TL;DR – These are the Best External Hard Drives:
1. Western Digital My Passport 4TB
Best External Hard Drive
Western Digital My Passport 4TB
In terms of size, speed, and relative affordability, the WD My Passport is one of the best external hard drives around. The current version comes in a wide range of colors, so you can customize this accessory to your tastes.
The 4TB model offers an incredible amount of storage capacity, and for just $100 it’s also surprisingly affordable. The USB 3.0 port offers speedy data transfer speeds. Overall, the My Passport is probably the best option on this list for most users.
2. Seagate Game Drive for Xbox 4TB
Best External Hard Drive for the Xbox One
Seagate Game Drive for Xbox 4TB
Capacity: 4TB ● Interface: USB 3.0 ● Weight: 0.53 pounds ● Size: 0.82″ x 3.15″ x 4.61″
Modern games are getting pretty huge in terms of download size and rather than constantly clearing off space in your Xbox One S or Xbox One X, why not invest in an external hard drive. The Seagate Game Drive for Xbox works seamlessly with any of Microsoft’s game consoles, so all you have to do is plug it in and enjoy all the added storage space. It’ll also match with your game system thanks to its classic green design and Xbox Logo.
3. WD_Black P10 Game Drive
Best External Hard Drive for the PS4
WD_BLACK P10 Game Drive
Capacity: 5TB ● Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 1 ● Max Transfer Speed: 140MB/s ● Weight: 0.52 pounds ● Size: 0.82″ x 3.46″ x 4.65″
PS4 players can also dramatically expand their own gaming libraries with the 5TB WD_Black Game Drive. It costs about the same $115 as the Seagate Game Drive for Xbox 4TB but you get an extra Terrabyte of storage and it’s easy setup for the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro.
The WD_Black P10 Game Drive will beam your games over at speeds up to 140MB/s, so you won’t be stuck at loading screens as often. Lastly, the WD_Black P10 Game Drive has an industrial style and jet black paint job that’ll match nicely with the design of Sony’s austere console.
4. Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim 2TB
Best Thin External Hard Drive
Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim 2TB
A super thin and reliable external hard drive with 2TB of storage at a great price. If you’re the type of person who likes all of their devices to look more like accessories, the textured metallic finish on the Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim should appeal to you. Moreover, Seagate claims this model is, in fact, the “thinnest” 2TB hard drive out there—and if you take a look it’s clear to see this will slide easily into a backpack or purse. It’s also available with a silver finish, and in a smaller 1TB capacity as well.
5. LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt 2TB
Best Rugged External Hard Drive
LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 2TB
If you’re hauling your external drive around “in the wild,” hackers and thieves aren’t all you need to worry about. There’s also the age-old problem of just straight up having butterfingers and watching your precious device turn into a broken brick. Thankfully, there are tough external drives like the LaCie Rugged. Built to withstand falls of over five feet, the bright orange removable cover is also IP54-level resistant to dust and water.
Plus, the LaCie Rugged offers fast transfer speeds via Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 connections so it’ll work with any computer on the market. The Thunderbolt cable tucks away neatly into the perimeter of the casing too, so you don’t have to worry about losing it.
6. Western Digital 16TB My Book Duo
Best High-Capacity External Hard Drive
Western Digital 16TB My Book Duo
Capacity: 16TB (8TB x 2) ● Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 1 ● Weight: 5.2 pounds ● Size: 7.09″ x 3.94″ x 6.30″
Of course, not all external drives need to be portable, and if you’re looking to backup your desktop computer, there are some cavernous options. One of the biggest—and best—hard drives is Western Digital’s My Book Duo. With two 8TB HDDs, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a higher-capacity storage option (other than, you know, the bonkers 24TB version).
You can even set the two drives up in a RAID 1 array so you’ve got a huge backup of your huge backup. Plus, you can set up WD’s automatic backup software on your computer and forget about worrying over whether your data is backed up or not.
7. G-Technology G-Drive Mobile 2TB
Best External Hard Drive for MacBooks
G-Technology G-Drive Mobile 2TB
The G-Technology G-Drive Mobile 2TB is the best external hard drive for MacBooks that will set you free from the dongle life. Its main feature is a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port that lets it achieve 140MB/s transfer speeds. It’s also slim and light and comes in a variety of sliver, space gray, and gold colors to match your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.
8. Glyph BlackBox Pro
Best External Hard Drive for Mac Desktops
Glyph BlackBox Pro
The Glyph BlackBox Pro easily the best external hard drives for Mac users. It comes formatted in the macOS-compliant HFS+ file system, but Windows users can always reformat it for use as well. You also won’t need to tote around a USB-C adapter either as the BlackBox Pro comes with a USB-C 3.1 cable right in the box. Of course, you could just as easily use your charge cable to connect this drive to your Mac because it’s also Thunderbolt 3 compatible.
Unfortunately, you will need to plug in this hard drive into the wall, since it can run off USB power, so it may be best suited for an iMac or Mac Pro desktop, rather than the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro you’re using in the wild. That said, if you plan on taking it on trips and leaving it at the hotel or Airbnb, the Glyph BlackBox Pro also comes in a ruggedized case that can survive beating wherever you take it.
9. iStorage diskAshur 2TB
Best Encrypted External Hard Drive
iStorage diskAshur 2TB
Some data is so precious you can’t trust just any old external drive to handle the job. Behold, the iStorage diskAshur, featuring 256-bit AES encryption and physical numpad on the device’s face. Plus, it’s even possible to set up the diskAshur so it destroys all its data if someone tries to crack their way in—how 007. But in all seriousness, there’s a reason government organizations use these iStorage drives and if you’re serious about security, so should you.
10. WD My Cloud Home
Best Cloud-Connected External Hard Drive
WD My Cloud Home
Capacity: 4TB ● Interface: USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet ● Weight: 2.31 pounds ● Size: 6.91″ x 2.09″ x 5.51″
The WD My Cloud Home is a capable and yet delightfully simple hard drive that connect to any device on your network. Once hooked up to your home Wi-Fi setup, any device on your network can upload files to this drive whether it be a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. And while you’re outside you can also access this storage like a Cloud drive.
You can find the WD My Cloud Home in a wide range of capacities, letting you pick out the size that best fits your needs. If you need to ensure the safety of your data, you can even get a model with two drives so it can keep a duplicate copy of each file. That said it isn’t a true NAS, if you’re looking for a robust, expandable Network-Attached Storage solution.
What to Look for in an External Hard Drive
Buying an external hard drive might seem like a simple matter of finding the capacity you want at the lowest price possible, but that’s a sure-fire way of getting a lemon and losing your data forever.
If you’re already in the market for a portable HDD over an external solid-state drive, you’re probably more interested in capacity than speed. Definitely don’t expect to get wickedly fast data transfer speeds out of these drives.
Although they might spin at the same 5,400 to 7,200 RPM (revolutions per minute) as the desktop drives in your PC, the USB 3.0 bus limits transfer speeds to about 100 or 200MBps. Comparatively, the fastest Thunderbolt II-enabled SSD can hit speeds up to 2,800MBps.
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam