You probably know all too well how vital it is to keep your data with you, but storage comes in so many heavy varieties, so what can you do? It’s time to turn to the flash drives, the wi-drives, and the super-slims.

It shouldn’t hurt your arm or shoulder to carry your data everywhere you go, and yet that is a very real possibility these days, as the large storage spaces out there can end up weighing more than you might want to pick up and take with you.

But there is relief out there waiting in the form of light drives, or “super-slims”.

Super-slims are devices that — as the name suggests — are particularly slim, or super slim, which can also make the drive drop in weight. Just like how the sub-notebook and Ultrabook managed to put the regular old conventional notebook computer on a diet and slim it down, the super-slim hard drives bring the storage without excess millimetres or grams.

These come in a variety of form-factors, ranging from the very large thumb drive — not large in size, but rather with how much it can store — to the thin and light hard drive, and if you have data to spare and aren’t keen on keeping a brick of a drive with you, this two-page guide is just for you.

Little big flash drives

You don’t necessarily need a large drive with you, not unless you want one, and there’s always the option of something you can keep in your pocket for large data storage.

If that sounds like a top idea, this selection of tiny flash drives is worth looking at.

Lexar JumpDrive P20 128GB

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Price: $181

A name most people know, the JumpDrive P20 is one of Lexar’s faster little thumb drives, and with 128GB storage, aside for being highly portable thanks to its pocketable form-factor, you can bet it has enough space for most people.

Speed is also a critical factor, and the P series of Lexar JumpDrives — because every Lexar USB drive is called a “JumpDrive” — is the fastest of the bunch, at least for the ones Lexar makes, offering high read and write speeds for the larger capacity models like this one.

SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB

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Price: $280

Another name you’re probably very familiar with, SanDisk has a different take on little big thumb drives,  with a heavier build and a casing made from aluminium.

That side of things makes it more resistant to everyday life, and there’s even a bit of software found inside that can provide 128-bit password protection, which should prove handy if your files are so critical you don’t want anyone who doesn’t know your passwords to know what’s in them.

Corsair Flash Voyager GS 512GB

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Price: $605

So you don’t care about drives that are so slim they don’t ever have to removed. Fine. We’ve found something big worth looking at.

Corsair is known for excellent memory in the tech sector, and the Flash Voyager 512GB is the largest USB key the company has, packing in some high speed memory in a zinc body, and making a beefy USB drive that offers more storage than most Ultrabooks cater for.

Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator 1TB

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Price: $1299

And if 512GB isn’t quite enough, Kingston has the solution in another meaty option, the HyperX Predator.

Just like Corsair, Kingston has a name and a reputation for high-end memory, so if you’ve never seen them in stores like with SanDisk and Lexar, fret not, this is just one of the brands high-end computer people tend to look at.

When you see the Predator, however, you’ll understand why.

This is 1TB of storage held between metal, pre-formatted for both Mac and PC (exFat) with a size you’ll notice if you lose, because it’s so chunky you’ll always know it’s there.

But this is for people who have loads of stuff to store, and know they want it in a small space. Just be prepared to pay for it, because with sizes only available in 512GB and 1TB, it’s a thumb drive for people who aren’t worried about price.

The Wi-Drives

A different type of technology, wireless drives are less about being tethered to the desk, and more about getting your files to copy to and from portable devices, like a mobile phone or tablet.

Laptops and desktops can play here too, that said, without a cable getting involved, meaning you can switch the drive on in your luggage or take it out and leave it on a table, with your device accessing the data remotely.

SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive 64GB

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Price: $180

This is a bit of a weird one, because when you look at it, the Connect is a bit of the previous section and a bit of this new section.

Essentially, it works like this: when you plug the drive into a computer, it not only lets you move files across, but charges the battery inside the drive. Later, you can choose to connect the drive wirelessly to a computer, smartphone, or tablet with just wireless networking, which will let you look at the drive wirelessly.

In a way, this is the best of both worlds — wired and wireless — but there isn’t a lot of storage on offer here, with a max of 64GB found in this model.

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Seagate Wireless Mobile Storage 500GB

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Price: $189

Now this is a drive that isn’t just wireless, but is also easy to carry, providing half a terabyte of storage in a 281 gram block that will hold six hours charge and send data to devices wirelessly.

You can use a cable if need be, and it’ll only be USB 2.0, so that’s a sad face there — 🙁 — but that’s also how you’re likely charging the device, so at least you can kill two birds with one stone, err, cable.

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Corsair Voyager Air 2 Plus 1TB

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Price: $299

Corsair’s take on wireless data doesn’t just provide external storage for your computer, phone, or tablet without cables, it even lets you provide your information to a larger network if needed.

How you might ask? The Voyager Air is much like what we’re seeing from the other major players, but includes an Ethernet port, meaning if you decide to share your library with a larger network, you can plug the drive into a router at home and share away.

WD My Passport Wireless 2TB

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Price: $300

WD has a heritage in making drives — it was “Western Digital” after all, before the name got shortened — and the My Passport Wireless just takes those learnings and applies it to wireless tech.

You can plug this one in if needed, and 2TB of storage will certainly be helpful, or you can transfer files to and from this little big drive simply by using wireless technology.

One of the cooler features has to be the included SD card slot which will back up your images to the drive so you can keep working without fear they’ll be lost if the card corrupts or gets lost. Later on, you can connect to the My Passport Wireless using either a phone, tablet, or computer and access what’s there on the go.

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Super-slims

Finally, there are the super-slims, the drives that aren’t wireless and aren’t thumb-based, but provide that hard drive in an easy to carry slim form that you shoulder won’t ever worry about.

In a way, the super-slims are more affordable than the other lot because most of these are based on the same technology we’ve seen in hard drives for yonks, but there are some interesting choices here simply because it’s not all that you’re used to seeing, and these drives are made on a diet.

LaCie Porsche Design Slim Drive 500GB

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Price: $109

More or less designed for Mac only (though we’re pretty sure it wouldn’t be hard to get working on a PC, formatting and all), LaCie’s take on the slim drive is to take a half terabyte hard drive and throw it into an aluminium block, with USB 3.0 access found here.

This one isn’t super light, and clocks in at 182 grams, but it does look like it goes with the MacBook Pro, thanks to that magic metal chassis both Apple and LaCie are relying on.

G-Tech GDrive Slim 500GB

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Price: $119

The brand formerly known as “Hitachi Global Storage Technologies” or just plain old “Hitachi”, G-Tech tends to produce hard drives geared at creative types, with metal bodies designed to look nice with Apple computers and secret sauce technology that speeds hard drives up in different ways.

The Slim, however, is a different stab, offering both Windows and Mac users a 10mm thick hard drive powered by USB 3.0 with the option of a 7200RPM drive.

That might just look like a bunch of numbers to you, but the faster the RPM, the faster the drive, and with most external drives relying on 5400RPM conventional hard drives, the G-Tech Slim at least gives us an idea that this one has been built for speed, not just for being slim, which is great news.

Toshiba Canvio Slim 500GB

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Price: $139

One of the slimmest drives out there, Toshiba’s aluminium-encased hard drives take a PC and Mac compatible drive, plonk it between two sheets of very thin metal, and provide a USB 3.0 cable for easy access for modern computers.

Granted, this is just a regular 500GB hard drive here, but it’s offered in a form-factor that is pleasing on the eye, very slim at 9mm, and barely heavier than a modern smartphone at 150 grams.

Seagate Seven 500GB

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Price: $189

Easily one of the thinnest drives you’ll see this year, Seven is what its name says: 7mm thick.

While it is remarkably thin, it also still packs a bit of weight, with the super-slim drive packing in 178 grams, which won’t dent your shoulder at all when you carry it since it’s just like bringing with another mobile phone.

Its size is guaranteed to impress, though, and while it only packs 500GB of storage, this special edition 7mm drive looks the part, made for geeks that aren’t worried about parting with a little under $200 for the privilege.

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WD My Passport Ultra 3TB

Colourful hard drives make the desk a happier place. In theory.

Price: $300

WD’s take on the slim and simple hard drive has just gone through a change or two with a recent redesign, and now it includes an option for a bigger drive, some darker colours, and some user friendly prices.

If you don’t mind paying a little more and going back to 1 or 2TB instead of the larger 3TB option, you’ll be able to find a metal edition if needed in the My Passport Ultra Metal which is — as the name suggests — metal.

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Samsung T1 500GB SSD

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Price: $429, with a 1TB option for $799

The most expensive of the bunch, Samsung’s T1 is a little different again. While every other drive in the ultra-light section is technically a hard drive, Samsung’s T1 is a solid-state drive, meaning it has no moving parts.

This is basically the same sort of stuff as what we’ve seen in Ultrabooks and tablets, only found in an external casing with a USB plug.

That means it has no moving parts, and is therefore super fast, great on batteries, and very, very light. Thirty grams light. So light that you might not even know it’s there. The thickness isn’t bad, either, coming in at 9.2mm. That’s not far off some phones, and lighter still.

All of these features don’t come cheap, and if you want the best of the best in regards to solid-state tech, you’ll need to be prepared to pay big for it, with this costing a little over $400 for 500GB or $800 for 1TB. Yikes.

Read our review…