Best External Hard Drives for Safe Data Storage

Review & Comparison, Last Update November 10, 2017
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 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Capacity
Type
Power Supply
Weight
OS Compatibility
Backup
Warranty
 
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 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
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
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

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.

...Read more ...Read less

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
Seagate Backup Plus Slim
Seagate Backup Plus Slim
 

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 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 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 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 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 External Hard Drive application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
WD My Passport 2TB Black Unboxing and SpeedTest
Western Digital My Passport
Western Digital My Passport
 

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


Seagate Expansion
Seagate Expansion
 

Western Digital My Book Desktop

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 HDD

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 HDD 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 HDD

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 HDD 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 HDD application

VIDEO
WD 8TB My Book unboxing and review
Western Digital My Book Desktop
Western Digital My Book Desktop
 

Toshiba HDTB310XK3AA

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 HDTB310XK3AA Canvio Basics

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 HDTB310XK3AA Canvio Basics 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 HDTB310XK3AA Canvio Basics

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 HDTB310XK3AA Canvio Basics 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 HDTB310XK3AA Canvio Basics application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


VIDEO
Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable Hard Drive Review & Disassembly 2TB
Toshiba HDTB310XK3AA
Toshiba HDTB310XK3AA
 

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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