.44 ounces
Color Options: Multicolor
- Super-fast performance
- Dust-, shock-, and water-resistant
- 3-year limited manufacturer warranty
- Any file smaller than 1 MB takes up a storage space of 1 MB
SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD is one of the smallest and most lightweight hard drives for travelers. It comes with super-fast transfer speeds of 550 MB/s and allows you to move your data using either a USB-A or USB-C cable.
SanDisk is dust- and shock-resistant, and is able to withstand stress from 6-foot drops. It has also been tested and proven to withstand a water flow of about 30 kPa at 3 minutes. In terms of compatibility, SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD works for both PC and Mac.
There goes our comprehensive review of the best portable hard drives for travelers. Shop for any of these products and you’ll permanently banish the anxieties that come with data loss or your data storage space running out mid-travel.