With the advancement of technology, everything is moving to digital format. Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly rare to see folders of documents cluttered with desks. Or hundreds of videotapes to fill the shelves. In fact, everything is converted into digital data. And this information is usually stored on a computer, USB Flash memory (flash drive) and mostly on an external hard drive. The easy-to-transfer portable hard drive can be used anytime, anywhere with your laptop, PS4 or Xbox.
Choosing an external hard drive
To make it easier for you to choose an external hard drive, we did market research and selected the 10 best models at the moment. See the ranking, and then you can look at the purchase guide. There we have described the important factors that should be taken into account.
1. External hard drive WD Elements Portable 3TB
Image credit: WD
This external hard drive impresses with its compact size. However, it has a good storage capacity of 3 TB. This provides enough space for your movies, music, photos and other files.
WD Elements Portable 2TB has a USB 3.0 interface through which data is transferred to the hard drive at lightning speed. In addition, the interface allows its use with USB 2.0.
It is compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 10 but needs to be reformatted for Apple’s iOS operating system.
When formatting this external hard drive, you need to pay attention to two main points:
- Hardware configuration
- The operating system
The exFAT and FAT32 file systems play a crucial role in formatting. If the hard drive is to be used and saved on a Windows or Mac, it can only be pre-formatted with these two systems. WD Elements comes pre-configured for use with Windows.
The package does not include software. If you’re using a Mac, you need to format the hard drive with ExFAT or HSF + J. To do this, you can use the Drive Utility application or download WD Drive from the Apple Store (this is the official software of the manufacturer).
Additional technical details:
- Size: 2.5 inches
- Memory type: DDR3 SDRAM
- Hard drive technology: HDD
- Power: 1 watt
- Hard drive size: 3 TB
- Weight: 230 grams
2. Toshiba Canvio Basics 2 тб USB 3.0
Image credit: Toshiba
Toshiba Canvio is a fast external hard drive that can transfer files at high speed from your computer or laptop. The manufacturer has taken care of fast data transfer with SuperSpeed USB 3.0.
In total, it has a storage capacity of two terabytes. If you are running Windows, you can connect the drive directly and use it without any additional action on your part. The kit includes a USB cable. Other cables or power supplies are not required for use.
Advantages of this external hard drive from Toshiba: It is compact and convenient. In addition, the Toshiba Canvio is compatible with older computers via USB 2.0. With the plug-and-play feature, you simply turn it on and retrieve data from your laptop or computer, whether it’s movies, music or photos.
You don’t have to worry about data security. The device has a built-in shock sensor and is equipped with load technology that protects your data. It is not clear how it is used with Macs and other iOS devices. The need for pre-formatting is not excluded.
3. External hard drive Intenso Memory Case 2 TB
Image credit: Intenso
This Intenso portable hard drive has two terabytes of storage space and a USB 3.0 port. The data transfer is very fast. According to Intenso, the transfer speed is almost ten times faster than with a USB 2.0 port. When reading data, the Intenso Memory Case reaches 85 megabytes per second. While data is written at a speed of 75 megabytes per second.
The device comes pre-formatted in FAT32 format. Whether you’re using Windows or Mac: As soon as you connect to your computer, it’s ready to use.
More technical data:
- Weight: 168 grams
- Size: 2.5 inches
- Hard drive technology: HDD5400 rpm / Min
- Memory type: DDR3 SDRAM
The set also includes a USB cable. You can also connect it to an Xbox 360.
4. Toshiba HDTB420EK3AA Canvio Basics 4 TB External Hard Drive
Image credit: Toshiba
Toshiba impresses with its USB 3.0 interface and 4 terabytes of storage capacity. It is compatible with USB 2.0 and you can also connect it to older devices. Plug-and-play, you connect the external drive without having to pre-format.
It is compatible with Windows 7, 8 and 10. If you are using a Mac, you may need to format it first. As with the previous model, Toshiba does not give any details about this. Pre-formatting with the FAT32 file system is generally recommended. However, you should do more research if you are not using Windows.
5. Seagate Expansion Portable 2TB external hard drive
Image credit: Seagate
The SEAGATE external hard drive offers you up to two terabytes of storage. Another important thing it offers is a USB 3.0 interface. This way, your data is transmitted quickly without having to wait long. In addition, SEAGATE is ready for use immediately after connection. You can easily and conveniently store important data on this external hard drive.
- Productivity: up to 5Gb per second data transfer
- Size: 2.5 inches
- 4.5 watts
- Weight: 170 grams
Suitable hard drive for your laptop, PS4 or Xbox one.
6. External hard drive Maxtor M3 2TB
Image credit: Maxtor
This external hard drive from the manufacturer Maxtor with USB 3.0 interface offers you a storage capacity of two gigabytes, as well as AutoBackup. No important data is lost during the transfer.
Through SecretZone, the data is encrypted on the storage medium. Data transfer speeds are up to 5Gb with USB 3.0 and up to 480 megabytes per second with USB 2.0, while the device reaches a rotation speed of 7,200 rpm. Mac OS X Mavericks supports Maxtor. But if you are using Windows you will need to format it with exFAT or FAT32.
7. 2TB Transcend StoreJet 25M3G
Image credit: Transcend
One of the less-known manufacturers of external hard drives is Transcend. The StoreJet 25M3G gives you two gigabytes of storage and a 3.0 USB interface that allows you to easily and quickly transfer and play data at 70 megabytes per second.
It is also suitable for both Windows and Apple computers. With the latest operating system, you just need to reformat the hard drive to the appropriate format.
According to the manufacturer Transcend, your data is protected with triple protection. Its sturdy body and silicone outer shell, as well as an additional system inside the case, compensate for the shocks. This reduces potential data loss.
As the manufacturer notes, there is no safer place for your data. They are backed up to the StoreJet 25M3G with one click of the One Touch Auto-backup button. With just one click, you save your data and sync directories with your computer or laptop. You only need to set up this feature once with the software provided. Then you can easily back up the data.
When you do not use it for ten minutes, it automatically switches to sleep mode. In this way, energy consumption is reduced. As soon as you can reactivate all workflows.
8. External hard drive ADATA Durable HD330 Shock Sensor 4TB
ADATA offers you a 2.5-inch external hard drive with 4 gigabytes of storage for your movies, music and photos. With ten times the transfer speed via USB 3.0 compared to USB 2.0, your data can be transported quickly, easily and most of all safely.
Among other things, the rubber coating contributes to data protection. ADATA can be connected directly to a computer or Mac via USB. It is also pre-formatted. In this way, it can be connected to your TV or media receiver immediately.
You can use it as a backup media. In this way, your data is well protected both externally and internally. In addition, ADATA ‘s memory is very fast, with data read at 85 megabytes per second and written at 75 megabytes per second. Its weight of 310 grams speaks of the compactness of the device.
9. Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB – portable hard drive
Image credit: Seagate
Seagate offers different models on the market. One of them is Backup Plus Slim with a speed of 5400 rpm and a size of 2.5 inches. In addition, this external hard drive has a storage capacity of two terabytes and a USB 3.0 interface.
Seagate Backup Plus Slim has a read speed of 141 megabytes and a write speed of 137 megabytes per second. A white LED indicates active data transfer.
The device can be easily connected to older computers with USB 2.0. However, fast transfer speeds are not achieved as with USB 3.0. Weighing 120 grams, the Seagate Backup Plus Slim is light and compact.
This external hard drive is compatible with Windows 7, 8 and 10. You can also use the model with your Mac or Linux.
10. External hard drive WD My Passport 4TB
Image credit: WD
We started the ranking and finished it with an external hard drive from WD. WD My Passport offers storage capacity up to 4 terabytes. The data is sufficiently protected by automatic data archiving. It is activated by the software provided by WD. In addition, WD’s external hard drive is password protected with hardware encryption. You can be sure that your data is in a safe place.
The device can be used immediately thanks to the USB 3.0 interface. The kit also includes the corresponding software from the manufacturer WD-Backup and WD-Security.
Backing up WD My Passport is performed automatically. In addition, the manufacturer guarantees a long life of the device, as its box is protected against external shocks. The WD model is compatible with regular Windows computers. If you’re using a Mac, you need to pre-format it.
External Hard Drive Purchase Guide
In general, these devices are not very large externally but can offer a large space internally. They are small and very flexible. They are not only suitable for storing and protecting sensitive data but are also quite convenient for recording with a TV, multimedia receivers or PS4 or Xbox One.
We want to give you some tips on what to look for when buying an external hard drive.
Pay attention to the size
There are two different sizes for external hard drives. The small ones, which are 2.5 inches, are comfortable and compact on the one hand, and on the other hand, do not need additional power. This type of device is powered by the USB cable that is usually included in the kit. In some cases, this can create problems, as power through the USB port may sometimes not be enough, but small models do not require much power.
With a 3.5-inch external hard drive, such difficulties usually do not arise, as they always have a separate power supply. In addition, larger models offer more storage capacity and are usually less expensive.
Whether you buy a small or large hard drive depends on how you use it. Large ones are usually used as stationary. While small hard drives, however, are more mobile and easier to carry during business meetings or on vacation.
Check for USB 3.0
Modern external hard drives are equipped with USB 3.0. When looking to buy a new one is to make sure there is this link. Today, every computer and almost every TV has a USB port. In most cases, however, it is still the old version of USB 2.0. Because external hard drives typically have a huge storage capacity of a few terabytes, a 3.0 connection must be available.
To take advantage of the fast transfer on this port, both devices need to have USB 3.0. However, file storage devices with the new USB port also work with older connections, such as USB 2.0. However, you can upgrade your computer to USB 3.0. Therefore, you only need suitable adapter cards that you can find at an affordable price.
When buying an external hard drive, keep in mind the difference between Windows and Apple devices. Until recently, there was no way to connect an external hard drive with a USB 3.0 port to an Apple computer because the company did not add the appropriate ports. Now, according to the company, USB 3.0 devices can also be connected to an iMac and MacBook. (Information from Apple FAQ).
Pay attention to speed
The description of each external hard drive indicates the speed with the corresponding number of revolutions. As a rule, small 2.5-inch devices operate at a minimum of 4500 rpm. Unlike 3.5-inch models, they are slightly slower, but also emit less noise. By default, small models come with the power supplied via the USB cable.
On the other hand, 3.5-inch hard drives are different. Depending on the manufacturer, they typically run at 7,200 rpm and are therefore faster at reading and writing large files than small devices. However, they are noisier than the 2.5-inch version, can sometimes vibrate and consume significantly more energy.
SSD hard drives
The data that is exchanged is getting bigger and bigger with each passing day. Normal computers or laptops can no longer store too much information. For this reason, electronics manufacturers have developed devices that have a storage capacity of several terabytes. In the search for an external hard drive, you will again and again come across external SSDs. There is a big difference between the classic external hard drive and SSD models.
Standard external hard drives are usually cheap and come in a variety of sizes, but they have a major drawback. They are very sensitive to external influences and the data can be permanently damaged in case of external shocks.
The external SSD looks different. SSD stands for (Solid-state drive). Towa is a device based on flash memory chips. In addition, SSDs are not as sensitive as standard hard drives because they are stronger. In addition, the SSD runs faster because it has transfer speeds of 120 megabytes per second. In addition, with an SSD of 540 megabytes per second, the computer has quick access to files. At this speed, you don’t have to wait long while transferring data. External SSDs do not require much energy because they also have no mechanical components.
Other features of an external hard drive
Modern external hard drives are not only used for data backup because their function goes far beyond that. So you can use some of the models as an MP3 player, provided they have a headphone jack or external speakers. In addition, the external hard drive can be connected to almost any TV with a USB cable to watch movies and videos stored by you.
In addition, some manufacturers offer devices with a card reader. It can read information from SD cards from mobile phones or cameras, which allows the direct transfer of information. This is quite a handy feature especially when you are on vacation and do not have a laptop or computer available. For example, you don’t need to keep your photos on the camera, so you can free up space for new photos.
When buying, pay attention to the manufacturer
The list of manufacturers offering external hard drives is quite large. Whether you choose WD, Intenso, Toshiba or Seagate, when it comes to this type of device, everyone has their own priorities.
You should pay attention when buying, what advantages bring you the individual technical characteristics of the different models. The 3.5-inch hard drive is not very suitable for relaxation, as well as for carrying to business meetings or presentations. However, when you buy a cheap external hard drive, you need to make sure that it has enough storage capacity for your data.
It is best to contact someone who already has experience with your chosen model or get detailed advice from specialist retailers. Do not buy a cheap model directly and do not rush with the decision to buy.
External multimedia hard drives
With an external hard drive, you store and play all kinds of data. If you want to use it to store and play music and movies, it makes sense to buy a special multimedia external hard drive. The reason that these models are equipped with additional connections. These are usually HDMI and RCA connectors. In addition, the multimedia hard drive has a remote control, and in some cases even a small display.
Your media device connects directly to your TV or your stereo system. Keep in mind that media devices are more expensive than standard and smaller external hard drives. When buying such a multimedia device, you should pay special attention to the HDMI port, as well as the playback of various HD video formats.
Use an external hard drive with Windows and Mac
Windows and Mac computers behave like a cat and a dog. Although not as fundamentally different as they were ten years ago, both operating systems still have their own characteristics. This also applies to the use of an external hard drive. As a rule, they are initially formatted to standard NFTS under Windows. So if you connect it to your iMac or your MacBook, it will be able to read, but unfortunately, it won’t be able to add new files.
Conversely, Windows machines have problems reading or working with the HFS + Mac file system. That’s why computer experts recommend a file system that both operating systems understand. For this reason, you can format your new hard drive in exFAT format.
This format is compatible with both Windows and Mac. However, you must be careful when formatting, because important data on the external hard drive can be erased. You should also know that most media players and smart TVs often have problems with it. However, the output is the format with the older FAT32 format.
External hard drive as additional storage
You can use an external hard drive not only to back up data but also to expand your computer’s memory. There are several possibilities here. If desired, you can use the so-called NAS device. This is a network-connected file storage device. Its advantage is that multiple devices have access to the same files. However, directly connected memory can only be used by one device but offers much higher file transfer speeds.
There is also the option to purchase external hard drives with significantly more storage capacity. So there are 3.5-inch models with ten terabytes of memory. And if you need more memory, you need to use a hard drive box. This is a case that can hold multiple hard drives. Configuration with several racks in the so-called RAID. This saves important data even if one or more hard drives are damaged.
If you want to access your hard drive from different devices, you need to use a NAS drive. This is a hard drive stand that you plug into your network. This allows data to be retrieved from any compatible device. In addition, the NAS device can be used as a cloud solution to access data online while on the go.
External hard drive as a cloud solution
Providing data in the cloud is understandable today. Although the fear of hacker attacks is still great, many store their music and photos in various clouds. Despite numerous cloud service providers, you can use your external hard drive as a cloud solution. This works quite simply:
Connection to Wi-Fi router
Since all external hard drives have a USB port, you can connect them to your DSL router, provided you have such a router with a USB port. Therefore, you must activate the NAS function in the menu of your router so that the memory is available to all devices on the network. With a VPN connection between your router and your smartphone or tablet, you can also access data on your hard drive while on the go.
Wireless external hard drive
As you have already seen, there is something to consider when buying an external hard drive. In addition, there are several types to choose from. This includes the wireless hard drive. The special feature of these models: They build their own Wi-Fi network. With this type, you don’t need a home Wi-Fi network to be able to connect your hard drive to your computer.
The advantage of a wireless external hard drive is that you are no longer tied to its location and can access device data from anywhere with different devices.
Of course, you can also store data from anywhere and from any device. Meanwhile, not only smartphones and laptops but also TVs can access Wi-Fi data. As well as play the relevant movies, music and photo files. Another good feature of these external hard drives is their low cost. They are not expensive and you do not need to spend a bag of money to buy one of them.
Connecting a WLAN hard drive
As a rule, Wi-Fi hard drives are connected to the computer via a USB cable or wirelessly. If you are using a 3.5-inch device, it must be additionally connected to the power supply. Small models (2.5 inches) are powered by a USB cable or a built-in lithium-ion battery. In this way, they are also more mobile. However, 2.5-inch hard drives are very limited in terms of storage capacity, as well as read and write speeds. For Wi-Fi hard drives, you don’t need an additional cable other than the 3.5-inch power supply.
As already mentioned, you can create your own Wi-Fi network with this type of external hard drives. You can connect multiple devices at the same time.
Those that are equipped with a battery, you can charge via USB or charger. They are especially suitable for those of you who travel a lot and rely on portable hard drives.
No Wi-Fi network in the world is 100 per cent protected from hacker attacks. With the danger of cybercrime, you must constantly rely on Wi-Fi. That’s why it’s important to password protect your data. This ensures that the data is not available to everyone.
However, you need to password protect not only your wireless hard drive but your entire network. The password should not be the original one, located on the back of the router. Replace it with a new, safer one, if possible.
Power consumption with Wi-Fi
Power consumption may be higher with external Wi-Fi hard drives than with standard models that simply connect with a cable to your computer or laptop.
You have the opportunity to determine the time for energy consumption. Some hard drives automatically shut down if you do not use them for a while. In some cases, more energy can be saved by setting up firmware or software.