Storage has never been more plentiful or less expensive.
By spending as little as $50 on HDD you can add a terabyte to your laptop or desktop to store a ton of games, movies, MP3s and photos.
The only problem is choosing the best external hard drive,
In this ultimate guide, I have shortlisted four top-rated external hard drives that I have used and tested myself.
Plus, some valuable personal tips to choose reliable and cost-effective storage.
Our Top 4 External Hard Drives
Best External Hard Drives 2018
Dive into these HDD reviews to pick the best ideal and most reliable storage drive.
I bought the WD My Passport 2TB back in 2017 and guess what? I just love the transfer speed and it’s still working fine for me.
Every hard drive offers great storage capacity but what makes WD My Passport different from others is faster data transfer speeds.
This is the latest generation of the Western Digital My Passport range of data storage and weighs about eight ounces with a compact size like a passport and easy to carry in hand.
If you are a professional photographer, programmer or IT guru you can take fast backup of all of your data including photos and files within seconds regardless of the files size.
But don’t limit yourself if you want to use the drive for personal usage like storing games, movies or pictures as I did.
This smallest and lightest hard disk uses a single cable for power supply as well as for data transfer. Equipped with a blue light which indicates by illuminating when the device is active.
The drive becomes much safe due to four rubber feet in case of impact on any surface.
Furthermore, WD reduced the carbon footprints by using recycled materials for the casing. Though it’s made up of plastic but it’s much durable.
Available in different colors giving you the freedom to choose your desired colour with desired storage capacity as WD is available in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB versions with varying prices.
You don’t want to miss the next part…
Its simplicity makes it a terrific product. It brings a SmartWare software which presents are two separate devices when plugged in, one drive with external storage space and one drive with factory-loaded software.
The intuitive visual interface makes it simple to transfer all your data and files to the drive and free up necessary hard-disk space. With the built-in software, easy installation and management of settings can be done.
WD My Passport is small, lightweight, fast, reliable and inexpensive. When plugged in with MAC or PC you will be served with outstanding performance, thanks to a 3.0 USB port and excellent disk controller.
This solid performer offers a maximum transfer speed of 174 MBps (Megabytes per second) read and 168 MBps write(You can see the screenshot below).
Now, this is important…
You get the option to set up incremental backups every time you connect the drive with your computer or with any other device, thanks to Backup and retrieval options.
No more headache for the data deleted from My Passport as it can be easily retrieved including older versions of files.
Furthermore, WD features cloud storage and offers password protection using 256-bit data encryption. It cannot compete for the top speeds of solid-state drives but easily beats well-known traditional HDDs. It also comes with WD SmartWare software allowing you to control the drive easily.
So best companion to use with the computer on the plane, in the car, on vacation, and at home.
Reasons why we recommend it:
- Huge storage capacity
- Fast transfer speeds
- Reliable storage
- Affordable Price
It’s equipped with USB 3.0 ports and offers 500GB, 1TB, 2TB and 3TB models and ready to use straight out of the box just requires plugging into your PC via it’s USB 3.0 port using USB cord. You can also use this it for MAC and perform a reformat to make it OS X-compatible.
Minutes to transfer the data depends on the size of data, You will find the files transferred pretty quickly even for the largest amount of data. It’s backward compatible means it can work perfectly with USB 2.0 technology.
Offering rotational speeds of 5400 RPM and comes with an internal shock sensor and ramp loading technology which this technology helps to keep your files safe.
If you want to transfer a bunch of pictures and videos from PC to the drive then Canvio Basics 1TB is the most suitable option which allows you to easily store photos and data files as well as other tons of storage with Much faster transfer speeds.
Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable is the best choice for small business owners and video editors and media professionals. They need large capacity which can copy RED footage, project files, and music files quickly and can be owned in few bucks rather than spending a dime.
Compared with traditional spinning drives which take 30 minutes to an hour for transferring 100 or so gigabytes of footage, Seagate Expansion with great data-transfer speeds can move 100 gigabytes within five to ten minutes and is a huge time-saver as well as money. It also has desktop drive version but we are referring to the portable version here.
It is available in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB models, and comes pre-formatted for Windows computers. Similarly, can be used for Macs but requires formatting which is just a few seconds task.
Quick note: Buying a drive pre-formatted for Windows is way cheaper instead of getting a storage for your Mac which is purely Mac-designated and more pricier.
Max capacity for this drive is four-terabyte and we are not sure if users want the five terabytes version or the company will produce one. Regardless of the capacity, these drives are same measuring 4.8 x 3.2 x 0.6 inches and weighing 6.4 ounces. This small, light and portable hard disk can easily fit in your bag while going to a business meeting or for a regular walk.
If you want to know more about the mechanical working of the drive then it spins at 5,400 RPM as opposed to those faster 7,200 rotations per minute models. But still, the performance is respectable with 120MB/s for writing and 130MB/s for reading. Speed is bit slower but that also results in lower power consumption.
You must be thinking how durable storage can hold the data securely for long periods of time?. In some cases need to put your drive in your backpack along with other equipment in the bag and running along the backpack might toss the device up and forth which can lead to split, the cracked scenario for some plastic drive.
Here we have Silicon Power Rugged Armor A60 Military-Grade one-terabyte drive which is best in terms of durability and is shockproof as well as waterproof. So forget about drive abuse, this will last longer externally as well as internally. Few people even say it’s bulletproof. This one-terabyte version is hard to dismantle.
The reason why it’s the safest and strongest drive is the silicon material textured casing all over the edges and on the sides. You will also be amazed at the impressive read/write speeds made possible with USB 3.0 technology. This modern technology helps to deliver blazing fast transfer times. Compatible with Macs and Pcs. Brings a data backup and restore software called SP widget which simplifies the tasks.
Equipped with AES-256-bit encryption for data security and cloud storage for efficient data management. The biggest capacity version is 5TB comes with a three-year warranty for any kind of service and technical support. Compared with couple bucks cheaper Silicon Power is most-efficient and best-budget option.
Overall, travelers or those who are mostly on-the-go will find Silicon Rugged the best companion as it’s water-resistant(IPX4), drop-proof(up to 122 centimeter) slip-proof, scratch-proof and shock-proof. Don’t even think of it getting damaged. Our editors recommend this Nokia brick phone of external hard drives.
Before choosing the best external hard disk you need to be clear about your purpose and the type of HDD you want.
Let me clarify…
Are you a game geek looking to increase the storage capacity of your Xbox One or PS4? Or a photographer who mostly deals with high-resolution images and video files? Are you a regular computer guy looking for a backup drive for your MAC and PC?
Let’s figure out what you need to look for in a storage drive.
The first feature to look at is the ability of a hard disk to safely store your data or backups.
Second, consider the storage capacity you need. Hard disks are available in large capacities ranging from 1TB to whopping 8TB capacity. But consumers tend to buy the best 1TB external hard drive most of the time.
But, that’s not all…
You need to see data transfer speeds, When moving a lot of large files to your external HD it should be speedy rather than making you wait for minutes or even hours because those who do bulk transfers need to move data quickly.
And finally, the design, are they shock-proof? or water-resistant? Having robust design makes them stronger to bear impacts.
After considering these points you can choose storage solution which is safe, speedy and can move documents or large file sizes quickly.
Above we have reviewed a huge range of storage drives to help you pick when you ran out of storage and pick a dependable and reliable drive and pay for the storage you want.
Choosing the perfect drive won’t be a problem for you now.
And I’m not stopping there…
If we compare SSD vs HDD then Solid State Drives will surely win because they are faster, durable, more reliable.
Be prepared for the expensive price tag for small storage capacity while hard drives have the minimum cost per GB(Gigabytes).
And the biggest advantage of these spinning trays?
Their storage capacity, you can store Terabytes of data in HD and that won’t cost you a dime if compared with SSD’s.
Keep reading …
Nowadays you can easily add a terabyte (Tb) and increase the storage of your laptop or desktop. This less expensive option allows you to house hundreds of movie files or hundreds of thousands of MP3s or photos.
Either you have huge desktop towers or budget-price windows tablets or any computer you can buy a HD because they can connect at least one HD without worry of any complex installation required.
The best part?
You can add more drives to your machine if you have multiple I/O ports. Now if you think Which are the top hard drive? and which to choose?
Here comes the secret recipe for buying the top-notch storage.
Hard Drive Types
There are broadly two types of external drives, Desktop-class drives and Notebook-class drives.
Desktop drives are equipped with a 3.5-inch mechanism inside and also require a power adapter.
These drives are designed to stay in one place mostly on your desk at home or at the office.
Usually, desktop-class drives are used for high-end tasks like gaming, video or lots of file transfers so consider buying a desktop-class drive having a built-in cooling fan to extend the drive’s life expectancy.
On the other hand,
Notebook-class drives have a 2.5-inch mechanism which takes power through the connector cable. These 2.5-inch model hard drives are smaller in size and can easily fit in palm, coat or pants pockets.
But that’s not all…
You will see the top capacity of 8TB per mechanism in Desktop-class models, but manufacturers increase the storage by putting a number of mechanisms into the chassis like two 4TB drives for a total of 8Tb storage. Similarly, Notebook-class drives top at 4TB and ranges in capacities from 500GB to 2TB in most common.
Here comes another question:
What are multiple drives(RAID)?
Adding more drives into a mechanism to work as one is called a RAID array, though they increase capacity, speed or data protection multiple drives add expensive as well as complexity for management.
After you connect a single-volume external RAID array to your PC or MAC and you can see the drive will show and act like any other drive does.
After that, it will become more complex. While buying such types of hard drives go with support for RAID levels 1, 5 or 10 in case you are storing really important data which you cannot afford to lose.
Similarly, there are other RAID levels for speed, capacity, software and hardware RAID implementations.
Furthermore, SSD or Solid-State drive is another type of storage and uses a certain type of flash memory to store data rather than spinning platters.
SSDs are faster most costly compared with HDD. If you want to know how HDDs and SSD’s compare then keep reading we covered SSD vs. HDD later in this article.
Ready for the next important factor? Keep reading…
You can use cables with hard drives to connect to PCs and MACs and mostly there will be USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports.
The new connectors like USB-C allow much faster transfer speeds even more than 3.0 which has a limit of 5Gbps theoretically.
USB 3.0 is backwards-compatible and typically all desktop and laptops PCs are equipped with USB ports. The limit of the newer USB-C standard is faster like 10Gbps technically twice the USB 3.0 and works with smaller and more convenient USB-C connector. You can see this port commonly on inexpensive drives.
There might exist older SATA (eSata) or FireWire ports on various devices but cannot reach the speeds that USB 3.0 or USB-C can.
Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 makes use of Mini DisplayPort connector and gives 20Gbps faster speeds, but USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 gives a blazing throughput of 40Gbps (if your computer supports the technology).
The first users of Thunderbolt 3 with USB-C connector were Apple’s MacBook Pro laptops with this only I/O option and they have spurred wider-spread option of USB-C from the past two years.
The bottom line…
We have only included external drives having USB connectivity of one sort of another, but make sure from your end the drive is compatible with your computer. Several USB memory sticks and hard drives are currently available with USB 3.0 and USB-C support with their separate connectors. There are several other adapters allowing you to connect older USB drives to PCs with newer USB-C ports.
And I’m not stopping there…
Generally, hard disk drives run at 7,200rpm and 5,400 RPM and both interchangeably are faster depending upon the ports used to transfer data.
Let me explain further…
If you are using an interface like USB 3.0/USB-C or Thunderbolt to move a lot of files then the 7,200rpm drive is the option to choose.
If the interface is limited to USB 2.0 or FireWire then choose the speed for capacity by picking largest 5,400rpm drive being in your budget.
Older interfaces work well with the 5,400rpm drive. But if your goals are all-out speed then consider multiple drivers with Thunderbolt 3 for the fastest setup but costliest or a single SSD connected with Thunderbolt 1/2 or USB 3.0/3.1 will be the option. Past had been all about KB(Kilobytes) drives like floppy disk and compact disks.
For a moment think about a hard drive which is a reliable, fast and most secure drive but looks are not good and sitting with a client or in an important meeting with that drive might leave a negative impact.
Though the look is not important compared with other factors you cannot ignore this easily, do you?
That’s why a number of drives by different brands comes in different colors making you completely choosy for the colour you like.
Drives boast a software which allows taking local or online backups. If you are using the storage drive as an extra storage container or there is already a backup software built into Windows or macOS, software included with the drive is not important for you.
Warranty of the drive is also an important factor. Though the manufacturers claim the drive to be reliable still mechanical drives can fail anytime.
Sometimes deals site offer cheap drives with a one-year warranty but go with a drive having a three-year or five-year warranty if you really care about your data.
So picking the right add-on backup/storage solution with a variety of prices and capacities is not an issue for you as the above list given solves your every problem related storage.
So either you have big media collections or you are a multimedia professional or a student looking for an affordable storage for your photos, music, videos, and more in form of spinning disk versions then get your versatile external drive with super-fast speeds and biggest capacities and smaller sizes without taking much room in your pocket as a short stack of credit cards.
- 1 Our Top 4 External Hard Drives
- 2 Best External Hard Drives 2018
- 3 1. Western Digital 4TB My Passport – Fast Transfers
- 4 2. Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB: Best for PC
- 5 3. Seagate Expansion 1TB USB 3.0
- 6 4. Silicon Power 1TB A60 Military-Grade – ( waterproof and shockproof)
- 7 Seagate Backup Plus 4TB – Best for MacBooks
- 8 Best External Hard Drive For PS4
- 9 WD 2TB Elements Portable – Best for PS4
- 10 7. Seagate Backup Plus Hub 8TB External Desktop Hard Drive Storage – Best Xbox One
- 11 8. Samsung T5 Portable SSD 500GB
- 12 9. U32 ShadowUSB Hard Drive – Best For Gaming
- 13 10. Best for Apple: AirPort Time Capsule
- 14 11. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC – Best Wireless
- 15 12. Adata SD700 SSD
- 16 13. WD My Book Duo 16TB
- 17 14. OWC ThunderBay 4 Mini – Super-fast storage
- 18 15. Seagate Innov8 8TB – High capacity and portability
- 19 16. Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB
- 20 17. Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro
- 21 18. LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 4TB
- 22 19. iStorage diskAshur 2TB – Best For Security
- 23 External Hard Drive Buying Guide