Best storage devices: From USB flash drives to RAID units

While the cloud has appeared just in time to offer free 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.
1 of 8 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet


As we go about our day creating more data, so the demand for storage space increases. While the cloud has appeared just in time to offer free and easy access to gigabytes of storage space, some people like to keep their data close at hand. This is where personal storage comes into play. Also, it's not easy to shift gigabytes of data to and from the cloud unless you have a serious web connection.

As well as being a tech geek I'm also a photographer, and this means that I create enormous quantities of data. Just the other day I created a 10 second timelapse video, which on the face of it doesn't seem like much, but adding up the input, output and intermediate files put the total space consumed by this one project at 16GB.

That's a lot of data. I remember when all I had was a 10MB hard drive!

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(Source: SanDisk)

SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0

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

Not only are these 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 $39.99/32GB for $69.99/ 64GB for $109.99.

3 of 8 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

(Source: 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 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 is tamper evident.

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

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(Source: Western Digital)

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.

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.

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(Source: Drobo)

Drobo Mini 

When you want bags of storage and a higher level of piece of mind than a single drive offers, it is time to employ the services of a bigger tool.

The Drobo Mini fits in nicely between a single external hard drive and a full-on multi-bay NAS box. Because it takes four 2.5-inch drive – as opposed to full-sized 3.5-inch drives – the Drobo Mini has a much smaller footprint than you might expect, and can connect to a PC or Mac using Thunderbolt or USB 3.0.

As well as the four drive, you can speed up a Drobo Mini by adding a separate mSATA solid state drive.

A handy – and portable – solution to the problem of ever-expanding data.

Price: Around $350 for a diskless unit.

6 of 8 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

(Source: Pegasus)

Promise Pegasus2 RAID Storage with Thunderbolt

If you want the ultimate storage solution, look no further than the Promise Pegasus2 R4/R/R26. These offer four or six disk storage solutions with data transfer rates up to a blistering 800MB/s.

The top-end R8 It comes equipped with eight 4TB 7200-rpm hard drives offering a total of 32TB of storage when configured for RAID 5, with RAID 0, 1, 6, 10, 50, and 60 also supported.

But this doesn't come cheap, with the price tag being a cool $4,600.

The performance of this device has to be experienced to be believed, and it allows you to move a massive amount of data with unnerving ease.

Price: 8TB Pegasus2 R4 starts at around $1,499.

7 of 8 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

(Source: Elgato)

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.

8 of 8 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

(Source: G-Technology)

G-Technology G-RAID 

G-RAID is a dual drive, professional RAID 0 storage solution offering up to 8TB of space with high-speed USB 3.0 and FireWire interfaces.

Designed for professional content creation applications, G-RAID supports simultaneous playback of multiple layers of HDV/DVCPRO HD ProRes 422 HQ with the leading video editing applications, including Apple Final Cut Pro, AVID Media Composer and Adobe Premiere.

An all aluminum enclosure, soft power switch and quiet smart fan round out G-RAID’s professional feature set.

A solid piece of kit. Not really portable as it needs a power adapter, but great for editing back at home or in the office

Price: 4TB for $380/8TB for $699.

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