Everything we do on our laptops and PCs takes up space. So when we run out of space on our laptop and PC, we need something to store our videos, photos, music and other files. Fortunately, we have external hard drives, which is a great way to add a ton of extra storage space for a laptop or PC. And today’s external hard drives do more than just file storage. They can be used to store games and downloaded media. We can even use the extra space of an external hard drive to run programs.
Protecting your data is essential for small businesses and freelancers. Additional storage is a blessing for those of us who want to extend the life of our laptops, as well as for anyone stuck with too small phones and an ever-growing library of mobile photos. And while they may lack the elegant look of internal hard drives and graphics cards, external drives offer a plug-in-enabled, portable option for users looking for a simple solution to their storage needs.
When you buy the best external hard drive for your needs, there are certain things you need to consider. For example, you should make sure you have a drive that offers fast data transfer speeds. The biggest deciding factors for data transfer rates are the connection the drive uses, and whether it is a standard hard drive or a solid state drive (SSD). Many external hard drives use USB 2.0 ports, but for higher speeds you will need USB 3.0 or ideally the newer USB Type C port. You need to make sure that your PC or laptop also has a USB Type C port.
You also need to think about how much storage space you need. The best external hard drives offer a range of capacities. We recommend 500GB first, as it gives you plenty of space to store your files without costing too much money. However, if you are dealing with large files such as high-resolution photos and videos, you should consider buying a larger hard drive, with external hard drives that offer terabytes (TB) of storage space.
Buying the best external hard drive for your needs involves determining how much space you need. You don’t want to buy an external hard drive that’s too small and ends up with no space left, but you don’t really want to pay about the chances of space you’ll never need.
In this guide, we list the best external hard drives with both traditional hard drives and faster (and more expensive) solid-state drives.
Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC External Hard Drive
An external hard drive that you can buy without destroying the bank, Buffalo’s MiniStation Extreme NFC could be your partner in heaven.
The Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC is very flexible and comes with a rugged, dustproof and waterproof case and an integrated USB 3.0 cable. With the robust shell, your data is not only protected from shocks and falls, but also has 256-bit AES security and Near Field Communication (NFC) functions.
Essentially, it allows you to unlock the drive to quickly and easily access your files by tapping the supplied NFC card on the drive enclosure. Pretty neat!
Seagate BarraCuda BarraCuda
It’s almost impossible to talk about hard drives without mentioning Seagate’s BarraCuda line – it’s a force to reckon with. And it’s not hard to understand why Seagate’s BarraCuda drives offer an excellent gigabyte per dollar ratio and speed benefits. The 2TB model achieves a sweet spot by balancing high performance and affordability. Because this drive combines 7,200 rpm disks and high-density data, computers equipped with this drive can read data extraordinarily quickly.
Even though the laptops are no longer as popular as before, Toshiba is still a big name in the computer world and has a lot to offer. When it comes to the best hard drives, the Toshiba X300 is a powerful and powerful high-capacity champion worth watching. The X300 drives have a large gigabyte-to-dollar value without compromising performance. These drives all run at 7,200 rpm and contain 128 MB of cache for higher speeds. The only drawback is that the warranty is only valid for two years, which is short for a drive that is designed to store so much important data.
SanDisk Extreme 900 Portable SSD from SanDisk Extreme 900
If you are more interested in speed and storage space than carrying your external hard drive on the road, the SanDisk Extreme 900 Portable SSD is one to look at. Considerably faster than its cousin, the Extreme 500, this drive is designed with USB 3.1 Gen 2 technology. The data rate of the Gen 2 allows the SanDisk to transfer files up to a stunning 850 MB/s – faster than any other product on our list.
The only drawback of the product is that it’s not dust or water resistant, so it might not be the best travel companion for your extreme backpack adventures. However, it’s probably still worth it for the lightning-fast transfer rate.
Seagate Backup Plus Slim Portable Hard Drive
Powered by USB, the Seagate Backup Plus is an easy way to protect and share your digital life. You get up to 5 TB of storage space for your most important files, it also features a sleek and protective metal finish available in classic black, silver, red or blue. This allows you to easily create custom backup plans with the included Seagate Dashboard software. Fast file transfer with USB 3.0 connection. This external hard drive works interchangeably on PC and Mac computers without the need for formatting. Comes with PlayStation 4 compatibility.
WD My Passport Ultra Portable External Hard Drive
My Passport Ultra can be trusted to protect your private files. Set an optional password, which only you know, to activate 256-bit AES hardware encryption to add an extra layer of security. Combined with automatic backup software, it’s easier than ever to have a backup plan that fits your life. Thanks to the power of USB 3.0, you can access and store files at lightning speed. Features a durable enclosure to protect the drive inside.
WD Blue Desktop
Western Digital offers a solid bargain with its line of WD Blue hard drives. With a wide variety of storage options, from a small 500GB to a large 6TB, the WD Blue is a good choice for almost any type of PC built within a budget. The best value comes from the larger drives – they give you much more storage space per dollar spent. And, if you’re looking for a little more speed, there are also 7,200rpm models available that don’t have too much of a price increase to offer.
External hard drives can improve your digital life in three main ways: first, by increasing the number of photos, videos and other files you can store and save; second, by freeing up space on your device so your programs can run faster; and third, by protecting your content so that important files don’t get lost or worse, stolen.