OWC Envoy Pro mini review: External SSD for all your computers

This tiny 1 TB SSD connects to all your computers [Review]

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OWC Envoy Pro mini review
OWC Envoy Pro mini is both a small thumbdrive and a powerful external SSD.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The OWC Envoy Pro mini is a small external SSD with both USB-C and USB-A connectors so it works with Mac and iPad but also Windows, Android and more. It’s rugged, fast and comes with up to 1TB of storage.

I ran the tiny drive through a battery of tests. It passed with flying colors.

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OWC Envoy Pro mini review

A world where all computers use the same type of ports would be wonderful. But here in the real world the transition from USB-A and USB-C is going slowly.

Many computers include the newer, smaller and better port, but not all. There are still quite a few that use the old, clumsy USB-A format. One is obviously better than the other but the OWC Envoy Pro mini doesn’t care. It handles both.

I need that in my own office. I frequently switch between an iPad with USB-C and a Microsoft Surface with USB-A.

Plus OWC’s SSD is tough, and offers quick data transfers, too.

A thumb drive ready for USB-A and USB-C

OWC Envoy Pro mini is ready for USB-A and USB-C ports.
Envoy Pro mini SSD is ready for USB-A and USB-C ports.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The drive lives up to “mini” in its name. It’s 3.1 inches by 0.7 inches by 0.4 inches and less than an ounce. It’s easily pocketable, or you can attach it to your keychain.

Perhaps the best way to describe the Envoy Pro mini is that it’s a USB-A drive with a swiveling USB-C adapter permanently attached. The USB-C connector has a cover, so both connectors are protected when the drive isn’t in use.

OWC doesn’t make any specific claims about ruggedness, but the accessory’s casing is machined aluminum, not cheap plastic. I wouldn’t recommend using it under water or hammering a nail with it, but the casing seems tough enough to shrug off daily use and even some abuse.

A blue LED on one end blinks when data is being transferred so you know not to yank the drive out of its port.

The cover for the USB-C connector remains attached to the Envoy Pro mini even when its open, so you don’t have to worry about losing it.

SSD data transfers are fast

Because it has both USB-A and USB-C connectors, you can use the OWC Envoy Pro mini with many types of computers. I tested it with with Mac, iPad Pro, Windows, Android and my TV. It even worked with an iPhone using the right adapter.

No matter which connector you choose, the SSD supports USB 3.2 Gen 2. That standard offers up to 10 Gbps data transfers. Benchmark tests show it can transfer data at over 900 MBps.

I have a hard time trusting benchmark software – I prefer real-world results. When I copied a 1 GB test file from a Mac to the drive, the transfer took only about 2 seconds. Moving it back was just as fast.

That went so quickly I next moved a 10.7 GB file from a Mac to drive, which took under 12 seconds. Copying it back was, again, just as quick.

In my tests, the OWC Envoy Pro mini gets slightly warm when moving lots of data around, but it never gets hot. The heat-dissipating aluminum casing does its job.

The accessory is designed for backward compatibility, so it supports older, slower USB standards too. Just don’t expect super-fast file transfers on those older computers.

The drive comes unformatted, along with tools to format it in various ways for macOS and/or Windows use. Hint: Don’t format the drive on a Windows PC if you intend to use it with Apple devices.

OWC video

Watch this Envoy Pro mini advert from OWC to see the drive in action.

OWC Envoy Pro mini final thoughts

Back in the day, consumers used tiny thumbdrives but professionals needed more bulkier external SSDs for serious storage. These days, the two have merged. The Envoy Pro mini isn’t your dad’s dinky 2GB thumb drive. It’s physically small but capacity goes up to a terabyte, and the drive is fast enough to easily handle moving around large files.

I regularly work with files between 5 GB and 10 GB. I can copy groups of these onto OWC’s SSD in seconds.

That said, anyone who regularly works with really huge files like high-res video will likely prefer an external drive that supports Thunderbolt 3. Those can copy a 10 GB file in well under 10 seconds.

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Pricing

The Envoy Pro mini is now available in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities on OWC’s website or Amazon. The prices are $79, $109 and $179, respectively.

Buy from: OWC

Buy from: Amazon

If you need faster data transfers, consider the OWC Envoy Pro FX. It offers Thunderbolt 3, is quite rugged and can be used with almost any device that supports USB. It’s not nearly as small, though.

If size matters more than anything, consider the Samsung USB Type-C Flash Drive or the Kingston DataTraveler Max. And there’s the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Luxe, which has both USB-C and Lightning ports.

OWC provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.