Best External Hard Drives for Safe Data Storage

Review & Comparison, Last Update November 28, 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, the 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

The 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

8TB (3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 10TB, 12TB, 16TB, 20TB, 24TB)

Type
Desktop
Power Supply
Mains (via power adapter)
Weight
2.23 lbs
OS Compatibility

Windows

Reformatting is required for Mac OS operating system

Backup
Automatic local and cloud backup
Warranty

3-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

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

Type

Portable

Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.545 lbs

OS Compatibility

Windows, Mac OS

Backup

Seagate Dashboard backup

Warranty

Limited 2-year warranty

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 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

4TB (1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 5TB)

Type

Portable

Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.52 lbs

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

Limited 2-year warranty

PROS

This HDD is very simple in use. It connects to a PC (both Mac and Windows) within a second via USB 3.0 at the maximal speed of 120Mb/s.

CONS

It is a bit noisy when running.

OUR VERDICT

Thanks to its high speed, capacious design, auto-setup, included 18" USB 3.0 cable, and aluminum body, this Portable External Hard Drive by Seagate is a reliable device to store photos, music, and documents.

detailed parameters
Capacity

2 TB (1 TB, 4 TB, 5 TB, 8 TB)

Type

Portable (Desktop available)

Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.418 lbs

OS Compatibility

Windows, Mac OS

Backup

Seagate Dashboard backup

Warranty

Limited 1-year warranty

PROS

This model comes with the WD Discovery™ software that allows you to back up photos, videos, and other information right from Facebook, Dropbox, and Google Drive™.

CONS

The body of this HDD is polished, so it may slide across the desk.

OUR VERDICT

The WD My Passport is a trustworthy hard drive. It supports USB 3.0\2.0 connection, has an auto backup, reliable security system, and personal password setup. Surely, with such a device, your data is in good hands.

detailed parameters
Capacity

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

Type

Portable

Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.264 lbs

OS Compatibility

Windows® 10 or Windows 8.1 operating systems; Requires reformatting for other operating systems

Backup

Automatic local and cloud backup paired with Western Digital backup software

Warranty

Limited 3-year warranty

Western Digital My Book

BEST HDD FOR PERSONAL USE

The My Book 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 take thousands of pictures and need immense storage space for them. This model is the most capacious external HDD on the market. It is available in several variations - from 3TB to 24TB. So whatever media you are going to backup (UHD-videos or thousands of photos) Western Digital has the right hard drive for you. As for speed and OS compatibility, the My Book supports USB 3.0 connection with the maximal speed of 5 Gb/s. It is compatible with Windows 7 and higher and Mac. Though, it’s worth noting that you need to reformat the unit in order to make it Mac-friendly.

When it comes to security, Western Digital is as usual very much on the ball. The My Book is supplied with WD Backup software - it works like a clock. No need to say, you can set a schedule of automatic backups, and if you have a Dropbox account - this software can save backup files right to it. But that's not all - the Acronis True Image WD Edition software saves 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. Besides, you can set up a personal password so that only you could have access to the content of the hard drive. Indeed, with this level of security, your data is in good hands 24/7.

Review of Western Digital My Book Desktop External Hard Drive (USB 3.0)

IT BLENDS WITH ANY INTERIOR

The WD My Book is pretty compact for an HDD with 8TB capacity. Its dimensions are 6.7x5.5x1.9 inches, so it doesn’t steal much space on a desk. It has a stylish black plastic casing with rubber feet so that the unit won't slip over the table. Half of its body has ribs. They look nice and make for a stronger grip when you hold the unit. The top side of the housing has ventilation holes to prevent heat problems. And there is a light indicator with the WD logo on the front. Inputs are arranged on the back side to avoid a mess of wires on your desk. There is a power input, USB 3.0 port, and Kensington lock slot. All in all, whether you want to hide the HDD inside a computer case or put it right next to a monitor, the My Book will blend with its new spot.

As for the overall weight, this unit weighs 2.23 lbs. This is the heaviest device on our list. Such weight is explained with the storage capacity of the HDD. At the same time, it makes it inconvenient to use on-the-go but only when you want to travel light. Other than that, the My Book HDD by WD is one of the best storage devices that can save a raft of information.

Western Digital My Book Desktop External Hard Drive (USB 3.0) in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
WD 8TB My Book unboxing and review

What customers say about this product

Key Specs

This model (I got the 6TB size) is available in sizes up to 8TB. A pretty massive amount of storage on a USB drive!

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 Portable

ONE FOR ALL

Aiming to produce a capacious and compact HDD at the same time, Seagate engineers have designed the new series of Backup Plus external hard drives. Made smaller to fit into the pocket of your jeans, this external HDD offers 5 TB of memory to store tens of thousands of photos, documents, and other media. The manufacturer also sells 1 TB, 2 TB, and 4 TB models, so you can choose the one that meets your needs the best.

Its capacity is only one of the many great features the Backup Plus has to offer, though. Made to be convenient and safe to use on-the-go, this drive is durable enough to withstand accidental drops and scratches. Besides, the Seagate Plus is produced from metal, so it ensures great shock resistance. Software is what we absolutely love about this HDD. This small device can backup data automatically from any gadget, you only need to set it upright.

It is also not news that this drive is compatible with both Mac and Windows PCs right out-of-the-box. What you might not have been aware of though is that it doesn't require reformatting for being used with Mac. This means if you have gadgets running on Mac, you will only need to install the Mac driver before the first use. How great is that!

The only weak point of this model is its cord insulation. It’s a bit stiff. That said, being stiffer also means it is more resistant to wear and tear, so it should serve you for a long while.

Review of Seagate Backup Plus Portable External Hard Drive (USB 3.0)

GREAT IN ALL MATTERS

The first thing you should do after purchasing this external hard drive is to install the Seagate Dashboard app. This is important to do especially if you deal with lots of data. The thing is, this app has a Protect function which enables performing quick backups with a single click, thus guaranteeing safety of your files. In addition to that, it allows you to create your own backup schedule so that the software backs up at a time you need.

Also, we recommend installing the Seagate Media app. This app will come in handy if you have a large library of images on your smartphone or laptop, which you wish to store on the HDD.

And with the Seagate Plus, for example, you'll get a 2-month complimentary membership to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. It will provide you access to Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC and more, offering you plenty of editing tools to retouch your photos.

On top of that, Seagate gives its users a one-year complimentary subscription to Mylio Create. This is the app that helps organize photos into a life calendar, as well as allows you to edit, share, and sync them across multiple devices. Indeed, with Seagate, you get much more than just a nice capacious HDD.

Seagate Backup Plus Portable External Hard Drive (USB 3.0) in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Western Digital Elements

Plug and Transfer

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

Like 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. 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. The external hard drive is NTFS pre-formatted for Windows, so it is ready to use right from the box, just plug it into your PC and you are ready to go. If you reformat the device 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.

What we also find handy about the Element hard drive is that it 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 computer and follow several simple instructions. However, don’t forget to save it elsewhere before formatting the hard drive.

Review of Western Digital Elements Portable External Hard Drive (USB 3.0)

BUILT TO LAST

Being made of high-quality materials, the WD Element pleases its user with 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 4TB model is pretty compact, so there is no need to carry your briefcase for the HDD only. Just drop it in your pocket.

Overall, 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. At the same time, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Western Digital Elements Portable External Hard Drive (USB 3.0) in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Seagate Portable 2TB (STGX2000400)

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 a device they need. The Portable External Hard Drive is one of their best hard drives: it is capable of holding up to 2 TB of files and documents. On top of 2 TB of storage space, the drive boasts a speedy USB interface (120 Mb/s) with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports making it compatible with old and new devices. This makes it a good purchase for families that use a mix of gadgets. This model is a no-brainer to use. Once you connect it to your computer and the operating system recognizes it - this usually takes a couple of seconds - it will be ready to use.

However, fast speed and user-friendly control aren't the only benefits of this model. Just like most quality hard drives, this one has a slim, sharp design. It is rather lightweight, so you can easily put it in your pocket if you need to carry it with you. The Seagate external HDD has an ergonomic build making it convenient to hold in the hand. Plus, it has a beautiful matte coating that not only adds appeal to it but also prevents fingermarks, which often spoil the look of devices. More to that, the matte coating is pleasant to the touch and doesn't slip. It is also worth highlighting that this model is very durable thanks to its aluminum body. You can be sure it will endure falls and won't show the signs of wear and tear, which will be something highly appreciated by those who live active lives.

Review of Seagate Portable 2TB (STGX2000400) External Hard Drive (USB 3.0)

BACKUP AND RESTORE WITH SEAGATE DASHBOARD SOFTWARE

The advantage of buying from Seagate is that the company provides its users with Seagate Dashboard software for free, so they don't need to run any additional costs. This software allows not only backing up files but also restoring them if you ever damage or accidentally delete something from the driver. The backups can run automatically or be performed manually on-demand when needed.

The Seagate Portable External Hard Drive has many strong points, however, it also has one minor con - as compared to some other external hard drives in its class, its operation is a little noisy. That said, given you're unlikely to keep it running non-stop, we believe, this shouldn't be an issue.

Summing up, we would definitely recommend you to consider buying this external storage hard drive. Compact, reliable, and speedy, it will provide quick access to the files you need no matter where you go.

Seagate Portable 2TB (STGX2000400) External Hard Drive (USB 3.0) in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Features

It is compatible with Apple and Microsoft products and can be password protected. Very good product and true to the description.

Key Specs

It's cheap, and large capacity that's the only thing it has going for it.

Size & Weight

I bought it because easy to use, small size i can carry in my purse if I need to, plugs in, works, saves things so I dont have to keep everything on my computer desktop or laptop.
 

Western Digital My Passport (2019)

MAXIMAL PROTECTION OF YOUR DATA

The My Passport external HDD is the latest portable model from Western Digital. It's so compact that you can easily carry it in a pocket of your jeans without any discomfort. A fantastic device to have always at hand no matter where you go - to work, on a trip, or to college.

This model is available in several variations - 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, and 5 TB. Therefore, you can easily pick the most appropriate capacity according to your needs. For example, an external hard drive disk with 1TB capacity is more than enough for storing great amounts of photos, music, and documents. However, if you have a massive collection of movies, we'd recommend you to choose either a 4TB model or a 5TB one.

Since this is a portable external hard drive, it's powered from USB. Therefore, you just need to plug a USB cable into your computer or laptop to start a backup. No need to say, you can use the USB 2.0 interface to connect your hard drive to a TV and other compatible devices. This model also supports a speedier connection via USB 3.0.

What we absolutely love about WD hard drives is their trustworthy security system. To clarify, all the files are protected with built-in 256-bit AES hardware encryption. Plus, you can activate personalized password protection function to maximize the safety level. The My Password is also a social-friendly device. It can back up content right from social media and cloud storage services and do so automatically.

Review of Western Digital My Passport (2019) Portable External Hard Drive (USB 3.0)

RENEWED DESIGN

The My Passport is made speedy. It 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. Take note that 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.

The Western Digital portable HDD is built to last. Light as a feather, this model is the smallest on our list. It weighs only 0.26 lbs and fits in the palm of a hand. The My Passport has a totally new design that makes it look even slimmer than it actually is. It narrows down at one side making a sharp angle. The bottom cover is black, while the top part comes in grey, red, or blue. Well, considering its cool design and all the handy features this model offers, the My Passport HDD is definitely a trove for a user.

Western Digital My Passport (2019) Portable External Hard Drive (USB 3.0) in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

What Is an External Hard Drive?

External hard drives (EHD) are additional data storage devices. These handy gadgets provide a reliable backup of any information on your computer - from music and documents to 4k movies and PS4 games.

They can be connected to a computer via a USB cable, FireWire, or wirelessly. External hard drives are compact, portable, and very simple in use. You don’t need to install any software on your computer to start using it. Just plug it in and drag and drop your files.

These devices are usually very capacious. The storage space of a hard drive starts at 500 MB and can reach 20 TB, while its size and weight don't change. Some manufacturers even provide their customers with extra cloud storage space. This is a very handy feature when you work on several computers. So, even if you leave your HDD at home, your files will be with you.

As for the data transfer speed, external hard drives run at 120Mb/s, which is quite enough for regular use. However, if a higher speed is crucial for you, there are super-fast external solid-state drives (SSD) available on the market, too. They can transfer data at up to 10 Gb/s. Also, if you are a happy owner of PlayStation 4, we offer you PS4 hard drives for any taste and budget.

What Features to Compare

Type

The first thing to consider when selecting an external hard drive is whether you want a portable unit or a desktop one. Portable external hard drives are small in size, which makes them easy to carry, plus they work directly off a USB port, so all you need is a USB cable. Desktop external hard drive disk, in turn, are bigger in size, they boast higher capacity, and they are best suited for home use. Unlike portable models, they work off the mains via a power adapter.

Capacity

The next thing to consider is the capacity of an external hard drive disk. This parameter may vary, ranging from 200 MB up to 16-20 TB, so everyone should be able to pick the capacity that will best suit their needs.

Speed

Also, we recommend paying attention to the speed rate at which the data is transferred from/to the drive disk. The speed rate primarily depends on the type of USB interface used. For USB 2.0, the maximum data transfer rate reaches around 480 Mb/s, while for USB 3.0 it can be whopping 5 Gb/s. That said, you should not forget that the maximum speed can be achieved only if both a computer and a disk support USB 3.0. Another parameter determining the performance of an external hard drive disk is a spindle rotation speed. If possible, check it out as well. Generally, external drive disks have a spindle rotation speed of 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM.

Size and Design

Check out the size and design of a disk. Most commonly, the form factor of external hard drive disks varies from 2.5" to 3.5". This number refers to the dimensions of a magnetic disk located inside the casing. No need to say, the smaller the form factor is, the more compact and lightweight the device is. However, as we've mentioned above, remember that smaller HDDs are usually less capacious.

OS Compatibility and Backup

Pay attention to the default file system of the chosen external hard drive disk. It is crucial because HDDs are not universal: some are designed for Windows, some can work with both Windows and Mac OS, and some will require reformatting for compatibility with other operating systems. Actually, most HDDs can be reformatted to work with a system you need at any stage, but in most cases, this will mean deleting valuable files that you keep there. That's why it's best to check up OS compatibility right away.

Finally, check out safety features. The best external hard drives offer high-level data protection to make sure your files won't be lost and regularly perform local backups. Some models also support cloud backup, i.e. your files are copied to remote cloud storage. These backups are carried out automatically on a schedule that you choose.

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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