Whether you collect your movies digitally, work on massive video editing or music editing projects, or just have a ton of pictures and videos you want to back up, an external hard drive is a must-have. Only a decade ago, a 1TB external hard drive would cost a small fortune. Now you can find 2TB options for under $100 dollars.
Now that massive amounts of storage are so affordable, there really is no reason you should ever deal with the soul-crushing experience of having your laptop’s hard drive go kaput, and having all of your hard work, movies and music vanish into oblivion. Save yourself from despair and go with one of the best external hard drives below.
1. Western Digital My Passport External Hard Drive
The best external hard drives let you automatically schedule backups to continually keep your laptop or desktop computer backed up without any intervention. That’s why we appreciate the Western Digital My Passport, which makes it easy to backup your most important files without a second thought. And with 256-bit AES encryption password protection, you can protect your files from being compromised. Plus, it’s a portable hard drive so you can take it with you in your laptop bag, yet provides enough storage space to back up large files and the entire contents of your computer several times over. The WD My Passport hard drive comes in a variety of colors and with options for 1, 2, 4 and 5TB and is compatible with USB 2.0.
Please note that if you’re looking for the overall best external hard drive for Mac, you should opt for the Apple-friendly WD My Passport for Mac instead.
2. LaCie Mobile Drive
BEST UNDER $100
This sleek and portable LaCie Mobile Drive is compatible with both Mac and PC without any additional formatting. This drive has a USB-C port for fast data transfer and also ships with a USB 3.0 cable for computers without USC-C compatibility. Available in 1TB all the way up to 5TB models, this portable backup drive packs a ton of storage space in a tiny frame.
3. SanDisk 500GB Extreme Pro External Hard Drive
GREAT PORTABLE OPTION
This small external hard drive is as rugged as it is portable. This is a great external hard drive for Mac or PC users. With both USB-A and USB-C connectors, you don’t have to worry about compatibility between older and newer devices. It also provides read and write speeds up to 1050mbps, making for speedy data transfers. As for its rugged side, dust and water resistance show its toughness, so spilling a little water on it isn’t the end of the world. It is small enough to go unnoticed when you don’t need it and be everything you need when you do.
4. Crucial X6 4TB Portable SSD
Able to fit into the palm of your hand, the Crucial X6 is one of the best external hard drives because it offers unparalleled performance for its size. This USB 3.2 external SSD incredibly packs 4TB into its bite-sized frame while delivering read and write speeds that max out at 800 MB/s. While this is not a cheap piece of kit by any means, you will not find a an external SSD with this much storage space that is this small and fast at this price. And if you’re someone who has to regularly carry a large amount of data on the go, the storage capacities, portability and performance this thing offers will be well worth the expense.
5. Glyph Atom 1TB External SSD
BEST FOR FILM PROS
If you’re a film editor and need storge that offers blazing speeds and rock-solid reliability, the Glyph Atom SSD tops the list of the best SSD external hard drives. Utilizing the non-volatile memory express (NVMe) interface, the Atom is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and offers max write speeds of 2800 MB/s and max read speeds of 2600 MB/s. This means it can handle all the 4K, 8K and VR workflows you throw at it. Plus, because it has a MIL-Standard 810F rating that makes it shockproof and dustproof, along with passive cooling system, you can push this drive to its limits and remain confident that your data will remain intact.
6. Seagate Backup Plus 10GB External Hard Drive
BEST FOR BACKUPS
If you’re looking for the best do-it-all external backup drive that can create local backups of your computer, phone, tablet and more, you’re going to want to take a look at the Seagate Backup Plus. This 10GB HDD has two USB drives on the front that not only function as a USB hub for your computer, but let you plug your phone or tablet directly into the hard drive to create a backup in one quick-and-easy step. And when it comes to your computer, you have the option of scheduling regular backups so that you never have to worry about remembering to do it manually.
7. WD 250GB Wireless External Hard Drive
BEST FOR BUSY PEOPLE
When you don’t have time for fumbling with connecting an external hard drive to your laptop, the WD 250GB Wireless drive is for you. Using its built-in Wi-Fi, it connects to your laptop without the need for a cable. Of course, there is the option for a wired connection, which produces faster transfer speeds. But storage isn’t the only trick up its sleeve. It can also serve as a power bank in a pinch.
5. Crucial 1TB X8 Portable SSD
GREAT FOR GAMERS
This external hard drive is compatible with both PlayStation and Xbox consoles and offers both USB-A and USB-C connections. And with newer games hogging up more and more of your hard drive, you don’t want to be left out of the fun just because your storage is maxed out. It provides 1TB of external hard drive space as well as a splash of durability being drop-proof from 7.5 feet.
6. Samsung T5 Portable SSD
Boasting crazy fast 540mbps transfer speeds and a metal frame that’s about the size of a credit card, the Samsung T5 is an impressive portable hard drive option. Beyond the incredible transfer speeds, this Samsung protects your data with AES 256-bit encryption in the form of optional password protection. And don’t worry if you’re computer doesn’t have a USB-C port, this external hard drive comes with a USB-C to Type-A cable. While this hard drive only comes in 1TB and 2TB options, that’s still ample memory for most people.
7. Adata SD700 3D NAND 256GB Rugged External Hard Drive
RUGGED AND PORTABLE
When you take your data to the extreme (literally) you are going to need an external hard drive that can handle the elements. That’s where the water, dust and shockproof Adata SD700 comes in. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but tough enough to take a real beating, this 256GB external hard drive keeps your data safe when the elements aren’t. It doesn’t have as much storage as others, and the 440Mbps write speed is nothing to write home about, but if you need to get work done when it gets nasty out, you’ll want a portable drive that can handle the elements.
8. LaCie Rugged Raid Shuttle 8TB External Hard Drive
RUGGED AND LOTS OF STORAGE
This monster of a hard drive holds a whopping 8TB of external storage. But this isn’t designed to just sit on your desktop. It’s built for adventure (well, as much as an external hard drive can be). It’s shockproof and water-resistant — not quite as rugged as the Adata SD700 — but can certainly deal with getting packed around and take a little bit of a beating. And when you purchase this LaCie external hard drive, you get a one-month membership to Adobe Creative Cloud.
9. G-Technology 1TB ArmorATD
RUGGED PICK FOR MAC AND WINDOWS
This tiny, yet durable G-Technology 1TB external hard drive is IP54 rain and dust-resistant and even has the durability to withstand 1,000 pounds. You could probably accidentally drive over it and it wouldn’t break (but you’d be better off not testing that theory out). This portable drive is available in storage capacities ranging from 1TB of storage space all the way up to 5TB and has a USB-C connector that’s best for newer devices.
10. ADATA SE800 IP68 Rugged Hard Drive
SMALL AND TOUGH
Even though this doesn’t look like a rugged hard drive, it certainly can handle its fair share of punishment. But it’s not just rugged, it’s also speedy with 1,000mbps transfer speeds. It also boasts USB-C connectivity and USB 2.0 backward compatibility. Now for the rugged stuff. When the USB cover is closed, it can handle being submerged in six feet of water for up to an hour without damage. It’s also dust and impact resistant. Told you it’s more rugged than it looks.
11. Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch 2TB
As far as style points go for a backup drive, this one scores all of them. This 2TB hard drive sports a fabric design topped with a solid black border. It’s a great external hard drive for Mac and PC and is a great choice for when you want to schedule automatic backups or keep your files encrypted with password protection.
12. G-Technology 2TB Durable Portable Storage
We review Amazon products all day, and we can tell you that it’s extremely rare for any product, let alone a tech product, to break the 4.7-star barrier. But that’s what the G-Technology Durable external hard drive has on its resume. It’s IP67 water- and dust-resistant and can withstand a drop from nine feet without damaging the drive. Its USB-C connectivity provides lightning-fast 560mbps transfer speeds as well. This backup drive is also expensive, but well worth it for the protection and speed provided.
13. Buffalo Ministation
Compact and lightweight, the Buffalo Ministation can be used to schedule automatic backups on PCs with Buffalo Backup Utility. It might not be the best external hard drive for Mac users since you’ll need to reformat the hard drive first, then use Time Machine to schedule backups. It provides USB 3.0 connectivity with TurboCopy for speedy file transfers. And you can feel good knowing that your hard drive is covered by a two-year warranty.
14. Seagate Desktop 8TB External Hard Drive
BEST FOR PROFESSIONAL USE
This behemoth of a hard drive could very well be the only hard drive you’ll ever need. With 8TB of storage space, it would take a massive library of videos, pictures and projects to fill this beast up. It’s best for desktop use and great for music-making and video editing projects. Because Seagate is one of the most trusted names in memory storage, and because of its extra-large storage capacities, this is one of the best options for professional use. This hard drive has more than 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, and it’s a hard drive you can really rely on for your most important files. But if you’re looking for a portable option, you’ll want to take a look at more mobile drives like My Passport or LaCie.
And, yes, Apple users, this desktop external hard drive is compatible with both Mac and PC computers.
15. ADATA HD830 5TB External Hard Drive
MOST DURABLE 5TB HARD DRIVE
Everything about this hard drive is rugged. From the protective side columns to the grooved surface, it looks like it can take a punch. In fact, it can withstand being submerged in six feet of water for over two hours and spills up to four feet. While G-Technology makes a better overall hard drive, this external hard drive boasts similar protection and a much larger capacity at a similar price point. This USB-C, 5TB hard drive is great for those who are a little more “carefree” with their electronics.
16. Toshiba Canvio Basics External Hard Drive
This hard drive is a solid option for PCs and comes with 2TB of storage. Again, it might not be the best external hard drive for Mac users. While it can be used with Mac, it will need to be reformatted to do so. Unfortunately, any previous data stored on the hard drive will be wiped during this process, which is a pain. It is compatible with both USB 2.0 and 3.0 for speedy transfer times and includes a one-year warranty from Toshiba. This external hard drive has made 88% of 12,000 customers on Amazon happy campers.
17. WD_Black P10 Game Drive
BEST HARD DRIVE FOR GAMERS
This 5TB external hard drive has enough storage space to hold up to 125 games. Even better, it’s compatible with PS4, Xbox One, PC and Mac. Plus, the stylish and durable black case will be an excellent add-on to your gaming setup. We’re big fans of Western Digital, which makes some of the best external hard drives. This device was built specifically for gamers and has a ridiculously high 4.8-star rating on Amazon with more than 900 reviews.