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7 mobile hard drives: More portable and more powerful

Rick Broida | Aug. 20, 2013
If you want to back up and carry all your data with you, these lightweight hard drives let you do it easily and with style.

It's also pokey, at least compared with the four other non-Wi-Fi drives. The D20 had the lowest test scores of them all, though it was practically tied with Toshiba's Canvio Connect and not far behind Buffalo's drive. Still, if performance is your key concern, this isn't the drive to pick.

On the other hand, if you're more interested in reliability, this is definitely a drive to consider: Silicon Power backs it with an above-average three-year warranty.

The company includes no software on the drive, which might please power users who tend to delete such bundleware anyway. For those who want it, Silicon Power's SP Widget (Windows only) is available for download, but you can do better than this mediocre mix of backup and security utilities.

As of this writing, the Diamond was selling only at Amazon for a price of just $51.69 — making it the most affordable drive in the group. Beyond that, it's a decent, if unexciting, portable drive notable for its durability and excellent warranty.

Toshiba Canvio Connect
Capacity/price: 500GB for $69.99; 750GB for $76.99; 1TB for $90.99; 1.5TB for $118.99; 2TB for $132.99 (available direct)

The Canvio Connect is all about choices. It comes in five glossy colors (black, blue, red, silver and white) and more capacities than any other drive here: from 500GB up to 2TB. I reviewed the 750GB red one, which dazzles despite being a little thicker than most of its brethren. Physically, it comes closest to the Western Digital My Passport Ultra, but feels a little more solid.

Alas, it doesn't perform quite the same: The Canvio ran 50% slower than the Passport, at least as reflected in our benchmark tests. However, Toshiba packs a lot of utility into the drive, starting with the bundled NTI Backup Now EZ utility (which lives up to its name with extremely easy incremental, scheduled backups). You also get Pogoplug, which turns the drive into an Internet- and mobile device-accessible file server and includes 10GB of cloud storage. The latter adds a nice secondary-backup option for your most critical files.

Like Seagate's Slim, the Canvio offers Mac compatibility via third-party software; no reformatting required. If you're seeking a versatile, cloud-savvy drive that's available in much higher capacities than most, the Canvio is definitely worth a look.

Western Digital My Passport Ultra
Capacity/price: 500GB for $89.99; 1TB for $99.99; 2TB for $159.99 (direct)

In a crowded field of lookalike and act-alike portable hard drives, Western Digital's My Passport Ultra tries its best to stand out — and for the most part succeeds. It comes in your choice of four colors, incorporates a cloud-friendly backup option and features Western Digital's above-average three-year warranty.


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