4 of the Best External Storage Drives for Photographers

Data comes cheap these days, sure – but you still need a lot of it!

Photographers are using more and more data every day, especially with so many of us unwilling to delete all but the most dreadful images from our systems in the off chance that someday we may end up needing that shot of Aunt Jane mid-sneeze. Joking aside, we as photographers really do need a lot of storage space for our images these days and the unfortunate fact of life is that at some point your computer, be that a Desktop or Laptop, will no longer be able to handle all of your storage needs.

Eventually, you will need to get yourself an external storage solution of some kind. You could go all out and get a DAS raid setup, but honestly, for most of you, that is likely overkill. A single external storage drive is all that most of you will need. So you may be asking yourself now, “OK Anthony, but which external drives should we be considering?” Don’t worry for a second – I got you.

In order to decide on what sort of drive to get you need to know what the drive will be used for. So are you just using the drive for archiving old images and backups, or is this a drive that you will be working from? If you are just archiving old images or doing backups then quite honestly any storage drive with enough space to put what you want on it will be good enough. However, if you are wanting to work off this drive; loading images off it into Lightroom, or accessing video on it while editing, then your options become more limited.

You also need to consider where you will have this drive. Are you going to be keeping it at home, relatively safe? Or will this be going on trips and traveling with you? Because if the answer is the latter, then you will definitely want to invest in a storage solution designed to take a beating and still function without issue.

So with all of that said, here are our picks for some of the top external storage solutions you should be considering for your photography needs.

WD My Passport Wireless Pro and My Passport Wireless SSD

These units are ideal for photographers who will be taking their external storage with them while traveling or out on jobs. Not only do they have built-in batteries, they also have SD card readers and Auto-Backup capabilities so that you can easily backup your images on the spot, rather than waiting to get to your computer. They can also be accessed wirelessly, and this makes them incredibly useful for mobile content creators as well, as this means you can quickly access your data via your phone – without needing a computer to act as an intermediary.

You can pick [amazon_textlink asin=’B01F5LVTO4′ text=’them up over on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4385789d-0787-11e8-a298-5fc35bd4c7a6′] for a great price now, but if you want to learn even more you can checkout our review of the My Passport Wireless, here.

Samsung T5

The Samsung T5 is simply one of the fastest external storage solutions you can get your hands on. As well, if you are able to connect it to a fast USB 3.1 Gen 2 or Thunderbolt 3 port on your computer then you will get speed that may rival the drive you have in your computer itself. This makes the T5 and other external SSDs so ideal for working drives and those needing to work on the files stored on the device. They are also small and incredibly easy to pack around, making them nice travel companions with the one downside being that they aren’t generally the most accepting of being banged around – so be careful with them.

Depending on the amount of storage you are going for these are also fairly affordable right [amazon_textlink asin=’B073H552FJ’ text=’now over on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5b16566d-0787-11e8-a0b8-11b0477f437c’].


The Gnarbox is so much more than just a simple storage solution. Similar to the WD My Passport Wireless units, the Gnarbox is designed to be able to be used standalone and separately from a computer. You can connect to it wirelessly and use it to view images and other files, but it also goes a step beyond the WD product and lets you edit videos and slideshows, and basically acts as a mobile editing station for your content. That portion of the Gnarbox is honestly still a work in progress, however, as we are talking specifically about external storage solutions at the moment. The Gnarbox certainly fits the bill for photographers who travel or go out into the wilderness and don’t want to take a powerful laptop.

Given its other capabilities, and the storage options available, the Gnarbox is one of the more expensive price per GB units on this list. If you are interested you can find [amazon_textlink asin=’B0758DLRBX’ text=’them over on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6de20b6b-0787-11e8-9549-937c95803192′] starting at.

The DIY Solution

The great thing about everything these days is that for every product out there, there is a way you can probably DIY it yourself and get some good performance. That is no different in this case, so long as you are realistic with your expectations. Internal SSDs are for some reason generally cheaper than external units, as well, you can easily buy external SSD enclosures for internal SSDs at a great price. If you go this route it won’t have an internal battery, and you will have to be very careful about what data connection it is using to connect to your computer (look for USB 3.1 Gen 2 or Thunderbolt 3 units, avoid USB 2/3 at all costs) or else you could end up with an external drive that works, but is very slow.

However, if you get the right enclosure, and find a good deal on an SSD with the capacity you are looking for, then you can put this together yourself for cheaper than a normal external solution. It just won’t have all the bells and whistles, and likely won’t be as resistant to getting banged around. If you go this route we definitely recommend using these as ‘at home’ drives rather than travel or on the job drives.

The price of this all depends on the SSD you choose to buy, but the SSD enclosure that I recently picked up and have had good luck with is incredibly [amazon_textlink asin=’B074N95HFW’ text=’affordable over on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cc5b1296-0787-11e8-a4fe-f9fd229bf71e’].

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.