Best Portable Hard Drives

Review & Comparison, Last Update October 25, 2017
Have no idea where to store gigabytes of your data? That's simple - a portable hard drive! Thanks to this small device, you will be able to store and play your favorite movies, enjoy music, keep all your photos, and so on. We have selected 5 best portable hard drives, so go ahead and pick one! ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
CAPACITY
INTERFACE
OS COMPATIBILITY
BACKUP AND DATA PROTECTION
SIZE&WEIGHT
 
PROS
Seagate is a fantastic portable hard drive that not only offers incredible storage space but also saves energy due to a sophisticated power management. The power cord is very long (18 inches).
CONS
No cloud backup capabilities.
OUR VERDICT
Seagate is an excellent portable hard drive for backing up the whole storage drives. A perfect solution for safe data storage.
detailed parameters
CAPACITY
4TB (1TB, 2TB, 3TB)
INTERFACE
USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible)
OS COMPATIBILITY
Windows, Mac OS (reformatting required)
BACKUP AND DATA PROTECTION
Local Backup
SIZE&WEIGHT
4.61" x 3.15" x 0.82" 0.5 lb
PROS
WD My Passport Pro portable hard drive comes with a 3-year warranty and ensures quite a high data transfer rate. The device is available in a variety of colors (the power cord is of the same color as the device).
CONS
The light indicator on the casing seems too bright for some users.
OUR VERDICT
WD My Passport Pro portable hard drive is a really worthy device that not only backs up your data but encrypts it as well. If total security is your priority - Western Digital is the best pick!
detailed parameters
CAPACITY
1TB (2TB, 3TB, 4TB)
INTERFACE
USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible)
OS COMPATIBILITY
Windows, Mac OS (reformatting required)
BACKUP AND DATA PROTECTION
Optional 256-bit AES hardware encryption, Automated local and cloud backup
SIZE&WEIGHT
4.3" x 3.2" x 0.6" 0.32 lb
PROS
Seagate Backup Plus portable hard drive is available in 5 different colors, so you can choose your favorite one. Once you've registered your portable HDD on seagate.com, you will receive 200GB of OneDrive cloud storage.
CONS
OneDrive storage is given if you activate your OneDrive account before June 30, 2017.
OUR VERDICT
Seagate Backup Plus 1TB portable hard drive allows you to store a big number of files and back them all up to OneDrive cloud. A win-win choice for a good price!
detailed parameters
CAPACITY
1TB (500GB, 1.5TB, 2TB, 4TB)
INTERFACE
USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible)
OS COMPATIBILITY
Windows, Mac OS (reformatting required)
BACKUP AND DATA PROTECTION
Lyve App, Seagate Dashboard, Free 200GB of OneDrive Cloud storage (2 years)
SIZE&WEIGHT
4.4" x 2.9" x 0.47" 0.3 lb
PROS
Toshiba Canvio Basics portable hard drive is quite a fast device that boasts an average seek time of just 12 ms and a cache buffer of 8MB. An internal shock sensor protects data in case you accidentally drop the unit.
CONS
The power cable is rather short, though it's enough if you use it with a laptop.
OUR VERDICT
Toshiba portable hard drive is an optimal solution for people who are always on the go and need a reliable and smudge-resistant device.
detailed parameters
CAPACITY
1TB (500GB, 2TB, 3TB)
INTERFACE
USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible)
OS COMPATIBILITY
Windows, Mac OS (reformatting required)
BACKUP AND DATA PROTECTION
Internal shock sensor
SIZE&WEIGHT
4.6" x 3.1" x 0.5" 0.5 lb
PROS
WD Elements portable hard drive is really durable and reliable. This device ensures excellent data transfer speeds and protects your data thanks to WD SmartWare Pro software.
CONS
Backup soft is a trial version, a license must be purchased afterwards.
OUR VERDICT
It's a superb portable hard drive that allows you to store your data and back it up either on the HDD itself or right to your Dropbox™ cloud.
detailed parameters
CAPACITY
1TB (2TB)
INTERFACE
USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible)
OS COMPATIBILITY
Windows, Mac OS (reformatting required)
BACKUP AND DATA PROTECTION
WD SmartWare Pro backup software (free trial)
SIZE&WEIGHT
4.4" x 3.2" x 0.6" 0.3 lb

What is a Portable Hard Drive

All computer users sooner or later face a problem of data storage. New formats make video files extremely 'bulky' and new PC games take dozens of gigabytes. Storing your stuff on CD and DVD discs makes no sense since they provide quite a small storage space. That's why portable hard drives are used. These devices are designed for storing and backing up a lot of data and they are very compact. Thus, you can take a portable hard drive with you wherever you go! It's particularly useful for people who travel a lot and need to have some important files at hand. Connecting a portable hard drive to a computer is simple and no drivers are required. You just use a USB cord and that's all. However, making the right choice is still quite difficult, particularly for people who don't know much about computers and hardware. That's why we have picked 5 best portable hard drives and compared them according to their most important features.

If portability isn't your priority and you just need a super-capacious drive, take a look at our shortlist of the best external hard drives. While if you wish to reach stunning data transfer rates - our review of the best external solid state drives will certainly come in handy.

Best Portable Hard Drives

What Features to Compare

Capacity and Transfer Speed

The first feature you should consider is the capacity of a portable hard drive. This parameter tells you how much digital information a device can store. Portable hard drives usually have at least 500GB of storage space, though most customers prefer models offering larger space (from 1TB to 4TB). If these bare figures tell you nothing, here are some details: 1TB stores up to 1,000 hours of digital videos, up to 250 hours of 2-hour DVD movies, up to 320,000 photos or 16,660 hours of music playback. Next, don't forget to check the maximum data transfer rate (speed) each device supports. This rate denotes the amount of data that is transferred within 1 second. There are quite a lot of issues that impact the transfer speed: spindle rotation speed, connection interface, buffer cache, etc.

Connection and Compatibility

Any peripheral device must be somehow connected to a computer. As usual, most portable hard drives have a USB interface - either USB 2.0 or USB 3.0. The best devices have a brand-new USB 3.0 interface which is several times faster than USB 2.0, ensuring the highest data transfer rate possible. The maximum data transfer rate for the USB 3.0 interface reaches 5 Gb/s. Some portable hard drives offer other connection interfaces such as eSATA and FireWire, but they are quite rare on the market. Also, you should know what operating systems each portable hard drive is compatible with and what file management system it has. FAT32 is a popular system used for many years but it puts a limit on the maximum file size (4GB). FAT32 is compatible with most Windows operating systems (starting from XP), Mac OS, and Linux. Newer portable hard drives are formatted in NTFS file management system - it doesn't limit the file size and allows you to encrypt the data. However, there's a drawback - NTFS can't work with Mac-operated computers. If you wish to use a portable hard drive with your iMac or MacBook - you will have to reformat the portable HDD. It will erase all your files, so do it right after the purchase.

Design and Protection

Finally, there are some other features that you should consider before buying a portable hard drive. Find out what material a device is made of since the durability will heavily depend on it. The best portable hard drives are made of metal - they are shock-resistant and don't melt down if exposed to fire. Plastic devices are cheaper and less durable. As for design, it's up to you to decide. Many manufacturers offer their portable hard drives in different colors and the casing of a device has either matte or glossy surface. It's self-evident that no fingerprints will be seen on a matte surface. The last but not the least, pay particular attention to the data protection features each device offers. Some models come with some backup software while the best portable hard drives boast a highly reliable 256-bit AES hardware encryption. Choose the latter if you wish to keep your data 100% safe.

...Read more ...Read less

Seagate STEA4000400

Capacity and Transfer Speed

Seagate Expansion portable hard drive we have tested boasts the largest storage capacity among other devices on our shortlist - 4TB. Therefore, you can store lots of files: movies, music, images, PC games, documents, and so on. If you want to save up, you are welcome to choose one of less 'roomy' options: 1TB, 2TB, or 3TB. As for the data transfer speed, it's quite mediocre - up to 120 MB/s. However, it's not that little and you won't need to wait for hours till your Full HD video is copied to this portable hard drive.

 

Review of Seagate STEA4000400 Seagate Expansion

Connection and Compatibility

Seagate Expansion portable hard drive connects to computers and other devices via a long 18-inch cable and a USB 3.0 interface. No need to mention, USB 3.0 is way faster than USB 2.0. But we would like to draw your attention to the cable. Its length makes it convenient for connecting this portable hard drive to a PC. Very often portable HDDs have short cables so users have to place the device close to a system unit, which means they need to bend down, which is really uncomfortable. As for OS compatibility, Seagate Expansion portable hard drive is pre-formatted in NTFS, so you can connect it to any Windows-operated computer. Mac OS X is also supported (10.7 and higher) but a reformatting is required.

Seagate STEA4000400 Seagate Expansion in the use

Design and Protection

This 4TB portable hard drive looks very stylish. It has a rough surface with lots of small sharpened triangles. Note that this device is made of plastic, so be careful and try not to drop it. Remember that all HDDs (and portable drives are no exception) are quite fragile due to the use of a small magnetic disc inside. Some people think that the higher the capacity of a portable hard drive is, the bulkier it is, but it isn't quite true. This Seagate model has the dimensions of 4.61 x 3.15 x 0.82 inches. Thus, it's an excellent device for those who need to store a lot of files that can be accessed right away.

Detailed review of Seagate STEA4000400 Seagate Expansion

VIDEO
FIX for clicking Seagate Expansion external USB hard drive
Seagate STEA4000400
Seagate STEA4000400
 

Western Digital My Passport

Capacity and Transfer Speed

WD My Passport Ultra portable hard drive is a great option for storing gigabytes of your data. This device is available in several capacity options: 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB. We have selected 1TB portable hard drive but you can choose the other one. Such capacity is sufficient for storing a lot of movies or some graphic files (created in AutoCAD, for example), whereas 500GB version is enough for music and photos storage. The data transfer speed is up to 5 Gb/s (in case of USB 3.0 connection) and 480 Mb/s for USB 2.0. However, the real transfer rate is lower since the spindle rotation speed of this portable hard drive is 5,200 RPM.

Review of Western Digital My Passport External Hard Drive

Connection and Compatibility

WD My Passport Ultra portable hard drive uses a USB 3.0 connection and it's clear that it's backward compatible with USB 2.0. Out-of-the-box can the unit work with Windows computers and no drivers are required. The reason is simple - the NTFS file management system. Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and even 10 are absolutely fine for this 1TB portable hard drive. If you are a devoted Mac user, just reformat this drive right after you buy it - and you will be able to use it with your iMac or MacBook.

Western Digital My Passport External Hard Drive in the use

Design and Protection

This portable hard drive is compact and fits into any pocket of a standard laptop bag or backpack. The device is just the same size as your passport: 4.3 x 3.2 x 0.6 inches. Since the 1TB portable hard drive weighs just 0.3 pounds, you can easily carry it wherever you go. If you wish to get a device of your favorite color, the choice of available colors is as follows: black, blue, white, orange, red and yellow. The surface of the unit is matte, so the casing looks elegant and rich. Now we've come to the most important advantage of WD My Passport Ultra portable hard drive - your data protection. Unlike other devices, this one boasts a 256-bit AES hardware encryption, so all your files can be securely password-protected. Moreover, we recommend you to use WD Backup software - it will help you backup different files and save them to the portable hard drive or to a Dropbox™ cloud storage (Dropbox account required).

Detailed review of Western Digital My Passport External Hard Drive

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


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

Seagate STDR1000100

Capacity and Transfer Speed

It's a 1TB portable hard drive manufactured by Seagate. This capacity is sufficient for storing up to 1,000 hours of high-resolution videos, up to 250 2-hour DVD movies, up to 320,000 photos, or 16,600 hours of music. If you think that 1TB isn't enough, there are other versions of this Seagate portable hard drive: 500GB, 1.5TB, 2TB, 4TB. And those who wish to copy files at a really high speed will certainly appreciate a 4TB Fast drive. This 1TB portable hard drive shows the maximum data transfer rate of around 120 MB/s.

Review of Seagate STDR1000100 Backup Plus Slim

Connection and Compatibility

Seagate Backup Plus Slim portable hard drive connects to computers and other devices via a USB 3.0 interface. If you wish to enjoy the maximum data transfer rate, use this device with computers and laptops that have the same connection type. If you use a USB 2.0 port, the speed will be significantly lower. Seagate is formatted in the NTFS file system, so it's compatible with Windows-operated computers; no drivers are required. As you've, probably, guessed, the drive must be reformatted for Mac OS compatibility.

Seagate STDR1000100 Backup Plus Slim in the use

Design and Protection

Seagate Backup Plus Slim portable hard drive is made of plastic that has a matte surface. So, the device looks pretty stylish. The model we have tested is black but there are several other color options: blue, red, gray, and silver. As for protection, Seagate has a lot to offer. First of all, the unit comes with Seagate Dashboard which allows you to save backups from mobile devices, cloud storages, and social networks. Just download this app, set it correctly - and your videos, photos, and other files will be protected. The program can be installed on Windows and Mac-operated computers. Also, Seagate portable hard drive comes with 200GB of OneDrive storage space, free for 2 years. However, you must activate your account before June 30, 2017. Thus, when buying this 1TB portable hard drive, you also get a cloud storage for keeping all your backups and important files. Also, Backup Plus Slim portable drive is compatible with Lyve app which allows you to free some space on your mobile devices and store your files by off-loading them to your portable hard drive.

Detailed review of Seagate STDR1000100 Backup Plus Slim

VIDEO
How to Copy/Paste Files folders to External Hard Drive on Mac
Seagate STDR1000100
Seagate STDR1000100
 

Toshiba HDTB310XK3AA

Capacity and Transfer Speed

Just like other portable hard drives, this model is available in several capacity options. If you wish to backup images of your system drive, use the smallest 500GB portable hard drive. If you need a device for storing your photos and music tracks - a 1TB version will be enough. And if you wish to store high-resolution movies, consider getting a 2TB or 3TB portable hard drive. The spindle rotation speed is 5,400 RPM and the average seek time is 12 ms. The cache buffer is 8MB. Thanks to the above-mentioned features, copying an HD movie will take just about 3-4 minutes. Pretty fast! As for the maximum transfer speed supported by the connection interface (USB 3.0), it's 5Gb/s.

Review of Toshiba HDTB310XK3AA Canvio Basics

Connection and Compatibility

Just like a top-notch Toshiba Canvio Connect II portable hard drive, this unit has a USB 3.0 connection interface. We hope you remember that any USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0 interface. Toshiba is pre-formatted in the NTFS file system and that's why it can work with all modern Windows versions (Vista, 7, 8, 10, etc.) without any drivers. Mac users must perform a reformatting of this portable hard drive in order to make it compatible with iMacs and MacBooks.

Toshiba HDTB310XK3AA Canvio Basics in the use

Design and Protection

Toshiba Canvio Basics portable hard drive is among the most compact devices of this type - the dimensions are 4.6 x 3.1 x 0.5 inches. We would like to stress that you can carry the drive right in a pocket of your jacket since it weighs just 0.5 pounds. The casing of this device is made of plastic with a matte surface, which isn't going to slip out of your hands. Toshiba offers this 1TB portable hard drive in the following colors: black, silver, and white. Thus, you can pick the one to fit your laptop or computer. As far as data protection is concerned, this portable hard drive has an internal shock sensor that prevents data loss even if you accidentally drop the drive.

Detailed review of Toshiba HDTB310XK3AA Canvio Basics

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


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

WD WDBUZG0010BBK-WESN

Capacity and Transfer Speed

WD Elements portable hard drive boasts quite a large storage capacity - 2TB. That's enough to store a backup image of your computer's whole system drive (i.e. the one your operating system is installed on). If this capacity seems too much for you, this very portable hard drive is available in 1TB and 1.5TB versions. The 2TB portable hard drive on our shortlist allows you to store around 500 DVD movies (approximately 2 hours long each) - quite a decent result! The data transfer speed of this Western Digital portable hard drive is pretty high - it reaches 5 Gb/s in case of USB 3.0 connection, but if you connect this device to an older computer with USB 2.0 interface - the transfer rate will go down to 480 Mb/s.

Review of WD WDBUZG0010BBK-WESN Ultra-fast

Connection and Compatibility

We have already mentioned that WD Elements 2TB portable hard drive has a USB 3.0 connection interface. The cable is included in a package, so you don't need to buy it separately. It's self-evident, this device is backward compatible with USB 2.0. WD is pre-formatted in the NTFS file management system like most other brand-new portable hard drives. Thus, this device works with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10. No drivers are required - just plug and use. As for Mac, this hard drive can work with any Mac-operated computer that has Mac OS X 10.6.5 and higher. However, this portable hard drive must be reformatted for being compatible with Mac.

WD WDBUZG0010BBK-WESN Ultra-fast in the use

Design and Protection

The casing of WD Elements 2TB portable hard drive is made of plastic that has a smooth surface. Therefore, be careful and don't drop the device, otherwise, you can seriously damage it. As for protection, Western Digital 2TB portable hard drive comes with the latest version of WD SmartWare Pro backup software that helps you back your data up. Moreover, save it either to the portable hard drive or right to your Dropbox™ cloud (if you have it, of course). Let's also mention the size of this portable hard drive: 4.4 x 3.2 x 0.6 inches. The weight is really small - 0.3 pound, so you can carry this device in your laptop bag all the time.

Detailed review of WD WDBUZG0010BBK-WESN Ultra-fast

VIDEO
WD Elements 1TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive Unboxing And Review
WD WDBUZG0010BBK-WESN
WD WDBUZG0010BBK-WESN
 

Sources:

1. Natalia Real HOW TO BUY AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE, DIGITAL TRENDS. December 9, 2012.

2. Ron Seifried 15 Recommended External Hard Drives for Everyday Use, B&H. 7,2015.

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. Justin Krajeski, Kimber Streams The Best Portable Hard Drive, The Wirecutter. November 14, 2016.

7. Lisa Johnston 3 Tips for Buying a Portable or External Hard Drive, Lifewire. September 3, 2016.

8. Karen Haslam How to add more storage to your Mac, Macworld. March 24, 2016.

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