As videographers, we are heavy data consumers that, like photographers, have special needs for an external device. In this case, our work requires speed, size, and portability. But, with the introduction of 5K, 6K, and now 8K video, the file demands are continually increasing.
Today’s hard drive market is filled with many options, making it hard to pick the best choice for your needs. And the right drive isn’t always the flashiest or most expensive one around. With that, we’ve put together a guide on what to look for in a hard drive. And we’ve also created a list of the best choices right now.
Table of Contents
WD My Passport SSD
WD’s My Passport SSD brings fashion and appeal to the SSD market with its partial metal casing. Released in the summer of 2018, it’s WD’s first portable SSD. And one that’ll easily fit into most pockets. They aim this drive at those wanting portability and speed. And with a shock-absorbent casing, it can take a few drops from 2m. They format this drive as an exFAT partition for cross-compatibility with Mac and Windows. And WD offers it in four storage sizes ranging from 256GB-2TB with a three-year warranty.
It uses a USB Type-C port that’s 3.1 Gen 2 ready, to deliver blazing-fast speeds of 540 MB/s. WD also bundles this drive with their full suite of software apps, including WD Backup, to automatically back up files and WD Security to encrypt those files with 256-bit AES encryption.
Overall, the My Passport SSD is both sleek and compact. Yet, it melds that style with performance and functionality. And it delivers exceptional performance at a competitive price.
G-Technology G-Drive Mobile Pro SSD
G-Technology’s G-Drive Pro is the bigger and faster brother to its standard non-pro sibling. Released in the summer of 2018, it’s the company’s latest Thunderbolt 3 device to combine blazing speeds with a rugged build. And with its aluminum core, it’s sturdy enough to withstand a 3m drop. By default, G-Tech formats this drive for macOS. However, Windows users can easily reformat the drive using the bundled Format Wizard software or HFS+ for Windows without formatting. And this drive comes in three capacities ranging from 500GB-2TB with a longer than average five-year warranty.
Where this drive ultimately shines is in performance. Equipped with a single Thunderbolt 3 port, it delivers read and write speeds over 2,000 Mbps, easily transferring 100 GB files in less than two minutes. In theory, this would allow you to edit 8K footage in full-frame quality, without hesitation. Yet, compared to rivals, it’s also one of the few drives, much less one with Thunderbolt, to come with such a long warranty. And it’s currently the only option in this class that survives the 3m drop test.
Overall, the G-Drive Mobile Pro is the perfect choice for those wanting peace of mind, durability, and outrageously fast speeds. And while it lacks bundled software for encryption and weather sealing, it targets a particular niche. And it’s the perfect tool for videographers on the move, who want the fastest speeds at this price point.
Lacie Rugged SSD
LaCie’s Rugged SSD is their latest portable storage solution, released alongside the Pro and BOSS drives. As the name implies, it’s a rugged drive built with durability and ultra-fast speeds in mind. Released in the fall of 2019, LaCie aims this drive at working professionals looking for a fast, secure option design to handle the rough conditions of traveling. With that, it offers an IP67 rating, which allows it to withstand extreme dust or submerged in water. And it’s also strong enough to survive 3m drops and a two-ton crush test. They also format this drive as an exFat device for simple cross-compatibility with both Windows and macOS
For connectivity, it uses a USB-Type C (USB 3.1 Gen 2), which delivers speeds of 950 MBps, nearly twice as fast as the standard Portable SSD model. LaCie also includes their Toolkit for self-encrypting technology to safeguard the data with convenient 256-bit AES password protection. And like the G-Drive, it too boasts a five-year warranty. They also include a Rescue Data Recovery service and a one-month complimentary membership to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, as a bonus to sweeten the deal.
Overall, LaCie’s Rugged SSD is a substantial improvement to an already established product. It’s even smaller and more compact, but more rugged than before. And while it’s priced at a premium, that premium delivers almost everything you’d want for a high-end SSD, with the reliability and recovery support to prove it. With over 6 million drives sold since 2005, its no wonder why they’re the industry’s most trusted producer.
Samsung’s T5 SSD is both slick and compact, yet arguably the most stylish drive in its class. And at 51g and smaller than the average business card, it’s one of the lightest too. Released in the fall of 2017, it’s a drive Samsung aims at users wanting maximum speed and portability. They format this drive as an exFAT device, which means it supports Windows, Mac, and now Android devices. And Samsung offers the drive in four sizes ranging from 250GB-2TB with a 3-year limited warranty.
It uses a USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen II) port, which reaches speeds of 540 Mb/s, almost 5x the speed of a conventional HDD. And this drive includes 256-bit AES encryption to protect your files if needed. Yet, even with these speeds and security, the drive is also shockproof to survive drops from 2m without damage.
Overall, the T5 is an excellent all-rounder that perfectly mixes speed and capacity with portability. Samsung is known for their external drives, and this release is no exception. It continues the popularity of its predecessor and ups the standards with better speeds and a more compact design. If you’re looking for the best all-rounder, this is the drive for you.
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD
Sandisk’s Extreme Portable remains a popular entry into the ultra-compact SSD market. Initially released in the spring of 2018, it obtains a similar design from the flagship Extreme Pro, with a more sleek profile. And it’s aimed as the perfect solution for those wanting a rugged yet portable option. As such, it’s pre-formatted as an exFAT device for maximum compatibility between Mac and Windows. And it comes in four storage sizes ranging from 250GB-2TB with a three-year warranty.
For connections, it uses a USB Type-C connector, which delivers read and write speeds over 500 Mbps. Yet, these speeds come bundled in quite the tough package. In this case, it’s both dust and water-resistant with an IP55 rating. Plus, it can withstand drops from 2m without damage. SanDisk also includes their SecureAccess software to password-protect the drive with 128-bit AES encryption, a nice bonus.
Overall, SanDisk’s Extreme SSD remains one of the best SSDs around. And with a smaller size than most smartphones, plus its high-end performance and rugged build, it’s no wonder why.
G-Technology G-DRIVE Mobile SSD
G-Technology’s G-Drive Mobile is a premium drive, but one that offers both speed and a rugged design. Released in the fall of 2017, it’s a drive they aim at the creative audience looking for durable, long-lasting performance. G-Tech pre-formats this drive for use with macOS. But Windows users can easily reformat the drive using bundled Format Wizard or use HFS+ for Windows without having to reformat. Otherwise, they offer this drive in three capacities ranging from 500GB-2TB along with a class-leading five-year warranty.
The drive uses a USB Type C port (USB 3.1 Gen2), which delivers read-write speeds of 560 Mbps. And this drive is also IP67 sealed for protection against both dust and water. Its rugged aluminum core and rubber cladding also allow it to survive drops from 3m and provides a 1000 lb crushproof rating. Yet, even with such a robust construction, G-Tech has gone lightyears above rivals with a bundled five-year warranty. And compared to the standard three-year limited coverage, this gives users that much more peace of mind.
Overall, G-Tech’s G-Drive Mobile provides ruggedized storage you can trust with an extended warranty to back it up.
ADATA’s SE800 shines in a market dominated by Samsung and WDC, which account for 90% of the current SSD market. Released in the fall of 2019, it builds on its predecessor’s successes to create an even more compact, yet robust drive. ADATA’s formatted the drive as an exFAT device for cross-compatibility with both Mac, Windows, and Android. And they offer two sizes ranging from 512GB-1TB along with a 3-year limited warranty.
For connectivity, it uses USB-C, in this case, USB 3.2 Gen2, which allows it to reach read and write speeds above 900 MBps, 12.5x faster than traditional HDDs. ADATA has also equipped this drive with OStoGO, which enables you to use it as a portable operating system. And their HDDtoGO, their suite that provides file synchronization, encryption, data compression, and more. This drive also offers IP68 certification, a rare feature for models of this size. It’s also thoroughly dust resistant, impact-resistant, and can remain submerged underwater for over an hour without damage. Yet, weighing only 40g, it’s even smaller and lighter than the competition.
Overall, ADATA’s SE800 is in a class, mostly of its own. Few drives on the market offer IP68 ratings, even less so with a similar form factor, build quality, and speed. And for the price, it’s the best option around.
What to look for in a hard drive?
Before we examine the best drives right now, let’s first cover the essential aspects to consider when looking at options. In total, you’ll want to look at 7 factors before picking up a drive for videos.
Traditional Drive or SSD?
Traditional hard drives (HDDs) use mechanical parts, making them slower and more susceptible to damage if dropped. While Solid-State Drives (SSDs) have far fewer parts, making them more durable and significantly smaller. Their simple construction also yields faster data speeds.
When it comes to editing videos, using an SSD is best. But, when it comes to storing and backing up videos, using an HDD is best.
Every manufacturer pre-configures their drives to work on different platforms, be it Mac, Windows, or Android. However, you can easily change this after the fact by formatting the drive. But, it’s something to consider if you want cross-platform compatibility. The common formats include Mac OS Journaled, exFAT, and NTFS.
Since videos are typically rather large files, you’ll want a fast drive. In this case, SSDs are the way to go. They offer data transfer speeds of 500 Mbps or higher, far faster than the 100 MBps average for most HDDs. In the real world, they’re usually 5-10x faster, which will speed up your workflow.
Traditional HDDs provide a cheaper solution to get more storage space. But, the caveat is that they’re much slower at transferring. If you want a drive to edit, typically, a 500 GB SSD is more than sufficient. And unless you’re shooting 4K RAW or higher resolution formats, the likelihood of needing anything larger is very low. But, if you do want a larger SSD, expect to pay a premium, as they’re typically double the price as a comparable HDD.
How portable do you need the drive to be? If you’re a traveling videographer who’s always on the road, you may want to consider a shock-absorbent drive. Some drives also offer weather sealing, notated by an IPXX rating, which could also be useful depending on your circumstances. Otherwise, if portability isn’t important, then getting a higher capacity drive for use at home is best.
Some manufacturers also provide extra features such as software, cloud storage, data encryption, and more. If these extras are essential, then this is another area of consideration.