High-Speed External ThunderBolt SSD Backup Drives

Never before has a personal computer interface offered the insanely fast data transfer speeds of the original 10Gbps ThunderBolt, 2nd-generation 20Gbps ThunderBolt2, and 3rd-generation 40Gbps ThunderBolt 3 I/O ports. It's minimally TWENTY times faster than the popular USB 2.0 spec, minimally double that of the competing 5Gbps USB 3.0 SuperSpeed standard.

ThunderBolt outstrips the bandwidth requirements of nearly any personal computer peripheral available today. Even conventional spinning platter hard drives can't fill a fraction of ThunderBolt's data pipeline. So, solid-state flash memory disk drives are the most logical pairing of the two technologies. A ThunderBolt SSD external backup drive can really leverage the potential bandwidth available for the fastest data backups and file transfers you'll ever experience.
   
Akitio ThunderBolt Drive Monster ThunderBolt Drive
Akitio SSD Neutrino Drive

120GB ThunderBolt SSD
Monster Digital SSD

256GB-512GB-1TB

 
G-Technology ThunderBolt Drive Oyen Digital ThunderBolt Drive
GTech TBolt SSD

1TB SSD Combo Interface
Oyen SSD Mini Pro

256GB Solid-State Portable

   
Transcend Solid-State Drive Silicon Solid-State Drive
Transcend Combo SSD

ThunderBolt + USB 3.0
Smallest TBolt SSD Ever

Silicon Power Mini


Shopping For TunderBolt External SSD Drives

As of 2016, we now have 3 generations of ThunderBolt: The original 10 Gbps TBolt and 2nd generation 20 Gbps ThunderBolt 2 using the mini DisplayPort interface, and the new 40 Gbps ThunderBolt 3 which has adopted the smaller and more widely used Type-C USB 3.1 interface. In fact, ThunderBolt 3 incorporates SuperSpeed Plus 10 Gbps protocols so that either ThunderBolt or USB-C peripherals can be used on a computer's ThunderBolt 3 port.

Currently, a few of the best choices in solid-state backup are LaCie 512GB Thunderbolt SSD dual-drive array which also now offers a 1 Terabyte version for demanding, Pro users. These LaCie high-end models combine dual 256GB/512GB SATA III Solid-State drives for mirrored or striped RAID 0 performance that delivers mind-blowing transfer speeds - at a price. Their Little Big Disk SSD drives also have TWO TBolt ports on the back for daisy-chaining with other devices.

For more affordable consumer options, the single-drive LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 and ThunderBolt SSD has high-speed combo interfaces for both USB 3.0/2.0 or ThunderBolt connectivity. The ThunderBolt Rugged series uses a single SSD drive for respectable performance - and the added value of flexibility to use it with older and non-TBolt equipped USB port Macs or PCs. The latest revision of the solid-state Rugged portable drive now includes a short, integrated ThunderBolt cable for quick connectivity, and still allows optional connection to a USB port if needed.

The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD Drive has been shipping for quite some time. ElGato also uses a single SSD drive module for more modest but still very snappy performance in either 120GB or 240GB capacities - but it's pricing hasn't dropped to be truly competitive with LaCie or other new arrivals in the marketplace. A new 512GB and 1TB SSD drive with combo ThunderBolt + USB 3.0 interface recently shipped, but the price is high.

Emerging brands in 2016 include Akitio, SiliconPower, Monster and Oyen Digital's external, portable SSD backup drive offerings shown above. These laptop-size affordable consumer drives have a single ThunderBolt port for use directly connected to your computer - or at the END of the device chain. To get dual, pass-through ports, you generally have to move up to the multi-drive RAID array type of products.

One of the notably rising entrants into the external SSD drive market is Akitio. They've long been a maker of USB, eSata, and FireWire drive enclosures for assembling DIY backup drives. Introducing a single-port ThunderBolt portable SSD drive like the 120GB Neutrino shown here (currently using an Intel OEM SSD) is the first step in recouping their investment, a 256Gb is available as well (currently using a SanDisk OEM SSD). Akitio has announced several standalone ThunderBolt and ThunderBolt 2 drive enclosures for homebuilt storage solutions using the SSD or HDD drives of your choice.

DIY ThunderBolt SSD Storage

Alot of folks want to cobble their own ThunderBolt data backup drive together with the HDD or SSD drive of their choice. Unfortunately, at least for single drives, there aren't many choices of standlalone ThunderBolt drive enclosures available. For multi-drive RAID arrays using 2 or more drives the selection is better.

 
G-Technology ThunderBolt Enclosure Seagate ThunderBolt Drive Sled
2.5" ThunderBolt SATA Case

Ruggedized ThunderBolt Enclosure
Backup Plus ThunderBolt Drive Adapter

For Laptop Size SSD or HDD

Seagate's ThunderBolt dock/sled let anyone cobble thier own affordable ThunderBolt SSD solution by simply plugging a bare 2.5" laptop SATA SSD drive directly into the portable adapter's SATA connector. It should be noted the ThunderBolt drive converter only has a SINGLE ThunderBolt port like many of the more affordable ThunderBolt storage products for home consumers. It's not capable of being Daisy-Chained with other ThunderBolt devices. And of course, the cable is separate if you buy just the adapter.

Best SSD For ThunderBolt?

Several factors determine which SSD is the best match for ThunderBolt drives. A Solid-State drive in general relies on several components that determine a SSD's performance: Whether it's a SATA I/II or or SATA III 6G drive interface chipset, and which controller chip: Marvell, Indilinx, SandForce, etc. are the brains of the operation. Other factors in the solid-state drive market involve how fast the onboard NAND Flash Memory is - and the Clock Speed controlling all of it. Look to Samsung, OCZ, Crucial and Sandisk for the fastest off-the shelf SSD's shipping this year. It's important to note that LARGER capacity SSD's 480GB and up offer BETTER performance than the smaller models: More banks of chips inside a higher-capacity SSD drive allow more simultaneous reads and writes across each bank of flash memory. As such you'll often see spec sheets quoting different maximum data transfer rates depending on the size of the drive. With solid-state storage, bigger is better - and faster.

ThunderBolt RAID SSD - Power Pair

Want to fill as much of ThunderBolt's pipe as possible? Think Striped RAID 0 SSD drive setups for peak performance. By striping Reads and Writes across multiple Solid-State drives, the highest level of drive transfer speeds become possible. Some may opt for premium top-performance SSD's, others may wish to leverage more economical drives paired to get the ThunderBolt drive capacity they need and still fit their budget.

The direct 10Gbps pipeline that ThunderBolt taps into via the PCI-Express system bus offers mind blowing backup and data copy speeds compared to USB 3.0 or FireWire -- provided it's matched with equally fast solid-state SSD storage technologies. A growing range of enterprise, profressional and consumer SSD ThunderBolt backup solutions are now shipping.

A ThunderBolt SSD Solid-State drive is the best technological match for the insanely high bandwidth that a ThunderBolt inferface provides. With no moving parts, high reliability, zero latency and near-zero access times -- They're a perfect match for this cutting-edge peripheral interface from Apple and Intel.