CalDigit Tuff review: One tough (and fast) portable drive

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The Good The CalDigit Tuff portable drive is superfast and durable. It includes cables for both USB-C and regular USB ports.

The Bad Expensive. Doesn't have encryption. The SSD version caps at just 1TB and Windows users will need to reformat before use.

The Bottom Line The CalDigit Tuff is an excellent portable drive if you need a fast external storage device to use in rough, dirty or wet environments.

8.1 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 9

If your data is in danger due to the nature of your workplace, or you simply tend to throw things in the air when excited, the CalDigit Tuff is for you.

Living up to its name, this is one tough portable drive that can protect data against drops, dust and water submersion. And its solid-state version, which currently costs $500, £500 or AU$500 for the single 1TB capacity, is extremely fast. The Tuff is also available in a larger but slower 2TB hard drive-based version that currently goes for $180, £190 or AU$180.

On the other hand, if you work in a regular office or always handle your storage devices with care, the Tuff could be overkill. And it's expensive. Most other portable drives, like the WD My Passport, or the Seagate Backup Plus, or even the SSD-based Samsung T3, are a lot cheaper with more storage space.


The Tuff comes in two versions: 1TB SSD and 2TB hard drive.

Dong Ngo/CNET

Tough design

CalDigit says the Tuff passed the MIL-STD-810G standard test for ruggedness, meaning you can drop it multiple times from up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) without damaging it. In my trial, I threw it around many times and didn't cause any damage or data loss at all.

It's also IP57 rated, meaning it can handle dusty environments as well as being submerged in some 3 feet (1 meter) of water for up to 30 minutes. I actually left it in a full bathtub for a couple of hours and it survived without any problem. Effectively, this is the first waterproof portable drive I've seen. Other rugged drives, like the LaCie Rugged, can only handle splashes.

All that toughness is warranted by the drive's hard aluminum casing and a removable rubber outer shell that comes in black, green, blue, orange and gray. Each drive comes with a shell, but you can buy extra shells for $15 each if you want to change the look of the drive.

The Tuff is about the size of a typical portable 2.5-inch drive. It's not as compact as the Samsung T3 or the Glyph Atom but it's not too bulky, either. It's bus-powered, meaning you need to carry just a data cable as it draws juice from a computer's USB port to power the drive.

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