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What is a portable SSD and how does it work

In today’s world we store massive amounts of data — pictures, videos, music, games, and other files take up space and slow down our systems. When you run out of storage – an increasingly common scenario – portable solid state drives (SSDs) are a versatile solution. Some benefits of portable SSDs include being faster, more durable, and smaller than portable hard disk drives (HDDs). Crucial®, an industry leader in internal SSD technology, now offers a portable version, the Crucial X8 portable SSD. With the Crucial X8, you can preserve, protect, and transfer your memories, files, documents, music, and games in a portable SSD that delivers the great value and phenomenal customer experience you've come to expect from Crucial.

Have you ever asked yourself, what is a solid state drive? Portable SSDs such as the Crucial X8 are just like internal SSDs but are portable, durable, convenient, and are universally compatible. That means no matter your hobby or profession, the Crucial X8 is compatible with almost any system or device. With its stunning aluminum unibody core and 7.5-foot drop rating6, the Crucial X8 is durable enough to hold up against almost any situation you can encounter. 

How do SSDs work

Portable SSDs operate identically to internal SSDs, both work with memory and processors to access and store data for long-term use. SSDs use a grid of electrical cells to send and receive stored data, operating just like flash drives. The difference between SSDs and HDDs is that hard drives store data on a spinning platter accessed by a mechanical arm. Simply put, SSDs are incredibly fast and work without moving parts such as spinning platters or moving arms.

Portable SSDs offer all the benefits of internal SSDs without the need to swap out the drive inside your computer. Plus, they can be used with multiple systems and devices. The Crucial X8 is simple and easy to use. Plug it in and instantly get the benefits and speeds of an SSD that you can unplug and take with you when and where you need it.   

Portable SSD speeds and compatibility

With incredible performance and speeds up to 1050MB/s, the Crucial X8 is 7.5x faster than portable HDDs and 1.8x faster than other portable SSDs.1 Crucial X8 offers faster boot times, instant-load performance, and gives you extremely fast read and write speeds.

While it may seem meaningless, you need to understand what storage type is in your computer to understand external drive transfer speeds. Internal drive types directly correlate to portable SSD transfer speeds. SATA drives can struggle to reach the highest transfer speeds when used with fast portable SSDs, whereas NVMe was developed to work with flash memory and can easily reach the highest speeds. However, SATA drives paired with portable SSDs are still incredibly fast. Additionally, the connector your device utilizes directly affects transfer speeds. The Crucial X8 portable SSD can reach the following transfer speeds using various connections. 

Host compatibility
USB-C Thunderbolt 3 - 40Gb/s USB 3.1 Gen 2 - 10Gb/s USB 3.1 Gen 1 - 5Gb/s
USB-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 - 5Gb/s USB 3.0 - 5Gb/s USB 2.0 - 480Mb/s that can support 5V/1A

The Crucial X8 portable SSD is universally compatible — you can increase your storage capacity for nearly any computer, tablet, phone, or console. If you want the ability to transfer large amounts of data, or to run programs off the external drive — then a portable SSD is for you. The Crucial X8 portable SSD works with following:

  • Windows® 10, 8.1
  • macOS®
  • iPad Pro® (2018 USB-C model)5
  • Chromebook®
  • Android®4
  • Linux®
  • PS4® and PS4 Pro®3
  • Xbox One® & Xbox One Pro®3

Getting the most out of a portable SSD

Several factors can contribute to getting the most out of your portable SSD. Storage, firmware, trim, and tracking the health of your drive can contribute to keeping your portable SSD running strong. 

  • It’s best to keep 10-15 percent of your drive free to balance performance and storage. Writing speed can directly be affected if your portable SSD is near or at full capacity.
  • Keeping your firmware updated helps your portable SSD run at peak performance and ensures bugs or technical issues are corrected.
  • All Crucial SSDs are designed and tested with the assumption that trim will be used on the computer’s operating systems, however not all operating systems support trim, and that’s ok. If your system doesn’t support trim, think about upgrading to one that does.
  • Use a Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (SMART) monitoring system such as Storage Executive to track the health of your Crucial X8 portable SSD.

Portable SSDs have become more convenient, more economical, and offer more performance and speed than ever before. Pair a Crucial X8 with your devices and systems, and see what benefits awaits. 

1. MB/s speed measured as maximum sequential performance of device as measured by Crucial on a high performance desktop computer with Crystal Disk Mark (version 6.0.2 for x64). Your performance may vary. Comparative speed claims measured as maximum sequential performance of similarly situated portable SSD’s, mainstream portable HDD’s and mainstream USB flash drives from vertically-integrated manufacturers selling under their own brands as at June 2019.
2. Compatibility may vary and may be contingent on device formatting and host capabilities. For more information, see
3. Latest firmware may be required for operation. For more information, see
4. Compatible Android devices must be able to work with USB Mass Storage over OTG. Operating system updates and reformatting may be required. For more information, see
5. iPadOS 13 required for the Crucial X8 to work with iPad Pro devices with USB-C port. For more information, see
6. Up to 7.5 ft/2 m without impact to data on drive on a carpeted floor. ©2019 Micron Technology, Inc.