What storage device is best for videos?

When choosing a storage device for videos, there are several key factors to consider including storage capacity, speed, reliability, portability, affordability, ease of use, and security. This article will compare some of the most common options for video storage like external hard disk drives (HDDs), solid state drives (SSDs), USB flash drives, and cloud storage services. We’ll look at the pros and cons of each type of storage device to help determine what is best for storing videos based on your specific needs and requirements.

Videos require large storage capacity due to their file size. Speed is also important for smooth playback and quickly transferring or editing files. You’ll want something reliable and durable so videos are not lost or corrupted. Portability, affordability, ease of use, and security features should also be considered when picking storage for your videos. This guide will compare HDDs, SDDs, USB drives, and cloud storage on all these factors to help identify the ideal solution.

Storage Capacity

The amount of storage you’ll need depends largely on the video resolution, frame rate, and length of the videos you plan to store. Here are some typical video file sizes:

  • 1080p high definition video at 30fps – Roughly 1.2-1.4GB per hour of footage (source)
  • 4K ultra high definition video at 30fps – Around 5-8GB per hour (source)

So for a collection of 100 one-hour long 1080p videos, you’d need 120-140GB of storage. For 4K, that jumps up to 500-800GB for the same length footage. It adds up quickly, so buy more storage than you think you’ll immediately need.

For a large media library, multiple terabytes is recommended. A 4TB hard drive holds around 185 hours of 1080p video, while 8TB stores over 370 hours. Offline media archives may warrant drives up to 16TB or higher.

Speed and Performance

When working with large video files, read and write speeds are crucial for fast loading and saving times. Traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) have read/write speeds around 100-200 MB/s, while solid state drives (SSDs) are much faster with speeds upwards of 500-550 MB/s for SATA drives and over 2500 MB/s for PCIe NVMe drives (Source 1). HDDs rely on moving mechanical parts which limits their speed, while SSDs use flash memory chips for faster access.

For video editing and storage, SSDs provide significantly faster performance over HDDs. When testing video project load times, one study found SSDs loaded projects twice as fast as 7200 RPM HDDs and over 5x faster than 5400 RPM HDDs (Source 2). The dramatically improved read/write speeds of SSDs result in much quicker rendering and export times as well. While HDDs are cheaper per GB, the speed boost of SSDs makes them well worth the investment for serious video work.

External portable SSDs connected via USB 3.2 or USB-C can offer read/write speeds of over 500 MB/s, much faster than portable HDDs. For professional video editing, internal PCIe NVMe SSDs provide the fastest speeds. But external SSDs have fast enough performance for smaller projects and offer greater convenience and portability.

Reliability and Durability

One of the key considerations when choosing a storage device for videos is its reliability and durability over time, especially as the amount of data stored increases. Hard disk drives (HDDs) with larger storage capacities tend to have higher failure rates than their lower capacity counterparts. According to research by Backblaze, HDDs begin to see substantially higher failure rates after 5 years of use, with the annualized failure rate jumping from 1.83% in year 4 to 3.55% by year 5.

Solid state drives (SSDs) are generally more reliable than HDDs over the long term. As reported by Arstechnica, an analysis of Backblaze data covering a 5 year period found that SSDs had an overall lower annualized failure rate of 1.6%, compared to 0.9% for HDDs. The failure rate gap widens as the drives age. After 5 years, SSDs still had just a 1.6% failure rate, versus 3.55% for HDDs. However, Reddit users have debated the SSD advantage, with some arguing the 0.5% failure rate difference is minor. Still, the data suggests SSDs are the more durable choice for long-term storage of videos.





When it comes to accessing your video files on the go, external hard drives offer more portability and ease of transport compared to desktop hard drives. External drives are lightweight, compact, and do not require an external power source, making them easy to carry around in a backpack or laptop bag.

While cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox allows access from any internet-connected device, you need to upload files first before accessing them elsewhere. With an external drive, you can simply plug it into different devices via USB and immediately access the files. This makes external drives ideal for on-the-go video editing and playback.

Some of the most portable external drive options include the Samsung T7 Shield which weighs just 98g (https://www.pcworld.com/article/406861/best-external-drives.html), and the Western Digital My Passport Ultra which is only 0.5in thick and weighs about 0.25 pounds (https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-external-hard-drives/). Both offer high-speed USB connectivity and capacities up to 4TB for ample video storage.

For mobile access from smartphones and tablets, wireless external SSDs like the SanDisk Professional G-Drive offer built-in WiFi connectivity to stream videos directly to mobile devices. Though transfer speeds may be slower compared to wired connections.

With their lightweight and compact designs, speedy USB connections, and mobile connectivity options, external drives excel at transporting large video files seamlessly between different devices. This high portability makes them a top choice for on-the-go videography and content creation.


When looking at the affordability of storage options for videos, two key factors to consider are cost per GB and total expense. According to Cloud Storage Price Comparison 2024 Chart, cloud storage services can range from around $0.005 per GB per month for Backblaze B2 to $0.10 per GB per month for iCloud. For a 1TB storage plan, this could mean a difference of $5 per month for Backblaze compared to $100 per month for iCloud.

External hard drives are generally a one-time upfront cost rather than a recurring monthly fee. According to Best Cloud Storage Software Options, a 1TB external hard drive can cost around $50. While the upfront cost may be higher, there are no ongoing fees like with cloud storage services.

When evaluating budget, determine the total storage space needed and timeframe for storage. For large or long-term storage needs, an external hard drive may provide better overall value. Cloud storage offers more flexibility for fluctuating storage requirements. Evaluate free tiers and look for promotional offers to maximize value.

Ease of Use

When it comes to ease of use, the simplest storage solutions are cloud storage services like pCloud and Google Drive. These services allow you to easily upload videos from any device through a web browser or mobile app. Setup is fast and straightforward – just create an account, install the app if desired, and start uploading. The user interfaces are designed to be intuitive and user-friendly.

External hard drives and flash drives are also very easy to use. You simply plug them into your computer via USB and can immediately start transferring files. However, they lack collaborative features and automated backups that cloud services provide.

More advanced solutions like NAS devices and RAID arrays offer powerful capabilities, but require more technical skill to set up and manage. The software for these systems may not be as polished or intuitive as mainstream consumer products.

Overall, for pure simplicity from a user perspective, cloud storage services are the most beginner-friendly options. But external drives work well for basic file transfers and backups. More complex network-attached and redundant array systems provide robust features for power users willing to invest the time to learn the software.


When it comes to storing your valuable videos, security should be a top priority. You’ll want to keep your data safe from corruption, damage, and loss through redundancy and access controls. According to TechTarget, some best practices for secure data storage include utilizing cloud backups, creating multiple copies of data across different media types, and implementing strict access controls.

For video storage specifically, it’s recommended to keep at least 3 copies of your videos, with at least 1 copy offsite or in the cloud (StoryXpress). This protects against data loss if one copy becomes corrupted or damaged. You’ll also want to restrict access to your videos through password protection, encryption, and limiting user permissions. Some storage devices offer built-in security features like facial recognition for accessing video files.

Automating your backup process is another best practice, as is testing restores regularly to ensure your data is intact. Overall, taking a layered approach to security, with multiple copies, cloud backups, and access controls, will help keep your irreplaceable videos safe from harm.


When choosing a storage solution for videos, it’s important to consider options that allow you to easily expand your storage capacity over time as your video library grows. The best video storage solutions are highly scalable, meaning you can pay for more storage as needed instead of being limited to a fixed capacity.

Cloud storage services like Google Drive and OneDrive allow you to start with a free tier of storage, then seamlessly upgrade to expand your capacity. For example, OneDrive offers 5GB of free storage, with affordable paid options to upgrade to 1TB or more. With cloud storage, unused storage is pooled, allowing new users to start small and expand storage on-demand.

Dedicated network attached storage (NAS) devices can also be expanded by adding additional hard drives. A NAS with empty drive bays allows you to easily add more drives as your storage needs grow over time. Some NAS devices also support connecting external drives via USB ports. This modular expandability makes a NAS a highly scalable option for video storage.

When evaluating video storage solutions, prioritize options that provide clear scalability. Look for storage that can flexibly grow along with your video collection, ensuring you’ll never run out of capacity as your needs evolve.


If you need a storage device that balances performance, reliability, and affordability for video storage, the WD My Passport HDD is a great overall choice. According to The best digital storage for video editors — 2024, the My Passport provides good speeds at an affordable price point and capacity up to 5TB, making it ideal for most video needs.

When selecting a storage device for video, consider the following tips:

  • Determine your storage capacity needs based on video resolution and quantity.
  • Prioritize write and read speeds – look for drives with speeds of at least 100 MB/s.
  • Choose portable drives if you need to transfer files frequently.
  • Consider redundancy options like RAID if the video files are irreplaceable.
  • Get a rugged, durable drive if traveling with it frequently.
  • Choose a reputable brand for reliability and warranty support.
  • Evaluate built-in security features if privacy is important.

Test potential drives with your specific video workflow and settings. And keep an eye on new solutions as storage technology continues advancing quickly.

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