Best External Hard Drives for Safe Data Storage

Review & Comparison, Last Update November 15, 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

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

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 lb

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 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

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

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

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 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 lb

OS Compatibility

Windows, Mac OS

Backup

Seagate Dashboard backup

Warranty

Limited 1-year 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

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

Type
Portable
Power Supply

via USB

Weight

0.35 lb

OS Compatibility

Windows

Reformatting is required for Mac OS X operating system

Backup
Automatic local and cloud backup
Warranty

Limited 3-year 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 (USB 3.0)

Capacity

It's one of the most high-capacity USB external hard drives available on the market. Several capacity options are available: 3 TB, 4 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB, 10 TB, 12 TB, 16 TB and 20 TB. Thus, even the most demanding buyer can find the right model of this fantastic hard drive. The 8 TB 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 (USB 3.0) 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 (USB 3.0)

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 (USB 3.0) 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 external 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 (USB 3.0) 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

I was surprised at the size and heaviness of it and. i
 

Seagate Backup Plus Portable

EXPAND YOUR DATA STORAGE CAPABILITIES

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 a 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 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. 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.

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)

BACK UP AND SAVE UP

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 but 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 runs 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.

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

ONE FOR ALL

It is not the news that this HDD by Seagate 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. Handy, isn't it?

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

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 are the many benefits that Seagate offers its users. So, if you are looking for an easy way to store your data, the Seagate Plus drive hits the sweet spot.

Seagate Backup Plus Portable External Hard Drive (USB 3.0) application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

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 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.

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 (USB 3.0)

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 (USB 3.0) 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 4TB 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 (USB 3.0)

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. 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 (USB 3.0) application

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 products 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 and it offers a super-fast transfer speed of 120 MB/s. However, these aren't the only benefits of this model. Just like most quality hard drives, this one has a slim, sharp design. It weighs only 0.418 lb so you can easily put it in your pocket if you need to carry it with you. Also, it is simple 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.

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

SMOOTH AND COMPACT

We've mentioned that this external HDD is rather lightweight. What we'd like to add is that it also 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.

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

FAST-SPEED INTERFACE

With this Portable External Hard Drive, you will not need to trade capacity for speed as it has them both. On top of 2 TB of storage space, the drive boasts a speedy USB interface 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.

Detailed review of Seagate Portable 2TB (STGX2000400) External Hard Drive

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 should you ever damage or accidentally delete your files. 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'd 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 application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Features

I'm a huge fan of these for backup drives. Small, cheap, portable. I can buy two and have redundant backups in case one fails and it doesn't cost and arm and a leg.

Key Specs

Product is used to store digital images. Very good capacity, good write speed, extremely easy setup.

Size & Weight

Easy to use. Small and light weight. Large storage capacity
 

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 (USB 3.0)

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: 1 TB, 2 TB, 3 TB and 4 TB. Therefore, you can pick the most appropriate capacity according to your needs. For example, an external hard drive disk with 1 TB capacity is more than enough for storing great amounts of photos, music, documents and videos. However, if you have a massive collection of movies, we'd recommend you to choose either a 3TB model or a 4TB one.

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

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 0.37 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 (USB 3.0) 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 (USB 3.0) application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
WD My Passport 2TB Black Unboxing and SpeedTest

What customers say about this product

Features

The early drives came with 2yr warranties, but NOW come with 3 years. Yeah!

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.

Size & Weight

It's very portable, and just a case of simply plugging it in and it's available for use with Windows 10 - no external power supply needed of course, so ideal for transporting around in my laptop bag.
 

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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