Let’s face it. Images take up space and over time, you’ll need to find a way to safely archive memories that are captured in one studio session, event or even hike. While your laptop or computer comes with an intended storage for all of your photography needs, sometimes it’s just not enough, especially with the increasingly large file sizes of today’s cameras. The good thing is you can invest in portable hard drives that offer mobility and space for raw image and video files to process later on.

Before delving further and listing the best hard drives for your needs, it helps to understand what HDD and SSD mean.

The Differences: HDD vs. SSD

The HDD or Hard Disk Drive is an external storage unit that uses older technology, moving parts, magnetic tape and spinning wheels to record your data. On the other hand, The SSD or Solid State Drive uses a flash chip with the capability to simultaneously read and write data which makes it faster than its counterpart.

With regards to transfer speed, an SSD is much faster than traditional hard drives. This is due to less mechanical parts in its construction and because it weighs less as well. However, they are more expensive than HDDs by comparison.

Choosing the Best Portable Hard Drives

Depending on the workflow you adapt, there might be instances where HDDs suit you better or an SSD be a more practical option.

If you intend to keep images from one event and use them as part of your portfolio, we recommend using an HDD. Although the technology is not used often in modern cameras, it can be subjected to little wear and tear if stored correctly for long periods of time – making it perfect for archival purposes!

Photographers who regularly work with external hard drives to access and create back-up files will benefit from an SSD. The speed of the read/write speeds makes it a faster storage companion than HDD.

The Best External Hard Drives

Now that we’ve understood the difference between an HDD and an SSD, it’s time to look at our top picks for the best portable hard drives (SSD) for photographers.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

SanDisk Hard DriveThese days, professional photographers can carry photos all over the world without worrying about data loss. The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is small and light so you don’t need to worry about carrying it around with a large bag or backpack.  See our review here.


  • Capacity (250 GB, 500 GB, 1TB, and 2TB)
  • Lightweight (38.9 grams)
  • Small and compact (8.85 x 49.55 x 96.2 mm)
  • 550 MB/S read speed
  • Comes with a USB type C cable and USB type A adapter


  • Noticeable temperature increase while being used

WD My Passport

WD NVMEIf you’re looking for a hard drive that can keep up with your busy life, the WD My Passport is durable and fast. This external device boasts an impressive read and write speed which makes it perfect to store all of your files on one place.


  • Capacity (500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB)
  • Lightweight (45.7 grams)
  • Pocket-sized dimensions (9 x 55 x 100mm)
  • 1050 MB/S read speed
  • Supplied with a USB type C cable and USB type A adapter


  • Cables provided are relatively short

Samsung Portable T5

Samsung t5The sleek Samsung Portable T5 is not only stylish but also durable. It has 2-meter shock protection that helps protect your hard drive from accidental drops and other minor damages, making it a must have for people on the go who want to take their data with them in style!


  • Capacity (250 GB, 500 GB, 1TB, 2TB)
  • Compact dimensions (10.5 x 57.3 x 74 mm)
  • Available in red, gold, black and blue finish
  • 308 MB/S read speed (images) and 415 MB/S read speed (videos)


  • Relatively expensive than other hard drives of the same read speed and capacity

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile

G Drive MobileThis hard drive is built to last and can protect against outside elements like water and dust. The G-Technology G-Drive Mobile comes with an IP67 rating of resistance to dust and moisture, as well as a heavy duty build that protects the drive from 1000 pounds of force or 3 meters in height.


  • Heavy-duty build for optimized longevity
  • Capacity (500 GB, 1TB, 2TB)
  • Dimensions (14.5 x 50 x 94 mm)
  • 307 MB/S read speed (images) and 410 MB/S read speed (videos)
  • Comes with a USB type C cable and USB type A adapter
  • Guaranteed five-year warranty


  • Pricier when compared to other hard drives of the same capacity and read speeds

Transcend ESD250C

Transcend Hard DriveSlim is the name of the game for Transcend ESD250C hard drive. With a jaw-dropping 7.5 mm thickness, it appears like an aluminum flask that you can easily carry around with matte finish and space grey color on its exterior casing .


  • Capacity (1GB)
  • Comes with a USB type C cable and a USB type A adapter
  • 460 MB/S read speed
  • Good value for money (of same capacity and read speed)


  • Restrictive capacity selections


Before you go ahead and shop for  the best portable hard drives, you must consider whether you’re going for an HDD mainly for storage or an SSD for everyday access. You may also want to assess the software compatibility as some drives are pre-configured for either Windows or Mac. Lastly, it helps if you check bundle extras provided by hard drive manufacturers that will help make your work as a photographer easier.