The Best External Hard Drives

When your files exceed your storage needs, an external hard drive offers a quick, simple, and affordable solution to upgrade your storage capacity.

Finding the best external hard drive for your storage needs means reading reviews, studying product features, and diving into the ins and outs of available formats and configurations. With the right external hard drive, ensuring your file storage needs are met can become a quick, over-and-done-with task.

We reviewed dozens of external hard drives to identify the best of the best, based on Amazon reviews, how well they performed in tests, cost, and other considerations. We narrowed our search down to 5 of the top-rated external hard drives people can purchase to ensure easy and secure file storage.

Best External Hard Drive Overall
Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD
Easily store and access 2TB of content on the go with drag and drop functionality

We’ve identified Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD as the best external hard drive out there. With drag and drop functionality and plenty of space, this external hard drive is one that will keep your entire digital file library in tip top shape. These benefits allow you to move files and create backups with ease.

The 5 Top-Rated External Hard Drives

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best External Hard Drive OverallSeagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD4.6
Best External Hard Drive for Gaming ConsolesWD_Black P10 Game Drive4.8
Best Budget External Hard DriveToshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive4.5
Best Solid State External Hard DriveSanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable External SSD4.7
Best 8TB External Hard DriveWD 8TB Elements Desktop Hard Drive4.6

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Best External Hard Drive Overall: Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD

The Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD took the top spot on our list of the best external hard drives, and boasts drag and drop functionality combined with a lightweight, compact package for convenient use at home or while on the go. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac devices, and features plug-and-play setup with no special software required. It comes complete with an 18-inch USB 3.0 cable for added convenience.

Those who purchased and reviewed this external hard drive appreciated that it was easy to set up and use, and found it ideal for use with both computers and gaming consoles. Several people also commented that the compact size made it easy to find a spot for this hard drive. Some people did find that it was a bit noisy to operate, but that’s not necessarily a dealbreaker.

With a price tag of about $60, it’s a pretty affordable option as far as external hard drives go, and the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of setup and use more than justifies that price. It has excellent ratings with tens of thousands of people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing people to make the investment.

Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD Key Features: 

  • Includes a 1-year limited warranty
  • Lightweight, portable design for use at home or on the go
  • Excellent customer service

Best External Hard Drive for Gaming Consoles: WD_Black P10 Game Drive

Best External Hard Drive for Gaming Consoles
WD_Black P10 Game Drive
Portable and durable form factor provides fast access to gaming library on the go

The WD_Black P10 Game Drive took the runner-up spot on our list of the best external hard drives, and is an excellent option for those who want to expand their gaming library. It is available in a choice of storage sizes from 2TB-5TB, and is compatible with PC, PS4, and Xbox One devices. This HDD drive has been purpose-built for gamers, and offers data transfer speeds of up to 140MB/s.

Those who purchased and reviewed this portable hard drive appreciated the rubber feet, which help to prevent slipping, and commented that transferring files was very simple. Users especially liked that this drive did not require an external power source. While there were some complaints that this drive was loud and included cables that didn’t work, those are minor inconveniences given the performance it offers.

At a cost of around $70, it’s a pretty affordable external hard drive option for gamers, and the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of setup and use more than justifies that price. It has pretty high ratings with hundreds of people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing gamers to make the investment.

WD_Black P10 Game Drive Key Features: 

  • Storage for up to 125 games
  • Active cooling technology helps prevent overheating
  • Includes a 3-year warranty

Best Budget External Hard Drive: Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive

Best Budget External Hard Drive
Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive
A budget-friendly option with a sleek and simple design

The Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive is an excellent choice for those looking for an external hard drive that won’t break the bank. It is available in a choice of sizes from 500GB-4TB, and either classic or contemporary styling. It features a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port for added versatility, and is compatible with Windows, Mac, and other devices. It boasts plug-and-play setup with no special software required.

Those who purchased and reviewed this external hard drive appreciated that it was easy to set up and use, and found that converting it for use with Mac devices was very intuitive. Several comments mentioned that the file transfer speeds were very fast, and people also said they liked the lightweight, compact design.

With a cost of approximately $43, this external hard drive is a solid choice for those looking for an external hard drive option on a budget. It has great ratings from tens of thousands of people who’ve reviewed it, which we think goes a long way in convincing people that this budget-friendly pick is just as good at meeting their file storage needs as its more expensive counterparts.

Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive Key Features: 

  • Includes a 1-year limited warranty
  • Available with or without a carrying case
  • Drag and drop file transfers

Best Solid State External Hard Drive: SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable External SSD

Best Solid State External Hard Drive
SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable External SSD
Shock resistant solid state core for greater durability

The SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable External SSD is a great choice for those who prefer the convenience of a solid state external hard drive. Its shock-resistant design offers greater durability, and it is IP55 rated for water and dust resistance. It offers data transfer speeds of up to 550MB/s, and is compatible with both PC and Mac devices. It offers both USB-C and and A compatibility, and comes complete with an adapter cable.

Those who purchased and reviewed this external hard drive appreciated that it offered a compact, lightweight storage option, and said that the read/write speeds were very fast. While some people struggled with formatting issues and said the cover collected dust, there is an easy fix to reformat, and it is still dust-resistant.

With a price tag of about $163, it doesn’t come cheap, but the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of setup and use more than justifies that price. It has very good ratings with thousands of people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing people to make the investment.

SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable External SSD Key Features: 

  • Integrated carrying loop for ease of portability
  • Certified to withstand drops of up to 2-meters
  • Includes a 3-year limited warranty

Best 8TB External Hard Drive: WD 8TB Elements Desktop Hard Drive

Best 8TB External Hard Drive
WD 8TB Elements Desktop Hard Drive
Plug and play ready for Windows PCs

The WD 8TB Elements Desktop Hard Drive is a great pick for those who need a high capacity storage option. It boasts a desktop design, and features plug-and-play installation — no special software required. It is available in a choice of sizes from 3-14 TB for various needs, and offers USB 3.0 connectivity that is backwards compatible with 2.0 devices.

Those who purchased and reviewed this external hard drive appreciated that it offered a large amount of file storage for not an outrageous price. Several people commented on the size of this drive, and the fact that it requires an external power source. While some people complained of some latency when booting the device up, they did say that file transfer speeds were quite fast.

At a cost of around $143, it doesn’t come cheap, but the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of setup and use more than justifies that price. It has really good ratings from thousands of people who’ve reviewed it, which we think goes a long way in convincing people to make the investment.

WD 8TB Elements Desktop Hard Drive Key Features:

  • Includes a 2-year limited warranty
  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac devices
  • Comes complete with USB cable, and AC power adapter

Who Should Buy an External Hard Drive

An external hard drive is an ideal choice for those who need to increase their file storage capabilities, and don’t want to go through the hassle of having their device out of commission while internal storage is added. Many external hard drives these days feature plug-and-play installation, which makes using them right out of the box a quick and easy task.

Additionally, an external hard drive is also a good choice for those who are looking to save money on their file storage, as external hard drives are generally less expensive than internal hard drives.

Finally, some people find that an external hard drive provides the convenience to take their files with them, as many external hard drives boast a compact, lightweight design that is ideal for portability.

And if you’re looking for information on other electronic accessories, such as finding the best computer speakers, the best cable modems, the best 4K monitors for gaming, or the best gaming computers, we have in-depth guides that can help make it easier.

Best External Hard Drive Overall
Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD
Easily store and access 2TB of content on the go with drag and drop functionality

Important Features to Consider

Not all external hard drives are created equal. An external hard drive should be easy to use and offer enough storage to meet your needs. Here’s what to consider when evaluating the options in search of the best external hard drive for your needs:

  • Drive type. Arguably the most important thing to consider when shopping for a portable hard drive is the drive type. External hard drives are available in a choice of two drive types — either solid state drives (SSD) or hard disk drives (HDD). Generally speaking, SSD external hard drives are more expensive than their HDD counterparts, and come in smaller storage capacities. That said, they are considered by many to be technically superior to HDD drives as they offer faster data transfer rates, and feature a more compact size. Also, because there are no moving parts within an SSD drive, there is less chance of damaging them if you happen to move it or drop it while it is in use.
  • Storage capacity. The next most important factor to consider when buying the best external hard drive for your needs is the size. You want a drive that can easily accommodate your files, without running out of space anytime soon. For most people, a drive of about 2TB should be more than sufficient, but if you are storing movies and other video files, it might be safer to opt for a larger hard drive.
  • Transfer speed. Another thing to look out for when shopping for a portable hard drive is the data transfer speed. You don’t want to be waiting forever on large files to transfer back and forth. In general, SSD portable hard drives are faster than HDD options. Drives that connect via USB 2.0 technology have the slowest transfer speeds, and should be avoided if possible. USB 3.0 connections are the new standard, although USB 3.1 (also known as USB C or USB 3.1 Gen 2) is the better option and offers data transfer speeds of up to 10GB/second. Some external hard drives even offer the option to connect via WiFi, although transfer speeds will be slower than with a hardwired connection. Finally, there are some external hard drives with Thunderbolt 3 connection, and these offer the fastest connection speeds available, at up to 40GB/second.
  • Portability and durability. If you’re planning on using your external hard drive mostly at home, then you don’t have to be too concerned with how lightweight or durable your drive is. However, if you are planning on carrying your external hard drive with you outside of the home, you should look for a device that is compact in size and lightweight. Some external hard drives have rugged cases to protect them from damage. Finally, as mentioned before, an SSD portable hard drive has no moving parts and will be more resilient to drop damage than a HDD portable hard drive will be.
  • Security. Another important feature to keep in mind when choosing an external hard drive is the security options, especially if any of the information you’ll be storing on it is sensitive in nature. Look for drives that are compatible with software encryption solutions, have hardware encryption, or even a physical security system such as a pin-code input in order to help keep your data secure.
  • Compatibility. Many external hard drives are compatible with only one type of computer operating system, so be sure to check if the device you are looking at is Windows/PC only or compatible with Mac computers. There are also external hard drives specially formatted for gaming systems such as PS4 and Xbox.
  • Price point. Finally, consider how much you are willing to spend on an external hard drive. External hard drives vary in price from $40-$600 or more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an external hard drive and how does it work?

An external hard drive is a type of peripheral storage device that works by connecting to your computer in order to transfer files. This connection is usually made by a USB or firewire cable. Some external hard drives are portable — allowing you to take the hard drive along with you to plug into another computer in order to have access to your files anywhere you go, while other external hard drives are desktop versions meant to be set up on a desk or table near your computer.

How many movies can a 1TB external hard drive hold?

A 1TB external hard drive can hold around 500 hours worth of movies. Assuming an average of 120 minutes length per film, that means a 1TB hard drive could hold somewhere around 250 movies. This should be adequate space for even the most bonafide cinephile.

How long does an external hard drive last?

The average external hard drive should last about 3-5 years, as long as it is not subjected to any physical damage such as a hard bang or drop. Other factors which influence the life expectancy of an external hard drive include the manufacturer, model, and how often you are formatting and writing to the drive. Also, the conditions in which the drive is stored will also affect how long it will last.

Should I leave my external hard drive plugged in all the time?

While it is not necessary to leave your external hard drive plugged in all the time, if you have any sort of automatic backup set to run, then you will need to ensure it is plugged in during the scheduled time period. Often, it’s simply easier to leave the hard drive plugged in rather than disconnecting and reconnecting it. If you’re only backing up every so often, it’s fine to unplug your external hard drive while not in use. Especially for HDD hard drives, the moving components will wear out over time, and the more it’s plugged in, the more wear and tear it will experience.

Other External Hard Drives We Reviewed

Best External Hard Drive Overall
Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD
Easily store and access 2TB of content on the go with drag and drop functionality

We looked at 20 other external hard drives. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best external hard drives list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your file storage needs. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

External Hard Drives for Gaming Consoles

ADATA Entry Series SD600Q

ADATA Entry Series SD600Q

This external hard drive for gaming consoles boasts read and write speeds of up to 440MB/s and 430MB/s, and includes a durable, shock-resistant compact design for use at home or at friend’s houses.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of colors
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Includes a 3-year warranty

Cost: $40

Seagate Game Drive for Xbox

Seagate Game Drive for Xbox

This external hard drive for gaming consoles boasts an SSD that allows for excellent speeds and portability. It is compatible with Xbox devices, and includes a limited time membership to Xbox Game Pass.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Lightweight, shock-resistant design
  • Plug-and-play setup

Cost: $90

Seagate Game Drive for PS4

Seagate Game Drive for PS4

This external hard drive for gaming consoles boasts the ability to store approximately 100 of your favorite games, and features no lag gaming.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Plug-and-play setup
  • Includes a 1-year warranty

Cost: $106

Seagate Game Drive Hub for Xbox 8TB

Seagate Game Drive Hub for Xbox 8TB

This external hard drive for gaming consoles boasts the ability to store approximately 200 of your favorite games, and is exclusively designed for use with Xbox consoles.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • USB 3.0 connectivity
  • Plug-and-play setup

Cost: $160

Fantom Drives 2TB External Hard Drive

Fantom Drives 2TB External Hard Drive

This external hard drive for gaming consoles boasts plug-and-play setup with lightning fast USB 3.0 connectivity. It is made of high quality aluminum with an integrated heat dissipation system.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of colors
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Includes stand for vertical placement

Cost: $81

Solid State External Hard Drives

LaCie Portable SSD High Performance External SSD

LaCie Portable SSD High Performance External SSD

This solid state external hard drive boasts file transfer speeds of up to 540MB/s, and comes complete with USB-C connector for universal compatibility with USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 3, Mac, and PC devices.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Shock-resistant design
  • 3-year warranty includes data recovery services

Cost: $312

Samsung T5 Portable SSD

Samsung T5 Portable SSD

This solid state external hard drive boasts file transfer speeds of up to 540 MB/s, and features a durable, compact metal design for ease of placement and portability.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of colors
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Includes a 3-year warranty

Cost: $158

G-Technology 1TB G-DRIVE

G-Technology 1TB G-DRIVE

This solid state external hard drive boasts an ultra durable design that is IP67 water/dust resistant, has been 3M drop tested, and offers 1,000lb of crush resistance.

Key Features: 

  • File transfer speeds of up to 560MB/s
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Includes a 5-year warranty

Cost: $190

ADATA SE800 1TB IP68 Rugged External Hard Drive

ADATA SE800 1TB IP68 Rugged External Hard Drive

This solid state external hard drive boasts an ultra durable design that is IP68 weather/dust rated, and features a drop-proof, shock-resistant design. The compact, lightweight design is perfect for travel.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of colors
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • File transfer speeds of up to 1,000 MB/s

Cost: $190

VectoTech Rapid 2TB External SSD

VectoTech Rapid 2TB External SSD

This solid state external hard drive boasts file transfer speeds of up to 540Mb/s, and features a shock- and vibration-resistant design.

Key Features: 

  • Comes with Type-C to Type-C and Type-C to Type-A cables
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Includes a 3-year warranty

Cost: $249

ADATA SE730H External Solid State Drive

ADATA SE730H External Solid State Drive

This solid state external hard drive boasts read and write speeds of up to 500 MB/s, and comes complete with an IP68 waterproof/dustproof/military-grade shockproof design for durability.

Key Features: 

  • Reversible Type-C USB connection
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Includes a 3-year warranty

Cost: $126

WD 1TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

WD 1TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

This solid state external hard drive boasts a lightweight, compact design ideal for use on the go, and offers the ability to perform scheduled automatic backups.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of colors
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Built-in 256-bit AES hardware encryption

Cost: $47

Hyundai 500GB Ultra Portable External SSD 

Hyundai 500GB Ultra Portable External SSD 

This solid state external hard drive boasts a sleek, ultra compact design, and is compatible with a number of different devices, including Mac, Windows, and Android.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of colors
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Includes a 5-year warranty

Cost: $100

8TB External Hard Drives

WD 8TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive

WD 8TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive

This 8TB external hard drive boasts automatic backup software, and is compatible with Time Machine. It offers password protection with hardware encryption for added security and peace of mind.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of drive types
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Includes a 3-year warranty

Cost: $155

Glyph BlackBox Pro BBPR8000 8TB External Hard Drive

Glyph BlackBox Pro BBPR8000 8TB External Hard Drive

This 8TB external hard drive boasts file transfer speeds of up to 250 MB/s and 7,200 RPM drive speed, and comes complete with a fan-less heat dissipation for quieter operation.

Key Features: 

  • Encased in thick, shock-proof armor
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows devices

Cost: $330

Seagate Desktop 8TB External Hard Drive

Seagate Desktop 8TB External Hard Drive

This 8TB external hard drive boasts drag-and-drop file transfers, with plug-and-play setup — no installation software required. It comes complete with an 18-inch USB 3.0 cable and 18 Watt power adapter.

Key Features: 

  • Compatible with Mac and Windows
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Includes a 1-year warranty

Cost: $140

Fantom Drives 8TB External Hard Drive

Fantom Drives 8TB External Hard Drive

This 8TB external hard drive boasts USB 3.0 connectivity, and is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 for added convenience. It features plug and play setup, and is compatible with both Windows and Mac devices.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of colors
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Durable aluminum casing

Cost: $258

LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 8TB External Hard Drive Desktop HDD

LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 8TB External Hard Drive Desktop HDD

This 8TB external hard drive boasts a desktop design, and offers USB C or Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. It offers data transfer speeds of up to 240MB/s.

Key Features:

  • Available in a choice of connection options
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Aluminum enclosure reduces noise and vibration

Cost: $380

Seagate Backup Plus Hub 8TB External Hard Drive

Seagate Backup Plus Hub 8TB External Hard Drive

This 8TB external hard drive boasts a desktop design, and is compatible with both Mac and Windows devices. It can also charge your smartphone, and comes complete with a two month membership to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan.

Key Features: 

  • File transfer speeds of up to 160 MB/s
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Includes a 2-year warranty

Cost: $170

iStorage diskAshur DT2 Desktop Hard Drive

iStorage diskAshur DT2 Desktop Hard Drive

This 8TB external hard drive is great for those who require the utmost security features in an external hard drive. It includes real-time military grade AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption with 7-15 digit pin authentication.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • USB 3.0 connectivity
  • Common Criteria EAL4+ ready microprocessor is GDPR compliant

Cost: $622

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