Best External Hard Drives for Safe Data Storage

Review & Comparison, Last Update May 21, 2019
Storage space on your laptop or PC is insufficient for keeping all your files? Start using an external hard drive! This compact device will allow you to have your most important data at hand. To help you make the right pick, we have shortlisted 5 best external hard drive disks that are present on the market. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2019
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Capacity
Type
Power Supply
Weight
OS Compatibility
Backup
Warranty
 
PROS
If you’re looking for more speed, Western Digital external hard drive is what you need. With numerous backup options, your data will always be securely stored.
CONS
Compared with the other EHDs, this one is a bit heavier, yet, it’s all worth the functionality it offers.
OUR VERDICT
Western Digital USB external hard drive is an amazing choice for any professional photographer since it allows storing large amounts of data in the ultimate security owing to automatic backup.
detailed parameters
Capacity
3 TB - 16 TB
Type
Desktop
Power Supply
Mains (via power adapter)
Weight
2.23 lbs
OS Compatibility
Windows, Mac OS
Backup
Automatic local and cloud backup
Warranty
2-year warranty
PROS

You get 2-month complimentary membership to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan with this model. It lets you edit, share, and store your photos with ease.

CONS

Cord insulation is a bit stiff.

OUR VERDICT

The Seagate Portable External Hard Drive is a reliable and compact device that you can throw into your bag or jeans pocket and have all the important data at hand 24/7.

detailed parameters
Capacity

4TB (1TB, 2TB, 5TB)

Type

Portable

Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.545 lbs

OS Compatibility

Windows, Mac OS

Backup

Seagate Dashboard backup

Warranty

2 years limited

PROS

With this model, you get the access to the free trial of WD SmartWare Pro. It helps store your backups on the external hard drive itself and in the Dropbox. 

CONS

The user manual could be more informative. 

OUR VERDICT

The WD Element HDD transfers data very fast with the USB 3.0 (100 Mb/s). And with its capacity, this model can store quite large video/audio libraries as well as expand storage on your gaming console.

detailed parameters
Capacity

2TB (1TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB)

Type

Portable

Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.52 lb

OS Compatibility

Windows® 10, Windows 8, Windows 7

Reformatting is required for other operating systems

Backup

Automatic local and cloud backup with WD SmartWare Pro

Warranty

1 year

PROS

With super fast USB 3.0, you can take advantage of quick data transfers. Plus, there's no need to install any software; the drive comes ready for use out-of-the-box. 

CONS

It is not compatible with Mac OS.

OUR VERDICT

The Seagate hard drive is a compact, fast, and stylish device. Being available in various memory capacities, this model is a good choice for those who value their time and want to guard their personal and media data.

detailed parameters
Capacity

2TB (1TB, 4TB)

Type

Portable

Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.37 lb

OS Compatibility

Windows® 10, Windows 8, Windows 7

Backup

Seagate Dashboard backup

Warranty

1 year 

PROS
This portable external hard drive provides extra protection of your data owing to 256-bit AES hardware encryption. The device looks rather stylish and you can choose one of 4 available colors.
CONS
Some users think the light indicator is too bright.
OUR VERDICT
Having chosen this external hard drive, you will not only get a lot of storage space but you will also be sure about the top security of your data thanks to automatic backup.
detailed parameters
Capacity
500 GB - 4 TB
Type
Portable
Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.35 lb

OS Compatibility
Windows, Mac OS
Backup
Automatic local and cloud backup
Warranty
3-year limited warranty

Western Digital My Book

Type

This is a desktop external hard drive that helps you easily expand storage space if your computer's drive is overfilled with files. This Western Digital device is a perfect choice for professional photographers who make thousands of pictures and need immense storage space for them. Storing gigabytes of images right on your computer makes no sense, whilst an external hard drive disk not only contains all essential files but also backs them all up.

Review of Western Digital My Book Desktop External Hard Drive

Capacity

It's one of the most high-capacity USB external hard drives available on the market. Several capacity options are available: 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, and 8TB. Thus, even the most demanding buyer can find the right model of this fantastic hard drive. The 8TB external hard drive disk allows you to store all your files: images, photos, games, music, videos, movies, and so on. Therefore, storing HD-videos and Blu-Ray movies won't be a problem any more!

Western Digital My Book Desktop External Hard Drive in the use

Speed

This cutting-edge USB external hard drive surely has what to boast of in terms of data transfer rate. If connected via USB 3.0, the maximum speed reaches 5 Gb/s, so you will be able to copy files momentarily and an HD movie will require several minutes (forget about painful 2-hour waits!). If the other device or computer has USB 2.0 support only, don't worry - this external HDD is 100% compatible with USB 2.0 but the read/write speed falls to 480 Mb/s.

Detailed review of Western Digital My Book Desktop External Hard Drive

Design and Size

Western Digital My Book desktop external hard drive has a stylish black plastic casing that has 4 small feet, so you can easily put the device upright. This unit looks stunning on your computer desk. As usual, an external hard drive of this kind can be placed right near the monitor. The front panel of this external HDD has a light indicator and a stylish Western Digital logo. The overall weight of the unit is 2.23 lbs, so it's not the best device to carry around. Oh, let's also mention the form factor of the external HDD that is 3.5''.

Western Digital My Book Desktop External Hard Drive application

OS Compatibility and Backup

This WD external hard drive disk is compatible with Windows OS, so if you are using Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10, you just need to connect the computer and the HDD via a USB cable. Although, it doesn't mean that this model can't be used as Mac hard drive external device. Since Windows and Mac OS are based on different file management systems, after a quick reformatting, Western Digital external hard drive will become Mac-friendly. If you are concerned about security of your data, this device is surely a must-have. First of all, the unit is supplied with WD Backup software - it works quietly and performs automatic backups. No need to say, you can set a schedule of backups, and if you have a Dropbox account - this software can save backup files right to it! But that's not all - Acronis True Image WD Edition software backs up files on a system level, which means it makes a copy of the whole system (with all settings, installed apps, etc.). Be sure, if a system failure occurs, you will be able to restore it entirely thanks to Acronis True Image.

Western Digital My Book Desktop External Hard Drive application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
WD 8TB My Book unboxing and review

What customers say about this product

Key Specs

I love WD external hard drives, these large capacity ones in particular. This is my first 6 TB one, I have 12 other ones that are only 3 TB and 4 TB, I've only used this one for a little over a week, but so far so good. I expect it will be good just like all my other ones

Features

The drive is faster than I expected. It took about 1 day to copy 5.14 TB to it via USB 3. Those were mostly music files 3MB to 60mb plus some videos.

Size & Weight

Great value, nice size. I am using this to back up my backup of family videos.
 

Seagate Backup Plus 4 TB

EXPAND YOUR DATA STORAGE CAPABILITIES

Aiming to produce a capacious and compact HDD, Seagate engineers have designed the new series of Backup Plus external hard drive. Made smaller to fit a pocket of your jeans, this item offers 4 TB of memory to store tens of thousands of photos, documents, and other media. And if you presume this might not be enough, there is a 5 TB model available.

However, its capacity is only one of the many great features the Backup Plus has for you. Made to be convenient and safe to use on-the-go, the driver is durable enough to withstand accidental drops and scratches. The Seagate Plus is produced from metal, so it ensures great shock resistance. Also, if color matters to you, this model is available in black, red, silver, and blue, so you can choose the one you like more.

Software is what we absolutely love about Seagate. This small device can backup data automatically from any gadget, you only need to set it up right.

Review of Seagate Backup Plus 4 TB Portable External Hard Drive

BACK UP AND SAVE UP

The first thing you should do after purchasing this external hard drive is install the Seagate Dashboard app. It has the Protect function, which allows you to make a backup with a single click. Also, you can create your own backup schedule and the software will do it automatically.

If you deal with lots of data, you can safely back it all up with the help of Protect function and you will never get in trouble.

You can also benefit from using the Seagate Media app which moves the images from your smartphone or tablet right to the external hard drive, thus expanding the storage capacity greatly. On top of that, with the Seagate Plus, you get 2-month complimentary membership to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan for access to Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC, and more, a great perk giving you plenty of editing tools for your photos.

Seagate Backup Plus 4 TB Portable External Hard Drive in the use

One for All

That is no news that this HDD by Seagate is compatible with both Mac and Windows PCs right out-of-the-box. The news is though, you don't need to reformat it for Mac, you should only install the Mac driver before the first use. Handy, isn't it?

Detailed review of Seagate Backup Plus 4 TB Portable External Hard Drive

Great in All Matters

Fast data copying with the USB 3.0/2.0, lots of storage space, scheduled auto backups, user-friendly software, and shockproof housing is what Seagate offers its users. So, if you are looking for an easy way to store your data, the Seagate Plus driver hits the sweet spot.

Seagate Backup Plus 4 TB Portable External Hard Drive application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Features

Drive was detected straight away on Windows 10 and there are various software features loaded onto the drive should you wish to use them.

Key Specs

I have a few external drives, WD 2.5" and WD 3.5" cloud drive, but I think for size and capacity so far I like this quite a lot.

Size & Weight

The drive is very small, about iPod Classic size and weight.
 

Western Digital Elements

Plug and Transfer

The WD Element can rightly be called one of the most reliable external hard drives on the market. It is quite compact for the model with a storage space of 2 TB and fairly affordable for the HDD of its range. Plus, the manufacturer offers you more and less capacious models (1TB / 2 TB / 3 TB / 4 TB) so that you could get the one that meets your individual needs.

As any other portable hard drive in our review, this one is powered through the USB cable. You can either use USB 3.0 or 2.0, but as you know, data transfer is faster with the former: it is 100 Mb/s with USB 3.0 and about 38 Mb/s with its alternative. Speaking in terms of time, to burn a 1GB video file on your WD, you will need to wait for either 10 or 40 seconds with USB 3.0 or 2.0 respectively.

The Element HDD is compatible with most OSs: Windows 7 and higher, Mac, and Linux. For Windows users, it is ready to use right from the box, just plug it into your PC and you are ready to go. The external hard drive is NTFS pre-formatted for Windows. If you reformat your hard drive in FAT-32 for example, it will work on any system. Gamers can also benefit from this model since this WD hard drive can easily expand storage on Xbox One, PS4, and other gaming consoles. A great opportunity to have all the important data at hand 24/7.

Review of Western Digital Elements Portable External Hard Drive

Intuitive Control

As we have mentioned before this model is user-friendly and it starts working right after you plug it in. It’s like using a flash drive, though no flash drive will give you so much storage space at this price. But there is more!

The Element hard drive comes with the WD SmartWare Pro. It allows you to back up your data in Dropbox thus expanding your data storage options greatly. The installation app is on the HDD, you just need to run it on your PC and follow several simple instructions. However, don’t forget to save it elsewhere before formatting the hard drive.

Western Digital Elements Portable External Hard Drive in the use

Made to Last

Being made of high-quality materials, the WD Element pleases its user with a pretty durable construction. It is wear-proof and can withstand accidental drops and hits, thus protecting the hard drive and all your data reliably.

The front and back sides of the housing have a matte finish so it is not a fingerprint magnet. That is a clever touch considering how annoying fingerprints on a glossy surface can be. Otherwise, the design is pretty simple, no bells and whistles. If you care little about your HDD being eye-catching and more about its functionality, that wouldn't be much of a problem, though. Finally, this 2TB model is pretty compact, so there is no need to carry your briefcase for the HDD only. Just drop it in your pocket.

Detailed review of Western Digital Elements Portable External Hard Drive

Good Value for Money

Without a doubt, the WD element hard drive is a pretty simple and user-friendly model that can store hundreds of video files, thousands of audio tracks, and so many more for you securely. And at the same time, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Does it sound like the hard drive you are looking for? Then the WD HDD is right up your alley.

Western Digital Elements Portable External Hard Drive application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Seagate Expansion (STEA2000400)

Plenty of Storage for a Reasonable Price

Seagate is a well-known company producing innovative and reliable data storage devices for over 40 years. Today the company offers a wide range of products, making it easy for buyers to find items to meet any needs. The Expansion External Hard Drive is one of their best hard drives, which is capable of holding up to 2 terabytes of files and documents and providing super-fast transfer speed. It has a slim, sharp design and it easily fits in a pocket so carrying it isn't going to bring any discomfort. The drive is also simple to use. Once you connect it to your PC, it will be recognized by the Windows system the same moment and you will be able to transfer your files by dragging and dropping them on the screen. For those looking for external hard drives with smaller or bigger capacities, Seagate offers to choose from 1TB and 4TB versions.

Review of Seagate Expansion (STEA2000400) Portable External Hard Drive

Funky and Compact

Like we've mentioned above, this drive stands out from a lot of other storage hard drives by its rugged, slim, and funky design. If you value comfort and you're haunting for gadgets that smartly combine performance with newfangled trends, this is your best choice. Besides, this drive is extremely lightweight. Weighing 0.37 lb, it won't take up more room in your pocket than a wallet or a stack of credit cards, and you'll find it tempting to carry it along with you. If you're leading an active lifestyle and often find yourself at the mercy of the weather, you should also like the fact that this drive comes supplied with a handy carrying case.

Seagate Expansion (STEA2000400) Portable External Hard Drive in the use

Fast-Speed Interface

With this Expansion External Hard Drive, you will not need to trade capacity for speed as it has them both. On top of 2 terabytes of storage space, the drive boasts a speedy USB interface with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports reaching up to 5Gbps of throughput. This is convenient if you have compatible devices and you've got plenty of files to transfer. Connecting the drive to a computer is also straightforward and quick. No software installation is needed. Once you plug it in, it will show up and work just like any other external device. The drive is compatible with an array of devices based on Windows 7 and above.

Detailed review of Seagate Expansion (STEA2000400) Portable External Hard Drive

Backup and Restore with Seagate Dashboard Software

The advantage to buying storage hard drives from Seagate is that the company provides its users with a free Seagate Dashboard software allowing them to back up and restore (if need be) digital files they've ever transferred between the drive and their computer. To do so, a user may either adjust drive settings so that the software performs backups automatically or backup files manually when he needs so.

Considering all the advantages Seagate offers its users, we'd definitely recommend customers using Windows computers to consider buying this external storage hard drive. Compact, reliable, and speedy as it is, it will provide quick access to the files you need anywhere you go. 

Seagate Expansion (STEA2000400) Portable External Hard Drive application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Key Specs

Perfect and just what I wanted. I ordered the 4 tb size for my PS4 and it came undamaged and worked like a charm. Plugged it right up and formatted on PS4 without any hassles.

Features

It comes with Seagate's storage software, which has some security/ease of use features but required me to mess around with finding a file system compatible with Windows, OS X, and Linux (yuck!) so haven't even bothered to set it up. So far no problems.

Size & Weight

I'm also not too sure about how well it will stand up to portability, drives are delicate things and easily damaged and it just doesn't feel sufficiently sturdy.
 

Western Digital My Passport

Type

This external hard drive disk is a portable model that is rather compact, so you can easily carry it with you in a laptop bag or backpack. A fantastic device that you can always have at hand no matter where you go: to work, on a trip, or to college. Since it's a portable external hard drive, it's powered from USB. Therefore, you just need to plug a USB cable into your PC or laptop and the HDD will work. No need to say, you can use the same USB 3.0 interface to connect the external hard drive disk to a TV and other devices.

Review of Western Digital My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

Capacity

Having chosen this portable external hard drive, you can select one of the several available models that differ in the capacity they provide. All in all, there are the following capacity options: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB. Therefore, you can pick the most appropriate capacity according to your needs. For example, an external hard drive disk with 500GB capacity is enough for storing your favorite pictures and music, though if you are fond of videos and movies - you'd better pick an HDD with at least 1TB of storage.

Western Digital My Passport Portable External Hard Drive in the use

Speed

The data transfer speed of this external hard drive depends on the type of USB connection you use. Western Digital has a USB 3.0 support, so if you plug it into the USB 3.0 slot of your PC or laptop, you will be able to transfer files at the maximum speed of 5 Gb/s. However, if your computer has only USB 2.0 interfaces, the read/write speed will fall to 480 Mb/s. However, these are the maximum rates, and the real speed might differ for various reasons. The spindle rotation speed of this external hard drive disk is 5400 RPM.

Detailed review of Western Digital My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

Design and Size

Western Digital portable external hard drive is rather compact. Just imagine! It's almost of the same size with your passport. The dimensions of the device are as follows: 4.3 x 3.2 x 0.6 inches. It goes without saying that the weight of the unit depends on its capacity and the one we have tested weighs 0.34 lbs. We all know that some people want to emphasize their personal style, and this external HDD will give a chance to pick one of 4 available colors: black, blue, white, and berry.

Western Digital My Passport Portable External Hard Drive application

OS Compatibility and Backup

This USB external hard drive supports USB 3.0 connection and, of course, it is fully compatible with computers, laptops, and other devices that have USB 2.0 interface only. The gadget is ready to use right out of the box in case you use a Windows-operated computer (or laptop). If, however, you're a Mac user - a reformatting of the external hard drive's file system is required. Moreover, the unit provides the highest level of security for your data - both local and cloud automatic backups are available.

Western Digital My Passport Portable External Hard Drive application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
WD My Passport 2TB Black Unboxing and SpeedTest

What customers say about this product

Features

This drive is faster than the last generation. Up to 10% faster in benchmarks, but just noticeable in practical use.

Key Specs

This generation has 4TB, 3TB, 2TB, and 1TB models. The 500GB sizes in previous versions has been dropped.

Size & Weight

This hard drive is perfect for using with my Raspberry PI as a portable video library.
 

What Is an External Hard Drive?

External hard disk drives are additional data storage devices. There are two types of external hard disk drives: portable and desktop. Very often the capacity of your PC's or laptop's HDD or SDD is insufficient and that's when external hard drives come in handy. Moreover, as a rule, USB external hard drives also provide reliable backup of your most important data: encrypt the data on external hard disk drive and restrict access to it on a software level.

Aside from external hard drives, more sophisticated and high-tech storage devices are also available to all computer owners: solid state drives. They boast the highest data transfer rate possible and compact size. Therefore, we strongly recommend you to check our review on solid state drives! To be able to customize the look of your CD/DVDs covers, we can offer you to read our review on CD/DVD printers and choose the one that suits you better.

What Features to Compare

Type

The first feature we are going to tell you about is the type of external hard drives. In general, they are either portable or desktop. Portable external hard drives are very compact and can work directly off the USB port, so you just need a cable. Moreover, you can carry such external hard drives around wherever you go. Desktop external hard drive disks, in their turn, boast higher capacity and are perfect for home use. However, they require connection to the mains (via power adapter).

Capacity

The next parameter to take into consideration is the capacity of every external hard disk drive. To put it simpler, this feature tells you how much data a device can store. For some customers, this is the most important feature for choosing an external HDD. The capacity ranges from several hundred megabytes (200MB, 500MB, 750MB) on some outdated models to several terabytes (1TB, 2TB, 3 TB) on the newest HDDs. The latter are much better in terms of price to capacity ratio.

Speed 

Next, you should know the precise speed (or, in other words, the data transfer rate) which determines how fast the data can be transferred from/to the external hard drive. With ever-increasing data amounts and file sizes, speed becomes a really important performance indicator. The speed primarily depends on what type of USB interface is used: it can be either USB 2.0 (in this case the maximum data transfer rate reaches 480 Mb/s) or USB 3.0 (it's much faster - up to 5 Gb/s). Of course, the maximum speed is guaranteed only if both a computer and an external HDD support USB 3.0. However, that isn't the only parameter determining the performance of the device - you should also know the spindle rotation speed - the higher it is, the faster your HDD works. Modern external hard drive disks boast a spindle rotation speed of 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM.

Size and Design

Another important feature is the size and design. It determines not only how an external HDD looks but also the form factor and weight of the device. The form factor or the size is measured in inches. Most commonly, the form factor of external hard drive disks varies from 2.5'' to 3.5'' - it's, actually, the size of magnetic disc inside the casing. No need to say, the smaller the form factor is, the more compact and lightweight the device is. However, bigger external hard drives usually have a larger capacity. 

OS Compatibility and Backup

External hard drive disks come with different default file systems and that's why you should always be fully aware if the device can work with your operating system. For example, if you have a device featuring FAT32 file management system, you won't be able to use it with iMac. Of course, you can reformat the external HDD and after that it will become Mac-friendly, but it will require deleting all your files. In general, the most widespread operating system (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux) run on different file systems (FAT, FAT32, NTFS, ext4), so if a new external hard drive doesn't work with your, say, Ubuntu Linux - just reformat it and everything will be fine. Finally, any worthy external HDD must provide the maximum security of the data stored on it. And that's why different back-up technologies are used. Some USB external hard drives are capable of performing local backups, which means the files are copied to the external hard drive. Some models support cloud backup, i.e. your files are copied to a remote cloud storage. The backups are usually carried out automatically, so you just need to configure the backup schedule.

Sources:

1. Natalia Real HOW TO BUY AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE, Digital Trends. December 9, 2012.

2. Lisa Johnston Tips for Buying a Portable or External Hard Drive, Lifewire. February 14, 2017.

3. Dong Ngo Storage buying guide, CNET. November 20, 2015.

4. Michael Brown How to buy the best portable hard drive, PCWorld. December 5, 2012.

5. Hard disk drive, Wikipedia.

6. Caron Beesley Got Backup? Finding the Best Backup Option for Your Small Business Data, SBA. February 16, 2012.

7. Desire Athow 10 Things to Consider When Buying An External Hard-disk based Storage Device, ITProPortal. June 24, 2008.

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