What is the best solidly-built portable hard drive?
It's easy to undervalue portability before purchasing a new external hd. Although not marketed for ruggedness, the WD 2.5" passport series are more than capable of handling abuse from daily toting. True of all 2.5" externals, with much lower overall mass compared to 3.5" drives the occasional drop will impart _much_ lower impact force to the drive. In other words, the 'smaller' they are, the 'lighter' they fall.
Some 2.5" drives require two usb ports to get adequate power which can really be annoying so I'd recommend choosing one that works off of the single usb without need of additional power.
Unless very high capacity is the driving need, I suspect you'll find the 2.5" passports to be plenty 'solid' for daily use with nearly the same convenience as a flash drive.
Take-home message: If the drive you buy is too cumbersome to carry with you (whether due to necessity to carry separate power and data cables, or sized too large to fit in laptop tote), it's durability against abuse will be wasted by relegation to desktop placement.
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