What storage device is best for videos?

With the proliferation of smartphones capable of shooting high-definition video and the growing popularity of streaming services like YouTube and TikTok, more people than ever are shooting and sharing video content. But high-definition videos take up a massive amount of storage space. So what is the best storage device for storing your precious videos?

What are the options for storing videos?

There are several storage devices you can use to store video files:

  • Hard disk drives (HDD)
  • Solid state drives (SSD)
  • USB flash drives
  • SD cards
  • Online cloud storage

Each option has its own pros and cons when it comes to factors like speed, capacity, portability, durability, and cost. Let’s take a closer look at each to determine what works best for video storage.

Hard disk drives (HDD)

Hard disk drives have been the traditional go-to option for mass storage for personal computers. HDDs store data on quickly rotating magnetic disks. They have very high capacities, with consumer HDDs ranging from 500GB to 10TB. However, HDDs are mechanical devices with moving parts, making them bulkier and more prone to damage from drops or shocks compared to solid state options. Transfer speeds are also slower due to the physical moving disks. But their cost per gigabyte of storage is very affordable.

Pros of HDDs

  • Very high capacities for low cost
  • Established technology with a long track record

Cons of HDDs

  • Slower transfer speeds
  • Bulkier and less portable
  • More prone to damage from impact
  • Requires more power

Solid state drives (SSD)

Solid state drives use flash memory chips rather than magnetic disks for storage. This makes them much faster, lighter, and less prone to physical damage compared to HDDs. Consumer SSD capacities currently range from 120GB to 8TB. But SSDs carry a higher price tag per gigabyte than HDDs.

Pros of SSDs

  • Faster transfer speeds
  • Lighter and more portable
  • More resilient to damage from drops or shocks
  • Lower power consumption

Cons of SSDs

  • More expensive per gigabyte than HDDs
  • Lower maximum capacities

USB flash drives

USB flash drives use solid state flash memory like SSDs, but in a much smaller portable form factor that plugs directly into a USB port. They are very affordable and convenient for transferring smaller files between devices, with capacities ranging from 4GB to 2TB. But their smaller size also means limited storage space compared to HDDs and SSDs.

Pros of USB drives

  • Highly portable pocket-sized form factor
  • No external power required
  • Very affordable cost per unit

Cons of USB drives

  • Lower capacities than HDDs and SSDs
  • Slower transfer speeds than SSDs
  • Easy to lose or misplace due to small size

SD cards

SD cards are postage-stamp sized removable flash memory cards used in many consumer electronics like digital cameras, phones, and tablets. They are designed to offer an easy way to store data like photos and videos on portable devices. SD card capacities range from 4GB up to 1TB for high end models. The smallest sizes like micro SD are easy to lose.

Pros of SD cards

  • Small and lightweight
  • Made for portable devices like cameras
  • Affordable cost per unit

Cons of SD cards

  • Lower capacities than HDDs and SSDs
  • Easy to misplace due to small size
  • Not as fast as SSDs

Online cloud storage

Online cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive and Amazon Cloud allow you to store files on remote servers accessed over the internet. This allows access to your files from anywhere, but requires an internet connection. Storage space ranges from free options around 15GB to paid plans with 1TB or more space. Transfer speeds are limited by your internet connection.

Pros of cloud storage

  • Access files anywhere with an internet connection
  • Data backup and synchronization across devices
  • Some free storage available

Cons of cloud storage

  • Requires internet access to retrieve files
  • Paid plans can get expensive compared to physical storage
  • Upload/download limited by internet speeds
  • Privacy and security concerns on remote servers
Storage Type Capacity Range Cost Per GB Transfer Speed Portability Durability
HDD 500GB – 10TB Low Slow Low Low
SSD 120GB – 8TB Moderate Fast Moderate High
USB drive 4GB – 2TB Low Moderate High Moderate
SD card 4GB – 1TB Low Moderate High Moderate
Cloud storage 15GB – 1TB+ Moderate Variable High High

Key considerations for video storage

When selecting a storage device for videos, some key factors to consider include:

  • Capacity needs – Video files take up a lot of space. Even a short video may be 500MB at HD quality. Calculate how much total storage you need for your projects.
  • Speed – Faster storage can improve workflow for editing and rendering videos.
  • Reliability – Your data should be safe in case of device failure or accidental deletion.
  • Portability – If you need to transport or transfer large video files often, portability is key.
  • Durability – If there’s risk of dropping or damaging drives, solid state is much more resilient.
  • Security – Cloud storage introduces risks of hacking or data theft of sensitive videos.
  • Cost – Higher capacity physical storage has a price. Cloud storage incurs ongoing subscription fees.

Recommendations for video storage

Taking the pros, cons, and considerations for each device into account, here are some recommendations for the best storage options for video:

For primary storage: External SSD or HDD

For your main storage location used for active video editing and rendering, an external SSD provides the best combination of performance, capacity, and portability. Models like the Samsung T5 or Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD are compact, fast, and durable. If you need higher capacity for the cost, an external HDD like the Seagate Backup Plus or WD MyBook Duo offers massive space at an affordable price per GB, and are decently portable.

For transfer and backup: USB flash drive or SD card

A USB flash drive or SD card makes it easy to transfer raw footage from a camera to your computer for editing, or to create a backup of important project files. Large capacity models up to 1TB allow you to store quite a bit of video. Just make sure to get a reputable brand like SanDisk or Samsung.

For cloud backup: Any paid cloud storage plan

To protect your critical video projects from data loss in case of computer failure, theft or natural disaster, it’s a good idea to keep a cloud backup. Any paid plan from a major provider like Google Drive or iCloud offers reliable and secure cloud storage. Just be aware of long upload times for large video files.

For streaming library: Online cloud storage

If you want to be able to access and stream a large personal video library from anywhere, storing videos on the cloud is very convenient. Paid plans from Google Drive, Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive allow accessing your library from multiple devices whenever you have an internet connection.

Frequently asked questions

Is flash storage better than a hard drive for video editing?

Yes, flash storage like SSDs and SD cards will provide much faster read/write speeds, which is important for processing large video files during editing. The faster speed makes the editing workflow much smoother.

How much storage do I need for video editing?

It depends on video resolution and frequency of projects. For HD video, estimate about 1GB per minute of raw footage. For 4K video, estimate about 5GB per minute. For an active editing workload, a minimum of 500GB is recommended, with 1-2TB being ideal.

Should I edit video files on an external drive or internal drive?

For best performance and to avoid filling up your computer’s internal drive, edit on an external SSD drive. USB 3.0 SSDs can provide speed nearly as fast as an internal drive. Just make sure to get a reputable brand like Samsung T5 or SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD.

Is it safe to store videos on the cloud long term?

Most cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox are quite safe for long term storage. Make sure to use a paid account from an established provider for adequate privacy and security measures. Enable 2-factor authentication for additional account security.

Which cloud service is best for video storage?

Google Drive and Dropbox are good options, offering paid plans up to 2TB of space. Amazon Cloud Drive also provides unlimited storage for files including video, if you’re willing to pay $60/year. Compare plans and be aware of long upload times.


To summarize, SSDs and HDDs are suitable as primary storage for active editing and rendering workflows. USB and SD cards work well for transfer and backup purposes. And paid cloud storage plans provide secure archiving and streaming access. Combine two or more of these storage mediums to get the right blend of speed, capacity, durability and accessibility to meet your specific video storage needs.

Leave a Comment