Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Storage: Fear, Loss, and Innovation

High-performance, huge capacity storage devices

While the cloud has appeared just in time to offer free (or at least cheap) and easy access to gigabytes of storage space, some people like to keep their data close to hand. Here are some of the best storage devices money can buy that will help you keep your data safe.

Got a lot of data that you need to carry with you or keep close to hand? Read on!

I have a thing for storage. Maybe this is because I remember the days when a megabyte was a lot of storage, or maybe it is because as a pro-am photographer I generate a lot of data that I need to both keep close to hand and also keep safe by making regular backups. I've gone from keeping my stuff on 5.25-inch floppy disks to storing it on multi-terabyte RAID devices.

VisionTek USB Pocket SSD 240GB

The VisionTek USB Pocket SSD looks like any other high-capacity flash drive with a USB 3.0 connector, but on the inside it is a full-blown Solid State Drive (SSD) featuring a high-performance SandForce controller.

Yes, this is a pocketable SSD.

This means you'll experience up to 455MB/s reads and up to 440MB/s writes, which is as quick as some of the fastest internal SSDs currently available.

Highly recommended!

Price: $174.99.

OWC ThunderBay 4 RAID 5 edition

The first and only software RAID 5 technology developed for the Mac with the ThunderBay 4 RAID 5 Edition. Featuring dual Thunderbolt 2 connectivity and offering up to 35 percent faster RAID 5 performance and exponentially faster rebuild times than comparable hardware based RAID arrays.

Activate advanced features, such as drive monitoring, e-mail notifications, and more when you install the included SoftRAID for OS X.

Storage options from 4TB to 24TB.

Price: From $818.

Kingston DataTraveler microDuo

A tiny, fingernail-sized drive that also works with Android 4.0+ devices that have USB OTG support, allowing you to access the storage, which in turn allows you to expend the storage on your smartphone or tablet.

This tiny drive is also compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Price: Ranging from $12 for 16GB to $30 for 64GB.

NewerTech miniStack MAX

The NewerTech miniStack MAX puts the diverse functionality of a high-capacity hard drive, Blu-ray/CD/DVD optical drive, SD card reader and USB powered hub into a single elegant aluminum finish enclosure.

Storage options from 0TB (add your own drive) to 6TB.

Price: From $159.

Lexar Professional Workflow storage drive

This is an interesting idea. It's a portable storage drive that not only acts as a standalone USB storage drive, but it can also slot into Lexar's Professional Workflow Hub allowing it to be integrated with my media card readers.

If you're handling a lot of photos and video, then this approach gives you a flexible way to add dedicated storage to your system. This is especially useful if you are working on a system that either has limited storage space, or is using a hard drive as opposed to a faster SSD.

Price: 256GB for around $130/512GB for around $170.

Western Digital My Passport Pro

For a few years now I've been a fan of Western Digital My Passport drives. They're small, fast, and reliable. Given my happy past experiences with these external drives, I was excited when Western Digital sent me a pair of 2TB My Passport Pro drives to thoroughly test.

Unlike the My Passport drives which house a single drive, the My Passport Pro houses two drives. This makes them thicker, but the two drives have benefits. Using the supplied software you can configure these drives as RAID 0 or RAID 1 (depending on whether you want speed or data duplication) or you can set them to appear as separate drives.

The My Passport Pro comes equipped with Thunderbolt connectivity, and the cable is attached, which is great because it means I don't have to buy one, and won't lose the one supplied! This drive delivers transfer rates as high as 233 MB/s, so it's no slouch. The drive also gets power from the Thunderbolt connector so there's no separate AC adaptor to carry (or lose).

Price: Starts at $299 for 2TB.

Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ 512GB

A lightning-fast, no-nonsense, Thunderbolt-compatible SSD-based portable drive. An extra USB port means you can access your files wherever you are.

The Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ is fitted with Plextor True Speed technology, server-grade controller chips guarantee sustained high performance, while high quality flash chips and custom firmware provide the lowest average annualized failure rate (AFR) in the industry.

Price: $899.95.

SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0

Store up to 64GB is something not much bigger than your fingernail.

Not only are the SanDisk Ultra Fit drives great when you want to pack the maximum amount of storage into the smallest space possible, but they are also work great as additional storage for tablets, smart TVs and car stereos where low-profile is paramount.

I have a few of these, and other than being easy to misplace/lose, there's not much wrong with them.

Price: 16GB for around $10/32GB for around $20/64GB for $35.

Western Digital My Passport Ultra

The Western Digital MyPassport Ultra is a portable drive that you can slip into your pocket, but it also features 256-bit hardware encryption and integrated local and cloud backup solutions that allows you to make use of your Dropbox account for create a separate backup.

This offers up to 2TB of storage is a small, robust and stylish package.

Price: 1TB for around $80/2TB for $120.

IronKey

One of the biggest worries when carrying data about is loss. Sure, it sucks being down a storage device when you've left it on the train or had it stolen off you, but what sucks more is realizing that you didn't encrypt something important, and now that data is potentially out in the wild.

You might choose to mitigate this by using a software solution, but in my experience people forget to use this at the most inopportune times. Far better to use a hardware encryption solution that forces the user to encrypt the data at all times.

This is where the IronKey comes into play. Not only does it offer AES 256-bit hardware encryption, but it is also built to resist very determined and sophisticated attack. The device will permanently self-destruct after 10 consecutive incorrect password attempts, and a ruggedized, waterproof metal chassis resists physical break-ins and features a tamper evident design.

Price: The S250 starts at $110 for 2GB.

Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator

I remember a time when I dreamt of owning a 1TB hard drive. Now you can fit 1TB of storage into a pocket!

The Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator combines colossal capacities - up to 1TB - with incredible performance - read speeds of 240MB/s and write speeds of 160MB/s.

This is a monstrous drive that feels more like a metal ingot in your pocket than a flash drive. I'll be honest with you though, if you have to ask what the price is - over $1,000 for the 1TB version - then this drive isn't for you!

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