Best External Hard Drives in 2023
By Jennifer Eblin · Sep 27, 2022
7 Best External Hard Drives in 2023
Best external hard drive for desk tops
Seagate Back Up Plus Hub 4
Best external hard drive for Macs
LaCie Mobile Drive
Best rugged hard drive
LaCie Rugged SSD Pro
Best external hard drive for gaming
Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub
Best external hardrive for back up
Toshiba Canvio Flex
Best external hard drive for general storage
Western Digital My Book
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All the details for our Product picks7 of the Best External Hard Drives in 2023
Inside the box is your Back Up Plus Hub 4 and a startup guide that shows you how to use all of its features. You get a 4-foot-long USB cable that gives you more room to move around and backup software. As it does not work on just USB power, you’ll appreciate that it includes a power adapter, too.
The Back Up Plus Hub 4 from Seagate is easy to use because of its two USB ports. Use one to transfer data from your console or computer. The second port turns this into a USB hub that lets you use other cables to charge your devices as you run the external hard drive.
You can save almost anything to this hard drive because it’s one of the largest models on the market. With 4TB of storage, you get more room than many game consoles have. Use that data to save your progress in your favorite games and still have space leftover for videos and other files.
The Back Up Plus Hub 4 has an impressive read speed of 170MB per second. It reads and opens any data that you need quickly. On the other hand, its writing speed is much lower. Some users reported speeds as low as 25MB per second when they saved or transferred data.
Though Seagate includes a warranty on all of its hard drives, you get a longer warranty when you invest in the Back Up Plus Hub 4. Not only do you get a five-year warranty that pays for any new parts you need, but it will also cover the labor costs when you work with a professional to fix it.
Pros & Cons
- Features an impressive 4TB of storage
- Best external drive for desktop computers
- Two USB ports to both use the hard drive and charge devices
- Free access to the Seagate Mobile Backup app
- Works with Windows and Mac operating systems
- Warranty covers parts and labor for five years
- Enough storage for large files and games
- Includes backup software for your files
- Free two-month subscription to Adobe Create Cloud
- Comes with an NFTS drive for your Mac
- Weighs much more than other external hard drives do
- Cannot run on just USB power
- Write speeds are quite slow
In addition to the Mobile Drive, you get a quick start guide. LaCie designed this guide for those who have less tech know-how and need a little more help. With the USB 3.0 cable, you can easily set up the external hard drive to work with your Mac. It also includes access to free LaCie software.
A few users had problems with the Mobile Drive because it lacks the plug-and-play design that others have. Once you connect it to your Mac, you need to visit the LaCie website and download the driver for it. This also lets you download the free backup and mirroring software that comes with it.
You may not need another external hard drive because this one has so much space. With 2TB of storage, you have enough room for up to 500,000 pictures and images or 165 hours of videos. The total number of files you can save on it will depend on how large they are.
You’ll have a hard time finding the transfer speed because LaCie doesn’t share it, even on the paperwork that comes in the box. You can expect to see speeds of around 140MB per second though. While this isn’t the fastest speed we found, it’s pretty high for an external hard drive in this price range.
LaCie gives you a two-year warranty with the Mobile Drive. As the date starts when you buy the external, you need to make sure you go online and register it. It should have a serial number on it that you enter on the company’s website. Your warranty covers both labor and parts for the next two years.
Pros & Cons
- 2TB of storage for games, videos, and other files
- Lets you schedule automatic backups of your system
- One month of Adobe Creative Cloud Photography included
- Connects via Thunderbolt, USB-C, and USB-A cables
- Aluminum design makes it lightweight but durable
- Compatible with computers and other devices
- Best external hard drive for Mac users
- Stores up to 165 hours of videos or 500,000 photos
- Limited two-year warranty
- Backup and mirroring software included
- May corrupt some of your files
- Only comes with a USB 3.0 cable
- Limits your storage once you download the software
This compact external hard drive comes inside the box with its rugged case already installed. The quick install guide walks you through how to use it and includes info on your free Adobe subscription and warranty. You also get the Thunderbolt 3 cable, with a USB-C connection on the end for using the Rugged SSD Pro with different computers.
You only need to do a few things to use the Rugged SSD Pro when you take it out of the box. Insert the Thunderbolt 3 cable on the end into the side of the hard drive and insert the opposite end into your computer. You can then download the software that helps you get more out of your hard drive.
You can use this external hard drive for almost any type of data. The 1TB capacity is big enough to create a backup of your system. Depending on the size of your system though, you may not have a lot of space left after. It’s also big enough to store some simple games.
LaCie gives you the same transfer speeds with this external that you would get with NVME hard drives. Enjoy fast speeds of up to 2,800MB per second. You should get the same speeds when you save data to the device or transfer files. The Rugged SSD Pro is so fast that it often takes just a few minutes.
With a five-year warranty, LaCie lets you know that it has your back. This warranty pays for any repairs the hard drive needs and will pay for the labor costs, too. You get more than just a great warranty though. LaCie also gives you free access to Rescue Data Recovery services when you buy the Rugged SSD Pro.
Pros & Cons
- Solid 1TB storage for most files and folders
- Resistant to damage caused by drops and impacts
- High waterproof rating to protect against moisture damage
- Encrypted technology to keep your data secure
- Five-year warranty on parts and labor
- Free data recovery services in case of failures
- Compact enough to fit in your pocket
- Thunderbolt 3 cable comes in the box
- Compatible with USB-A and USB-C devices
- Fast data transfer speeds of up to 2,800MB/s
- Slower speeds when you use the USB-A port
- You need to download software to use it
- Can lose your connection when it runs for too long
Weighing less than 3 pounds, the FireCuda Gaming Hub comes with everything you need to connect it to your PC. Two cables come in the box that let you connect it to USB-A or USB-C devices. You also get instructions that tell you how to troubleshoot any problems you have and customize the LED lights.
The chances are good that you might have a few problems using the FireCuda Gaming Hub because of the LED lights. It can take some time before you feel comfortable customizing the lights. With USB-A and USB-C ports on the front though, you can easily connect it to your gaming PC and transfer game files.
This is really the best external hard drive for gamers, which is why we recommend that you store your game files on it. Why delete a game you rarely play and download a new copy later? You can pick up right where you left off when you save the game to the FireCuda Gaming Hub. It also has lots of space for documents and photos.
One of the downsides of the FireCuda Gaming Hub is that it runs a little slower than you might expect. It’s not as fast as SSD or NVME hard drives, especially when it comes to loading games. The external has high enough speeds that you shouldn’t have any problems moving smaller files.
With the one-year warranty on the FireCuda Gaming Hub, you have the choice of filing a claim if one of the ports breaks or you have another issue. This warranty also comes with one year of data recovery services for free. Seagate will pay the cost to retrieve any files you lose due to hard drive failure.
Pros & Cons
- Huge capacity of 8TB for game storage
- Best external hard drive for gaming
- Two front-facing ports for USB-A and USB-C devices
- Compatible with most game consoles
- Allows you to use two devices at the same time
- Runs when used horizontally or vertically
- Portable to let you play games outside of your home
- Includes free data recovery
- Only stores some games and won’t let you play them from the hard drive
- Transfer speeds can drop as low as 9MB per second
- Not compatible with the PS5
Suitable for gamers and people who need to save files, this hard drive comes with detailed instructions inside the box. Those instructions show you how to connect it to your computer or another device. You also get a USB cable and a USB-C adapter that gives you more use out of the basic cable.
The Canvio Flex is fairly easy to use because you just need to plug it in and open the hard drive. With the included cables, you should not have any issues using it with any electronic device. You can even use the storage space for some of your favorite games and play them without loading them onto your console.
This is our top pick for the best external hard drive for backing up your system. It has more than enough room to save just the files you pick and choose, but you can also back up your entire system. Many users love that its large capacity is suitable for multiple games, too.
Using a USB 3.0 cable gives you fast transfer speeds. It takes mere seconds to save some files, but it can take a few minutes to transfer games or bigger files. You may find that the Toshiba Canvio Flex runs a little slower when you use a different cable to save or move data.
Get three years of peace of mind from Toshiba when you buy this external hard drive. The warranty pays for claims you file when you need someone to fix the device or you need a new part. Make sure you keep the paperwork from the box as it tells you how to file a claim.
Pros & Cons
- 2TB of storage with enough space for large files
- Includes options for using it with USB-A and USB-C cables
- Works fairly fast when you transfer or save data
- Compatible with both Mac and Windows computers
- Connects to most tablets for added storage
- Fun silver color and satin finish to set it apart from your other devices
- Best external hard drive for backups
- Includes a good three-year warranty
- Suitable for game and media storage
- Lightweight and portable for use on the go
- Does not work with remote access
- Has some problems when used with Time Machine
- Works better with USB-A than USB-C
Western Digital includes a SuperSpeed USB-A cable with this external hard drive that offers speeds of up to 5Gbps. You also get an AC adapter that helps you run My Book from any wall outlet. The box has software for file management and password protection along with a user guide, too.
My Book helps you save time because it comes ready to use right out of the box. The included USB cable plugs into your laptop or desktop and allows you to start moving and saving files right away. You will need to download and install the software to use it as a backup drive or if you want to add a password.
The blocky design of My Book makes it look quite similar to some of the popular video game consoles and also lets you know that it’s suitable for game storage. Feel free to run PC games that you saved on it when you connect it to your computer. The hard drive also has plenty of storage for other files.
With an rpm rating of more than 5,000, My Book transfers files quickly. You may find that it slows down a bit when it comes to huge files, but it usually only takes a few minutes to transfer them. It also works quickly when you need to back up your system to the hard drive.
Get the protection that you need with the warranty on My Book. This warranty lasts for three years and begins when you purchase the hard drive. Filing a claim ensures that the brand pays for both your new parts and all labor. In some cases, Western Digital will replace the entire device for free.
Pros & Cons
- Compatible with Time Machine
- Includes software for backing up your files and creating a password
- Best external hard drive for general storage
- USB 3.0 port and compatible with USB 2.0 cables
- Works with Windows 10+ and Mac 11+
- Large 4TB capacity with loads of storage
- Encrypts data to keep it secure with 256 bits
- Affordable option for most shoppers
- Compact design saves some space
- Suitable for video game storage
- Does not allow remote access
- Included instructions are difficult to read
- May require you to download and install other software
Seagate includes two pieces of paper in the box with this hard drive that allows you to register for your free subscriptions. Make sure you don’t lose them because Seagate won’t replace them. You also get a USB 3.0 cable that is 18 inches long, a USB-C adapter, and a guide that shows you how to use the Plus Ultra Touch.
One of the best features of this external hard drive is how easily you can use it. Seagate designed it to use a plug-and-play design. You simply plug the included USB cable into the hard drive and use the opposite end in your laptop. If you lose the original cable, you can replace it with one from the same brand.
This Seagate external hard drive comes with 2TB of storage, which is enough to hold most of the files you have on your computer. It works great for photos and videos because it has enough space for thousands of them. The Plus Ultra Touch does not work as well for video games because many of those files are quite large.
When you buy a budget external hard drive, you’ll find that the transfer speeds aren’t as high as you might like. It can take a few minutes to move data from your PC or laptop to this one. Even smaller files can take 30 to 60 seconds to transfer. Larger files take even longer.
The limited warranty you get from Seagate covers the hard drive for one year. It applies to both any new parts you might need and the labor costs to install them. You usually have 30 days to return the hard drive, too. All of the optional products you get with it such as the cloud and editing subscriptions do not have a warranty.
Pros & Cons
- Offers 2TB of storage
- Includes free subscriptions to editing software
- Works with USB technology via an included cable
- Comes with a USB-C adapter for other devices
- Compatible with most computers
- Helps you back up valuable data from your PC
- Budget-friendly external hard drive
- One-year limited warranty covers labor and replacement parts
- Fabric cover gives it a stylish look
- Has hardware encryption to keep your data safe
- File transfers take a lot of time
- Lacks enough storage for some video games
- Can lose an established connection
List of all Best External Hard Drives in 2023 for your needs
|Seagate Back Up Plus Hub 4||09/2022||$ 139.99||Buy|
|LaCie Mobile Drive||09/2022||$ 89.99||Buy|
|LaCie Rugged SSD Pro||09/2022||$ 364.99||Buy|
|Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub||09/2022||$ 171.00||Buy|
|Toshiba Canvio Flex||09/2022||$ 69.99||Buy|
|Western Digital My Book||09/2022||$ 94.99||Buy|
|Seagate Plus Ultra Touch||09/2022||$ 89.99||Buy|
What do you use an external hard drive for?
Most electronic devices have some type of hard drive inside. It acts as storage for your operating system (OS) and anything you need to save. The problem is that it only has a finite amount of storage. As you keep saving files, you reduce the amount of available storage. This can make your computer run much slower than it ever did and cause problems when you try to play games or open multiple tabs on your web browser. An external hard drive is essentially a mobile version of your system’s hard drive.
It’s not just the saved files cluttering up your screen that reduce your storage space. Your PC needs a certain amount of storage just to run and operate properly. With an external hard drive, you get a piece of equipment that you can use with your computer and other devices like your game console or tablet. You can even connect the external hard drive to different computers and transfer information between them.
The only thing needed to use an external hard drive is a USB cable. Most come with either a USB-C or a USB-A cable that connects the hard drive to your system. Some even offer password protection and encryption where you add a password to the device. Unless someone else knows your password, they cannot view any of the files you saved on it or make any changes to your files. Take a look at some of the things you can use an external hard drive for and why it’s worth investing in one.
While shoppers have different reasons for buying external hard drives, the most common is storage. When you start running out of room on your hard drive, you have two options: buy more RAM or sign up for cloud storage. Buying more RAM can cost almost as much as buying a new computer does. If you don’t have a lot of tech experience, you risk damaging your PC when you try to install more memory. Paying someone to do the job for you can also cost a lot. There’s no guarantee that you won’t run out of storage again later either. Cloud storage is helpful because you can log in and access your files whenever you want. You need to pay for this storage though, which is often expensive. There’s also a chance that you might forget your password and lose your files. Other risks are that the server will crash and lose your data or the company might go out of business.
External hard drives are a better option. You can buy one that has all of the space you need today and room for files you create in the future. Though some of the cheaper models have just 500MB of storage, other external hard drives have 1TB or 2TB of storage, which is enough for thousands of photos and hundreds of hours of video. There are even some models that have 8TB of storage or more. Not only can you save files you don’t want to lose, but you can free up space on your computer when you transfer files to your external.
Another popular reason to invest in an external hard drive is for data transfers. Do you have files on an old computer that you want to snag but aren’t sure how to do it? It’s easy to connect your external to the computer. Most allow you to click and drag the files you want and then drop them onto the hard drive. You can then plug into your new computer and move the files over.
External hard drives also give you an easy way to share data with others. You might download a copy of a PC game that you take to a friend’s house to let them borrow it. If you have a client from work who wants to see some of the work you did, it’s just as easy to move the files to your external hard drive and download them onto your client’s computer. You can also use an external to share data with friends or classmates at school.
One of the worst feelings in the world is how you feel when you see a blue screen on your computer or a message that says the hard drive failed. Recovery companies can often find some of your files. Not only do they charge a lot for this service, but they cannot guarantee that they’ll find everything you stored on your hard drive. With an external hard drive, you can back up every file on your computer. We found models that do automatic backups every time you plug them into your computer because they automatically look for new files and make copies for you. You’ll also find some that allow you to schedule future backups at times that work for you. If your hard drive fails or you damage your computer, you can easily access all of your files.
Gamers know just how much space a simple game takes up. Even if you buy a new desktop designed for gaming, you might find that it lacks enough hard drive space to download and play two or more games. One of the best things about external hard drives is that they are compatible with consoles like the PS5 and Xbox One. You can move games from your console’s hard drive to the external. When you plug in the external later, you have access to all of those games. It will also save your progress.
Though not as common as some of the other reasons, many people look for external hard drives for digital editing. Whether you need to edit videos or photos, you may not want to rely solely on your PC. The software you use can take up a lot of space and slow things down so much that it takes a few minutes or longer just to save a new file. With an external hard drive, you can store the software on it. When you need to do some editing work, move the files to the external hard drive and open the program. As long as you keep it connected to your computer, you can run that software.
Are there different types of external hard drives?
The two types of external hard drives available include SSD and HDD models. A solid-state drive or SSD is pretty common in most computers, especially gaming setups. Hard disk drives or HDDs aren’t as common today. You can take a look at both types to get an idea of which one works with your budget and needs.
SSDs get their name because they do not have any moving parts. They use transistors with cells that detect electric pulses. Those pulses tell the drive when to save data. Many gamers prefer SSD external hard drives because of how fast they are. You can transfer one file in a few seconds and move bigger files within minutes. You should keep in mind though that they are expensive. Finding one for $100 or less is quite difficult.
An HDD external hard drive has a series of magnetic disks inside that move and make noise as you save information. You will know if your computer uses one of these hard drives because you can hear it. Buying an HDD helps you save a lot of money because these drives usually cost around $50 to $100. The downside is that they take up a lot of room. You will find that they usually come in smaller sizes and that they are slower than SDD external hard drives, too.
What should you look for in an external hard drive?
Before you decide to buy one of the external hard drives that made our list, make sure you have a few ideas in mind about what you need. You won’t find one external that is suitable for everyone.
Always consider the size of the external hard drive, especially if you buy one that you’ll use in places other than your home. Some weigh 2 to 3 pounds or more and are roughly the same size as a game console. While you can easily use one of these with your PC and other devices, it’s not as easy to move. The hard drive can take up a lot of room in your bag. Smaller externals are best for those who spend a lot of time on the go. You might pick one up that weighs 6 ounces or less and is small enough to fit in your pocket.
Modern external hard drives provide as much storage as you once had with dozens of blank discs. One of the more important things to keep in mind as you consider all of your options is how much space you need. An external hard drive with 1TB of storage is around the minimum that most shoppers need. This gives you room for around 250,000 photos or up to 250 hours of videos and movies. If you need an external for gaming, look for those with 4TB to 8TB of storage to make sure you have room for all of the games you want to save.
External hard drives are sometimes so portable that users lose them. You might set it down on a desk in your classroom and forget to grab it before you leave or accidentally leave it behind in a drawer in your office. External hard drives now include security features that reduce the risk of someone finding and stealing your data. With software or hardware encryption, the external will protect your data when you’re on an open network. You’ll find some models that allow you to add a password and prevent anyone from viewing the files unless they enter the password. Several portable external hard drives also come with a tamper-resistant case.
As you look over our list of the best external hard drives, you might notice that they use USB cables. USB cables let you set up the hard drive in minutes with any device and use it with different systems. Some of the cheaper drives use USB 2.0 technology, which is still valid. When you expand your budget, you can bring home one that uses USB 3.0 technology. This technology is much faster and makes the drive compatible with most devices. You may want to look for one that comes with an adapter, too. There’s a good chance you have a few devices that use USB-C cables while the external uses a USB-A cable.
In addition to USB connections, external hard drives may offer a Thunderbolt connection. Thunderbolt cables work well with Apple products and offer fast transfer speeds. Externals that have a Thunderbolt 1 or 2 connection offer speeds of around 10 to 20Mbps. Newer externals work with Thunderbolt 3 cables that increase your transfer speed. Another option is an external hub. While it offers the same storage as a standard hard drive, it has multiple ports that let you connect other devices to it. You may even have the chance to charge one device with the external while you use another one.
Never buy an external hard drive unless you verify that it’s compatible with your OS. Sony and Microsoft both make official externals designed for use with their PlayStation and Xbox consoles. If you buy one from a different brand, it may not work with your console. You also need to make sure that you can use it with either Windows or Apple devices as they use two very different operating systems.
External hard drives have both a writing speed and a reading speed. The reading speed refers to how quickly it can read a file and bring up the content inside it. When the drive is too slow, you may find yourself wasting a lot of time when you load a game or want to open a large image. The writing speed lets you know how quickly the drive will save your work. You want to make sure that it’s fast enough you can save data in a few seconds. Don’t forget to check the transfer speed either, especially if you need to move data with your new external.
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Last updated on Sep 27, 2022