11 Best External Hard Drives in 2018

Best external hard drive
Do you love taking pictures, organizing documents, playing games, listening to music or having all the latest movies and TV shows ready to watch at your fingertips? If the answer was yes to any of those, then you might need an external hard drive.

Whether you’re a gamer, a busy parent or a media collector, you might be on the hunt for extra space to keep your computer files safe and secure. If you’re looking for the best external hard drive to hold all of your important files, use this guide as a reference to ensure you get the most out of your purchase.

Best External Hard Drive:

How to Choose the Best External Hard Drive

What’s an external hard drive and why would you need one?

An external hard drive is a piece of external hardware that stores files. If you want the extra room on your computer, laptop or console, you can choose to buy an external hard drive to keep certain files within the drive for safekeeping. Many external hard drives also come with additional security features to make sure your files are as safe as they can be.

There are many reasons why a person might want one or more external hard drives. Here are the three main reasons:

  • More space! The space on your computer is precious. More space means more room for larger programs and bigger games. By keeping your pictures, music and other files on an external hard drive, you can free up valuable real estate on your desktop.
  • Convenience. An external hard drive can keep all of your important files organized in one place so they’re easily accessible. Having a huge amount of files on your computer can also slow it down, so a hard drive can help improve the performance of your system.
  • Safety. Whether it’s something like getting your laptop stolen or having your computer crash; life happens. If you have an external hard drive, you can avoid losing your files by having backup copies.
    On top of being useful and efficient, external hard drives are fairly affordable, making them a no-brainer addition to any PC setup.

Capacity

Most of the best external hard drives come with 1TB, 2Tb, 4TB or 5TB. There are even some that go up to 8TB or 16TB. “TB” stands for “terabytes”, which is approximately a trillion bytes of computer storage.

Figuring out how much storage you need will play a critical role in which external hard drive you choose. If you’re mainly dealing with word-processing documents and smaller files, you should be fine with 1TB or less. However, if you’re storing large game files, pictures and music, you should probably consider something with 2TB or more if you want long-term storage availability.

Price

An external hard drive doesn’t have to suck up your budget, but you’ll also want to consider paying more or less depending on how much space you need. External hard drives can run between $50 and $150 depending on their specifications. Here are a few features that effect the price of an external hard drive:

Type: There are two main types of storage drives to know about: solid-state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives (HDD). Here are a few pros and cons for both:

  • SSDs are fast; a PC with an SSD can boot up very quickly.
  • SSDs are more expensive, especially if you want more storage.
  • HDDs can store huge amounts of data without costing too much in comparison to SSDs.
  • HDDs can slow down over time.

SSD external hard drives are expensive and uncommon, so it’s generally a safer bet to choose an HDD external hard drive in most cases.

Storage: The more storage you want on your external hard drive, the more you’ll have to spend. External hard drive storage capacity can range from 1TB to over 8TB, with 4-6TB being more common choices.

Note that anything over 8TB is a LOT of space and can be considered overkill for some people, so don’t pay more for an external hard drive with that much space unless you’re sure that’s the best option for you. That being said, a large-capacity external hard drive may be necessary for large families, businesses and hardcore enthusiasts.

Portability: The level of portability you need should depend on your lifestyle. Some external hard drives are more portable than others; in other words, some are lighter and more durable while others are heavier and better suited to sitting on your desk at home. External hard drives designed for portability can be more expensive but might be worth it if you need to frequently travel for work or play.

Interface

The interface of the best external hard drive will be easy to read, user-friendly and intuitive. If you don’t want to spend hours trying to navigate or configure your external hard drive, you might consider an external hard drive with built-in software.

Different brands of external hard drives may come with different software that allows you to schedule backups and manage your files. Some programs even help you monitor the health of the drives and assist you in running backups to other sources, such as the Cloud.

If you’re looking for a fast setup with most of the work already done, look for external hard drives with “plug and play” features for a less complex setup. An external hard drive with a dashboard interface can also be a time-saving way to check in on your remaining storage space and ensure that all of the drive sectors are functioning as they should.

Ports

If you’re looking at buying an external hard drive, you’ll need to know what ports you’ll be working with.

Here are the most common types used today:

  • USB 2.0
  • USB 3.0 (the most common for the best external hard drives)
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • USB-C
  • Thunderbolt 3

If you want to stay current with technology, it’s important to research the latest ports because these will have an impact on the speed and connectivity of your devices.

Security

Different external hard drives may have added security features, such as automatic backup. If you’re buying an external hard drive to keep your files safe, it might be a good idea to consider an external hard drive with hardware-based encryption. This is especially important if you intend on using your external hard drive for travel or for storing private files.

RAID, backup solutions and hardware encryption. There are several extra features that can add protection to your stored files, including software that provides automatic backups and password protected encryption. While these features will take up space within the external hard drive, they can add valuable security to your sensitive or private files.

Privacy. If you’re using your external hard drive for work or if you’re sharing it with other people, the security of your files should take priority. Some drives come with software that allows you to set up individual users with their own allotted space. Having password encryption is also an extra shield to protect your files if your drive gets stolen.

Physical durability. If you plan on taking your external hard drive with you while on the go, you need to make sure you get one that’s durable, slip-resistant and shockproof. Some models are even water-resistant.

Warranty. You should be able to use your external hard drive for at least a couple of years, so make sure you get one with a long warranty and avoid running it on a daily basis to lengthen its longevity.

Speed

The speed at which the external hard drive reads and writes data is critical to how quickly you can access the files on your desktop or other devices. You’ll need an external hard drive with higher speeds if you’re dealing with larger files, such as videos.

The speed of an external hard drive largely depends on how it connects to your device. If you want a faster external hard drive, look for one with USB 3.0 rather than 2.0, because 3.0 is about ten times faster. Other fast options include eSATA, FireWire and Thunderbolt. Make sure you know what types of ports your computer or device has to ensure compatibility with your new external hard drive.

Compatibility

Operating System. Whether you run Windows 10, MAC OS X or something older, it’s important to check that the hard drive you want will work for your system. Some external hard drives are specific only to Windows and not Mac. In those cases, you will need to configure the external hard drive for Mac.

Multiple Devices. If you want to use your files across multiple platforms, such as between laptops, PCs and gaming consoles, you’ll need to find an external hard drive that has the right compatibility features for your needs. Some external hard drives are optimized for storing games from consoles, including the Xbox One and the PS4.

11 Best External Hard Drives in 2018

WD Elements

The Best Portable Hard Drive with Speed

WD Elements
The WD Elements is a portable external hard drive with up to 5 gigabytes per second of data transfer speed. This smalle is a good choice if you’re looking for something fairly portable and fast that’s also a great price for the quality.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 5Gb/s
Pros:

  • Quick transfer speeds
  • Fairly lightweight
  • Good price
Cons:

  • Limited storage capacity
  • Lacks security features

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Seagate Backup Plus

The Best External Hard Drive for PS4

Seagate Backup Plus
The Seagate Backup Plus is a great portable external hard drive with software that allows you to customize how your files get backed up for added user control. This external hard drive works for both Mac and Windows and also comes in black, blue, red or silver.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 120Mb/s
Pros:

  • Includes software for backups
  • Works for PC, Mac and PS4
  • Sleek and slim design
Cons:

  • Somewhat expensive for the capacity
  • Slow write speed
  • Low cable quality

Check Prices

 

WD My Passport

Another Great Portable External Hard Drive

WD My Passport
The WD My Passport includes WD backup software and hardware encryption for increased security and file protection. This is an excellent external storage option if you’re looking for something with reliability and lots of color options.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 5Gb/s
Pros:

  • Includes hardware encryption and password protection
  • Automatic backup with WD Backup software
  • Lots of color options
Cons:

  • Requires reformatting for Mac
  • Easily scratched

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Toshiba Canvio HDWC340XK3J1

The Best External Hard Drive for Mac

Toshiba Canvio
The Toshiba Canvio is a secure external hard drive with full system backup, including options for both local and Cloud storage backup. This unit provides a decent storage capacity in a fairly compact form factor and works for both PC and Mac.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 3TB, 4TB, 5TB, 6TB
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 5Gb/s
Pros:

  • Good backup options
  • Strong security features
  • Works with Mac without reformatting
Cons:

  • Limited durability (not good for travel)
  • Expensive

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Seagate Expansion

One of the Best External Hard Drives with 5TB

Seagate Expansion
The Seagate Expansion is a large desktop external hard drive that comes with convenient drag and drop file saving for Windows. If you’re a Windows user and you don’t want to worry about installing any software, this simple plug-and-play external hard drive might be a good pick.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 5TB, 6TB, 8TB
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 5Gb/s
Pros:

  • Lots of storage
  • Easy plug and play
  • Great for Windows
Cons:

  • Requires reformatting for Mac
  • No software (can be considered pro for some)
  • Large and heavy

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WD My Book Duo

Great External Hard Drive with Lots of Storage

wd my book duo 3 1
The Western Digital My Book Duo external hard drive comes with user-selectable RAID so that you can give your files added protection. This massive-capacity external hard drive also comes with two WD Red HDDs, meaning that you can store more with less sacrifice to speed.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, 16TB, 20TB
  • Connectivity: USB 3.1,USB 3.0
  • Sequential Read Speed: Up to 360Mb/s
Pros:

  • Includes backup software features
  • Lots of storage and speed
  • Comes with hardware encrypted RAID
Cons:

  • Large, heavy, overkill for some
  • Expensive
  • Software prone to issues

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Silicon Power Rugged Armor A60

Best External Hard Drive for Xbox One

Silicon Power Rugged Armor A60
The Silicon Power Rugged Armor A60 is a portable external hard drive designed for active gamers and travellers. This external hard drive is shockproof, water-resistant and comes with a unique carry-cable design for optimal portability.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 5TB
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 5Gb/s
Pros:

  • Works for various gaming platforms
  • Very durable and portable
  • Long warranty, inexpensive
Cons:

  • Limited storage capacity options
  • Cable casing could be better

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Toshiba Canvio Advance

Excellent 2TB External Hard Drive

toshiba canvio advance
The Toshiba Canvio Advance is a portable hard drive with cloud-enabled backup and a fairly user-friendly interface. This is a high-quality budget option if you want something that’s portable and accessible with intuitive backup features.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 3TB
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 5Gb/s
Pros:

  • Great backup features
  • Good price for the quality
  • Easy to carry in your pocket
Cons:

  • Limited storage capacity options
  • No password protection software

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LaCie Rugged Mini

Great Durable 2TB External Hard Drive

LaCie Rugged Mini
The LaCie Rugged Mini is a small, portable hard drive designed to be used during travel, even on rugged expeditions. This lightweight external hard drive is bright orange for added visibility and you can even take it out in the rain.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0 (Options for USB-C and Thunderbolt)
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 5Gb/s
Pros:

  • Multiple port options available (including Thunderbolt USB 3.0)
  • Small yet durable
  • Great for travel/outdoor use
Cons:

  • Limited security options
  • Cable connectivity problems
  • Overall reliability is lacking

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Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC

Great Portable 1TB External Hard Drive

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC
The Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC is a portable external hard drive that includes hardware encryption and NFC technology for efficient data security. This is also a durable, water-resistant unit with a unique wrap-around cable design.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 1TB, 2TB
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 5Gb/s
Pros:

  • Convenient integrated cable
  • Includes backup software and hardware encryption
  • Rugged construction
Cons:

  • Limited storage capacity options
  • Bulky/rigid for a portable unit
  • User interface needs improvement

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LaCie Porsche Design

Great Lightweight External Hard Drive

LaCie Porsche Design
The LaCie Porsche Design is a portable hard drive with an aluminium enclosure and a lightweight design so it’s easier to carry around. This unit comes with quick speeds for faster file accessibility and there’s also a desktop version that comes with more capacity.

Specs

  • Capacity Options: 1TB, 2TB, 4TB (for Desktop: 5TB, 6TB, 8TB)
  • Connectivity: USB-C
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 5Gb/s
Pros:

  • Sleek and lightweight design
  • Lots of other size capacity options available
  • Fast speed delivery
Cons:

  • Poor cable quality
  • Somewhat expensive for the capacity
  • Sharp edges

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Our Picks

If you want a high-end external hard drive with tons of space and fast file transfer speeds:

  • WD My Passport. This external hard drive comes with just about everything you could want to secure your files and satisfy your storage needs. With WD Backup software and hardware encryption, you can have the peace of mind that comes with added security. The various color options is a cool bonus.
  • Seagate Expansion. The Seagate Expansion is a very large desktop external hard drive with lots of storage. This is a fast and easy-to-use unit with a fairly simple interface so you can start using it right away without any fuss.

If you’d prefer a mid-range external hard drive that you can rely on to keep your files secure:

  • Seagate Backup Plus. The Seagate Backup Plus is a sleek external hard drive that works well for both Mac and PC users as well as PS4 gamers. With this unit, you’ve got four color options as well as Cloud Connectivity and plenty of room for backing up your important files.
  • Toshiba Canvio Advance. If you’re looking for a portable external hard drive that won’t cost you too much, this unit is a functional option. It includes data encryption and automatic backup features to keep your files from being lost in digital outer space.

If you need a cheap external hard drive that will meet your needs for basic personal storage:

  • WD Elements. If you want a minimalist external hard drive that you can take with you on the go, the WD Elements is an excellent option that doesn’t skimp on space for the size. This unit comes with basic backup and storage with convenient plug-and-play features; it’s also fairly affordable if you want to spend under $100.
  • Silicon Power. This unique external hard drive is an affordable and dependable option for gaming enthusiasts, no matter the gaming platform. Not only is it durable, but it’s also fast and portable so you can store your games and take them with you wherever you go.

External hard drives are incredibly affordable and there are plenty of options for size and features. They’re a must-have for any gamer or media enthusiast who wants an additional layer of file security (even if you already have the best gaming PC with reliable SSD)!

One Response

  1. Vatey May 13, 2018

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