How we rate the best external hard drive

External hard drives have never been as crucial as they are today. Back in the days, external hard drives were like an optional secondary storage media for backing up your files and data. In today’s digital world, external hard drives are perhaps a necessity. Not only do they offer secondary storage, but they also help to make sure that your system is never overwhelmed by all the massive files out there. In this 4K era where a single 4K movie can get as big as 100GB while some games are as big as 70GB, it has become rather obvious that not even 1Tb of internal storage is sufficient and this is where external hard drives come in.

With an external hard drive, you can comfortably continue enjoying your TV shows in crisp 4K images without having to delete some of the other content that you are not ready to part ways with. The best external hard drives will also reduce the amount of content stored in your internal storage. In doing so, your system should get faster, making your interactions with your device seamless. You’ll also love external hard drives for the simple fact that they offer better protection to your files. Every time your PC is connected to the internet, there is always a possibility of losing data even if you are using the very best antivirus. With an external hard drive, you’ll never have to worry about such issues.

There are so many hard drives out there coming with different features, and connectivity options make it a bit difficult to tell the best from other unreliable devices.

External Hard Drive Buying Guide

Storage Capacity

The whole concept of an external hard drive is to supplement your devices internal storage. It, therefore, goes without saying that the storage capacity has to be a priority. Look at your current storage and evaluate your need, and this should help you have a clear idea of what capacity you need. Also, it’s always advisable to get a size bigger than you need at the moment. That’s because your needs may change with time and its best if you’ll have a hard drive that can accommodate any potential changes in future instead of having to go back in the market again in search for another hard drive.

Security

Security is crucial, particularly if you are hoping to store sensitive files or work documents on the hard drive. In that case, you should look for an external hard drive that is compatible with the best software encryptions or better yet, hardware encryption.

Data Transfer Speed

Unless you want to spend the whole eternity transferring a single 4K movie, you’d better be keen to check on the data transfer speed of the external hard drive you are getting. To identify the speeds, you need to check on the connectivity option available. An external hard drive using USB 2.0 is usually very slow, and you should do everything possible to avoid them. Alternatively, you can get one with USB 3.0 whose speeds can get as high as 5Gbps or a USB 3.1 that can go up to 10gbps. You could also add a few dollars to your budget and get an external hard drive with Thunderbolt 3 which can transfer files at insane speeds of 40Gbps.

Portability

Portability is crucial if you’re constantly on the move and you’d love to carry your external drive with you. This means that you’ll need to pay extra attention to how compact the hard drive is and its weight. If your goal for getting a hard drive is to back up the classic movies that you don’t access so often, you can compromise on portability and redirect that cash to getting a hard drive with bigger storage capacity.

Our Top Picks

So, which are the best external hard drives in the market today? There are various incredible external hard drives out there, but the best one will depend on what your priorities are. If you are a security conscious individual, then the best hard drive for you will differ from someone whose priority is storage capacity. Therefore, you must first identify what your priority in a hard drive is after which you can start exploring the following options.

1.Toshiba Canvio Advance 2Tb Portable External Hard Drive

The Toshiba Canvio Advance is perfect for everyone who needs a hard drive that is more than just a secondary storage media. This incredible drive is programmed with various features geared towards giving you a smooth experience.

The first valuable feature is the automatic back up supported by the Toshiba Storage Backup Software. This free PC software helps to safeguards your files by automatically backing them at set intervals. This essentially means that cases of data loss happening as a result of forgetting to make backups are completely resolved.

Through Toshiba Storage Software, you can also prevent unauthorized access to your hard drive. This software allows you to set a unique password, thus limiting the number of people that can access your files.

The Toshiba Canvio Advance 2Tb is programmed with USB 3.0 technology. You will never have to endure slow speeds even when you are transferring huge files. The good news is that the hard drive is also compatible with USB 2.0 devices. Therefore, you should still be able to use it with your old devices, but the speeds will be a bit slower.

Toshiba Canvio Advance is available on numerous vibrant colors. It is also very well designed not just to look good but also to be extremely portable, weighing just 5.28 ounces.

Verdict: The Toshiba Advance is an incredible external hard drive that comes with a massive storage capacity of up to 3 Tb. The security and automatic back up software make it a great choice for everyone who’s looking to keep snoopers at bay. The fact that it can be used with both PC and Mac (after reformatting) also makes it a very versatile tool.

2. Toshiba Canvio Basics 1Tb Portable External Hard Drive

The Toshiba Canvio Basics is a highly portable external drive that is designed to deliver superb performance. The hard drive is very easy to use, and you won’t even need to install any software to get it working. All you have to do is plug it into your PC, and you’ll be ready to watch or copy files right away.

The hard drive comes with a 1Tb storage capacity which should be enough for everyone who’s looking for additional space for their videos, photos, and other files. You can also get the hard drive in 2, 3, and 4 Tb in case the 1Tb is too small for you.

The Toshiba Canvio Basics is small in size and reasonably light making it highly portable. It should be able to fit into your pocket or backpack compartments without weighing you down. You will also appreciate the sleek matte-black finishing, which gives it a stunning look.

Sadly, this hard drive connects through USB 2.0, which tends to be a bit slow when it comes to transferring data.

Verdict: The Toshiba Canvio Basics 1Tb Hard drive is a good option if you are looking for an affordable, easy-to-use and portable external hard drive

3. WD 4TB My Book Duo Desktop RAID External Hard Drive

If you are looking for an external hard drive that can fully satisfy the needs of you and perhaps your colleagues or workmates, then this is the perfect choice for you. This insane hard drive offers up to 20TB of storage capacity, which should be more than enough to store all your 4K videos, high-res JPEGS, and other files.

The hard drive features RAID-optimized WD Red Drives which deliver a reliable storage and high data transfer speeds. This firmware will also improve the management of drive operations in a two-disk array system to improve read/write functions.

In its default mode, the WD My Book Duo is set at RAID-0 which offers excellent speeds. You can also reconfigure the hard drive to RAID-1 mode, which improves data mirroring. Through WD Drive Utilities software, it’s also possible to use the My Book Duo as two independent drives.

Since the WD My Book Duo is designed to be usable both in a home and office setting, security has been beefed up to prevent unauthorized access. To that end, the hard drive is programmed with built-in 256-bit AES hardware encryption to secure your private contents. WD Security software also allows you to set a password to control the number of people who can use the hard drive.

The WD My Book Duo comes with two USB 3.0 ports. The hard drive is compatible with both USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 Gen 1. It supports high-speed data transfer via USB Type C to Type A and USB Type C to Type C. Through the Type-A hub ports; you can connect the hard drive to a card reader, additional storage, mouse, keyboard and even charge or sync a phone.

Verdict: The WD My Book Duo is a massive external hard drive with watertight security features that are guaranteed to offer optimal security to your delicate files. The tradeoff here is that the hard drive is not exactly portable. That said, this hard drive is an excellent choice for everyone who’s looking to secure their massive files without the frequent need of moving the hard drive from one location to another.

SSD vs. Hard Drive

Do you really need a hard drive, or are you better off getting a Solid State Drive (SSD)? Well, both of these external data storage options have their own pros and cons, and hence the choice on which one is better may come down to your preferences, but in most cases, SSDs usually come out superior.

SSDs such as the Samsung T5 are excellent in various ways including insane speeds, super portable and light and very easy to use but then they are usually very costly and with limited storage capacity. As such, SSDs are better suited for guys with a bigger budget but with limited needs in terms of storage capacity. On the other hand, hard drives may be a bit bulkier compared to SSDs and less stylish, but they are affordable, and they come with huge storage capacity. As I said, it’ll depend on your preferences and needs.