Faster, smaller, lighter, more robust, increased reliability, higher capacity, and lower price. That sounds like a winning scenario, right? That is what I saw when Micron introduced the Crucial X6 Portable SSD.
I utilize a considerable amount of external storage — roughly 150TB. Until now, all of those external storage devices have been hard disk drives (HDDs), primarily WD My Passport and WD My Book drives.
While external HDDs offer significant capacities at low prices, the value-priced single drive configurations are relatively slow when newly formatted, and performance decreases as they fill. Slow is fine for background file archiving, but time is something we cannot buy, and saving time while performing actual work has great merit.
In the portable drive product line, Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are considerably faster and offer increased robustness, significantly better able to withstand moisture and impact. The X6 is rated to withstand drops of 6.5' (2m) and resist random vibrations up to 3.1G during operation and up to 1500G when not in use. Then my mind goes off on the "What does a 1500G vibration looks like?" tangent.
SSDs are also lighter and smaller than HDDs.
A portable SSD drive has been on my want list for a long time, and some good models have been available. However, until recently, SSD capacities did not reach 4TB (my requirement), or if they did, their price was beyond my justification. Then the tiny Crucial X6 Portable SSD arrived.
The physical aspects of the Crucial X6 Portable SSD do not provide much to discuss. The plastic case is strong, and a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port with included cable (USB C to C) enables connection to the device.
The size is tiny, and the weight is next to nothing. My caliper and scale say:
|Crucial X6 Portable SSD||1.44 oz||(40.7g)||2.70 x 2.51 x 0.42"||(68.6 x 63.7 x 1.4mm)|
|WD My Passport Portable HDD||7.45 oz||(211.1g)||4.22 x 2.95 x 0.73"||(107.0 x 74.9 x 18.5mm)|
The above-referenced WD drive is the review-time latest 5TB model. The size and weight differences mean little on the top of a desk, but in a pocket or in a backpack, those differences are quite noticeable. I travel at airline capacity limits, and these size and weight differences are especially meaningful in this regard. Multiply those differences by two (or more) for even more substantial savings. Need to ship a drive? The X6 is the one you want.
Here is a visual comparison to go with the table:
Hiding is a form of theft protection. The Crucial X6's tiny form factor means it is easy to hide — or even keep in your pocket. That said, keep in mind that it is also easier to lose a small device.
The physical merits of the Crucial X6 Portable SSD are apparent, but the performance metrics will put the biggest smile on your face. Here are the CrystalDiskMark results for a nearly-empty WD My Passport 5TB drive followed by the Crucial results:
The performance difference is massive and readily apparent when working with files on these drives. For reference, here are the 32GB test results, WD, then Crucial:
The Crucial X6 has 800 MB/s maximum read speed and sequential read speed ratings. The test results above show those specs slightly exceeded.
The X6 is backed by a 3-year limited warranty
Over the years, I've warned many times that a solid data backup plan is extremely important, but since I'm talking about a highly portable drive in this review, I'll reiterate that importance here.
The big question: what if you just lost all of your computer drives stored in a single location? Right now, consider what that loss would mean to you. You need to visualize this scenario because it could become a reality at any moment.
Data devastation comes in many forms. A burglary or tragic fire could strike. Viruses and drive failures are common. Large internet companies can fold overnight. It is not hard to accidentally delete large folders of data.
A sound backup strategy requires multiple copies of all files, with at least one copy stored offsite and offline, far enough away from the other data copies to ensure that a regional disaster could not affect all copies. All data copies should never be together at any one time, including during exchange with the offsite location.
While my backup strategy would likely seem over the top to many, I understand the risks, and that plan has saved me in the numerous data losses I've experienced, including multiple RAID array corruptions that required complete restoration from a backup drive. I consider three separate copies of data to be the absolute minimum safe option. One stays locally, one is stored offsite, and the third is used to replace the offsite drive. Note that mirroring drives is a great idea, but that still counts as one copy.
You cannot be too paranoid when it comes to your backup strategy. The cost of a portable HDD or SDD is tiny compared to the cost and effort that went into your photo collection.
In the field, the camera's memory cards provide my first data copy. These cards live in the camera until filled and then live in my pocket or, if especially important, are mailed home. Loading the cards on the laptop SSD at least daily provides the second copy. Also daily, the day's images are stored on the Crucial X6 and (usually) hidden in my vehicle, which is about as offsite as I can manage when traveling.
The reviewed Crucial X6 portable SSD was purchased online retail.
With the Crucial X6, the SSD price-performance ratio fell below my buy now threshold, and the X6 instantly became a critical part of my kit, especially my travel kit. I love it.
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