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For general-purpose everyday data storage, the LaCie Rugged could prove the most practical choice.

There’s little mistaking the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series, thanks to its eye-catching orange rubber bumper. You can find it in three capacities – 120, 256 and 1000 GB – although the latter is currently reverting to spinning disk technology instead of the solid-state flash tech in the first two models.

Like the revised Elgato Thunderbolt+ drive, LaCie’s alternative in flash-based external drives gives you a choice of connections, again between Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. And also like Elgato’s product, it suffers from underwhelming Thunderbolt speed, here limited to a maximum of around 388 MB/s.

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That’s perhaps not such a performance shortfall here since the SanDisk U100 solid-state drive inside is rated not much higher, to 450 MB/s according to its maker. And indeed, through USB 3.0 in UASP mode, the Rugged could average large file reads of 437 MB/s.

Write speeds with either connection were very good, lower than reads as is typical at around 325 MB/s, if some way short of the leading drive from Axtremex in this group. Perhaps its weakest point was its small-file write speed. By no means terrible, an average of around 30 MB/s for files up to 1 MB puts it in thumbdrive territory rather than that of true performance SSD.

What marks the LaCie Rugged apart from others is its high-visibility vest and the protection it should afford the unit as a whole. The other two full-size SATA-based drives in this test need a certain amount care – the Elgato with its chippable paint finish and the LaCie thanks to its markable white metal outer. For the Rugged though, that chunky bright-orange rubber jacket lets this device shrug off careless handling.

Beneath the bumper – which can be removed without too much encouragement – is an aluminium extrusion again, this one a little lighter than the Porsche’s metalwork, with grey plastic endcaps. You could use the drive sans orange jacket without problem if the lifeboat chic proves too visually distracting. Since solid-state drives are essentially shockproof, there’s less risk to the data, only to the cosmetics of the outer case.

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