The Best External Hard Drives in 2023
External hard drives can improve your PC’s performance, securely back up important data, or even just hold more music and video. However, they’re not all created equal. So if you want to get the most out of one, you’ve got to look for the best external hard drive.
The world of storage is more complicated than ever. Cloud storage has become pretty widespread, with most major platforms offering their services along with third parties competing for the right to store your files. However, there is still something to be said for hard storage.
Like cloud gaming, sometimes the infrastructure simply isn’t good enough to make cloud storage a replacement for the old fashioned ways. Then there are the security concerns about storing sensitive data in the cloud. External hard drives are now significantly faster than accessing your files from a cloud service.
This isn’t even to mention the speeds of an SSD. On top of speed, you’ve got to consider price and portability. Multi TB hard drives are now really affordable. While cloud storage doesn’t break the bank, instant access to terabits for a one-off fee just makes more sense than eternally paying for a subscription.
The best portable external hard drive makes it easier than ever to access anything, anywhere. With a solid hard drive, you know exactly where your data is backed up, that you will always have access to it, and how much it costs after you first sign up.
While there are plenty of options at the moment, the best external hard drives give you a little more for your money. These are the top hard drives around at the moment.
Best External Hard Drives
WD Elements Portable
The Best All-Rounder External Hard Drive
- Available in 1TB 2 TB 3 TB 4 TB or 5TB sizes
- 2 Year Warranty
- Pre-formatted for Windows
This WD Elements Portable hard drive is a foolproof device. WD are well known for their hard drives, and this one takes the portable element and runs with it.
It comes with a two-year warranty and the casing itself is strong enough to withstand two years of heavy wear and tear. If you’re looking for a portable hard drive, you need a solid casing. This hard drive is built to last, so you can be sure anything you back up is going to stay on there.
This makes it a great choice for archiving important data and storing those photos or other documents that have real sentimental value. Coming at a few TBs big too, you won’t have to prioritize what you store. In terms of portability and speed, this is one of the best 2TB external hard drives.
This is a solid choice for its combination of size, durability, security, and connection speed.
- USB 3.0
- High Speeds
- Compatible with all Devices
- Uses Micro B Connector
- Not Shock or Water-Resistant
Toshiba Canvio Gaming
One Of The Best Potable HDDs For Gaming
- Available In 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB Sizes
- Perfect For PS4 And Xbox One
- 2 Year Warranty
The Canvio Gaming from Toshiba is an affordable portable hard drive made for storing game data from your PC or console. High capacity in combination with the low price makes the Canvio gaming a perfect companion for your PS4, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One S and X consoles.
Slim profile allows Canvio Gaming to be tucked away almost anywhere. Just make sure that the cable is long enough. The drive looks rather nice. The matted front with a sandpaper-like finish is pleasant to the touch and the drive itself looks rather attractive.
Toshiba offers 2 years warranty for this particular model and while it isn’t a performance champion, data transfer is fast enough to not suffer any penalties, in the form of longer loading times. Overall, this is an excellent external drive for gaming consoles, and thanks to its large capacity it can be a complete solution for all your gaming storage needs.
- Solid Transfer Speeds
- Stylish Design
- Relatively Affordable
- Not The Fastest External HDD Around
WD My Passport Ultra
The Best External Hard Drive for MacBook Pro
- USB C Connector
- Stylish Metal Design
- Available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB sizes.
External hard drives have traditionally used a Micro B cable. While it has fast file access, it is kind of prone to breaking. This WD My Passport external drive embraces a more universal connector.
It comes in a USB C connector, which has a few advantages. The first is that it is pretty universal. You can use the same cable to connect this to a PC as any other USB C device. USB C is like Micro USB; It is becoming so popular that you’ll have plenty of these cables laying around.
These connectors are much less prone to breakages. The Micro B cable is effective, but the 10 pin design makes it fragile. MacBook Pros have completely done away with the traditional USB. Using USB-C Makes this the best external hard drive for a MacBook Pro.
Of course, there’s more to the WD My Passport than just the connector. It has great speeds, password protection enabled out of the box, and a 3-year warranty. All of this should be assurances that you’re getting something high quality here, and this is definitely one of the best 1Tb external hard drives, or up to 4TBs.
- Uses Universal but Fast Connector.
- Longer Warranty Than Average
- Password Protection Included
- Metal Casing is Prone to Scratches
- Requires Use of a Dongle to Connect to USB 3
Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub
A True Gaming Hub
- 1TB-16TB storage
- RGB capability
- 1-year warranty
The definition of a gaming-oriented device is changing all the time depending on the needs of individuals, but if there is one external hard drive solution that fits the overall gaming aesthetics then that is the Seagate FireCuda gaming hub.
This is an external drive that can go up to 16TB in space and can hold any gaming library you could own. The design of this external drive was made so it fits with other gaming-oriented devices like consoles while also adding a little bit of spice with some RGB. The RGB here is actually quite tasteful where instead of a huge rainbow puke approach there is a single RGB strip in the front that can be customized to your tastes.
Since this is a gaming hub, not just an external drive you also have front-facing USB-C and USB-A ports that can power your controllers or hand-held devices for gaming needs. With the FireCuda you also get a 1-year warranty in case you experience issues, but the overall consensus is that this external storage solution is quite reliable.
- This external storage solution will fit in well with your gaming rig/console
- 16TB of space is a lot of gaming for one person
- The extra USB ports in the front are a nice convenience
- You would have to pay nearly 500$ for a 16TB external HDD which is a pretty steep price for the current HDD market
SanDisk Professional G-Drive
A Professional Look for an External HDD
- 4TB-22TB storage
- Anodized aluminum enclosure
- Compatible with Windows/Mac devices
In terms of raw performance, the SanDisk Professional might not be comparable to an SSD but it still includes a fast 7200RPM HDD and a USB-C connection for up to 280MB/s read/write speeds. The storage device is compatible with Mac/Windows devices and can be used with most devices you have lying around.
The SanDisk HDD includes some visual improvements too with LED lights and anodized aluminum to give it a premium look fit for any office space. Overall this is a decent storage solution for people needing extra space since it can go from 4TB to 22TB, making it a versatile solution.
- Plenty of storage options for different use cases
- Has a clean professional look fit for office environments
- It uses a more modern USB-C connection for faster data transfers
- You would have to pay nearly 500$ for a 16TB external HDD which is a pretty steep price for the current HDD market
- Needs a separate power connection
WD Black P10 Game Drive
The Best External Hard Drive for Gaming
- Available in 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, and 5TB Sizes
- Compatible with PC, PS4, and Xbox One
An external hard drive for gaming has some different needs. It has to be compatible with a much great variety of devices or boost performance on PC.
Thankfully, the best external hard drive for Xbox One, or best external hard drive for PS4, only need compatibility, speed, and storage. This one has those qualities in spades.
In terms of PC gaming, this is still a stand out hard drive. Freeing up space on your PC will help the performance of your PC, and this one of the best external hard drives for that purpose.
Its design is also innovative. With a metal casing, it should be able to avoid complicating the cooling systems of game consoles.
- Designed to Prevent Size Getting in The Way of PC or Console Cooling
- USB 3.0
- Great Compatibility
- Can Be Loud
Silicon Power Armor A60
The Most Durable External Hard Drive
- Available in 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 5TB Sizes
- Available in USB 3.0 or USB C
- Water Resistant, Shockproof, and Scratch Resistant
This Silicon Power Armor hard drive is built to last. It comes with an awful lot of protections, which should guarantee that your files and kept safe no matter where you take this hard drive. It is one of the best portable external hard drives if you need something to suit an active lifestyle.
The hard drive is coated in a special protective case. This is scratch-resistant, water-resistant, and shockproof. It has been tested for military-grade shocks and came out functioning just fine.
These protections should give you the reassurances that you need, but it also comes with a 3-year warranty for extra protection. Outside of its durability, this has everything else you would expect from the best portable external hard drive.
It uses a speedy USB 3.0 connection, is compatible with all devices after a quick reformat, and comes in some big sizes. This is one of the best external hard drives if you’re worried about damaging your device.
- Durable and Built to Last
- Available with Different Connectors
- 3 Year Warranty
- USB C Version is The Same Price
- Might Be Overkill for Protection
- More Expensive Than Most Comparable Drives
How to Choose an External Hard Drive
Those are some of the best external hard drives on the market at the moment. There is a lot of variety out there. As expansive memory has gotten cheaper, hard drives have gotten a lot of extra features to distinguish themselves. If you’re wondering which is the best external hard drive for you, these the things you need to know and consider to make your choice.
What You Need to Know
It is easy to get a bit lost in all of the options. If you’re wondering which is the best 4TB external hard drive, you’ve got to understand those extra features beyond just storage. This is everything you need to know to make the right choice:
- Connectors – External hard drives mainly connect via USB 3.0 or USB C. All of the hard drives included on this list will connect to a normal USB port with either their regular cable or an included adapter.
- Compatibility – All of these devices are compatible with the vast majority of devices. However, you may need to re-format a device to get it to work.
- SSD or HDD? – SSDs offer much higher speeds of reading and writing data, whereas HDDs can offer good speeds but more storage. SSDs are smaller, but they aren’t as commonly used for external storage as the larger devices are more expensive.
What to Consider Before the Purchase
If you’re struggling to decide which is the best external hard drives are for you, you need to consider what your priorities are. This is what you need to think about to find which external hard drive is right for you.
- How Much Storage Do You Need? – Not everyone needs a 5TB hard drive. Consider how big the files you need to store are before purchasing a giant hard drive.
- USB C or USB 3.0? – USB C hard drives can use an adapter to fit a USB 3.0 port, but this is unnecessary if you only use USB 3.0 otherwise.
- Durability and Portability – Many of these hard drives have impressive specs when it comes to water resistance and shock protection. However, consider if your hard drive that remains on your desk actually needs this.
Will These Hard Drives Work on My Device?
Many external hard drives make a point of mentioning what devices they work on, which can give the impression that others aren’t compatible. This is a case of marketing confusing things. This is how compatibility actually works.
- The only thing that makes a hard drive not function on a device is its format.
- You can re-format a hard drive to function on a different device by connecting it to your PC, and re-formatting it in Disk Utility on Mac and selecting format on the device’s drop-down menu in Windows.
- You can reformat a hard drive to work on other devices this way.
- However, newer MacBooks don’t always have USB 3.0 ports. In these cases, the best external hard drive for mac needs to use USB C.
- You can use an adapter to get around this, so even an incorrect port doesn’t make a hard drive incompatible.
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