12 Best External Hard Disks You Can Buy

Last Updated: October 15, 2016

With digital media getting larger by the day, and the storage space on ultrabooks, and portable laptops staying put at 128 GB to 256 GB, or in some rare cases 1 TB, there is almost always a shortage of space to store media files in. After all, the main hard disk, or SSD inside your laptop is not really meant to be used as an archive of every piece of digital media that you have. So, how (and where) are we supposed to save all those videos, and photos of family trips and birthdays? Well, the answer is external storage devices.

When it comes to external hard disks, there are a number of factors to consider. Most importantly, the capacity of the external hard disk, or SSD. A number of other factors also come into play, such as the connectivity options (USB 3? Wireless?), as well as the over all brand reliability. If you’re already worried about picking out your next external hard disk, don’t be. We have done the hard work, and here are the 12 best external hard disks you can buy:

Note: We have covered every kind of external hard disk you might want. This list contains wired hard disks, wireless hard disks, SSDs, and even Gaming hard disks (for your Xbox).

1. Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1 TB

This external hard disk from Seagate uses USB 3.0 to connect with your laptop. That means faster transfer speeds, as compared to the older (but still very widely used) USB 2.0 standard. The hard disk is backwards compatible with USB 2.0, as well, so it’ll work with laptops that do not have USB 3.0 ports available. The hard disk has a sleek, and protective metal finish on the top that is available in a variety of colors.

best external hard disks

The drive comes in 4 colors (blue, matte black, silver, and red), and a range of storage sizes, from 500 GB (for $56.99) to 4 TB (for $124.95). Seagate also offers 200 GB of free OneDrive storage (for two years) with the hard disk, along with Live support, and Seagate’s very own Seagate Dashboard for managing the hard disk.

There are a number of other hard disks available in Seagate’s “Backup” family of products, including the Backup Plus Ultra Slim, which is the thinnest portable drive that Seagate offers. Other options include Backup Plus Portable, and Backup Plus Fast; both of which offer their own set of unique features, and looks.

Buy on Amazon.com ($59.00)

2. WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB

The WD My Passport Ultra is another great external hard disk. It uses USB 3.0 for faster file transfers, and for older devices, it supports USB 2.0, as well. The hard disk also makes automatic local, and cloud backups, so you don’t have to. You have full control over when the backups should take place (if at all), and what files, and folders to backup. If you have sensitive information on the hard disk, you can use its 256 bit AES encryption, to ensure no one else can have access to your files. The good part about this, is that the encryption in the hard disk is hardware level encryption, which makes it that much better at keeping your files safe.

best external hard disks

WD Ultra comes with a host of WD Drive Utilities that can allow you to register your drive, set drive timers, optimize your drives, run diagnostics, and provide you with a plethora of other features that will make it easier to manage your WD drive.

The hard disk is available in a variety of sizes, from 500 GB (for $53.99) to 4 TB ($139.00). Western Digital also provides a 3 year warranty on this hard disk.

Buy on Amazon.com ($59.00)

3. Seagate Expansion 1 TB

The Seagate Expansion hard disk uses USB 3.0 to transfer files to and from your laptop, which translates to better read/write speeds. It also supports USB 2.0, so you can easily use it with older devices, as well. The hard disk is available in a number of storage options, from 1 TB (for $54.95), to 4 TB ($116.00).

Right out of the box, the hard disk supports drag and drop functionality on Windows, however, you will have to format it for use with a Mac, as it is NTFS formatted by default. The built-in power management features ensure an energy efficient operation.


Inside the box, you will also find an 18″ USB 3.0 cable for the hard disk, which is considerably longer than most other hard disk cables.

Buy on Amazon.com ($54.95)

4. Transcend StoreJet 1 TB

If you need a hard disk that can handle rough usage, then the Transcend StoreJet is the one for you. It features military grade shock resistance, and comes in a 3 stage shock protection casing. The hard disk is USB 3.0 compatible, but will also work with USB 2.0 devices, albeit at slower speeds.

The one touch “Auto backup” button on the hard disk can allow you to quickly backup all your files, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally deleting them. The hard disk comes with Transcend Elite data management software, as well.

best external hard disks

The Transcend StoreJet features 256 bit AES encryption, to protect your files from unwanted eyes. It also has a “Quick Reconnect” button, which will allow you to reconnect the hard disk (if you’ve ejected it), without having to unplug, and re-plug it. The hard disk is also available in a 2 TB variant, which will set you back $102.99.

Buy on Amazon.com ($56.99)

5. Samsung T3 Portable 500 GB SSD

If you’re looking for speed, hard disks just can’t beat the SSDs. This external SSD from Samsung comes in a portable design, and a shock resistant casing that can protect the SSD from 6.5 foot drops. It offers read/write speeds that can reach a whopping 450 MB/s, which is almost 4 times the speed that a conventional hard disk can reach.

The SSD is extremely light, and weighs in at 51 grams (weight may vary by capacity), and is ultra portable thanks to its size, which is almost the same as a typical business card. It uses V-NAND technology, which allows the hard disk to have an extremely high capacity, at an even smaller size.


As far as security goes, the hard disk also supports 256 bit AES encryption. It also comes with a strong exterior metal body, and an internal support frame, to make it extra durable, just in case you end up dropping it.

Buy on Amazon.com ($176.25)

6. Sandisk Extreme 480 GB Portable SSD

Another great option, if you’re looking for SSDs, is the Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD. The SSD offers high speed storage, with read/write speeds of up to 430 MBps, and 400 MBps, respectively.

best external hard disks

It supports 128 bit encryption for keeping your files safe. The SSD is built to resist shocks, vibrations, and extreme temperatures, so you can use it as roughly as you’d like, and trust that it’ll not give up.

The hard disk works with both Windows, and Mac devices, and supports a variety of operating systems, ranging from Windows Vista to Windows 10, and from OS X 10.4 to macOS Sierra. It also comes with a 3 year limited warranty.

Buy on Amazon.com ($134.01)

7. Seagate Expansion 5 TB Desktop External Hard Disk

If you don’t need a portable solution for your media files, but want a large amount of space, check out this drive from Seagate. The desktop external hard-disk requires power, which means that it needs to be connected to a power source. The hard disk uses USB 3.0 for fast data transfer, but also supports USB 2.0 for older devices.

Setting up the Expansion drive is easy, and all you need to do is connect two cables, and you’re ready to go. The drive comes Windows-ready, but you will need to format it, in order to use it with a Mac.

best external hard disks

The hard disk is available in a variety of storage sizes, from 2 TB to 8 TB (for $212.93).

Buy on Amazon.com ($128.49)

8. WD My Passport X 2 TB

This hard disk is meant to be used with game consoles. The performance of My Passport X has been tweaked to improve its performance with handling games. The hard disk functions as an add-in storage for Xbox 360, and Xbox One. It takes just minutes to set the hard disk up with your gaming console, and then you’re all set to play the games you love, without having to worry about running out of space.

best external hard disks

It is compatible with USB 3.0, and can even work with PCs, if you want to. If you’re running low on space on your Xbox, this is the hard disk for you. For Xbox 360 devices, the hard disk supports USB 2.0, as well.

NoteYou will have to format the hard disk according to the system you want to use it on, and it can not be used with multiple devices without formatting.

Buy on Amazon.com ($97.02)

9. Toshiba Canvio Connect II 1 TB

If you like to have access to your files remotely, the Toshiba Canvio Connect II is a great option for you. The hard disk uses USB 3.0 for high speed file transfer, and can fall-back to USB 2.0 for older devices. You also get 10GB of cloud storage free with the hard disk. You can simply connect the hard disk to any computer with WiFi access, and it immediately becomes your personal cloud storage server, so you can easily download and upload files on it, from anywhere and using any device.


The hard disk has a lot of other features, as well. It supports automated backups, and you can encrypt your files with a password to add a layer of security. Also, the hard disk comes with secure remote access over the internet, so you can access your files from anywhere. It comes pre-loaded with NTI Backup Now EZ software, for comfortable and reliable file, folder, and full system backups. The hard disk comes with an internal shock sensor, and ramp loading technology to keep your drive safe, on the go.

Buy on Amazon.com ($54.99)

10. Seagate Wireless 2 TB

This wireless hard disk from Seagate comes with built in WiFi. So, you can connect multiple devices to the hard disk at the same time. The hard disk can connect to 7 devices at the same time, and each of them can simultaneously access, and store data on it. The hard disk also syncs with Google Drive, and Dropbox, if you want. It comes with a rechargeable battery, and can last up to 10 hours on a single charge.

Cloud files on the Seagate Wireless hard disk can be accessed from anywhere, even when you are offline, so you don’t need to check if you copied that important file on your laptop; you can simply access it remotely, when you need it. You can also stream the content on the drive to any DLNA enabled device, including your smart TV, Xbox console, Blu-ray player, etc.


The Seagate Wireless hard disk is also available in size variants of 500 GB, and 1 TB.

Buy on Amazon.com ($179.99)

11. WD My Passport Wireless 2 TB

Another good wireless hard disk, the My Passport Wireless can connect to multiple devices at the same time. So, all of the connected devices can wirelessly read, and write data on the hard disk. There is an SD card slot in the hard disk, as well, so you can easily transfer photos and videos from a camera to the hard disk. You can connect up to 8 devices to the hard disk, at once, without using any wires, or having to connect them to the internet.

best external hard disks

The battery in the hard disk lasts for up to 6 hours of video playback, or 20 hours of standby. It is available in a 1 TB variant, as well.

Buy on Amazon.com ($179.00)

12. Seagate Wireless Mobile Portable 500GB Hard Drive

If you like streaming videos to multiple devices at the same time, the Seagate Wireless Mobile Portable Hard Drive is for you. The hard disk can stream to 5 devices at the same time, and can even simultaneously stream 3 different movies to 3 different devices.

You can simply load up all your favourite movies, and videos on to the hard disk, along with important files you may need, and simply access them anytime you want. No cords, and no internet required. The hard disk is definitely useful for road trips, family holidays, and any excursions that you might want to make.

best external hard disks

If you have an AppleTV, Chromecast, or and LG Smart TV, the hard disk can directly stream to those, as well. The Seagate Media App can allow you to stream to iPhones, iPads, etc.

Buy on Amazon.com ($57.62)

SEE ALSO: Bridging The NTFS Gap Between Windows and OS X

Store Your Media in These Hard Disks

You can use any of these hard disks to manage your media, and data files. Using external hard disks for this purpose is great, because it means that you have more space to work on, on your laptop. Also, if any of your media files get corrupted, they will not be able to affect your OS. So, which of these hard disks do you think are most suitable for you? If you have any concerns, or queries about these hard disks, or if you know of any other good hard disks out there, do let us know in the comments section below.


Akshay has been a gadget freak since longer than he cares to admit and loves everything to do with technology. When he's not fanboying over the latest and greatest in the tech universe, he watches Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley.