Best External Hard Drive to Buy

6 Best External Hard Drive to Buy in Aug 2020

After many hours of research and comparison among more than 30 products, we have determined that the My Passport from Western Digital is the external hard drive with the best value for money today. It is an HDD offered in various storage sizes with good data transfer speed. It is also very secure and has various applications including one allowing automatic backup.

6 Best External Hard Drive to Buy In 2020

Main Points

 

Editor Choice

WD 4TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBU6Y0040BBK-WESN

$139.99
$97.99  in stock
17 new from $97.99
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

With multiple applications and a compact design, this HDD model is one of the best value for money currently. It comes in various storage sizes and is compatible with Mac and Windows.

This super secure external hard drive has various backup applications and will appeal to people who want to protect and save their precious information. It is compatible with Mac or Windows (depending on the model chosen) and also has good read and write speeds. Offered here in HDD, this product is also available in SSD , overall more efficient but also more expensive.

Best Midrange

Seagate Backup Plus 5TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD – Silver USB 3.0 for PC Laptop and Mac, 1 year MylioCreate, 2 Months Adobe CC Photography (STHP5000401)

$121.99  in stock
6 new from $121.99
8 used from $101.76
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

This HDD designed for laptops is thin and light. Its good transfer speed is complemented by the super practical Seagate Dashboard utility software for backing up all your data.

Thanks to USB 3.0, this HDD offers good reading speed. Being small, light and compact, it can be taken anywhere and is particularly suitable for laptops running Mac and Windows. Seagate Dashboard software backs up your data regardless of its source, whether it’s local content, from your cloud or even from your mobile devices or social media.

 

Best High end

SAMSUNG T5 Portable SSD 1TB - Up to 540MB/s - USB 3.1 External Solid State Drive, Black (MU-PA1T0B/AM)

$249.99
$190.00  in stock
6 new from $190.00
2 used from $131.78
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

This SSD is the fastest in this ranking thanks to its compatibility with USB 3.1. It is resistant to shocks and drops from 2 m. It is one of the only ones to be compatible with Android.

The significantly higher price is explained by the technologies that this model embeds. They give it many advantages that make the difference compared to other products available on the market. It will be especially suitable for people who need a quick transfer or for owners of PCs running Android (from version 4.4). It is one of the few to ensure this compatibility.

 

Cheap Alternative

Seagate Backup Plus Hub 4TB External Hard Drive Desktop HDD – USB 3.0, for Computer Desktop Workstation PC Laptop Mac, 2 USB Ports, 2 Months Adobe CC Photography (STEL4000100)

$114.99
$99.99  in stock
35 new from $99.99
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

With various free subscriptions included including Mylio which protects, shares, synchronizes and allows you to edit photos, this HDD is particularly suitable for visual professionals.

Safety and backup above all else is Seagate’s policy for this model. Small and light, it can be taken anywhere. Its reduced size does not prevent it from offering high transfer speeds. In addition, its fabric covering brings a stylish touch to the whole. Visual professionals will love the free two-month “photography” subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. 

Mid-Range Alternative

Seagate STHN2000400 Backup Plus Slim 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD - Black USB 3.0 for PC Laptop and Mac, 1 Year Mylio Create, 2 Months Adobe CC Photography

$67.99
$58.00  in stock
45 new from $58.00
7 used from $57.29
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

This HDD is one of the fastest in its class. As a bonus, it comes with Seagate Dashboard and Seagate Backup, interesting backup and security software for the professional sector.

For more greedy gamers or professionals with more intense needs, the additional memory at lower cost of this HDD is welcome. Its higher than average speed is a precious asset for these first users while the various security and backup software are a delight for the latter.

High End Alternative

WD 4TB My Book Duo Desktop RAID External Hard Drive - USB 3.1 - WDBFBE0040JBK-NESN

$259.99  in stock
12 new from $259.99
1 used from $199.10
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

This model is composed of a double HDD allowing more storage. This particularity makes it suitable for professionals, gamers or Blu-Ray fans. It can bind directly to the router, like a NAS.

WD offers here a model intended for professionals or very greedy gamers. It is a dual HDD in one and the same box which can also be directly linked to the router to function like a NAS server. It can be managed using the software suite provided. This structure also makes it easier to clean, which guarantees a longer service life.

More you can also read about

Our Choices
$97.99
$139.99
in stock
17 new from $97.99
Amazon.com
Free shipping
$121.99
in stock
6 new from $121.99
8 used from $101.76
Amazon.com
Free shipping
$190.00
$249.99
in stock
6 new from $190.00
2 used from $131.78
Amazon.com
Free shipping
$58.00
$67.99
in stock
45 new from $58.00
7 used from $57.29
Amazon.com
Free shipping
Last updated on September 27, 2020

How did we make our choice?

With the increase in high definition multimedia content, our need for storage capacity has increased. Of course, there are USB keys (which we are talking about here ) and online storage possibilities (Cloud services), but it quickly becomes expensive when you have to expand your storage capacities beyond 1 TB.

Newbies in this field tend to go for the external hard drive offering the greatest capacity at the best price, but in reality, several parameters must be taken into account to make an optimal purchase.

  • HDD and SSD : HDD (Hard Drive Disks) are the most traditional, with the largest storage capacities. More delicate and fragile, they tend to be noisy. SSDs (Solid State Drives) are manageable and high performance hard drives. They benefit from virtually zero latency and much higher transfer speeds. Although they are more robust, they are nevertheless generally (much) more expensive and have a shorter lifespan than HDDs. Initially developed more as internal components to PCs (to which we devoted a dedicated comparison ), they are popularized as external storage means.
  • Storage capacity : it is important to think about the type of files you are going to store and in what quantity. Storing text files obviously takes up much less space than storing multimedia content. The capacities of external hard drives vary on average between 500 GB and 8 TB. Most stationary computers offer an internal hard drive of about 2 TB (we have also devoted an article to this), this can give you an idea of which can be useful for you according to your needs.
  • Transfer speed : if you plan to back up important data only every 15 days, most conventional hard drives are sufficient. But if, for example, you want to play video games where the data is placed on the hard drive, you should consider a very fast drive, probably an SSD, with good storage capacity and a USB 3.0, 3.1 or more interface. 3.2 (10 times faster than USB 2.0, which is gradually disappearing) or USB-C. As Emilien ( MacWay ) tells us , it is undeniable that the advanced performance of the SSD’s flash memory represents a considerable asset for both productivity and data security, making it an excellent choice for many users.
  • Connection : originally, hard drives come with a cable through which you can connect them to your computer. But today, some models offer a wireless network interface, in order to be able to access the content of the disc from any device connected to Wi-Fi, in particular from smartphones, tablets, or cameras.
  • Compatibility : make sure your future hard drive is compatible with your computer’s operating system (Mac, Windows, Chrome OS). In addition, the connection must be supported by the latter.
  • Synchronization and Backup : Some brands ship backup utility software with their device. This synchronizes the files on a computer with those on the external hard drive. These programs can also contain a backup automation system or even offer you to add a backup with your Cloud. 
  • Transportability : if you leave your hard drive at home, the risk of shock will be minimal. But if you take it with you everywhere, it is necessary to invest in an external hard drive capable of protecting your data. In that sense, while it’s important to go for something light and thin (for ease of transport), sturdiness shouldn’t be overlooked.
  • Data security : some hard drives are supplied with data security software (sometimes subject to a paid subscription) and still others can be encrypted.

As the external hard drive market is fiercely competing with that of Cloud services, few new developments are currently being made. To decide between them, we therefore consulted various English-speaking and French-speaking sites specialized in the field, in order to determine those which present the most interesting quality / price ratio, taking care that their performances are always very current (in particular at the level of connectivity and processing speed).

Note that, for ease of comparison (especially at the price level), when a model has several sizes in terms of storage capacities, we have concentrated on the 2 TB version, a size capable of satisfying a large majority of users.

Our Pick: Western Digital My Passport

Seagate Backup Plus 5TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD – Silver USB 3.0 for PC Laptop and Mac, 1 year MylioCreate, 2 Months Adobe CC Photography (STHP5000401)

$121.99  in stock
6 new from $121.99
8 used from $101.76
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

With multiple applications and a compact design, this HDD model is one of the best value for money currently. It comes in various storage sizes and is compatible with Mac and Windows.

This super secure external hard drive has various backup applications and will appeal to people who want to protect and save their precious information. It is compatible with Mac or Windows (depending on the model chosen) and also has good read and write speeds. Offered here in HDD, this product is also available in SSD , overall more efficient but also more expensive.

The HDD version is necessarily slower, which explains the speeds of 174 MB / s read and 168 MB / s write for this model. However, compared to other products fitted with the same type of disc, these values ​​are high. 

Connectivity level, we find a USB 3.0 port. A USB-A to Micro-B cable is included with the Windows version and an additional USB-C to Micro-B is available for Macs.

Directly ready to use, it is formatted in NTFS and compatible with any PC running Windows 7 or later. On the other hand, Mac users will have to purchase the specific case .

It comes with several utility software, including WD Backup, which precisely determines which documents to copy to your hard drive and when. Coupled with Acronis True Image software, it even allows access to your computer’s system backup, which allows you to create a kind of clone of it, since copies will be kept not only of your files but also your computer’s operating system and all the programs on it.

Next to that are WD Security, which encrypts your data (AES 256), and WD Drive Utilities, which tells you about the status of your drive.

On the visual side, we have the impression of dealing with a small box by its size of 10.7 x 7.5 x 1.1 cm. The weight is 120 g which is very light but reduces its robustness.

In the end, the WD My Passport hard drive offers more than satisfactory storage capacities, good performance in terms of speed and the possibility of encryption. All this, added to a good quality / price ratio, makes it one of the best low-cost choices.

It is offered in different colors and different storage capacities ( 1TB , 2TB , 4TB and 5TB ). An SSD version is also available but at a significantly higher price.

Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim

Seagate Backup Plus 5TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD – Silver USB 3.0 for PC Laptop and Mac, 1 year MylioCreate, 2 Months Adobe CC Photography (STHP5000401)

$121.99  in stock
6 new from $121.99
8 used from $101.76
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

This HDD designed for laptops is thin and light. Its good transfer speed is complemented by the super practical Seagate Dashboard utility software for backing up all your data.

Thanks to USB 3.0, this HDD offers good reading speed. Being small, light and compact, it can be taken anywhere and is particularly suitable for laptops running Mac and Windows. It is available in 1TB and 2TB, in gold or silver.

In terms of speed, it is doing well with 170 MB / s in reading and 150 MB / s in writing, which is average. The transfer is done using a USB 3.0 cable.

The Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim is natively compatible with Windows. Mac users will need to reformat it for it to be accepted. Software level as transportability, it is a model that is strongly thought for laptops.

We like the Seagate Dashboard utility software which backs up local data (Windows only), cloud data, social media content, and mobile devices. For this software to work, however, specific configuration is required. 

From a transportability point of view, it is so thin (11.4 x 7.6 x 1 cm) that it fits easily into a back pocket of pants or a bag. The weight of less than 140 g can hardly be felt.

On the other hand, where the shoe pinches is on the security side, since there is simply nothing that is set up: no data encryption, no password.

Ultimately, the Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim is a perfect HDD to be connected to a laptop PC. Small, compact and light, it is easy to carry. It offers good transfer speed. However, on the security side, the finding is quite disappointing.

 

Also Read  Dell vs HP Which Brand is Better And Why in 2020

The best high-end external hard drive: Samsung SSD T5

SAMSUNG T5 Portable SSD 1TB - Up to 540MB/s - USB 3.1 External Solid State Drive, Black (MU-PA1T0B/AM)

$249.99
$190.00  in stock
6 new from $190.00
2 used from $131.78
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

This SSD is the fastest in this ranking thanks to its compatibility with USB 3.1. It is resistant to shocks and drops from 2 m. It is one of the only ones to be compatible with Android.

The significantly higher price of this model is explained by the technologies it embeds. They give it many advantages that make the difference compared to other products available on the market. It will be especially suitable for people who need a quick transfer or for owners of PCs running Android (from version 4.4). It is one of the few to ensure this compatibility.

Using an SSD allows read speeds of up to 540 MB / s and write speeds of up to 515 MB / s. We are certainly in another price range, but also speed! The USB 3.1 port, on the other hand, supports copy speeds of up to 10 Gb / s and in addition, it secures your data thanks to the AES 256-bit encryption system.

Connectivity level, here we are entitled to a USB-C connection. But don’t panic, for those who have computers that do not yet have this technology, Samsung offers a classic USB 3.0 adapter. It also comes with two 40cm cables: USB-C and USB-A.

What makes its originality (and its price) is the fact that it embeds a new generation of memory: to put it simply, the 3rd generation allowed 48 layers of cells to be stacked, and the 4th allowed 64. 

By default it is formatted with the exFAT file system, which is suitable for both Mac and Windows, but it is possible to reformat it to NTFS for better performance.

On the visual side, it does not look like much with only 7.4 x 5.7 x 1 cm for 51 g. This small size, coupled with its brushed metal coating, makes it the ideal device to carry in the back of your pocket. In addition, it is resistant to shocks and drops up to 2 m in height.

With some of the fastest transfer rates on the market, Samsung is hitting hard with its 5T. If you can afford it, this is definitely a model that won’t disappoint. It is available in blue for the 250 and 500 GB versions and in black for the 1 and 2 TB .

Note that the T7 Touch version was released recently. It offers doubled transfer speeds, favored by the second generation USB 3.2. However, we are waiting to have more user feedback to estimate what it is really worth in use. 

A cheap alternative: Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch

Seagate Backup Plus Hub 4TB External Hard Drive Desktop HDD – USB 3.0, for Computer Desktop Workstation PC Laptop Mac, 2 USB Ports, 2 Months Adobe CC Photography (STEL4000100)

$114.99
$99.99  in stock
35 new from $99.99
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

With various free subscriptions included including Mylio which protects, shares, synchronizes and allows you to edit photos, this HDD is particularly suitable for visual professionals.

Safety and backup above all else is Seagate’s policy for this model. Small and light, it can be taken anywhere. Its reduced size does not prevent it from offering high transfer speeds. Visual professionals will love the free two-month “photography” subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. 

The write and read speeds reach 140 MB / s which is a little worse than the other HDDs of this top but it is still correct. The capacity is either 1 or 2 TB.

Connection point of view, it is equipped with a USB 3.0 port. Seagate has considered including a standard USB cable and a USB-C adapter, which is much more suitable for newer devices. Compatibility is assured with Windows and MacOS.

Small (1.2 x 7.8 x 11.4 cm) and light (less than 150 g), it is easily carried around.

At the software level, the brand provides its Toolkit which allows you to encrypt the hardware and automatically save your files. To complete the security package, you can also create a password. However, if by some misfortune you forget it, you will lose all your data because it is only possible for you to completely reset the hard drive, there is no alternative solution.

As a bonus, you find a one-year Mylio subscription that allows you to protect, edit, share, and sync photos across multiple devices, as well as a free two-month subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud photography plan. 

To sum up, this HDD has good transfer speed and works with Mac and Windows. Security is the key word in its design and you can take it anywhere without worrying about the theft or loss of your data.

With classic storage capacities of 1 or 2 TB, this HDD is offered in white or black. The fabric cover is nice enough to mention but some users complain that it is more difficult to handle.

 

A mid-range alternative: Seagate Backup Plus Hub 4TB

Seagate STHN2000400 Backup Plus Slim 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD - Black USB 3.0 for PC Laptop and Mac, 1 Year Mylio Create, 2 Months Adobe CC Photography

$67.99
$58.00  in stock
45 new from $58.00
7 used from $57.29
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

This HDD is one of the fastest in its class. As a bonus, it comes with Seagate Dashboard and Seagate Backup, interesting backup and security software for the professional sector.

For more greedy gamers or professionals, the additional memory at lower cost of this HDD is welcome. Its higher-than-average speed is a valuable asset for the former while the various security and backup software make the latter happy.

Transfer speeds peak at 181MB / s write and 195MB / s read, which is pretty impressive for an HDD.

For connectivity, it has 2 USB 3.0 ports at the front which each deliver 1.5 A. They can therefore be used to charge another device without being connected to a PC because the hard drive benefits from an independent power supply. A micro USB 3.0 is present at the back in order to connect it to the computer (cable supplied) and the power adapter input is located next to it.

This model unfortunately does not include an on / off button. You must therefore unplug the plug to cut it. On the other hand, it has a standby mode which counteracts this negative point a little.  

Note that some users report a failure in the connection if they are using a 2.0 connector in port 3.0. You should therefore always use the correct standard.

Software level, compatibility is assured with Windows but Mac’s require a driver update. It is equipped with the Seagate Dashboard utility (Windows) for backing up data and the free Seagate Backup application for saving files on smartphones and tablets (iOS and Android). However, to do so, going through a PC connected to WIFI is mandatory.

All these features have an impact on its size (19.8 x 4.1 x 11.8 cm) and on its weight (over 1 kg). This therefore makes it significantly less transportable than other competing models. You will understand, it is intended for sedentary rather than nomadic use.

To conclude, Seagate’s Backup Plus Hub sacrifices its size in favor of performance. In this sense, it is faster than other HDDs but much less transportable. It also has software assets that automatically back up and protect your data (from the cloud, a smartphone, internally, or other).

This model is offered with storage capacities ranging from 3 to 10 TB, to choose according to your needs.

A high-end alternative: Western Digital My Book Duo 4 TB

WD 4TB My Book Duo Desktop RAID External Hard Drive - USB 3.1 - WDBFBE0040JBK-NESN

$259.99  in stock
12 new from $259.99
1 used from $199.10
Free shipping
Buy from Amazon
Amazon.com
as of September 27, 2020

This model is composed of a double HDD allowing more storage. This particularity makes it suitable for professionals, gamers or Blu-Ray fans. It can bind directly to the router, like a NAS.

Western Digital offers here a model intended for professionals or very greedy gamers. The My Book Duo is a dual HDD in one and the same box which can also be directly linked to the router and thus function like a NAS server. If you are interested, we invite you to read our comparison on the subject. 

Inside the case (which this time can be opened with a lever), there are two hard disks which spin at 5400 rpm. Data is striped across both hard drives simultaneously, allowing for expedited processing. Suddenly, even if we are facing an HDD, we obtain a level of performance close to the SSD, since it reaches the trifle of 388 MB / s in reading and 370 MB / s in writing!

The use of two media means that its capacities exceed what the average user will generally need, since it exists in various versions from 4TB, and even up to 28TB !

It also has several ports. First there is the USB-C 3.1 charging port (a USB-C to USB cable is included), but also two USB 3.0 ports on the back.

Security level, it is possible to record the data in parallel on the two disks: the loss of space allows a better security, especially within the framework of a professional use.

With this model, exit the compact and the discretion. This is a case that is no less than 18 x 16 x 10 cm and 2.35 kg. As much to say to you that it is far from the portable model intended for the use of everyone.

We find the double design that made the originality of the My Passport: the upper half of the case is in glossy smooth plastic, and the lower half is textured and matte. This time, the model is only available in black, to certainly mark its professional destination.

Finally, like the My Passport, this external hard drive comes with a battery of software, such as WD Backup, WD Drive Utilities and WD Security (with hardware encryption and AES 256), which makes it an extremely complete model.

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