Top Pick for
External hard drive for most people
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Finder's editorial team dove into the product listings of dozens of products and selected these top picks based on customer reviews and reviews published by respected sources. For each category, we analysed key features and worked out which products would be the best match for you and your external storage needs.
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Western Digital's refreshed take on its popular My Passport Ultra drive is our pick for the best external hard drive for most people. With a 4.6 out of 5 star rating on Amazon from more than 17,000 reviews globally, it'd be hard to go wrong with the compact drive.
The My Passport Ultra plugs in via USB-C, making for seamless connections with the latest devices. Handily, WD has kept compatibility with the older USB connections found on computers of yesteryear by including a USB-A adapter in the box.
While WD doesn't advertise the drive's read or write speeds, it's not going to be blazing fast. Given that it's a mechanical drive using the USB 3.1 interface, it's not going to be as snappy as a portable SSD.
The 4TB of space on the drive will be more than enough to store thousands of precious memories, tons of work documents and even games. More storage-hungry users might want to opt for the 5TB model.
While the WD My Passport Ultra comes formatted for Windows out of the box, drivers for better macOS compatibility are available through WD's Discovery software. This simple download easily converts the drive into a cross-platform storage workhorse. Unfortunately, if you're looking to use the drive to back up your data with macOS's Time Machine, you'll have to reformat the drive.
In reviews, many people said that the USB-C connection was a welcomed upgrade over WD's previous models, and that the USB-A adapter was useful. Some complained that the 4TB model had quite a bit less storage than advertised. In some cases, people said the actual usable space on their drives was as low as 3.63TB.
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As mentioned in our best portable SSDs roundup, Seagate's Fast SSD is the best solid-state drive for most users on the market today.
While it doesn't have the world's most original name, Seagate's Fast SSD is what it says it is: fast. Many users praised the device's snappy speeds in reviews, and Seagate says the drive is rated for read/write speeds of up to 540Mbps and 500Mbps respectively. Your mileage may vary, though, as some users reported slower than expected speeds from the drive.
This SSD is also ultra-portable, with the pocket-sized drive measuring up at just 9mm thick and less than 4 inches on each side. You won't be uncomfortable lugging the SSD around either, with its weight coming in at just 82 grams.
The thin and light build shouldn't worry you, though. The Fast SSD is shock-resistant, so while you shouldn't intentionally bash it around, it can handle a bit of wear.
Catering to almost everyone, Seagate includes both a USB-C and a USB-A cable right in the box, so you don't have to rush out and buy an adapter. Seagate also includes handy formatting tools alongside the drive, allowing you to use your SSD across platforms.
Many reviews mentioned that the drive was a superb fit for boosting storage on low-capacity game consoles. The switch to solid-state storage also helped to speed up load times for bulky games such as The Division 2.
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Sporting an impressive 4.6 out of 5 star rating on Google from more than 15,000 reviews, Seagate's Expansion Portable Drive 1TB is the best external hard drive for those on a budget.
The drive is convenient to carry around with you wherever you might need it, taking up about the same amount of space as a modern smartphone. If you need it for on-the-go usage, you'll barely even notice you're carrying it around as it weighs just 181 grams.
The drive is nothing flashy, with a plastic housing and run-of-the-mill USB cable, but it's nothing you wouldn't expect at its price point. Seagate says the 1TB size is enough space to store thousands of photos and documents. Still, if you're particularly data-hungry, you can get this drive in capacities up to 4TB.
The older USB cable is super convenient for most who still use devices with at least one USB Type-A port. Unfortunately, the lack of an included USB-C adapter means tech trailblazers with USB-C only devices will need to dig out their adapters.
Some reviews mentioned that the drive's speeds were unimpressive, so you might want to stay away from using it for quick transfers or gaming. As it's formatted for use with Windows out of the box, the drive might not be the best pick for those using macOS.
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With a 4.6 out of 5 star rating from more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon, LaCie's minimalist Mobile Drive is the best choice for those looking to pick up a premium external hard drive.
LaCie's design for the drive is inspired by the trusty companion of many creatives: Apple's MacBooks. With colour options made to match with the Space Gray and Silver finishes of the MacBook, it's clear that LaCie is pitching its Mobile Drive to the high-end user. Adding to the premium look and feel of the device, it sports an all-aluminium build. While this makes it pretty sturdy, it's also quite a bit heavier than other drives on this list at 400 grams.
LaCie says that the 4TB version of its drive can store up to 500,000 high-resolution images, but if that's not enough, you can pick up the 5TB model.
While it was designed with Macs in mind, the Mobile Drive works seamlessly across both Windows and macOS. Need to use the drive to shift data from an older device to a newer one? That's no problem for the drive. Keeping in line its accessible approach, LaCie includes both a USB-C and USB-A cable in the box.
In reviews online, some customers said you'll need to optimise the drive using LaCie's toolkit software to see the best performance on Windows. Others said that the Mobile Drive worked great from the minute it was plugged in.
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Designed for the fast-paced lives of digital professionals, Samsung's X5 Portable SSD is the best high-speed external drive you can get your hands on today. While the X5 isn't a hard drive in the traditional sense, there's no denying that those looking for the best speeds should look to solid-state storage over something that spins.
The X5 has a sleek, modern design inspired by today's supercars. The red accents and glossy shell is Samsung's way of demonstrating that this drive is all about speed. To some, this could look premium and well-crafted, but others may see it as tacky. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Samsung's top-of-the-line portable SSD is certainly no performance slouch. Utilising Intel's Thunderbolt 3 connectivity standard, the drive can hit read/write speeds of 2,800Mbps and 2,300Mbps respectively. Those eye-watering speeds put the external drive close to the performance of some high-end internal SSDs.
As you could have guessed, that speed comes at a price. For a measly 500GB of space, the X5 will set you back almost $300. That's a price per GB of just under 60 cents, compared to the less than 5 cents per GB paid on our top pick (WD My Passport Ultra 4TB). Not only that, but to realise the full potential of the X5 you'll need a device that actually supports Thunderbolt 3, such as Dell's XPS 13. Spoiler: they don't come cheap either.
Many customer reviews online said that the device performed as Samsung advertised, but mentioned that speeds were (as expected) significantly reduced when using standard USB-C ports instead of those bearing Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.
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With its 4.4 out of 5 star rating from thousands of reviews on Amazon, WD's My Book Duo is the best high-capacity external drive you can buy.
While not built with speed-intensive workloads in mind, the My Book Duo is a quick drive given its USB connection and spinning nature. WD says its My Book Duo can hit read speeds of up to 360Mbps, and many customers say the RAID-enabled storage tower feels quick.
Like other drives on the list, WD includes both a USB-C and USB-A cable in the box. Speaking of connectivity, the My Book Duo has another trick up its sleeve: two USB-A ports. These extra slots allow you to add additional storage, or connect a keyboard and mouse to your computer through the drive.
All that storage and versatility comes at the cost of portability. As the enclosure has to power two hungry drives, it needs to be plugged into the wall to work. Though, it's not likely you'd want to have been lugging this around with you regardless. The bulky enclosure with its drives weighs more than 2.3kg.
If you're a Windows user, you can plug the My Book Duo in and go. Alas, if you're on macOS, you'll need to reformat the drive before you can make use of the mammoth 8TB of space.
Some customers said the drive wasn't the quietest, and others stressed that it was designed for storing files rather than intensive and constant workloads like video editing.
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Earning a 4.6 out of 5 star rating on Amazon, LaCie's Rugged series of drives are tried and tested. With more than 15 years of experience and improvements, the latest generation Rugged model is the best durable external hard drive you can buy.
The rubberised housing of the Rugged USB-C protects it and your data from taking a beating. While it makes LaCie's drive a little bulkier, the recognisable orange bumper provides for crush, drop and rain resistance. That protection doesn't make it invincible, though. The Rugged drive isn't rated for drops any higher than 1.2 metres or crushes more than the force of a 1-tonne car.
The 4TB of space on the rugged drive should keep on-the-go creatives content for quite some time. Luckily, LaCie offers higher and lower capacity options for those with other storage needs. That storage doesn't come with performance that'll blow you away, though. The Rugged drive is only rated for speeds of up to 130Mbps.
While the Rugged drive is equipped with a USB-C port, LaCie handily throws both USB-C and USB-A cables in the box. This inclusion helps with added peace of mind, as basically any device you need to connect the drive to will support one of the two interfaces. While including cables in the box is convenient, some customers online mentioned they felt cheap and could need replacing anyway.
Looking to use the drive across devices? Fear not, it's compatible with both Windows and macOS.
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Sporting an impressive 4.8 out of 5 star rating on Amazon from more than 11,000 reviews, WD must be doing something right with its WD_Black P10 drive. With its cross-platform compatibility and massive capacity, it's the best choice for gamers looking to boost their storage with an external drive.
With a metal top casing and plastic shell, the P10 has a very distinct but durable aesthetic that sets it apart from other drives on the market. While it might not be for some, the shipping container-like design and stealthy colour choice will make the WD_Black hardware match many of today's gaming set-ups.
While the P10's 140Mbps top speed isn't impressive on paper, many reviews mentioned how fast the drive was. Users report that they can consistently see performance similar to what WD advertises, but also said that the P10 began to slow as it filled up.
Unfortunately, the P10 only has your standard USB-A cable in the box. You'll need to source your own adapter if you're wanting to plug it into a device equipped with only USB-C ports. The cable also connects to the drive itself via Micro-B, so you can't just grab any old USB cable to replace it.
Many customers said that the P10 was a perfect fit for storing catalogues of games without having to repeatedly delete and redownload content. Others said that if you're looking for faster load times, the spinning storage used on the P10 isn't quite going to achieve that.
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With an impressive range of security features to protect your data from winding up in the wrong hands, iStorage's diskAshur Pro2 is our pick for the best external hard drive for security. The drive has been hailed by some reviewers as the most secure external storage available to consumers.
Secured using a keypad PIN lock, the device sports super strong hardware encryption. Too many incorrect PIN entries will completely wipe the device, protecting your data from brute force hacking attempts.
The diskAshur Pro2's security features don't end with government-grade encryption. The device features a tamper-proof design which makes it almost impossible to do anything inside the drive without permanently damaging it.
Marrying security and convenience, the drive works with pretty much any device with a USB port. Compatibility includes Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and even several commercial solutions. You won't need to download any clunky software to make full use of the drive and all of its features, setting it apart from its competition.
One downside of the high-security drive is its speeds. With read/write speeds of 157Mbps and 140Mbps respectively, the diskAshur Pro2 isn't going to blow anyone away. Then again, if you're looking at a drive like this, you're probably willing to take the performance cut for the peace of mind.
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