Best External Hard Drives

If you need more storage space for you digital files, you want to backup your data, or you want to able to share files between multiple computers then an external hard drive is for you. When deciding to purchase a new drive some of the factors you should consider include the storage capacity, transfer speeds, portability, and durability. Prices range from around $50 to over $500, however many good options are available for under $100.

We evaluated dozens of models to come up with our list of the top 10 best external hard drives. Below we review each. If you need more advice or help see our External Hard Drive Buying Guide.


WD My Passport Ultra

We selected the WD My Passport Ultra as the best portable external hard drive. This $59 drive is the smallest and lightest on our list and also comes with useful software such as automatic backup and AES encryption. It is also the best selling model on Amazon.

Category: Portable
Price: $59
Storage Capacity: 500 GB to 3 TB
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Size (Inches): 4.3 x 3.2 x 0.6
Weight: 5.4 oz
Operating System: Windows


Transcend Military Drop Tested StoreJet 25M3

If you want a portable drive that can survive a fall, then we recommend the Transcend StoreJet 25M3. Selling for around $55 for a 1 GB model, this drive is military drop tested and offers shock proofing that can survive everyday abuse. The software included is not the easiest to use but it works decent enough.

Category: Portable
Price: $54.99
Storage Capacity: 1 TB to 2 TB
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Size (Inches): 5.1 x 3.25 x 0.8
Weight: 7.7 oz
Operating System: Windows


Seagate Expansion Portable Drive

If you are looking for a cheap portable external drive with up to 5 TB of capacity and we recommend the Seagate Expansion Portable Drive which sells for $55 for a 1 TB version.

Category: Portable
Price: $54.99
Storage Capacity: 1 TB to 5 TB
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Size (Inches): 4.8 x 3.2 x 0.6
Weight: 6.4 oz
Operating System: Windows


Transcend StoreJet for Mac SJM 100

For Mac users out there we highly recommend the Transcend StoreJet for Mac SJM 100 which is priced at $100 for 2 TB of data storage. This shockproof drive is nearly silent and provides one touch backup capability.

Category: Portable
Price: $99.99
Storage Capacity: 2 TB
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Size (Inches): 5.1 x 3.24 x 0.8
Weight: 8 oz
Operating System: Mac


Seagate Backup Plus Fast

The $200 Seagate Backup Plus Fast external drive designed to be extremely fast. With 4 TB of data storage it provides plenty of storage and speed for those of you who need to edit videos on the go.

Category: Portable
Price: $199.99
Storage Capacity: 4 TB
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Size (Inches): 4.6 x 3.2 x 0.88
Weight: 10.8 oz
Operating System: Windows


LaCie Rugged Mini External Hard Drive

The $99 1 TB LaCie Rugged Mini Hard Disk is one of the most durable portable drives you can buy since it is shockproof, rain resistant, and pressure resistant up to 1 ton.

Also available is the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt version which sells for $180 for 1 TB of storage capacity. This version uses a Thunderbolt connector to give you the fastest transfer speeds possible.

Category: Portable
Price: $99.99
Storage Capacity: 500 GB to 4 TB
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Size (Inches): 5.5 x 3.5 x 1
Weight: 8 oz
Operating System: Windows


Toshiba Canvio Connect II

Another decent small and lightweight portable drive is the Toshiba Canvio Connect II. At $55 for a 1 TB model it is tied for the cheapest for that amount of storage capacity.

Category: Portable
Price: $54.99
Storage Capacity: 500 GB to 3 TB
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Size (Inches): 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.6
Weight: 5.8 oz
Operating System: Windows


Seagate Expansion Desktop External Hard Drive

If you are looking for a desktop external hard drive then we recommend the $85 Seagate Expansion Desktop model. With options ranging from to 2 TB to 5 TB, it provides a a lot of data storage for the price which is why it is the best selling desktop version on Amazon. Just remember it is larger and heavier and designed to sit on your desktop and not be portable.

Category: Desktop
Price: $84.99
Storage Capacity: 2 TB to 5 TB
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Size (Inches): 7.1 x 4.7 x 1.5
Weight: 2.1 lbs
Operating System: Windows


WD My Cloud EX2

The WD My Cloud EX2 is a good choice for those of you looking for cheap network attached storage solutions. Priced from $300 for the 4 TB version, it provides fast performance and handy Personal Cloud features.

Category: Network Attached Storage
Price: $299.99
Storage Capacity: 4 TB to 12 TB
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Size (Inches): 6.8 x 6.1 x 3.9
Weight: 3.4 lbs
Operating System: Windows


WD My Passport Wireless External Hard Drive

We chose the WD My Passport Wireless as the best wireless external hard drive you can buy. Priced from $150 for the 1 TB version, the WD My Passport supports fast Wi-Fi and has a built in SD card slot for easy transfer. The mobile app is a bit confusing and the battery life is relatively short, but it is still easy enough to use for those of you on the go.

Category: Wireless
Price: $149
Storage Capacity: 1TB or 2 TB
Connectivity: Usb 3.0 and WiFi
Size (Inches): 5 x 3.4 x 1
Weight: 9.6 oz
Operating System: Windows

External Hard Drive Buying Guide

Types of Storage Devices

There are several different types of external hard drives including:

  • Desktop – External desktop hard drives are designed to be used with your standard desktop computer where it will normally stay in one place although it can be moved. This type of drive usually has more storage capacity and is cheaper per GB of storage, but it is also larger in size and will usually have a separate power adapter.
  • Portable – Portable external hard drives are normally meant to be used with laptops or any computer where you need to the ability to easily transport the storage device. They are smaller and are normally powered by a USB cable, but are usually more expensive per GB of storage than desktop models.
  • Wireless – Wireless external hard drives are portable units that provide an onboard Wi-Fi connection so you do not need a cord to connect to your device when transferring files. Wireless storage expanders are especially useful with tablets where you have a limited internal storage capacity, but you would still like to have your entire video and music collection with you.
  • Network Attached Storage – A network attached storage (NAS) device connects to a network instead of an individual computer and acts as a shared drive for backing up data and sharing files across your entire network. Some of these units provide advanced features like media streaming and you can find models with multiple drives that allow for more capacity and greater protection for data. These are much more expensive and larger than a typical external drive.
  • Solid State Drive – Or SSD for short, is a type of hard drive. It offers much faster performance and reliability, but also costs a lot more than average and usually has much less capacity. Generally it is better to have a SSD as your main hard drive that your operating system resides on, and is not necessarily recommended for an external drive.

Storage Capacity

In simple terms storage capacity is how much data your drive can hold as measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB). 1 TB is equal to 1000 GB. Current external hard drives range from about 250 GB up to 4 TB or more. Users who have a large video or music library probably will want at least 1 TB to 2 TB. If you don’t have a lot of media files to hold, you can get away with a drive having less storage. If you are backing up your data, you should get a drive with at least as much capacity as your internal hard drive on your computer.

Transfer Speed

The transfer speed is how fast data can transfer to and from the device as measured in Megabits per second (Mbps) or Gbps (Gigabits per second). 1000 Mbps is equal to 1 Gbps. The more often you backup or transfer files, the more of a priority should be placed on the speed. There are several different connectors that determine how fast your unit is and the external drive and computer must have compatible connectors to maximize speed. A Thunderbolt connector is the fastest connection available at up to 10 Gbps, but is also the most expensive and not as widely used. USB 3.0 is the next fastest at 5 Gbps. USB 2.0 will be the cheapest, but has speeds of 480 Mbps. If your drive has a USB 3.0 connector, but your computer is only USB 2.0 compatible, then the speed of transfer is only at the USB 2.0 speed.


Getting a small, portable unit is advisable if you need to transport your drive constantly. Smaller models cost more, but some are small enough to fit in a pocket. Make sure you also get one that is powered by the data cable so you do not have to have an outlet.


Hard drives are more prone to shocks, vibrations, moisture, and heat than SSDs. Some units come with cases that provide physical layers of protection for the drive in case you drop it or to protect it from heat and moisture. If you work in in a rough environment then one of these models might be for you.


Many units are built for use with either the Apple ecosystem or for PC’s. These will work right out of the box for you with the correct hardware. Some models will work with any hardware, but may require you to reformat the drive before using it with a specific internal hard drive. Make sure the storage device you buy is compatible with your operating system.

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