The best storage devices of 2013

Over the course of a year, we test a lot of tech products, from laptops through tablets to mobiles, along with a range of other hardware from routers to external hard disks, and of course an abundance of software from office suites to security utilities.

And every year, products make improvements on the previous year’s offerings, both in terms of quality and value. Indeed, many product categories have a number of excellent offerings among their ranks – but sometimes you want things really narrowed down. Sometimes, you want to know the winner among the winners – and that’s what this series of articles is all about.

We kicked everything off last week, when we looked at the best laptops of 2013, along with the best tablets and peripherals, highlighting the top product for 2013 across all the main sub-categories within. Today, we’re looking at the best storage solutions, and we’ll pick out the top performing hard drive, SSD, and portable devices.

Each product mentioned is the top of its class for 2013, and as such comes with an unreserved recommendation.

So, what is the best SSD and portable drive? Read on and find out… and stay tuned for many more top products of 2013 in the coming days as we run up to Christmas.

Best hard drive: LaCie 5big (£1,490)

The LaCie 5big Thunderbolt Series desktop-class external drive gives you a huge 20TB of storage, available instantly. It's the drive to use when you need constant access to all your work or project data.

It's also the drive to use if server-based storage is too slow, but you need the gargantuan capacities that a server would provide.

Best SSD: SanDisk Extreme II 480GB SSD (£310)

The SanDisk Extreme II internal solid-state drive is a great opening volley into the high-end consumer market. It offers enthusiast-level performance from a historically OEM-focused company, and it represents such good value for money that it scooped a Best Buy award when we reviewed the product.

Best portable drive: Seagate Wireless Plus (£144)

Carrying your entire media library just became a bit easier with the Seagate Wireless Plus drive. It's a 1TB hard drive with a built-in battery, media server, and Wi-Fi router, so you can share videos, photos, and music on the road.

Best USB flash drive: LaCie XtremKey USB 3.0 32GB (£60)

The LaCie XtremKey USB 3.0 (32GB) might be the roughest, toughest USB flash drive we've ever seen. The XtremKey will survive insane amounts of abuse, it looks good, and it's a great flash drive as well.