Best External Hard Drives for Safe Data Storage

Review & Comparison, Last Update September 19, 2018
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 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Capacity
Type
Power Supply
Weight
OS Compatibility
Backup
Warranty
 
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
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

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
Seagate Dashboard app allows performing a backup at a single click. You can send lots of media files to social networks and share them with all your friends and contacts.
CONS
You need a special NTFS driver for using this external hard drive both with Windows and Mac OS computers.
OUR VERDICT
You will receive 200GB of cloud storage after the registration on seagate.com. Not only will you get a superb external hard drive, but you will also save up about $95. Real bargain!
detailed parameters
Capacity
500 GB - 4 TB
Type
Portable
Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.4 lb

OS Compatibility
Windows, Mac OS
Backup
Automatic local and cloud backup
Warranty
90-day warranty
PROS
This USB external hard drive has a built-in shock sensor that protects the device in case of any accident. The casing has a matte surface, so no fingerprints will remain on it.
CONS
The power cable is rather rigid.
OUR VERDICT
This device is a fantastic choice since it is portable (it even fits a pocket of a jacket) and comes in several options (that have different storage capacity). The device is a perfect purchase for those who travel a lot.
detailed parameters
Capacity
500 GB - 3 TB
Type
Portable
Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.51 lb

OS Compatibility
Windows, Mac OS
Backup
No
Warranty
1-year limited warranty

Western Digital WD 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 WD 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 WD 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 WD 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 WD 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 WD 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

Rubber "feet" on underside keep it in place

Key Specs

It's cute! Lol I love the color and size (definitely portable), and overall design - clean and neat. It's easy to format and use (thanks, Google) and can be password protected if desired.
 

Seagate Expansion

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 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 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 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 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.
 

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 Backup Plus Slim

Expand Your Data Storage Capabilities

The new series of Seagate external hard drives not only got larger capacity (up to 4TB) but also became more compact. However, today having a large capacity only is insufficient - there are lots of other manufacturers of external hard drives and their devices might provide the same storage space and that's why software comes to the fore. No secret that any user has gigabytes of important files that need to be kept safe. And if you could use a couple of flash drives several years ago, an external hard drive is required to do the same thing today. This Seagate external HDD is rather compact and you can carry it with you (in a pocket of your jacket, for example) and use whenever you need to. The durability of any external hard drive depends on the material it's made of. The casing of this Seagate external hard drive is made of metal, which ensures a decent shock- and scratch-resistance. If a color matters to you, you are welcome to choose one of four available colors: black, blue, red or silver. In all, this is a really worthy device that will backup all your important files and you will never lose them.

Review of Seagate Backup Plus Slim External Hard Disk

Back up and Save Up

The first thing you should do after purchasing this amazing external hard drive is install the Seagate Dashboard app. The Protect function allows you to make a backup with a single click or you can create your own backup schedule and the software will do it automatically. If you deal with lots of data, back it all up with the help of this function and you will never get in trouble. Moreover, nearly everybody uses smartphones today and social networks have become a part of our everyday life. Millions of people take pictures and upload them to Facebook and other similar networks. However, most smartphones have a limited storage space and that's why you can use Seagate Lyve app that will move the images from your device right to the external hard drive. Moreover, Seagate gives every user 200GB of free OneDrive storage. And believe our experience, keeping your most important files in a cloud storage ensures the maximum safety.

Seagate Backup Plus Slim External Hard Disk in the use

Useful Tip

Install NTFS driver for Mac and use this disk with both PC and Mac devices without reformatting.

Detailed review of Seagate Backup Plus Slim External Hard Disk

More Products to Consider

USB hubs will help you charge several gadgets at a time!

Seagate Backup Plus Slim External Hard Disk application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Seagate Backup Plus Slim 4TB PORTABLE External Hard Drive - (Black) USB 3.0/2.0

What customers say about this product

Key Specs

I originally purchased this product for my Xbox One to increase my storage space, and it seems to work very well! The Xbox recognized the hard drive instantly and I had no issues setting it up. I simply plugged it in, and I was done.

Features

Very small, much smaller than I thought, was thinking it was a larger form factor like the older archive drives I have. Nice.
 

Toshiba Canvio Basics

Type

Toshiba Canvio is a portable external hard drive for people whose job includes making many presentations and who, therefore, always need to carry an external hard drive around. The device is powered via USB interface, so no additional power cables are required - just a USB cable. This model is an excellent add-on to your PC or laptop. Also, this external hard drive disk is a real must-have for netbook users.

Review of Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable External Hard Drive

Capacity

No need to say, this portable external hard drive is offered in several capacity options. The most low-capacity version of Toshiba Canvio gives you 500GB of storage space, which is enough for storing your most important files and documents, as well as for storing OS copies. If you are an amateur (or professional) photographer, pick a 1TB model whereas high-resolution movies require at least 2TB or 3TB of storage space. Keep in mind that any modern 3D movie at Full HD or Ultra HD resolution takes several gigabytes of space.

Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable External Hard Drive in the use

Speed

This high-tech external hard drive has a spindle rotation speed of 5400 RPM. It's enough to provide the minimum response time of 12 ms and the cache memory of 8MB. Therefore, an HD movie may be written on this external HDD within just 3-4 minutes. Of course, the device supports USB 3.0 interface, so the maximum data transfer rate reaches 5 Gb/s, though the speed is significantly lower when connected via a USB 2.0 port.

Detailed review of Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable External Hard Drive

Design and Size

This Toshiba portable external hard drive is one of the most compact models on the market. The dimensions are 4.7 x 3.1 x 0.59 inches, so it easily fits even a pocket of a jacket. The casing has a special matte coating that ensures a tight grip and leaves no fingerprints on it. Moreover, it's very pleasant to touch. The device is available in several colors: black, white, and silver. So, the device is not only durable but also nice to look at.

Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable External Hard Drive application

OS Compatibility and Backup

This Toshiba portable external hard drive connects to a computer (or another device) via USB 3.0 interface. The unit requires no software to start using it - you just need to connect it! However, if you happen to plug it into your iMac or MacBook and the device won't work - don't worry, it's totally normal since Windows and Mac OS use different file management systems. Thus, reformat the external HDD and it will work with Mac OS properly.

Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable External Hard Drive application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


VIDEO
Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable Hard Drive Review & Disassembly 2TB

What customers say about this product

Features

Cool and quiet. This thing is basically silent so it won't annoy you regardless of where it is installed.

Key Specs

This 2tb Toshiba worked perfectly just plug it in and its a simple set it up in your system storage settings and your ready to go. I currently have 20 games on mine and have only 33.4% used with 1.4 tb left
 

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. How to Choose the Right External Hard Disk Drive for You, eBay. March 10, 2016.

6. Hard disk drive, Wikipedia.

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

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

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