Top 5 Portable SSDs for Filmmakers

Filmmakers on the go need reliable storage devices to offload their footage onto. Memory cards can fill up quickly, especially with cameras recording in high resolutions and raw formats. Historically, external HDDs (hard disk drives) were popular due to their reasonable price and high storage capacity. But they come with a critical flaw, in that they have moving parts that are sensitive to vibrations. One accidental drop, and you might lose all of your footage!

Enter the SSD (solid state drive). That “solid state” part refers to the fact that these storage devices have no moving parts. This means they are resistant to being dropped or jostled around in your camera bag. They’re also incredibly fast when compared to an HDD, so your massive video files should transfer quickly (as long as you’re using a cable and USB port that can support those high speeds). While SSDs are more expensive than normal mechanical hard drives, you can’t really put a price on keeping your footage safe.

Having external SSDs is great for editing, too. Thanks to the fast transfer speeds, your video editing program will be able to read the files fast enough when you’re editing on the go.

A good SSD for filmmakers is one that is fast, durable, high-capacity, and reasonably priced. So let’s get started with 5 great options.

1. SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

This SanDisk Drive is a great choice for editors who are always on the go. It features a drop-proof case with a carabiner loop so you can attach it to your belt or backpack. It also has IP55 water and dust resistance. The drive advertises speeds of up to 1050MB/s read and 1000MB/s write. This is slower than many desktop SSDs, but is plenty fast for moving or editing large video files. It has a USB-C connector with a USB-A adapter that makes it compatible with most modern computers, and even smartphones. That makes it even better if you’re on the go because you can move footage off of your mobile device. It is available in up to 4TB, so no matter what size of projects you work on, this portable drive can handle your needs.

Buy the SanDisk Extreme on Adorama

2. Samsung T7 Portable SSD

Samsung is a trusted name in the storage world. It has a simple and sleek aluminum design that can fit in your pocket. It also transfers data pretty fast with read speeds of 1050MB/s and write speeds of 1000MB/s. It comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable for fast connections, and a USB-C to USB-A cable for compatibility with older connectors. Despite Samsung’s claims that the SSD stays cool, some reviewers complain of overheating. If the reviews worry you, you can also check out the Samsung T5. In fact, the T5 will have similar performance if you won’t be using the USB-C connection. So if you’re still working with only USB-A ports, consider the T5 as well.

Buy the T7 on Adorama
Buy the T5 on Amazon

3. Crucial X6 Portable SSD

This portable SSD from Crucial is a tiny little square that fits in the palm of your hand! To quote their own claims, it “weighs less than your car keys”. It has read speeds of 800MB/s which is slower than some of the other SSDs on this list. But it makes up for its slightly slower speed by being available in up to 4TB capacity. It uses a USB-C cable to connect, and does not come with any other cables. If you don’t mind a larger footprint but want faster read speeds of 1050MB/s, you can spend just a little bit more money to get the Crucial X8 model. Also available in up to 4TB, it has superior drop protection and includes a USB-A adapter.

Buy the Crucial X6 on Adorama
Buy the Crucial X8 on Adorama

4. WD Black P40 Game Drive

This portable SSD from WD may be marketed as a storage device for gaming, but that’s just what it is – marketing. In reality, the WD Black P40 is an SSD capable of blistering fast read speeds of 2000 MB/s, faster than any other drive on this list. If you are transferring large video files or want to edit directly off of this drive, you should have no issues. it uses a USB-C connector to achieve these speeds to your device, so only buy this drive if you have the proper connection on your computer. Despite being gaming-oriented, it’s fit for travel. It is shock resistant and can survive a drop of up to two meters. It also fits easily in your hand. If you happen to be buying it for gaming, it is compatible with Xbox and PlayStation consoles, and has customizable lighting when plugged in. Unfortunately for both the gamers and the filmmakers, the drive is available in only 2TB at the largest.

Buy the WD Black P40 on Adorama

5. SanDisk Professional G-Drive

SanDisk’s professional portable drive is basically a beefed-up version of the SanDisk Extreme mentioned above. It features IP67 water and dust resistance, which means it is totally protected from dust and is protected from water up to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes. it can survive a three-meter drop, as well. To sum it up, this drive can take a beating! It has similar read and write speeds to other drives on this list, coming in at 1050 MB/s read and 1000 MB/s write. The aluminum construction dissipates heat effectively, so you can use this drive for long periods of time without worrying about performance loss. It uses USB-C to achieve its high transfer speeds, and is available in sizes up to 4TB. This is clearly a great drive, but is only a smart choice if you often find yourself in situations where you might drop it on the ground or in water. If you’re not worried about dust or water damage, you would be overpaying for this SanDisk drive.

Buy the SanDisk Professional G-Drive on Adorama

Bonus: Make Your Own

All these drives are is an M.2 form-factor SSD inside a portable enclosure. The drive inside is no different than what might be inside your laptop or desktop computer. You can purchase your own enclosure and USB-C cable for around $20, and buy your own SSD from the brand you prefer. You can purchase an ultra-fast M.2 NVMe SSD for under $100 per TB and simply install it in an enclosure. The drives on this list are (mostly) prices fairly, but if you’re comfortable with a very small amount of DIY work, you might be able to save some money. The only downside is that there seem to be very few durable and drop-proof enclosures available, so if you are worried about being rough with your storage device, you should just buy one of the products on this list.

Here is one example of a pairing you can purchase right now!

Sabrent Type-C Enclosure

This M.2 enclosure is about as generic as it gets. It’s simple and sleek, and made of aluminum and plastic. While it doesn’t offer any specifics, the product page does describe it as “durable”. On the bright side, it’s a flexible enclosure that can support various M.2 sizes and can support both NVMe and SATA technologies. It uses a USB-C connection for 1000 MB/s transfers. It will also keep your drive cool during use. This product goes for $30.

Buy the Sabrent Type-C Enclosure on Amazon

Crucial P3 4TB NVMe

4TB SSDs are a great option for video projects that require large 4K or higher footage, from multiple cameras. You can always get a different size, of course, but 4TB is going to get you a long ways, and often for decent value. This drive from Crucial goes for well under $100 per TB, and has very high speeds. At 3500 MB/s read speeds, you’ll never fully utilize it when using a USB-C enclosure, but you’ll know you have a fast and high-capacity drive ready to go if you ever want to install it in a computer. These speeds aren’t even that high as far as NVMe SSDs go, but it’s plenty for a portable drive.

Buy the Crucial P3 on Amazon

Larger Productions

Or for large productions, you can look into something like the Jellyfish NAS, which we’ve done a deep dive on in the past. It’s a mobile server that is perfect for large production teams that need to film and edit on the go.

Read next: Best Cloud Storage Platforms for Video

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