Choosing An External SSD For a Laptop

The advantages of laptops are obvious: they’re light, portable, and almost as powerful as a desktop. The big disadvantage? Space. Internal laptop SSDs typically range from 16GB to 512GB of storage, which can fill up very quickly, particularly if you are dealing with large files.

An external SSD is a simple and easy way to add storage to your laptop without having to swap out your internal drive or delete your precious data.

Creatives, gamers, and casual users can all benefit from the additional storage capacity. Here are the some of the factors you need to keep in mind when choosing an external SSD for your laptop:

Durability

When choosing an external SSD, consider how you will use the drive. Will it sit in a desk drawer after your transfer your files? Or will it be in your laptop bag while you travel, getting jostled in airplane turbulence, crowded subways, and bumping against your hip as you navigate city streets?

In general, SSDs are better-equipped to handle these hazards because, unlike HDDs (hard drives), SSDs don’t have any moving parts. An HDD relies on a spinning disk which can easily malfunction in the wrong conditions. SSDs are not only more reliable, but they have better cooling, faster speeds, and produce less noise.

However, that doesn’t mean that all SSDs have the same rugged build. If you are planning to take your external SSD out into the world, make sure that both the internal and external components of the drive are ready for any potential hazards.

The Crucial X8 portable SSD has been rigorously tested against shocks, vibrations, X-rays, magnets, and even a 6-foot drop. Not only can the anodized aluminum unibody case withstand rugged conditions, but the internal flash memory has been manufactured with a state-of-the-art process using over 800 operations to protect against contamination.

Capacity

Obviously, you will be using the external SSD for extra storage. But exactly how much storage will you really need? Are you storing a few family photos? Or will you be downloading 500 hours of movies for the ultimate video binge?

Creatives, such as photographers and videographers, will require significantly more space than casual users. You’ll be able to store entire projects of photos on the same drive for easy access and implement a faster editing workflow. You can also assemble projects from a single drive without having to copy any data. Contrast this with having to copy data from different drives and consolidating the files on the laptop.

The Crucial X8 comes in both 500GB and 1TB models, providing ample space for both casual consumers and data-heavy users.

Crucial X8 Portable SSD

Speed

Speed is another important factor in choosing your external SSD. A slower drive can result in hours of lost productivity, not to mention significant frustration.

The Crucial X8 has read speeds of up to 1050MB/s, which is up to 1.8x faster than most portable SSDs and up to 7.5x faster than a hard drive.

An important point to note is that your connection plays a key factor in how fast you can actually transfer data to and from your drive. The USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface, for example, has a bottleneck of 300-400MB/s. Contrast this with the Gen 2, which caps out at 700-800MB/s.

The source and destination of your data, such as a slow HDD, will also have an impact on how well your external SSD performs.

Compatibility

If you are going to be using your external SSD with multiple devices, compatibility is going to be a consideration. Will you be using both Mac and Windows machines? Then you want to make sure that your SSD can handle both operating systems. The reason for this is that Windows uses the NTFS (New Technology File System), while macOS uses the APFS (Apple File System) for formatting the drive.

Fortunately, you can partition your drive to handle both operating systems, provided that your external SSD is compatible. If you are planning to use significant amounts of data, opt for a 1TB drive, since your available space for each operating system is only 50 percent of the drive.

The Crucial X8 works with Mac, PC, Xbox One, PS4, and the iPad Pro. The X8 has a native USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 interface, as well as adapters for USB-C and USB-A connections.

Security

Security is an incredibly important feature to consider for your external SSD. Without any encryption to protect against attacks, your data is vulnerable to theft and corruption from anyone who plugs into your drive.

The Crucial X8 works with Windows Bitlocker To Go, as well as Apple’s File Vault, to ensure that your drive is encrypted and your data is safe. You can also use additional endpoint protection from services like Symantec and McAfee.

In addition to encryption, you will also want to make sure your external SSD can sync with file backup services. The X8 connects to Windows Backup and the macOS Time Machine, so you can easily backup your laptop data automatically. 

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