5 things to consider before you buy a portable drive. What is a portable ssd

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The Best Portable SSDs for Videographers on the Move

Improvements in camera technology have resulted in huge files that can quickly fill a memory card. For filmmakers who need to capture every moment, having a full memory card is not an option. Fortunately, digital storage options continue to evolve and offer more capacity and faster speeds each year.

While external hard drives or hard drives are a cheap, high-capacity solution, they’re annoyingly slow. Hard drives are also heavier and rely on a mechanical drive to read and write data, making them vulnerable to damage when dropped.

Solid state drives (SSDs), however, are a better solution with blazingly fast read and write speeds. While you shouldn’t expect the jaw-dropping speeds of M.2 NVMe internal SSDs, external SSDs are much faster than drives, with some high-end drives reaching speeds of up to 1000MB / s or even 2000MB / s. Although they are more expensive than drives external hard drives, external SSDs are faster, lighter and less prone to damage from improper handling.

With the bigger and faster drives being released every year, it can be hard to keep up. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best external SSD drives available for filmmakers.

A Quick Explainer on USB Types and USB Transfer Standards

Before reading the drives below, you need to know a little about USB types and USB transfer standards, which are not the same thing. Understanding these concepts will help you choose the SSD that is right for you and your workflow.

USB connection types

This is a good visual guide to the different types of USB connections. Image via iunewind.

First, the connection type and the upload standard are two different things. The USB Type-A or USB-A connection is the one we’re all most familiar with, and it looks like a flat rectangle – the one that never connects on the first or second try. The newer USB Type-C or USB-C connection, which will replace USB-A as the dominant connection at some point, looks like a flat oval and connects in any orientation.

USB transfer standards determine the speed at which a connection is transferred. Previously, USB 3.1 Gen 2 was the fastest standard and had a data transfer rate of 10 Gb / s – gigabits per second, about one-eighth of a gigabyte. The new nomenclature replaces USB 3.1 Gen 2 and USB 3.2 Gen 2. Drives using USB 3.1 Gen 2 or USB 3.2 Gen 2 offer the same transfer speeds.

As long as your PC has a compatible port, you can make full use of the 10 Gbps speeds, which can vary from drive to drive. In most cases, drives using USB 3.1 Gen 2 or USB 3.2 Gen 2 can be expected to have read and write speeds of around 1000 MB / s.

CNET has an even more thorough breakdown of annoying USB naming conventions, which is worth reading.

There are many factors to consider when choosing an external hard drive or SSD for your device. Including storage. It is important to invest in an external storage device that has enough capacity for your needs.

Choose the right connection

It all comes down to USB vs Thunderbolt now that other connection types are largely deprecated. Of course, you’ll want to get a drive that will work with your computer. So, if your computer has a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port (the most popular on pre-2016 Macs), you’ll want a Thunderbolt drive. On the other hand, since most computers have at least one regular USB port, getting a USB based drive is a safe bet. Some removable drives support both Thunderbolt and USB. However, if you intend to use the drive for at least a few years, even with new computers, make sure you have one that is future-proof by following the right connectivity trend.

And the trend is the USB Type-C (or USB-C) connector. This new type of connector is used by both the latest USB gadgets and all Thunderbolt 3 devices. In other words, all Thunderbolt 3 ports are USB-C ports. So if you buy a new computer now, it will likely have USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports. (This is true for all Mac computers released in 2016 and possibly those that will be released in the future.)

Note that a USB-C portable drive can work with both a USB-C port and a regular USB (aka USB-A) port via a compatible cable, but a non-USB-C portable drive will not work with a USB-C port unless that you have an adapter. That said, if you get a portable USB-C drive, it will work with all your existing and future computers. The only catch is that they’re generally more expensive now, but that’s likely to change in 2017.

Make sure it’s fast enough

Portable drives that use a solid state drive (SSD) to store data are usually super fast and great for heavy-duty tasks like editing an HD movie file. They can also be useful if you want to copy a large amount of data in a short time. But SSDs are also expensive. If performance is not that big of a concern for you, purchasing a portable hard drive (no SSD) will save you a lot of money. If all you do is watch a movie off disk or back up your data daily, speed won’t be your biggest concern.

Also, remember that Thunderbolt drives are generally faster than USB drives. And among USB drives, USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 gigabits per second) has twice the speed rating of USB 3.0 (or USB 3.1 Gen 1), which in turn is 10 times faster than USB 2.0.

Key Specifications – Type: Portable Hard Drive; Connectivity: USB 3.2 Gen 1 (max. 5 Gb / s), USB-C; Spindle speed: 5400 rpm

Solid State Drive (SSD)

SanDisk Extreme PRO V2 Portable SSD in use | Photo: Dani Diamond

A solid-state drive also stores data, but uses other internal components. The name, solid state, refers to the fact that the SSD has no moving parts. Instead, the SSD uses two chips: a flash memory chip that stores data, and a controller chip. The controller chip manages the data and communicates with a computer or electronic device using the SSD.

While they may not be as efficient as hard drives, SSDs aren’t new. SanDisk founders filed a patent for flash memory as an alternative to a magnetic disk in 1989, and released the first commercial solid-state drive in 1991. The SSD had a capacity of 20MB and cost $ 1,000. Today, SSDs have much larger capacities and much lower price tags. They are used in smartphones, tablets, and some computers, including most Apple computers.


The obvious advantage of an SSD is that it has no moving parts. As a result, the SSD is physically smaller and less prone to damage in the event of impact or shock. By using a microchip instead of an electromagnetic disk, an SSD can also read and write data faster than a hard disk.

The Extreme PRO V2 Portable SSD is SanDisk’s flagship SSD. The SSD weighs 77.5 g (0.17 lb) and comes in three sizes: 1 TB, 2 TB, and 4 TB. SSD is water and dust resistant IP55, vibration up to 1500G and can withstand a drop from 2 meters. Extreme PRO V2 also has read and write speeds of up to 2000MB / s, double the previous generation. Each size costs $ 299.99, $ 499.99, and $ 899.99 respectively.

Conversely, most hard drives come with larger, heavier builds and much slower read and write speeds, around 130MB / s. They often have comparable water and drop resistance to SSDs, however this only applies when the hard drive is not in use. Internal moving parts mean the hard drive is more fragile when reading or writing data. The cost of a 1TB hard drive ranges from $ 70- $ 100.

The advantages of an SSD are obvious. It is smaller, more durable, and can read and write data 15 times faster than most hard drives. Each project faces unique challenges, but Extreme PRO V2 guarantees safer data storage and incredibly faster transfer times.

Moreover, as technology advances, SSDs have the potential to become a more evolved and dominant device. It will also help lower their price.

What is an SSD?

First, SSD stands for SSD. Solid-state drives have grown rapidly over the past few years. SSDs rely on electronic storage in non-volatile memory, which means that the stored data will not disappear when the computer is turned off.

Let’s put it this way, you most likely know USB memory sticks, right? Well, you can think of an SSD as a much larger and more advanced version of the memory card. Like a flash drive, the SDD has no moving parts. Instead, the data is stored in microchips.

On the other hand, a HDD (hard drive) uses a mechanical arm to carry and read data. A hard drive only uses physical labor / mechanical movement to get information, which in turn takes longer than an SSD. Makes SSD much faster.

What is a Hard Disk Drive?

The hard drive, known as the HDD, was invented more than 60 years ago. A hard drive is a storage device that consists of one or more rotating platters that use magnetism to store data. The read / write head hovers above the rotating platter that reads and writes information. The faster a hard drive can run depends on how fast the platter can spin. The larger the hard drive, the more platters can fit in it, which translates into more storage capacity.

You have to decide whether you are looking for an external storage device with a traditional hard drive or one that uses an SSD.

Typically, external hard drives are more affordable and, most importantly, come in larger capacities. However, SSDs, on the other hand, tend to be more durable and smaller. This makes SSDs extremely portable and easy to use on the go. If you want to store large amounts of information at a low cost, an external hard drive will be a good option for you. However, if speed is your top priority, we recommend choosing an SSD.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

Storage considerations:

There are many factors to consider when choosing an external hard drive or SSD for your device. Including storage. It is important to invest in an external storage device that has enough capacity for your needs.


Another important factor to confirm is the connection between your external storage device and your Mac or PC. The USB-A ports found in older generations of computers are gradually being replaced with the new USB-C ports. New ports can be found on all modern Macs and PCs. So make sure you double-check your connection types when investing in a data storage device.

We can’t necessarily say if an external hard drive is better than an SSD as it all depends on your individual needs.

To help you decide which drive is best suited for you, we have listed the various requirements:

A Hard Drive might be the right choice if:
  • You need a lot of storage space (up to 10 TB)
  • I don’t want to spend a lot of money
An SDD might be the right choice if:
  • You have the budget to pay for faster results
  • Don’t worry about limited memory capacity (external hard drives are available in higher capacity)

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