Samsung T7 Shield portable SSD: Tested
It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional media person or a keen traveller, if there’s one thing anyone who enjoys the outdoors loves, it is recording visual memories – photos and video – of their latest adventure. The environments you visit mean you know it is going to be tough on both you and your photographic/video equipment – and your laptop and data devices. And then there’s being able to back-up your files; saving copies on a laptop is standard procedure (again, whether an enthusiast or media professional) but – and this is an essential “but” – you also need to ensure you have a separate copy – a back-up of all those files that is a safeguard against your laptop being stolen or failing. It is here that portable storage devices come into play, and in particular, those labelled as ‘rugged’. There’s a lot more to being a rugged portable drive than just a label, however: said PSD needs to fulfill its promises of speed, functionality and durability, every single time. There are a few rugged/tough drives around, and we recently spent nearly six months testing one of the market’s most popular: the Samsung T7 Shield.
The Samsung T7 Shield solid state drive (SSD) is available in three capacities: 1TB, 2TB and the 4TB version tested here, and it is compatible with a number of operating systems, such as macOS, Android and Windows. For this test, it was used primarily with macOS. The T7 Shield’s diminutive size (88m L x 59mm W x 13mm H) belies its grunt, as does its weight, at a feathery 98g. Inside, however, is the latest and (as we found) the greatest in portable storage tech, all based around fast transfer and that obviously robust construction. Transfer speeds (USB 3.2 Gen 2)are a claimed 1050MB/s (read) and 1000MB/s (write) and this can be maintained very well thanks to the outer case’s rubber exterior and its Dynamic Thermal Guard. Yes, that’s a mouthful, but after six months of watching (and timing, occasionally) this mighty midget transfer files we can vouch for its effectiveness.
Of course, the big story of this small powerhouse is its robust design; outdoor/adventure photographers and videographers will be very happy with the IP65 water- and dust-resistance rating. This means the T7 Shield can withstand “low-pressure water jets from any direction” (read rain-drops and splashes, etc.) and protects the drive’s inner from liquid ingress. Same goes for dust. It is, however, important to note this is not fully waterproof, so it won’t protect against full immersion. Having said that – and after what our testers have put this unit through (more on that below) – this rating is more than enough. Oh, and the T7 Shield is also able to withstand a drop from 3m in height, too. Impressive.
Moving to the inside, the T7 Shield boasts Samsung’s excellent “Magician” management system, allowing you to check the drive’s performance (and optimise it), it’s health (so you can see in advance any potential issues/points of potential failure), while offering data security and a secure erase function if you need it. Magician offers more, too, with included data migration software, portable SSD software and plenty more. In short, it offers an incredible depth of management underneath that near-innocuous exterior, which is all very impressive, but how did it perform out in the field? Well, we thought you’d never ask.
In the field
None of the testers at Aus Geo ADVENTURE are renowned for being very careful with gear, whether it’s review units or their own personal kit. That does not mean anything is mistreated, it is just that, due to the conditions we often work in – remote areas and across rugged terrain – for long periods of time, we need equipment that is reliable in very testing conditions.
To this end, the Samsung T7 Shield was not spared or coddled in any way. A number of assignments saw the T7 Shield used on location during river expeditions, bikepacking adventures, long (and short) hikes, and on one outback road trip, in the northern Simpson Desert. The T7 Shield was subjected to unexpected splashes when being used in a boat and was twice covered in dust and sand when a vehicle being photographed drove past and covered the photographer, the laptop and the T7 in fine sand and dust.
No matter the treatment, the T7 just needed a brush-off or wipe, and it was ready to go; on one occasion it was plugged in to transfer files at short notice back to our Sydney HQ while still covered in dirt and grit and it performed that function at a fast speed and effectively.
When the T7 Shield is not out and about, it resides in the Editor’s home office and/or our city offices, being used as the main back-up for all things Aus Geo ADVENTURE. Impressively, there’s never been one single hiccup during the six months of testing. A fluke? Perhaps, but we reckon it is the fact that the T7 Shield’s design simply works – and it has continued to work with minimal fuss throughout its tenure.
The final word on the Samsung T7 Shield
For anyone who spends a considerable amount of time in the outdoors and is a photographer/videographer/vlogger and needs to be able to transfer data quickly between sources in any conditions, the Samsung T7 Shield looks to be tailor-made. At its essence, it is a very efficient portable storage device, regardless of where you will be using it. Indeed, with its robust construction, fast transfer speeds and its compact size and weight it will (obviously) work in any circumstances, from the most remote dusty/rugged desert environment to in the office.
In short, you’ll go a long way to find a portable SSD that has such breadth of capability. It ain’t cheap, but you will most likely have this mini monster of a portable SSD reliably transferring your precious data for many years, which makes it a good (and smart) investment.
RRP: $209 (1TB); $349 (2TB); $489 (4TB) See Samsung for more information.