External Storage: What Are the Best Ssds and Hard Drives in 2020?


An SSD or external Hard Disk Drive is the ideal accessory for backing up your data. What is the best choice between SSD or portable hard drive and which are the best références ? Here are our tips and tricks for buying well.


The entrails of a platter disc. Image: Matt Nicklas on Flickr CC-BY-SA

You may have had the traumatic experience of a hard drive or computer crash, or worse, a theft, without any means of recovering the data present. In a matter of minutes, a whole digital life disappears. Important documents, family photos, audio or video library is always a handicap.

For this reason, one of the best practices to adopt is to regularly back up your data on external disks or in the cloud. While this second option is more reliable, it is also a little less easy to access and often requires a paid subscription, unless it is limited in size. Investing in an external hard drive or SSD is therefore a simpler way to secure your data. We have selected three of them to make it easier for you. All discs in this selection will work on both Mac and PC.

Samsung T5 500 GB: the most versatile

If you’re looking for an external hard drive to do everything. We recommend the Samsung T5. This portable SSD is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB or 2TB versions. It is small and light, and as it is an SSD it is also rugged. So you can leave it on your desk and plug it in when you need it, or take it to the office or on holiday.

Its USB-C (3.1 Gen 2) connection ensures good transfer rates, its writing and reading speed (theoretical) exceeds 500 Mb/s. Fast, reliable and compact, it has everything to please. In addition, it is delivered in the box with two cables : USB-C to A, and USB-C to C. In other words, will work with all the machines on the market, PC, Mac andgame console. This will also work with Android phones that have a USB-C connector and iPad Pro phones that have switched to USB-C.

We recommend choosing the 500 GB model, which will leave some margin for your documents, while remaining under 90 euros.

I choose the Samsung T5 SSD if :

  • I don’t have a specific need, I just want to back up my important data.
  • I want to be able to move it from time to time or on a regular basis.
  • I want something discreet and compact
  • I don’t feel like reading the rest of this guide.

Note that Samsung offers a new model in 2020: the T7 Touch. It is USB C 3.2 Gen 2 compatible and can offer speeds of up to 1 GB/s for Compatible devices It also offers AES-256 encryption with password or fingerprint protection. It’s a good alternative to protect your sensitive data.

Western Digital MyBook, (very) large capacity

You need to store a lot of données ? For professional or personal reasons. We recommend the Western Digital MyBook with capacities ranging from 3 TB in one bay to 24 (!) TB in two bays (two disks). To offer such large capacities, it is of course based on 3.5-inch platter discs (HDDs).

This has two main consequences: it is not self-powered via its USB cable, so it will have to be plugged into an electrical outlet, and it is bulky, especially in the double-bay version. In other words, it’s a disc designed to be placed on your desk or next to your game console and not move. It will be an ideal candidate for a time machine backup under Mac OS as well.

It connects to USB 3.0 or USB C for fast transfer speed, but platter drives will still be less sharp than SSDs. It’s up to you to choose the amount of storage you need, but if you’re going to opt for this external drive, you might as well go for 6TB, for around 150 euros.

I choose the Western Digital My Book if :

  • I need a lot of room
  • I plan to leave it on my desk
  • I want to back up all the files on my computer

Toshiba HDTB410EK3AA: low budget backup

If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll have to turn to a smaller capacity platter hard drive. The good news is that you’ll still have 1TB of storage. HDDs are much cheaper than SSDs. The proof with this 1TB record from Toshiba sold for less than 50 euros. It’s half the price of the Samsung T5 for double the capacity.

It’s an obviously more basic disk, which only bothered with the essentials, but in USB 3.0 all the same for transfer speeds fast enough not to be annoying. That being said, this is a 5400 rpm (revolutions per minute) disc, so writing and reading will not be very fast. In 2.5 inch format, it will be powered directly via the USB cable without any further process. Even if it is small, it is advisable to keep it in a safe place when travelling. However, this is still a very economical solution for backing up your files.

I choose the Toshiba HDTB410EK3AA if :

  • I want to protect my data and my wallet…
  • I don’t plan on moving him around too much.
  • I want to be able to store it and use it easily.

To help you choose

How do I choose the right capacity for my disk externe ?

It depends very much on your uses, but we can give you a simple rule of thumb to estimate your needs. Take the capacity of the computer whose data you want to back up and purchase an external drive with twice the capacity. This will ensure that you can set aside all your current data and leave you room for the months and years to come.

If you don’t know the capacity of your machine, 500 GB or 1 TB (1000 GB) are today’s standard capacities.

How do I choose between a SSD or a HDD ?

Opt for an SSD if you are looking for performance and solidity above all else. Choose an HDD if you’re looking for lots of storage space Be aware that an HDD will always be cheaper than an SSD with the same capacity.

SSD and HDD: what are the différences ?

As far as hard disks are concerned, there are two families: the Solid State Drive or SSD and the Hard Disk Driveor HDD. The former are based on the so-called “flash” memory now used in all mobile devices as it is not based on mechanical parts. The data is stored on transistors that may or may not carry an electrical charge.

It is therefore faster, more resistant to shocks and consumes less energy. On the other hand, it is more expensive, and if it remains without power for a long time (one year or more) some data can be damaged. Depending on the type of memory used, has a more limited lifetime (between 10,000 and 100,000 write cycles). In practice, it is quite rare to reach the end of the cycles or to see its data disappear.

For HDDs, it’s a bit the opposite. They are based on mechanical disks that must be read by mechanical heads. This head may or may not magnetize a ferromagnetic material to record data. Mechanical parts have to, so they are less resistant to shocks, are noisier and consume more. On the other hand, they are larger in capacity and cheaper.

How often should I back up my données ?

As often as possible. Safeguards are the kind of thing you put off indefinitely until you are faced with a fait accompli, cursing its procrastination. A quarterly backup is in our opinion the default attitude to adopt. The more important your data is, the more often we recommend that you do this.

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