How To Choose An External SSD Drive For Mac And PC

We have dedicated several articles to SSDs, explaining what they are and why they are fast and are now indispensable; most modern computers now use SSDs internally (with various form factors: 2.5″, mSATA, M.2, etc.), but external SSDs are now also practical and convenient.

Below we explain how to choose an external SSD, what features to take into account, and provide information on some of the most valid models currently on the market.

Why Choose An SSD Instead Of A Traditional External Disk?

Solid-state drives use flash memory and can offer dramatic performance improvements over mechanical hard drives. Since SSDs have no moving parts to break down, they offer benefits such as faster speed, better power efficiency, better cooling mechanisms, and less noise (SSDs produce less heat than hard drives, and any fans won’t have to do as much work), more significant duration and flexibility (as there are no moving parts, the risk of losing data is less in the event of a fall), faster backups. An external SSD is the easiest way to add space to your laptop without replacing the internal drive or deleting important data.


SSDs are fast, but their speed also depends on the interface they make available and to which they are connected. Connection type plays a significant role in the actual rate of data transfer to and from the drive. The USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface has a limit of 300-400 MB/s, while the Gen 2 interface reaches 700-800 MB/s.

The newer SSDs integrate USB-C connections, and often, in the package, there are adapters for USB-C and USB-A connections (if you don’t find them in the box, the latter are on sale for a few euros, e.g., these ).

If you are looking for absolute speed, you don’t care about the price (and your computer supports this type of connection), choose external SSDs with Thunderbolt 3 connections: they are expensive, but they are the only ones able to exploit the total bandwidth of the Thunderbolt 3 connection (40 theoretical Gbit/s); the other units have to “make do” (so to speak) with USB 3.1, which stops at 10 Gbit/s.

Also Read: How To See PC Performance


Speed ​​is another vital aspect when choosing an external SSD. A slow drive can waste hours when it comes to managing complex projects. Cheaper external SSDs offer read speeds of up to 540MB/s, which is on average 3.8x faster than most hard drives; the best ones offer (or exceed) read speeds of up to 1,050MB/s, virtually 1.8x faster than most portable SSDs and up to 7.5x faster than traditional external hard drives.

The Form Factor

A different aspect that can be considered is the aesthetic aspect. There are external SSDs of various shapes, but some are more practical than others because they are smaller and lighter, with the advantage of being able to be carried very quickly in a bag and even to the point of being able to be inserted into the pocket of a jacket or jacket. Check the manufacturer’s width, height, thickness, and weight specifications if this is important.


While inherently more durable, not all SSDs are created equal, and some can provide more excellent durability and offer a robust build. If you expect the external SSD to be moved frequently, verify that the internal and external components of the drive can withstand the potential risks.

Check the manufacturer’s specifications: some drives boast rigorous tests against shocks, vibrations, X-rays, magnetic fields, and falls from more than 2 meters; another interesting factor from this point of view is the anodized aluminum case of some models, able to offer resistance to the most extreme conditions.

Storage Capacity

The external SSD will be used as additional storage space. How much space we need: depends on each case. If it’s just photos, you probably won’t need a vast “crop”; if, on the other hand, it is hours and hours of video, it is better to be foresighted and buy larger SSD units. Creatives like photographers and video makers need more space than casual users.

Of course, you can buy multiple units with the pros and cons that this entails (the possibility of grouping projects in one unit, without having to copy data, rather than having to copy them from different departments and put files together on the laptop and the need to manage and carry two discs). SSD drives today come in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB “sizes.”


How to initialize (format) SSD drives? It depends on their target use. If you use them mainly on Mac, our advice is to initialize them as HFS+; if instead they must be used both on Mac and on PC, it is possible to use the exFAT format ( here you will find the explanations with the differences between the various systems).

You can create a drive partition to handle both operating systems if you want. If you plan to use large amounts of data, choosing the 2 TB drive is better since the available space must be divided 50% between the two operating systems.


Some SSDs offer data encryption features that are useful if you don’t want to risk being exposed to theft and damage by anyone who connects to the drive. On Mac, it is possible to use Filevault to ensure encryption for data protection with all disks.

Also Read: Partition Of Hard Drive: Here Is The Step By Step Procedure To Do It

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