Solid State Drives (SSD)

Solid state drives are purpose-built for the most elite performance in the storage game.

Learn more about Solid State Drives

Everyone should have a good storage drive. It doesn’t matter if you are a photographer or a videographer or a data scientist - as you all should have good storage to store and access your information securely.

Earlier, the storage drives used to be mechanical hard disk drives – also known as HDD – which were slower in speed. But things have changed now with the introduction of solid state drives – also known as SSDs. A solid state drive doesn’t have mechanical parts inside its chassis – which would allow these drives to have a longer life. Also, having no mechanical rotating parts would mean that the drives won’t get damaged easily – you should still avoid dropping them though.

Things to consider while buying a solid state drive

If you know the right things to look after while purchasing an SSD, you’ll be easily able to select one for yourself. If you are new and have just started looking in the world of solid state drives, you still need not worry as we got you covered here.

Storage Capacity

This is one of the simplest things to choose. Choosing a storage capacity for the solid state drive totally depends on your usage and requirements. While choosing a lower storage space on a drive can save you some bucks in the short run, you might end up running out of storage sooner.

Usually, we use the external SSD as a backup storage option. And when we are backing up all of our data on these drives, it is really easy to fill them up. If you end up going for a lower capacity drive, you might have to buy more of such drives at a later stage, and then carrying all that drives can even end up being a difficult task.

This is why we would typically recommend having at least go for a drive having a capacity of at least 500GB. But if you know you can get away with a 250GB drive by making use of the cloud storage, that’s totally alright.

Speed

If we were going to talk about speed for the internal SSDs that are used in computers and laptops, we would have to discuss several things. One of the most important here would have been the interface used – which can be PCI Express or m.2 on the new computers. However, with external SSDs, it’s comparatively easier to check for speed specifications.

With the external drives, you can simply check what speed they are capable of running at. Once you do that, just note which cable and port were used for that rating – which will be usually mentioned in the supported ports or cables for that drive. Most SSDs have now started coming with the USB Type-C to Type-C cables as that’s what supports the highest speeds for the majority of the drives. However, there are still a few that come with a Type-A port on the computer end.

If your computer comes with a Type-C port – which the majority of the new ones do – we recommend going with SSDs that come with or support the Type-C to Type-C cables for data transfers. You’ll be able to get the best results using them.

Security

When we store our data on these external drives, we want them to be secure. As most of us would go with a portable SSD, we would be having our drives nearby. However, there can be times when we would have to give the drive to someone and only allow them to access the data. This is possible these days with encryption on the external drives.

There are quite a lot of drives that support data encryption. However, some drives like the Samsung T7 Touch have even more security features – like a fingerprint scanner to access the data. Also, there are drives like Western Digital’s ArmorLock NVMe SSD – which offers security directly through your phone. You can unlock the data on that drive by just using the fingerprint or FaceID on your smartphone.

We are marching towards more and more data security as well as user privacy – and that’s a great thing. Also, you should note that while you can use the cloud storage that is offered by several companies, it just won’t be as secure and readily available as a portable external drive.

Connectivity

As a creator, the connectivity features of an external drive matter. While the majority of the drives can support data transfer through cable, there are some which offer a higher level of connectivity – that includes wireless transfers as well as SD Card transfers – without using a computer or a laptop.

Most drives that are available right now use the Type-C to Type-C cable for data transfers. And there are a few which will use Type-C to Type-A cables – but they will be considerably slower. Speed of the drive and the type of connectivity are interlinked – which is why we will still see the best speeds while using cables.

If you want anything more than the regular forms of connectivity on SSD, you should be looking at the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD. They offer wireless transfers along with SD Card transfers – which even though being a bit slower can be a game-changer while being on the shoot. These drives are powered by a lithium-ion battery with a decent battery life that can be charged to take it out in the woods.

For the connectivity, you should also check the compatibility with the operating systems you’re using. While most drives can easily support both – macOS as well as Windows, there are a few that only supports either of them. So, while looking for a drive, you should just check this compatibility for clarity.

Portability and Durability

Most of us would buy the external SSDs as we are looking for portability. So, this is an obvious thing to look after while purchasing an SSD – along with its durability. Solid state drives are already more portable and durable when compared to hard disk drives. However, some are built to take a few hits here and there while others are built keeping sleekness in mind.

While the form factors matter in a portable drive, we don’t have to look at the form factor like we do with the internal drives – where we look if it is a 2.5-inch or an m.2 drive. With portable drives, to decide on the portability, we can just look at the dimensions of the drive itself. Most current-generation drives are capable of fitting in the palm of your hands – which is pretty great.

There are drives from Samsung which are tiny and are built with portability in mind. Also, those are sleek drives with a premium finish. However, they aren’t as durable and drop-resistance as the SanDisk Extreme Pro, Lacie, and the Gnarbox. All of them are pretty great drives – but they just serve different purposes. If you are a creator, we would highly recommend you going with a rugged drive.

And hey, even though they can take some small drops, we do not recommend you to drop them.

Price, Warranty, and Extra Features

Solid state drives used to be way too costlier when the technology just came into existence. However, the SSD prices have dropped quite a bit since then. While they are still not as closely priced as a mechanical hard disk drive, it’s just way better than what it used to be.

With the prices coming down, you will have to select what budget that you want to buy a drive at. The price and budget will also decide on how much storage capacity and speeds you might be able to get with an SSD.

Along with the price, you should also be looking at the warranty of these external drives. For the SSD, regular SSDs will have at least a 12-month warranty. However, most manufacturers have already started giving 3 years and 5 years of warranty on their external drives – which is great.

When some drives are priced higher but have a lower period of warranty, you can look at the additional set of features that it brings to the table. If those additional features like the WiFi and SD Card connectivity along with the freeness to use it without a PC are important to your workflow, those drives can be worth the price as well. Every purchase will depend on your needs. So, choose wisely and based on your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Learning all about SSDs can be tough sometimes and you might have a lot of questions. So, we’ll try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions here. So, let's get through it.

Is SSD better than HDD?

In simple words - Yes.

An SSD is always a better option when you are looking to buy portable drives. They will always offer you higher transfer speeds, durability, and different forms of connectivity. While a mechanical HDD can be decent enough for most regular users, the speeds and durability of an SSD are always going to be better.

But if you just need the drive to have a ton of storage, you can go with an expansion HDD or can also build a NAS solution – which will offer greater speeds and durability than a typical HDD. However, they just won’t be the best portable solution.

Are solid state drives cheap?

Cheap and expensive is a relative term. So, we would say that the solid state drives are currently way cheaper than what they used to be. But they still cost quite a lot more than a regular mechanical hard drive. Putting the SSDs in both these situations proves that how cheap and expensive is certainly relative to what we are comparing the product against.

Having said that, we would say that SSDs are still a better option because of their durability. One doesn’t need to worry about the mechanical parts on the SSD – like they would have to on HDDs. Over a long-term usage, the SSDs might just end up being a cheaper option for you. But again, everything depends on how you are planning to use the portable drives.

Is SSD safer and more reliable than HDD?

Yes. Absolutely. As we have mentioned previously, SSD doesn’t have any mechanical parts – like the actuator arms – which are present on HDD. Along with that, they are also more drop-resistant and even have rugged drives as an option – which is tough to find on HDD. There are a few that exists – but that will still not be as drop-resistant as an SSD rugged drive would be.

Is a 256GB SSD better than a 1TB hard drive?

This would totally depend on your needs. If you need more storage capacity and willing to sacrifice all the advantages of an SSD, then you should go with the 1TB hard drive. However, if you can get away with having lower storage capacity and want to have all the advantages that an SSD brings with it, you should go with a 256GB SSD.

Is there anything I need to know about the PCI Express slots and drives?

If you were looking to buy or upgrade an internal SSD for your PC/Computer or laptop, then you would need to know about PCI Express slots and drives. Also, the form factors – like 2.5-inch drives or an m.2 drive – are only important for an internal drive. With external SSDs, you don’t really need to worry about these things.

What brands do you carry?

Currently, we carry Lacie, G-Technology, Western Digital, Gnarbox, and SanDisk. So, if you need an SSD from any of these brands, we got you covered.

Wrap Up

Storage devices are essential for every creator. We all need to save and backup the important data and information we have. To do this, we need to purchase a good storage device – like an SSD. Checking everything about the SSD is essential – but it can sometimes be a tough decision as we need to put together all the different things. We just aim to make that purchase decision easier by providing you with all this information.

However, if you are still unable to make a decision or if you want to know which drive would be the best for your needs, you can reach out to one of our Gear Guides and they’ll take care of you.