When it comes to the best external hard drives, three things come to mind: speed, reliability, and portability.
It can be tricky to check all of these boxes, but if you know what features you need, our carefully curated list of the best options should help. We have focused on good and affordable products from reliable manufacturers.
All of the options on our list include details on price, storage size, speed, USB / Thunderbolt support, and other features like shock protection or warranties included.
Most Expensive External Hard Drive – Seagate
If you are concerned about affordability, consider Seagate’s first offering in the external hard drive space. The starting price for 1TB on Amazon is $ 44.99, but the real value comes at the expense of larger drives.
For example, the 5TB variant only costs $ 109.99. You’d be hard pressed to find a better deal with this capacity.
Mac users will have to reformat it, and there is no USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt here, just USB 2.0 / 3.0. When it comes to speeds, the real problem is drive technology. This is a standard hard drive with a rotation speed of only 5400 rpm. This means that the read / write speed is around 120MB / s.
The important thing here is that you don’t go broke, and this drive works as a great backup for all types of files. 1 year limited warranty included.
If you need speed but are on a tight budget, the Samsung T5 SSD is a great choice as an affordable external hard drive. Prices fluctuate, but a 500GB drive costs $ 90–120 and a 1TB drive costs $ 150–250 on Amazon.
Samsung T5 uses USB 3.1. You can count on read / write speeds up to 540MB / 520MB / s. The drive is compatible with Mac, PC and even Android.
There is no shock protection, but as long as you are careful while traveling, this should not bother you. Solid state drives do not use moving parts, which reduces the risk of damage. Comes with a 3 year limited warranty.
Most Expensive Thunderbolt External Drive – Buffalo MiniStation
If you absolutely need a Thunderbolt compatible drive, you should consider the Buffalo MiniStation. The drive itself spins at just 5400 RPM, so the read / write speed is only 120 MB / s, but it’s a cheap option for those who can’t find another place. The 1TB drives cost $ 127, while the 2TB variant sells for $ 200 on Amazon.
The Buffalo MiniStation has Thunderbolt 2 but is also USB compatible. Comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
Largest Storage – Seagate Desktop 8TB
If you need a lot of storage space, you might like the Seagate Desktop 8TB External Hard Drive. This item is not portable, but it is perfect for home or office use. You get 8 TB of 5400 rpm disk space. USB 3.0 is supported, so expect read / write speeds of around 120MB / s.
This external hard drive also requires an external power supply that is included in the kit, so it’s best to install it somewhere and leave it there. Perhaps not the most convenient, but at just $ 140 on Amazon, it’s a great price. One year limited warranty included.
Best Rugged External Hard Drive – LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt USB-C
If you’re an adventurer, LaCie’s rugged external hard drive is for you. This drive is drop, splash and dust resistant. You can feel confident taking it on your day of adventure, or just as a backup drive to put in your backpack.
This drive is just a 5400 RPM hard drive, so you can only count on 120MB / s read / write speeds, but that’s a reasonable compromise for decent protection. Pricing starts at $ 73.99 for 1TB with mini-USB 3.0, but if you want Thunderbolt and USB-C, you’ll need a minimum of 2TB, which is $ 169 on Amazon. The storage reaches 5 TB for $ 249.
With a LaCie Secure Drive, you get a 3-year limited warranty, 3-year data recovery service, and one month of free use with the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps plan.
If safety is of the utmost importance, we highly recommend the SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD over the LaCie Hard Drive. SSDs are much safer than portable drives because they have no moving parts. SanDisk Extreme Portable Solid State Drive is shock, water and dust resistant.
Since it is an SSD, you can get read / write speeds up to 550MB / 500MB / s. This external solid state drive also supports USB 3.1 via USB Type-C port.
Pricing starts at $ 71.99 for 250GB, with varying price tiers up to $ 269.99 for 2TB. 3-year limited warranty included.
The most secure drive for data – iStorage diskAshur2 256-bit 1 TB
Need to protect your data? Take a look at the external hard drive iStorage diskAshur2. Your files are protected in real time with military grade 256-bit AES-XTS hardware encryption.
To access your files, you need to enter your PIN, which must be 7-15 digits long. The disc will not be recognized until it is authenticated with a PIN. Once authenticated, it will work with both Mac and Windows just like any standard drive.
The storage type being used is a standard 5400rpm hard drive, so expect 120MB / s read / write speeds. However, here you pay for security, not speed. Pricing starts at $ 200 for the 500GB version, but there are price levels from 1TB ($ 220) to 5TB ($ 583).
Most SSD Portable – KESU 1T
For $ 147, you get a 1TB solid state drive with 540MB / 420MB / s read / write speeds. The technology used includes USB 3.1 Type C for faster data transfer and supports all major platforms including Windows and Mac.
The most important part is size – it is 30% shorter in length and about half the width of an iPhone 11. Backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
Alternate Flash Drive – Corsair 1 TB Flash Voyager GTX
Want something so portable that it fits in your pocket? The Corsair Flash Voyager GTX is a great option. This is actually a USB stick, but it uses 3D NAND and USB 3.1 memory.
As a result, Flash Voyager GTX can achieve read / write speeds up to 440MB / s. Pricing starts at $ 50.99 for 128GB and increases to $ 279 for 1TB. This flash drive is backed by a 5-year limited warranty.
Fastest External SSD – Plugable Thunderbolt 3 External SSD NVMe Drive
Plugable external hard drive provides the fastest speed for those with Thunderbolt 3 connections. USB 3.0 is not available. With NVME, you can count on read / write speeds up to 2400MB / 1800MB / s. However, you will only achieve this speed for large files. You can read more about how it works here
At $ 199 for 480GB, $ 299 for 1TB, or $ 499 for 2TB, this is an expensive drive, but worth paying for if you really need blazingly fast external storage. All Plugable drives come with a 3-year limited warranty.