5 Reasons to Avoid a New Portable SSD Today

SSD solid state drive

5 Reasons to Avoid a New Portable SSD Today

Key Points

  • Portable SSDs are popular due to their compact size, speed, and reliability.
  • Factors such as operating system compatibility and cable quality can impact the speed of portable SSDs.
  • Not all SSDs are compatible with every computer model, and compatibility with Linux may require additional configuration.
  • Portable SSDs have limitations in storage capacity compared to HDDs.
  • Alternatives to portable SSDs include cloud storage, USB flash drives, and upgrading the internal storage.

Portable SSDs are becoming increasingly popular due to their compact size, speed, and reliability. They provide an easy way to store and transfer large amounts of data. However, there are certain factors you should consider before jumping on the bandwagon and purchasing a new portable SSD.

While portable SSDs offer numerous benefits, it’s essential to understand the potential drawbacks as well. By being aware of the limitations and potential issues, you can make an informed decision on whether a portable SSD is the right choice for your needs. Below, we’ll take a look at the reasons it might be smart to avoid a new portable SSD today and help you understand the pros and cons.

Some Background on Portable SSDs

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SAMSUNG SSD T7 Portable External SSD
  • Digital storage capacity: 1TB
  • Sequential read/write speeds of up to 1,050/1,000 MB/s
  • Backed by a 3-year limited warranty
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 and embedded PCIe NVMe technology
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11/28/2023 12:37 am GMT

SSDs are similar to other hard drives in that they’re used to store files. However, the fundamental difference is that they’re faster. Plus, they’re much smaller than traditional hard drives. SSDs have exploded in popularity because they let you securely transport and store large volumes of data.

Reasons to Avoid a New Portable SSD

Still, a new SSD might not be right for everyone. Here are some of the biggest reasons to avoid a new portable SSD.

Performance and Speed Limitations

Although portable SSDs offer faster performance than traditional external hard drives, they might not always reach their maximum transfer speeds. Factors such as the age of your operating system, compatibility with your device’s USB ports (USB 3.0 or USB 2.0), or lightening port, and cable quality can impact the actual speed you experience.

Also, portable SSDs can consume a lot of power, particularly when they operate at high speeds. This can lead to a shorter battery life for your laptop or other USB-powered devices while using the SSD. It can also lead to overheating. As heat accumulates in these devices, their performance may decrease due to throttling as the drive attempts to protect itself from potential damage.

Overall Durability and Lifespan

While SSDs are known to be more durable than traditional HDDs due to their lack of moving parts, they can still experience physical wear and tear over time. For example, constant rewrites can lead to their degradation, which might affect your SSD’s performance in the long run. Portable SSDs are also more prone to data loss from external factors, like temperature variations, humidity, and physical impact. All of these can put your data at risk.

Compared to traditional HDDs, SSDs have a finite number of program/erase cycles, so their lifespan can be shorter. Although SSDs are very reliable, they may not last as many years as you expect before experiencing issues.

Device and Operating System Compatibility Issues

exFAT vs FAT32
exFAT and FAT32 are two examples of file systems. Make sure your SSD supports the same file system as your device or you will find yourself disappointed when it doesn’t work.

©Kheng Guan Toh/Shutterstock.com

Not all SSDs are compatible with every computer model. For instance, older PCs may have motherboards that run on HDDs instead of SSDs since they lack SATA connections on their motherboard. This makes it challenging for those devices to support newer SSDs.

On the other hand, devices like Mac computers may have specific requirements for their SSDs, and you need to be more cautious when selecting an SSD for your Mac laptop or desktop. Always double-check the compatibility specifications of the SSD with your specific computer model before making a purchase. While most portable SSDs are designed to work with Windows and macOS, it’s essential to verify compatibility with your operating system. This includes checking if the SSD supports different file systems like NTFS, FAT32, or exFAT. For Windows users, the compatibility is usually straightforward, as most SSD manufacturers design their drives to work seamlessly with Windows. However, always ensure that your Windows version supports the portable SSD you plan to buy.

Linux users might find compatibility more complicated. While many portable SSDs can work with Linux, they might require additional configuration and formatting before use. Therefore, be prepared to spend some time researching and setting up your SSD if you are a Linux user.

High Cost for Storage Capacity

While portable SSDs offer fast and reliable performance, one of their limitations is storage capacity. If you’re looking for massive amounts of storage for your files, a portable SSD may not be the best choice for you. Currently, the largest portable hard disk drive (HDD) offers a capacity of 22TB, which is significantly higher than most portable SSDs available on the market. So if storage capacity is your primary concern, you might want to explore other alternatives. You can also consider purchasing multiple SSDs to meet your storage needs. However, this will increase costs.

Drive Can Get Lost or Stolen

One thing to think about when it comes to securing your data is that SSD drives can get lost or stolen. If you’re using your SSD to back up private documents or financial information, then you’ll need to take extra steps to secure your data. No storage and backup options are completely fool-proof, but the fact that SSDs are small and easy to steal means you need to ensure the device you choose offers encryption and password protection.

Alternatives to a New Portable SSD

Portable SSDs can be a great way to back up your data, store photos, save documents, and more. They’re fast, reliable, and give you an easy way to expand your storage capacity. However, they still might not be the best fit for everyone. With that said, let’s take a look at the other options you have available for data storage.

Cloud Storage

Dropbox vs Google Drive
Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service created by Google.


Cloud storage lets you securely save your documents and other files directly to the cloud. It’s often used for backing up important files, but you can use it in the same fashion as a portable SSD. However, uploading a ton of files to cloud storage will take much longer. A lot of cloud storage providers like IDrive, Box, and Google Drive all give you free storage to start with, making them an affordable alternative if you don’t have that much data.

Upgrade Internal Storage

High-Performance SSD
Samsung 990 PRO M.2 2TB NVMe SSD
  • Size: 2TB
  • Connection: PCIe 4.0 NVMe
  • Speed: 7450/6900 MB/s (read/write)
  • Warranty: 5 years
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11/28/2023 07:28 pm GMT

Another option for upgrading your storage is by upgrading the existing storage on your computer. Usually, you’ll be replacing your existing hard drive storage with an SSD for more storage and faster performance. Or, you’ll be swapping an SSD for another SSD with higher storage. If you’re technical, you can do this yourself. However, most people will want to take their computer to a specialist to upgrade the drive.

USB Flash Drives

Super Portable
LEPIN 16GB Flash Drive
  • Password-protected USB Drive
  • Military-grade full-disk 256-bit encryption
  • Compatible with USB type c
  • Light and highly portable design
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Flash drives are incredibly popular and similar to portable SSDs. Sometimes, the terms get used interchangeably, but they’re typically used for different storage needs. Flash drives are usually much smaller and come with less storage space than traditional portable SSDs. However, they are much cheaper and can be even more portable than a portable SSD.

Closing Thoughts: Reasons to Avoid a New Portable SSD Today

As you’ve learned, investing in a new portable SSD may not be the best decision for you today. Mainly, portable SSDs can have performance issues, durability concerns, and data corruption. They aren’t compatible with every OS, and can be pricey based on the amount of storage you’re getting. Keeping these points in mind can help you find the right SSD for your needs. Or, you can always explore alternatives like using cloud storage, upgrading your internal computer storage, or using simple flash drives. Luckily, there are a variety of great options for you to think about when upgrading your storage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the biggest downsides to portable SSDs?

Portable SSDs can shorten the battery life of your devices, have a limited lifespan if used frequently, and can be prone to theft or loss.

What are some good alternatives to SSDs?

Some good alternatives to SSDs include using cloud storage, upgrading your internal storage, or using USB flash drives.

Are portable SSDs compatible with all computer models or Operating Systems?

No, older PCs may not support SSDs due to their hardware specifications, and some operating systems, like Linux, might require extra setup for SSDs. Macs may also have specific SSD requirements that need to be met.

What can you do to stop a portable SSD from being lost or stolen?

Keep your SSD in a secure location, use a protective case, and employ encryption and password protection to keep your data safe and minimize the risk of loss or theft.

Why do portable SSDs have a shorter lifespan compared to traditional hard drives?

SSDs have a finite number of program/erase cycles, which means each cell in the flash memory can only be written to and erased a certain number of times, which can lead to a shorter lifespan than traditional hard drives.

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