In an era when you can get 50GB of iCloud storage for less than $1 per month, external hard drives might appear less essential than they once were. But modern ones are faster, more stylish, and often more durable than their counterparts from a few years ago. They’re ever cheaper and more capacious, too. For about $50, you can add a terabyte of extra storage to your laptop or desktop by just plugging in a USB cable. In this article today, we will be discussing the best External Hard Drive that are available in the market.
Weighing the Need for Speed: Hard Drive or SSD?
Solid-state drives (SSDs) have fewer moving parts than traditional hard drives, and they offer the speediest access to your data. Unlike a conventional disk-based hard drive, which stores data on a spinning platter or platters accessed by a moving magnetic head, an SSD uses a collection of flash cells—similar to the ones that make up a computer’s RAM—to save data.
Just how much faster is it to access data stored in flash cells than those stored on a spinning platter? Typical read and write speeds for consumer drives with a single spinning platter are in the 100MBps to 200MBps range, depending on their USB interface and whether they spin at 5,400rpm (more common) or 7,200rpm (more expensive and less common). External SSDs offer twice that speed and sometimes much more, with typical results on our benchmark tests in excess of 400MBps. Practically speaking, this means you can move gigabytes of data (say, a 4GB feature-length film, or a year’s worth of family photos) to your external SSD in seconds rather than the minutes it would take with an external spinning drive.
Not only is it faster to read and write data stored in flash cells than those stored on a spinning platter, but it’s also safer. Because there is no spinning platter or moving magnetic head, if you bump the SSD while you’re accessing its data, there is no risk that your files will become corrupted and unreadable.
What Interface Should You Look For In Best External Hard Drive?
How an external drive connects to your PC or Mac is second only to the type of storage mechanism it uses in determining how fast you’ll be able to access data. These connection types are ever in flux, and the internet is littered with outdated references to legacy interface types such as eSATA and FireWire.
Right now, the fastest mainstream connection type is Thunderbolt 3, which is handy assuming you have a newer laptop or desktop with a Thunderbolt 3 port. All late-model Apple laptops have them, and many high-end Windows laptops do too. This interface piggybacks on a USB Type-C connector (not all USB Type-C ports support Thunderbolt 3, though) and offers blazing peak throughput of up to 40GBps. As an added bonus, a desktop drive that supports Thunderbolt 3 might also come with additional DisplayPort and USB connections that allow you to use the drive box as a hub for your keyboard, mouse, monitor, and other peripherals.
You’ll really only see the speed benefits of Thunderbolt 3, however, if you have a drive that’s SSD-based, or a RAID array. If you’d rather save money than time transferring your data, if you’re buying a desktop drive with a single platter-based mechanism inside, or if you have a PC that lacks Thunderbolt 3, your best alternative is a USB connection. Almost every recent drive we reviewed supports USB, and the same goes for laptops and desktops. These ports are ubiquitous.
Not all USB ports are created equal, though. The most prevalent is the standard rectangle shape (called Type-A) that’s been present on devices for decades. The oval-shaped Type-C connector is quickly gaining traction, though. It’s capable of supporting the USB 3.1 standard in addition to Thunderbolt 3, as mentioned, though most Type-C ports include only the former. If you buy a drive that uses a Type-C cable at the computer end, make sure it also includes a cable with a rectangular Type-A plug if your PC lacks a Type-C port. Otherwise, you’ll need to buy a separate cable or adapter, and chaining adapters at the end of a cable can be messy.
Recommendations Of Best External Hard Drive:
1. ADATA SE800 Review
Pros: Small, light, and fast. Highly durable. Reasonable cost per gigabyte. USB-C and USB-A cables included.
Cons: The provided cables are on the short side.
Bottom Line: The ADATA SE800 external SSD is everything you want in a shirt-pocket solid-state drive: sleek, tough, affordable, and snappy. It will make an excellent addition to your kit.
2. LaCie Mobile Drive Review Best External Hard Drive
Pros: Slick, faceted design. Solid-feeling aluminum enclosure. Useful LaCie Toolkit software handles backup and restores, as well as mirrors. On-the-mark performance.
Cons: A little hefty. Toolkit utility requires a download.
Bottom Line: A metal-skinned gem of a platter hard drive, the LaCie Mobile Drive looks great and performs on point. It’s geared to macOS users, but it will please anyone with an eye for style in their gadgets.
3. Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch Review
Pros: Built-in fingerprint reader and LED status indicator. Compact size. Fast performance. Available in capacities up to 2TB. Three-year warranty.
Cons: Relatively expensive. Requires software for fingerprint unlocking on a PC or Mac.
Bottom Line: Offering excellent performance and easy-to-use security, Samsung’s credit-card-sized, fingerprint-reading Portable SSD T7 Touch is a versatile external solid-state drive.
4. Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch Review Best External Hard Drive
Pros: Fabric-covered enclosure. Small and light. Seagate Toolkit provides handy backup/recovery functions, as well as mirroring. Data protected by password and AES-256 hardware encryption.
Cons: Fabric covers a bit slippery to grip. Seagate Toolkit a separate download.
Bottom Line: Combining on-point performance and strong encryption, Seagate’s Backup Plus Ultra Touch portable drive is a great choice for everyday backups and security-first use alike. Plus, a fabric coat adds appeal.
5. WD My Passport (5TB) Review
Pros: 5TB is a peak portable single-drive capacity. Small and light. AES-256 hardware encryption with a password. Ships with apps for backup/restore, reformatting and checking drive health, and more.
Cons: At list price, the 5TB version has a higher cost per gigabyte than the 4TB version.
Bottom Line: Its combination of solid performance, hardware encryption, and useful utilities make the 5TB WD My Passport a strong contender for everyday backup of sensitive data or storing a massive collection of videos, photos, and documents.
Hopefully, this article will help you in understanding what is external hard drives are. Also, we have listed some best external hard drives in this article.