xternal hard drives have now become a staple accessory in the backpack of most guys. It’s become that necessary travel accessory that you just can’t do without. And while travelling, rugged hard drives are the way to go, so that you can take them with you almost anywhere, regardless of the adventure and not have to worry about them falling apart or becoming unusable after a small fall or scrape. Rugged external hard drives are shockproof, durable and sturdy and come with a host of features that can even put some high-end non-rugged hard drives to shame. These hard drives ensure that your data stays safe regardless of where you go or how much abuse you give them (unknowingly of course). Further, most of these drives are small enough to fit into your pocket or the side compartment of your travel bag while being as robust as a tank.
However, even if you don’t do much travelling, or you work in a standard office, having a rugged hard drive can still be incredibly useful because HDDs die when they are dropped and you don’t want that. A rugged hard drive has extra protection or ‘armour’ that allows it to take some abuse while keeping the internal components safe.
We’ve compiled a list of the ten best rugged external hard drives you can buy today. All the drives listed here are military grade external hard drives and have a minimum capacity of 1TB, which is ideal for accomplishing most of your travel, adventure and entertainment needs. They follow the MIL-STD (mil-spec) standard to ensure ruggedness and durability. These rugged hard drives are a lot like conventional external hard drives, but they have extra durable bodies that allow them to withstand knocks and drops, and many will also be protected from extreme temperatures, water and dust.
But let us first look in detail at what makes an external hard drive ‘rugged’. We’ll also tell you what options you need to take into consideration to find the perfect military grade external hard drive for you. Also note that if you are planning to travel to or thorough wet or humid areas, buying a water resistant external hard drive might be the way to go. We’ve included a few in our list. Similarly, you should consider buying a dustproof external hard drive if you’re visiting coastal or desert areas. Most waterproof rugged external hard drives are also dustproof.
What Does Military Grade (MIL-STD) Shockproof Mean?
MIL-STD is a standard used by the United States Department of Defence to gauge the usability of a product for military uses. Although it was devised primarily for military use, we now see it being used for a lot of products commercially. The standard is set by taking into account multiple specifications of the products and then it is extensively tested before being declared military spec.
For instance, external hard drives are usually tested using the MIL-STD 810G 516.16 standard. Hard drives that pass this drop test are termed military grade or said to have military grade construction. There’s a world of difference between equipment that looks rugged, and equipment that’s built to take a spill. For selecting a hard drive with military grade construction, you need a device which was built to pass a military drop test known as MIL-STD-810G 516.6.
It’s a test which involves two-dozen drops into plywood, and devices which pass are built to survive at least a six-foot drop. The best way to choose is to read the online reviews of the product before you click on purchase.
So if you use a device that is MIL-STD rated, you can rest assured that it’ll hold up well against everyday use and abuse and then some more. For all your adventures and daring trips, using MIL-STD is the way to go, simply because that’s how they were designed. These hard-drives can survive at the least a six foot drop. Contrary to traditional hard drives, which are almost as fragile as smartphone screens.
What can 1GB and 1TB hold in terms of photos, videos, documents etc.?
To put this into perspective, we’ll first explain what a GB and a TB is. A gigabyte (1 GB) is 1000 megabytes (MB). The average photograph runs between 5 to 20 MB, depending on the camera. A high quality song or audio file averages around 10 to 20 MB, depending on the length and sharpness clarity etc. A 720p movie can easily be greater than 1 GB. Mostly a lot more, usually up to 3 GBs. So in a 1GB storage drive, you can store a few hundreds of songs and pictures. But probably not a movie.
1TB (or a terabyte) is 1000GB, and is usually the most expensive and highest storage capacity offered by a manufacturer, although one can now see external hard drives offering even 5TBs of storage. If you take into account the above information, you can easily store tens of thousands of songs, pictures, videos and hundreds of movies in a 1TB external hard disk. However, there are different variants that may increase or decrease the numbers shown. Low/high resolution photos or HD movies/videos may require less or more space. There also may be different mixtures of music, videos, photos and movies on your computer which may increase or decrease the storage space. You must also note that the actual usable size of a hard disk (whether internal or external) will be lower than the advertised size. For example, in a 1TB hard disk, 930-950 might only be usable.
Let us now look at the 10 best rugged external hard drives you can buy today.
1) KESU 2.5″ Portable External Hard Drive
The KESU 2.5” Portable External Hard Drive is a versatile and minimalistic hard drive that can be used with PCs, Macs and gamming consoles. Its plug and play which means that no software installation is required pre-usage.
It supports both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 for ultra fast data transfer. This hard drive is by default formatted as ExFAT and as such can easily work with all operating systems. However, you can reformat it.
This military grade external hard drive is shockproof and waterproof and has been tested to withstand under high pressure. It comes in three colors and KESU also covers it for 3 years under their warranty program. And at 2.5”, it can easily fit into your pocket. You can choose storage capacities ranging from a paltry 80GB to mega 1TB.
2) LaCie Rugged Mini Hard Drive
The LaCie Rugged Mini Portable Hard Drive comes with certain unique features. A few of them being password protection (AES 256-bit) and a complimentary one-month membership to Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps Plan (must redeem by January 31, 2020).
The mil-spec hard drive can easily survive drops of up to six feet and is thoroughly waterproof. The bright shock-absorbing external sleeve is its first layer of protection in the event of a fall. Underneath that lies an anti-scratch casing made from a high-quality aluminium chassis. Lastly, the internal rubber bumps are capable of absorbing forces up to 1000 Gs (hint: that’s a lot).
In terms of connectivity, it supports both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 and can also be opted with the Thunderbolt 3.0, triple slot or USB-C type connections. The drive ranges from 500 GB of space to 5 TB of space that can be optioned also with the Thunderbolt Raid and Thunderbolt USB-C connections.
The final trump card is the option of an eco-mode which can significantly reduce battery consumption of whatever device the hard drive is plugged into. This can result in massive battery savings for simple tasks such as watching a movie, especially on smaller devices like smartphones. It offers a lot of options and also comes with Seagate’s trusted 2 year data rescue service (included in warranty).
3) Silicon Power Black External Hard Drive
The Silicon Power Black 1TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive Armor A60 sports an ultra-rugged rubber casing that ensures protection against shocks and water. It has an internal suspension system to guard against drops and it can easily survive a six feet drop.
The specially textured surface ensures that the drive cannot be damaged by scratches or smudged by fingerprints. The Armor A60 is IPX4 splash resistant and it offers complete protection against spraying water.
This hard drive also supports gaming consoles and can be used as a good alternative to your console’s internal storage. Connectivity via USB 3.0 with backwards compatibility takes care of transfer speeds. The military grade external hard drive is formatted to FAT32 and supports both Mac and Windows.
The best part is that it features a cable-carry design to ensure that you never lose your cable again! It is backed by Silicon Power’s solid 3-year warranty plan.
4) Silicon Power Rugged Portable External Hard Drive
The Silicon Power 2TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive Armor A80 has been designed specifically to cater to adventurous (or clumsy) gamers. It’s compatible with all next-gen gaming consoles and even a few previous gen consoles.
The aluminium casing can withstand up to 300kgs of pressure and it also contains a rubber frame to achieve military-grade shockproof standards. Its super light and has a sleek cable-carry design wherein the cable goes inside the aluminium casing making it invisible until you need it. The Armor A80 is not merely shockproof, it’s also rigorously waterproofed (IPX7), dustproofed and can survive drops of up to 3 metres.
Connection is achieved by a backwards compatible USB 3.1 connector. It’s a 3 inch USB Type-C to Type-A nylon braided connector (for extra durability) that can be easily secured into the storage cubby at the side of the hard drive. There’s also an LED light to indicate data transfer and power functions.
Your data can be protected with AES 256-bit encryption with the SP widget software that also enables cloud storage. It also comes bundled with Silicon Power’s 3 year warranty. The Armor A80 can be had in several striking varieties to complement your style.
5) Transcend StoreJet M3 External Hard Drive
This rugged military spec external hard drive comes in three different colours and has a few unique features that sets it apart from the rest of the crowd. It features an advanced 3-stage shock protection system that includes a silicone rubber case, internal shock-absorbing suspension damper, and reinforced hard casing.
It also sports an advanced internal hard drive suspension system with a reconnect button that eliminates the need to unplug and insert after safely ejecting the hard disk. There’s a one-touch auto-backup button 256-bit AES file and folder encryption (password protection).
Connection is mated through a backwards compatible USB 3.1 interface. Transcend has also thrown in its Elite file management and RecoveRx data recovery software along with its 3 year limited warranty to give you extra peace of mind.
6) Silicon Power External Hard Drive
The Armor A85 sports one of the sleekest designs offered by Silicon Power. It features a seamless rubber material and uni-body design that also helps it to have anti-slip properties. It’s compatible with most gaming consoles and uses a USB C Type connector to facilitate data transfer between computers and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
It is equipped with an advanced 3 layer defence system that includes the metallic exterior, the rubber case in between and an internal suspension system to protect it against shocks and crashes. The IP68 rating ensures that is both dustproof, and waterproof. The aluminium casing can withstand up to 500kg of force making it one of the strongest military grade hard drives on the market.
It features a cable-carry design like its siblings and comes bundled with a full disk encryption software (SP HDD Lock Utility) and Silicon Power’s 3 year manufacture warranty.
7) ADATA HD710 External Hard Drive
Another MIL Spec external hard drive is the HD710 Pro by ADATA. It features a cable-carry design and is military grade waterproof (IP68) and shockproof. The HD710 pro also has IP6X certification for total dust-tight protection, meaning it’s completely dustproof.
To top it all off, the HD710 Pro has an ergonomic water cover to protect its USB ports. It has three layers, with a shock absorbing buffer separating the outer silicon shell and the inner tough plastic shell. It can survive falls of up to 1.5 metres.
The extra feature of the HD710 is the G Shock Vibration sensing technology. This stops all the moving parts in the disk if a shock is detected. You’re kept informed of the disk’s actions by the LED indicator mounted on the surface of the HD710.
It also features a nifty cable storage area with a grove that runs around its body. You just need to wrap it around the hard disk when not in use. Simple, clutter free and convenient. Connection is routed through a backwards compatible USB 3.0 and the rugged external hard disk is backed up by a 3 year warranty from ADATA.
8) Transcend H3 External Hard Drive
The Storejet 25H3B is another MIL-Spec offering by Transcend. It features a three-stage shock protection system wherein the royal blue outer shell is made up of a slip-resistant silicone material, which is then reinforced by a hard casing and an internal hard drive suspension damper – all designed to reduce forces of impact and provide maximum shock-absorption. The rugged design is lightweight and quite easy to carry.
Connection is routed through a USB 3.0 connector with backward compatibility. It also features a one-touch Auto-Backup button wherein you can initiate a backup just by clicking on it.
This military spec external hard disk also bundles with an AES 256-bit encryption to protect your data through Transcend Elite Data Management and this software also enables you to use your external hard disk as digital lock for your personal computer. The 25H3B is shipped with Transcend’s 3 year limited warranty.
9) Silicon Power Type C External Hard Drive
The Armor A30 is another versatile offering by Silicon Power. It’s built with silica gel and incorporates an internal suspension system which ensures that it’s protected against all sorts of crushes and shocks.
The most vulnerable corners of the Armos A30 are comprised of silicone material, building from the internal structure to the exterior, adding an extra shield to withstand crushes and shocks.
It also features a cable wrap around design and an LED indicator. The hexagonal surface design provides further protection against scratches and dust particles. It comes with USB 3.0 with backwards compatibility for blazing fast transfers.
Silicon Power offers a 3 year warranty for the product. It also comes with two cables, Type C to Type A and Type A to Type A for added compatibility.
10) Silicon Power ArmorPortable External Hard Drive
The Armor A15 is yet another MIL-Spec offering by Silicon Power. It achieves shock protection by an internal suspension system with silica gel in its most vulnerable corners. It’s guarded by an ultra-rugged rubber casing that also lends it anti-slip properties.
The A15 also comes with a host of software features. Probably more than any other hard disk on this list. It has 256-bit AES encryption (courtesy of SP widget), a one-touch quick-backup button and even cloud storage. The data management software SP widget also performs backup and restore functions besides enabling encryption and cloud storage.
It also has an LED status indicator and USB 3.0 connector with backward compatibility. Silicon Power provides a 3 year warranty for the Armor A15.
So there you go, the ten best mil-spec external hard drives you can buy on the market today. These hard drives ensure that no matter what mess you get into, your data doesn’t get messed up or get lost in the mess.
You can use them as an essential component of your tech gear or even as a travel accessory. The encrypted drives are great for storing confidential files and you can have the added peace of mind of always keeping it on you, rather than in your office or home computer. And for our gamers out there, you now don’t have the haggle of carrying all your game disks along with the already bulky console whenever you travel.
Go ahead and buy your military spec hard drive right now! You might discover a few uses that you never thought about or maybe some even we’ve failed to mention. You never know. Protect your data using any one of the drives we’ve listed so that you never have to worry about data security again.