What Is It
An external solid-state drive is a digital device for storing large amounts of data. Unlike external hard disk drives, these drives have no magnetic discs inside and all the information is stored on memory chips. One of the advantages of this data storage technology is the enormous data transfer rate - up to 500 MB/s (via USB 3.0) and up to 10 GB/s (cia Thunderbolt). Moreover, since there are no moving parts in the casing, any solid-state drive works without making any noise at all. And such SSDs are rather resistant to external influences (shock, dust, etc.).
If you think that the overall storage space is more important than a data transfer speed, make sure to check out our review of the best External Hard Drives available on the market.
What Features to Compare
The first aspect you should consider when choosing an external solid-state drive is the Capacity and Speed. Actually, these are the most important issues for any device of this kind and you should decide on the capacity first hand. The choice depends on what you need an external SSD for. If you need one for storing your favorite movies or other media files, pick the model with the capacity of over 500 GB. However, if you simply need to have a safe and reliable storage for your working documents, a lower-capacity device is sufficient. Next, make sure to check the data transfer speed each device supports. Why is it important? The higher the speed is, the faster you will be able to copy files to and from the SSD. If you think that all external hard drives have more or less the same transfer speed, you are wrong! This feature depends on many different issues, such as connection type (USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, etc.), your system, and so on.
Once you've decided on the above-mentioned parameters, check the Compatibility of each solid-state drive with operating systems (OS). Most modern external SSDs are compatible with nearly all available operating systems but we still recommend you to double-check it. If you have used your external solid-state drive with a Windows-operated computer and then want to use it with a Mac, a reformatting of the SSD will be required. Thus, you should make a backup copy of your data before doing it; otherwise, your information will be deleted. Next, go ahead and check the Interfaces (Ports) each external solid-state drive has. Any external SSD must be somehow connected to a computer and that's why different types of connection are used. Most devices have a USB 3.0 port that ensures pretty high data transfer speeds. If your laptops or PC has a USB 3.0 port, choose the external solid-state drive having the same one. If your computer is rather old and has no USB 3.0 compatibility, don't worry - any external solid-state drive with a USB 3.0 interface is backward compatible with the older USB 2.0 interface. However, the data transfer rates will be significantly lower in this case. Also, there are some superb external solid-state drives with a so-called Thunderbolt port - this type of connection is blazing-fast and transfers data twice as fast as USB 3.0, namely up to 10 Gb/s. Some devices are equipped both with USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports.
A typical external solid-state drive is a small and portable device that you can easily carry every day. So, you should certainly pay attention to the Design and Protection. When choosing the design of a solid-state drive, you should rely mainly on your own preferences. However, there are some major points that are worth considering. For example, we recommend you to choose a device with a metal casing because it guarantees a fairly decent shock resistance of the device (so, your data won't be lost if you accidentally drop the unit on the ground). In addition, some manufacturers make their external SSDs dust- and water-resistant. Now it's time to draw your attention to the safety of your data. The best external solid-state drives encrypt your data and allow you to set a password, which means nobody but you can access the data. It's particularly important if you deal with some classified business information that should not get into the wrong hands. There are 2 major encryption types: 128-bit and 256-bit. It's self-evident that the latter option provides far better safety for your data.