An external hard drive or SSD is a do-it-all device of storage. It’s a pocketable device that lets you carry huge files (or lots of small ones) between computers, back up essential data, offload footage from your DSLR or drone while on the go and more.
But with dozens of models available, how do you know which is the best external drive to buy? And should you opt for a faster, more rugged (and more-expensive) external SSD instead of Best Hard Drive for PS4 made up of fragile moving parts? To help you pick the best portable external drive for your needs, we thoroughly test and review key drives and publish our list of specific recommendations on this page.
1. SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD (1TB)
Most external SSDs, like most internal SSDs, feature a fast write cache. Once you transfer 10s to 100s of gigabytes, depending on the specific device, that write cache will fill. Once it does, write performance degrades severely in most cases. That is a big problem for a creative pro or just someone like me performing lots of large file transfers daily. The result can set back a workflow schedule significantly. That is why SanDisk’s Extreme Pro is our top pick; it does not slow down.
SanDisk’s new Extreme Pro is the evolutionary advancement of the Extreme, and it’s not just because of its performance either. Freezing in Iceland for those photos and videos of cute little Puffins? Trekking in the woods for days on end looking for that perfect landscape shot? Or even enduring a hostile desert as part of your adventure? With a tough, protective design that is IP55 rated, this drive is built to keep up with you no matter what the condition. And it can connect to almost any computer with its USB interface, unlike most Thunderbolt 3 devices. So, you can backup and edit on almost any platform.
2. WD My Passport (5TB)
If you’re on the hunt for a new external hard drive, WD’s My Passport is an excellent choice. With a solid track record, password protection, and capacities of up to 5TB, it’s prepared to store a lot — if not all — of your data and keep it safe.
As street prices have started to fall, it’s become a better value than ever. It looks good and comes backed by a plentiful 3-year warranty. To top things off, it boasts top-notch AES 256-bit hardware encryption password protection to keep your content secure from prying eyes.
For those looking to spend a little less on an portable hard drive, who also don’t need 5TB of storage, should also consider Seagate’s Backup Plus Ultra, which features a good software suite AES 256-bit encryption, and USB-A and USB-C support via an adapter
3. LaCie Rugged RAID Pro (4TB)
While it is on the pricey side, LaCie’s Rugged RAID Pro isn’t too overpriced considering its market placement and the peace of mind of data redundancy. LaCie includes one month of all Adobe apps for free, a $79.49 (£61) value. More importantly, the drive comes with three years of free data recovery protection. That service can (at times) cost thousands of dollars.
If you are a creative professional in the market for an external HDD, be sure to check this drive out. There aren’t many competitors: Most other HDD solutions are much larger, and flash-based SSDs don’t yet offer similarly priced capacity, nor the same value-adds. The LaCie Rugged RAID Pro 4TB has a unique blend of features and accessories that make it easy to use and quite the versatile travel companion.
4. Pluggable 2TB Thunderbolt 3 External SSD NVMe Drive
If you’re looking for a drive of the Thunderbolt 3 flavor for your next upgrade, but have been put off by the pricing of drives from more familiar brands like Samsung and G-Technology, this drive should be on your very short list.
That said, if money is less of an issue than durability, versatility, and data retention, the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro is worth considering. It has a rubberized, weather-resistant shell, competitive performance, and the ability to work with USB-C devices that lack Thunderbolt.