For dependable and secure storage of large amounts of files, investing in an external hard drive is a must. Cloud storage is great, but there are typically space limits, and sites like Dropbox and Google have suffered from hacks in the past. Most computers can handle storing large amounts of files, but storing too much on your laptop slows it down. Plus, should your computer ever crash, you want to make sure you have a backup.
There are a few things to look out for when investing in an external hard drive. First, you need to make sure it has enough storage for your needs. The product page listings featured here range from 1TB to 4TB, and 1TB is likely plenty of space for the average consumer. Second, if you’re frequently transferring files, you want to make sure it has fast read and write speeds. All of these options come with USB 3.0, which ensures they’ll be quick enough to keep up.
One thing worth noting is that Mac users will have to format their devices to read their hard drive.
These picks of the best hard drives will give you peace of mind that your files are secure, and they’re all compact enough to take with you when you travel or commute.
1. Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB External Hard Drive
Seagate’s external hard drive is available with up to 5TB of data depending on which option you choose. The option shown is the 2TB drive. The sleek case is available in either black or silver, and it’s designed with ease-of-use in mind — simply plug in and get to work. USB 3.0 makes for fast transfer speeds.
Pros: USB 3.0, available in up to 5TB of storage while still being compact. Available in black or silver.
Cons: Somewhat expensive.
2. Western Digital 1TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive
Western Digital is well known for their affordable and dependable computer accessories, and this external hard drive is no different. The hard drive is compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0, and it can also provide extra storage for PS4 and Xbox One. It’s a good basic option that suits a variety of needs.
Pros: One of the lightest options on this list, easy to use.
Cons: Included cable is short.
3. Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive
This external hard drive is available in 1, 2, 3 or 4TB options. The price shown is for the 1TB hard drive. It has USB 3.0 for faster transfer speeds, but it also works with USB 2.0. The hard drive has a sleek profile, which is done in a matte, smudge-resistant black finish. No software update is required.
Pros: “Plug and play” makes it easy to transfer files with minimal setup.
Cons: Supplied USB cable isn’t the highest quality.
4. Samsung Portable SSD
Samsung’s external hard drive is actually an SSD, not an HDD. What that means is that it’s a solid-state drive. Without moving parts, there’s less of a risk if it gets dropped. It’s also more compact than other options without sacrificing storage. This option has 1TB and is also available in 2TB. This drive uses USB-C, and a USB-C to USB-C cord is included, as well as a USB-A to USB-C.
Pros: Ultra-slim SSD is easy to travel with. Shock-resistant. Password protection.
Cons: Somewhat clunky to use with an Apple computer.
5. LaCie Rugged USB-C 2TB External Hard Drive
Lacie’s dependable hard drive comes with data between 500GB and 5TB. The price shown is for the 2TB model. It utilizes USB-C, which is notable for its compact size compared to USB, reversible connector and powerful capabilities. The best feature is the orange shell on the outside of the hard drive, which provides drop resistance, making it a great option for commuters.
Pros: Ruggedized case, unique orange look. Fast transfers via USB-C.
Cons: Setup isn’t always seamless.
6. WD Black 5TB Portable External Hard Drive
WD’s external hard drive is made with gaming in mind, and it works for both console or PC gaming. The hard drive has a unique, tactical-inspired exterior that’s sturdy and easy to take on the go. This option has a generous 5TB capacity, but it’s also available in smaller data sizes. Like many of the other options on this list, this hard drive utilizes USB 3.0 for fast transfer speeds.
Pros: Fast speeds, unique design. Optimal for gaming.
Cons: Somewhat expensive.
7. Silicon Power 2TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive
Silicon Power’s external hard drive is a great option for gamers or anyone on the go. It’s available with up to 5TB of storage, and we’ve highlighted the 2TB option below. It has a unique two-tone black and green look that’s as much about form as it is function. The textured black exterior is scratch-resistant, and the green sides have a cutout to hold the cable in place. It utilizes USB 3.0 for fast transfer speeds.
Pros: Rugged case with a slot for carrying the cable. Unique look.
Cons: Clip that holds the cable in place can potentially fall out.