The Best Cheap External SSDs of 2019

External SSDs are smaller, faster and more reliable than traditional hard drives (HDDs).

Solid state drives use "flash memory." (You can think of SSDs as large USB sticks.) These drives don't have mechanical moving parts. Instead, they use memory cells that are accessed by a "controller," which is like the brain of the drive.

This results in transfer speeds that are at least 200% faster than traditional hard drives, plus, SSDs produce less heat and have greater shock-resistance. All external SSDs are inherently "portable SSDs" (though some are more rugged than others).

The catch? External SSDs are at least 300% more expensive than external HDDs with the same storage capacity. This premium isn’t worth it for everyone.

A computer without a Thunderbolt 3 or USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 port won't be able to realize the fastest transfer speeds than an external SSD is capable of. The same is true for gaming consoles like Xbox One and PS4 (neither console uses USB 3.1 Gen 2)

Nevertheless, loading Xbox One or PS4 games from an external SSD is indeed faster than loading games from an external HDD (or either console's internal storage). SSDs are the future of storage; for now, the trick is finding a decent-sized drive at an acceptable price.

Here are the best-reviewed external SSDs that have sold for $100 or less in the past year:

Good Price: $100 | Great Deal: $90

Samsung’s T5 SSD is tiny, lightweight and transfers data quickly, according to several Amazon customers. Many reviewers caution that this drive (specifically, the drive’s software) does not work well with Macs. A few owners say the USB connector is weak and wobbly.

Good Price: $100 | Great Deal: $80

This portable SSD is lightweight and durable, according to several Amazon customers. Two common criticisms are that the drive runs hot and the included USB-C cable is too short. 

Good Price: $60 | Great Deal: $45

Adata's portable SSD loads games like PUBG quickly, according to several Xbox One gamers who bought this drive on Amazon. Some reviewers say their drive stopped working after a few months; others say this drive is not compatible with PS4.

John DeFeo