If you want cheap and lightweight portable storage, try the Toshiba HDDR500E03X 500GB USB hard drive

Inside and out, this Toshiba HDDR500E03X 500GB compact external USB hard drive is billed as 100% Toshiba. And since the Japanese company is renowned for its hard drives, in this case a 2.5in notebook SATA drive spinning at 5400rpm, this should bode well for well-made external storage solution.

The notebook hard disk inside spins at 5400rpm and promises low power consumption and quiet operation. In practice, we found the Toshiba HDDR500E03X 500GB worked with whichever laptop USB port we plugged it into, without requiring additional power, and it was certainly exceptionally quiet in use.

While quite attractive to look at, the Toshiba HDDR500E03X 500GB casework is a very cheap and simple construct comprising two pieces of plastic that clip together, with a tiny circuit board inside to provide the crucial USB-to-SATA interface. Excepting the hard disk itself, there isn't one screw used in the entire unit.

One mini-USB socket is the only connector, and a white LED flashes through the Toshiba HDDR500E03X 500GB plastic case to show disk operations.

We benchmarked the Toshiba HDDR500E03X 500GB drive with HDTach, and recorded average read speeds of 29Mb/s and writing at 17Mb/s. It could hit bursts of 36Mb/s, and its random access (RA) time was 17.5ms. These read/write speeds are slow by comparison with the capabilities of a raw hard disk on a native SATA interface but typical when used via a USB 2.0 connection.


The Toshiba is a very lightweight, functional and neatly styled external drive, but the construction is fragile to the point of being easily breakable after a few knocks. In fact on our sample, a plastic clip had snapped off inside leaving an annoying rattle when the unit was picked up. In its favour, this is a helluva lot of portable storage for not a lot of money.