The 10 Best External Hard Drives

Updated December 20, 2017 by Christopher Thomas

10 Best External Hard Drives
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. With collecting music and movies so easy and popular these days, storage demands are constantly increasing. For saving all that entertainment and other data conveniently via USB, try one of these external and highly portable hard drives, which offer capacities of up to 8 TB and security good enough for classified files. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best external hard drive on Amazon.

10. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme

The Buffalo MiniStation Extreme features built-in NFC technology that lets you digitally secure your data with the tap of a smart card. It also has a water- and dust-proof housing, making it effective for construction workers.
  • usb cable integrated within frame
  • supports apple time machine
  • somewhat large and clunky to use
Model HD-PZN2.0U3B
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Seagate Game

The Seagate Game is designed specifically for the avid console gamer. Available in two or four-gigabyte capacities, this model lets you take over 50 or 100 of your favorite games to any of your friends' houses and compete against them in person.
  • pairs perfectly with xbox one or 360
  • officially licensed by microsoft
  • costs more than comparable drives
Brand Seagate
Model STEA2000403
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Western Digital My Passport

The Western Digital My Passport is available in six different colors and four sizes that range from 1 to 4 TB. This brightly-colored option is stylish without sacrificing functionality: it has built-in encryption and fast, USB 3.0 connectivity.
  • automatic backup software
  • weighs only 8 ounces
  • not as durable as most others
Brand Western Digital
Weight 5.9 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Aegis Padlock Fortress

The Apricorn Aegis Padlock Fortress is the perfect choice if you work with data that few people are allowed to see. This particular model will automatically delete its encryption key in the event of enough incorrect PIN entries, permanently securing all the data inside it.
  • fips 140-2 level 2 certified
  • read-only access option
  • not ideal for everyday entertainment
Brand Apricorn
Model A25-3PL256-1000F
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Seagate Expansion

The Seagate Expansion is a desktop model that relies on a 12-volt adapter for power. That way, it can spin faster and retrieve your files more quickly before transmitting them over USB to your computer. For a drive as large as 8 terabytes, it's a great value.
  • easy plug-and-play setup
  • great for raw video storage
  • arrives preformatted for windows
Brand Seagate
Model STEB8000100
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. Western Digital Elements

The Western Digital Elements is a straightforward, USB 3.0-ready drive that's known for having a low failure rate and lasting a long time. It's backed by a 2-year, limited warranty and, though it does work with Apple computers, you'll have to reformat it first.
  • desktop version also available
  • works great with game consoles
  • annoying blue operation light
Brand Western Digital
Weight 11.7 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Toshiba Canvio Basics

The Toshiba Canvio Basics is an excellent solution to the average user's data needs. Offering two terabytes of portable storage for under $100, it's the perfect way to share large files between computers or take your entire library on a long road trip.
  • no need to plug into wall
  • less than one inch thick
  • one-year manufacturer's warranty
Brand Toshiba
Model HDTB320XK3CA
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

3. Silicon Power Armor A62

The Silicon Power Armor A62 can stand up to unusual usage conditions thanks to its high-impact rubber casing and IPX4 water-resistant design. This drive is perfect for storing recordings of your adventures while you're traveling through extreme or unfamiliar landscapes.
  • scratch-resistant exterior
  • great for journalists in the field
  • just over a half-inch thick
Brand Silicon Power
Model SP010TBPHD62SS3K
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Toshiba Connect II

The Toshiba Connect II is a reliable and inexpensive unit from one of the most experienced chipmakers in the world. This one's especially convenient because it can store and access Mac and PC files on the same partition with no special formatting needed.
  • maintains a consistent connection
  • up to 3-tb capacities available
  • comes in 3 high-gloss colors
Brand Toshiba
Model HDTC810XR3A1
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Samsung T5

The Samsung T5 offers the best performance available with all the reliability of a non-mechanical drive. Read/write speeds are more than twice those of standard models, and there are several high-quality cases and accessories made for this high-end selection.
  • up to a 540-megabyte transfer rate
  • small handheld size
  • integrated 256-bit encryption
Brand Samsung
Model MU-PA2T0B/AM
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

When Driving Faster Is Better

An external hard drive is a external storage device that connects to your computer, usually via USB port. It uses flash memory and does not require a power source in order to retain the information.

Some advantages to using external storage as opposed to other external storage devices such as CDs and DVDs are that they are more durable and are generally small and lightweight, making them extremely portable. They transfer data much faster than other forms of external storage.

An external hard drive is a more advanced version of flash drives functioning as a hard drive for storing files and backing up entire computer programs. Some users utilize external hard drives for specific files such as work documents, photos, or music. Others prefer to use an external hard drive to backup their entire system on a regular basis.

Data transfers on external hard drives are simple often allowing you to utilize the basic drag and drop feature for transferring chosen files. Depending on the size of the transfer, files can often be moved in a matter of minutes. Some users choose to leave the external hard drive plugged into their laptop or desktop for continuous data backup.

External hard drives are great for storing software or other data that does not need to be accessed often and would only take up space on the computer. On the rare occasion that you do need to use this software, you can simply plug in your external hard drive to access it.

External hard drives are excellent for protecting your files against damage or theft. If something were to happen to your laptop, your external hard drive will still have all of your information safely stored, provided it is stored in a separate location.

Check Before You Buy

In a world where the Internet rules all and technology is advancing at lightning fast speeds, saving and protecting data is an important part of life. Even if you use the cloud, it’s still a good idea to back up data on an external hard drive. That is why it’s important to carefully consider what type will meet your needs before shelling out the cash.

First, consider the storage capacity that you need. Are you planning to store a few files, or do you need regular backups of your entire system? Photos and videos tend to be larger than your average documents, so a hard drive with 1TB or 2TB of storage is a good idea. If you only need to back up a few photos and documents, something smaller will suffice.

Second, take a look at the transfer speed. You will need to compare the external hard drive’s transfer speed capabilities to that of your computer’s input. If the hard drive uses USB 3.0 to transfer files, but your computer only has USB 2.0 connections, you will not get the full advantage of fast data transfers.

Third, think about what type of portability you need. External hard drives that weigh more tend to cost a bit less than their streamlined counterparts. If you plan to stick close to home and are interested in saving money, a larger, cheaper model will probably work. However, if you are constantly on the go and need to take your files along, it is worth it to pay more for a slimmer device.

Next, check the compatibility. Some external drives are only compatible with PCs, others with Mac, and others are compatible with both. Always make sure that your chosen device is compatible with your computer.

Finally, find out how easy your external hard drive will be to use. Some require additional software installation before you can begin using them while others have the software built into the device. If you are just getting started with an external hard drive, go with the one with previously installed software to make your life easier. It’s also not a bad idea to pick one with a long-term warranty.

A Brief History of the External Hard Drive

The original hard drive was requested by the United States Air Force and created by IBM in 1956 and was called the RAMAC 305. These original computer hard drives had to be kept outside of the computer itself simply because they were too large. IBM wanted users to be able to save files and other work performed on a computer electronically, so they created this hard drive using fifty aluminum disks. It could only hold five megabytes of data.

In 1962, IBM released their 1301 hard drive model prompting other computer companies to begin selling their own external hard drives. In 1967, the floppy disk was introduced, revolutionizing the way files were stored externally. In 1982, Sony improved on the original floppy disk by making it smaller and more portable.

Over time, CD-ROM drives were developed and used to store files and software programs. Once flash memory was invented external storage was changed forever, prompting the creation of portable external hard drives. These connect to computers often using the USB port and can transfer data quickly and easily.

As time endures, people continue to need to store, send, and transfer data to various devices. Private citizens, businesses, and government institutions alike are all eager to backup their important data in a way that protects it from loss and theft. As a result, external hard drives continue to soar in popularity, and wireless external hard drives have even made an appearance.

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Last updated on December 20, 2017 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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