External SSD – when is it worth buying?

When preparing for various trips, it is worth looking for equipment that will make this time pleasant. An external SSD drive is an increasingly popular solution. Let’s take a look at what features such devices offer and when it’s worth betting on them.

What is an external SSD?

An external SSD is a storage device that uses a solid-state drive built into flash memory, as is the case with conventional drives of this type. Compared to HDDs, we can therefore rely on faster transmission and greater durability of the entire structure.. This type of device allows you to store a large number of files, although the price for 1 gigabyte is much higher than the HDD.

Of course, there are many differences between external and conventional SSDs – all due to the use of this design. The external SSD drive often has a strong housing to absorb shocks and mechanical damage. We find USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt or USB-C connectors here. Thanks to their availability, it will be possible to connect the data carrier to different devices – the latter two will prove themselves, especially when communicating with a smartphone. The internal SSD, in turn, is installed “permanently” or uses a SATA or M.2 connector.

Who is the external SSD for?

Mobile SSD drive allows you to store large amounts of data securely and provide fast service anywhere. It can be used to store movies, photos, music and computer games, for example. Their use is very wide – they are universal equipment, their functionality depends on our needs.

An external SSD drive is a device that is against popular cloud services. For this reason, it is basically not equipment for everyone. Its advantages will definitely be appreciated by people who are left in a situation where they cannot rely on a stable and efficient internet connection. Owners of a large file library should also be interested in this type of device – it can be used to back up data in more professional programs. However, there are several limitations and shortcomings that disqualify this product as a replacement for a standard hard drive.

Which drive to choose for mobile applications?

When choosing an SSD hard drive, first of all it is worth paying attention to its performance. Writing and reading data is mostly limited by the processing capabilities of the USB 3.0 port. Therefore, its value does not exceed the theoretical maximum of 5 gigabits per second, or about 600 MB. However, there are exceptions, such as drivers dedicated to Thunderbolt connectors – in their case, the transmission speed can be up to four times higher. This is an impressive result, but we do not always need such a performance. The most important factor here is the frequency of disk use. It should be borne in mind that the cost of faster solutions is correspondingly higher – when buying a more expensive disk, we must be able to really use its capabilities.


Another element you should definitely pay attention to is disk capacity. Standard external hard drives offer about 500 GB of internal memory – today these values ​​reach many terabytes. Choosing the right solution becomes a kind of problem due to the need to adjust the disk size to the needs of the user. We can follow the following schedule:

  • Less than 500 GB – external SSDs with this capacity will not fit in many files. You can save important office documents, photos and videos in light formats.
  • 500 GB – 1 TB – disks for storing office files, a certain number of music tracks, many medium-sized photos or movies.
  • 1–3 TB – video files, a large number of music files or high-resolution photos.
  • More than 3 TB – professional solutions, most are used to save visual files in formats for further processing. We are often talking about 4K videos and photos at very high resolution (or in a format that takes up a lot of files).

The durability of the external drive is also an important aspect. There are models on the market that meet the requirements of the IP standard, which describes how well the equipment can handle dust and water.. If we are thinking about walking outdoors, it is worth equipping ourselves with a waterproof external SSD drive, and in everyday use, for example, without a model equipped with IP68 certification. It should also be noted that the IP mark does not prove the durability of the given model. The problem here is the structural effect of the shocks, the dust rarely has a chance to get into it. Many manufacturers offer shock-resistant designs; however, there is no certification process – this is only the supplier’s guarantee.

External SSD and external HDD. Why not go for an ordinary rotating disk?

HDDs have a design that is less responsive to mechanical damage. In fact, the most desirable “case” for such a disc would be to place it stationary in a place where it does not vibrate or the body does not move at all. In this case, using this disk as a mobile support is “deducted”. Against this background, the SSD works better. As a magnetic disk, it has a more “compact” structure, less sensitive to the internal movements of components. SSDs can withstand really high levels of harsh conditions. Many manufacturers additionally strengthen the disc shell, offering it to last as long as possible.

Another important element of the design of SSDs is that they are usually very small. We often deal with a format that is 2.5 inches or smaller. Ordinary HDDs, even external ones, have a 3.5-inch format. HDDs are very heavy. SSD structures themselves weigh a few grams, of course, adding a secure coating to it, such a device can reach a mass of several hundred grams.

Does this mean that the external HDD is completely meaningless?

However, you should not delete the HDDs immediately. As with stationary models, portable drives made with this technology are characterized by lower data transfer speeds. However, given the price-performance ratio, they are cheaper. HDDs still offer a lot of terabytes of capacity, and on cheap SSDs you won’t find models with more than 500 and even 250 GB of memory.

However, external HDDs are not usually fully mobile – they usually act as additional data memory. For example, they can connect to a TV without a smart system or transfer files between several computers at home without any problems. If we use several devices, a more effective solution would be to install a NAS server that can be equipped with a regular HDD or SSD.

You can also think of an external HDD as an alternative to the cloud. If we want to keep the information completely confidential, we must keep it offline. In such a situation, several HDD drives will work – if there is a lot of data – or one SSD drive when less capacity is sufficient. Because hard drives are more prone to damage, it’s a good idea to have a backup of the files you store. In the case of SSDs, of course, magnetic disks are worth taking care of, although they are less reliable than rotating disks.

Game External SSD – Does it make sense?

External game driver is a very interesting and practical solution. Its advantages will often be appreciated by people who change platforms or perform performance tests on headers given in different “constructions”.. The game’s external SSD hard drive allows you to create a log of headers that will work regardless of which games are installed on your computer. Most games from known platforms – such as Steam – can be run using an external driver. However, such solutions are relatively expensive.

The problem with external SSDs is their limited performance. Enthusiastic gamers will definitely prefer to use M.2 drives that will be installed in the PCIe slot. This solution offers faster transfers at a lower price. In some headlines, such as the MMO genre, the efficiency of the disc is of great importance for the convenience of entertainment.

An external SSD drive in the game can also be a good choice for console owners. This is a solution that will work perfectly when the device allows you to manage the library from the USB interface. There is limited space on the consoles, and replacing the internal drive can be a complicated process. Therefore, in this case, reaching an external driver is simply a viable alternative.

Can an external SSD drive be an alternative to standard SATA drives?

Apparently, external SSD drives are a solution for people with very special needs. They are perfect for traveling, using a variety of devices, or using a laptop frequently that we don’t want (or can’t) install an additional disk. But this is not a “must have”. Most users who use SD cards or cloud services on a daily basis will not consider external SSDs as their primary storage medium.

Trends also show that we are increasingly focusing on network resources. Such devices may disappear from the market in a relatively short period of time – or become a solution dedicated to specific applications.

Main image: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

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