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best portable external hard drive

Top 5 Picks for the Best Portable External Hard Drives

Products Reviewed:

Best Overall: SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD

Best Splurge: Seagate Storage Expansion Drive

Best for Gaming: Seagate External Hard Drive for PS4

The Fastest: SAMSUNG T5 Portable SSD

Best for MAC: WD Portable External Hard Drive

The need for portable, reliable, and spacious storage solutions has never been greater than today due to the lifestyles we live. Whether you are a photographer, a content creator, a freelancer working on the go, or just someone who wants to keep their digital memories organized and safe, having access to the best portable external hard drive is a must.

For this list of the best portable external hard drives, we have scoured the online market and carefully handpicked our top products. We proudly present you with versatile, high-performing storage options that will fit all your needs.

Our research was guided by numerous factors that ensure our selections deliver excellent performance, durability, and value for money. These factors include storage capacity, data transfer speeds, compatibility with different operating systems, build quality, and security features.

As you read through our top five picks, you’ll discover how these sleek portable drives deliver exceptional performance without sacrificing size, weight, or aesthetics. Gone are the days when you had to lug around a bulky and heavy external hard drive. Today, you can carry terabytes of data with ease in your pocket or backpack, and our top selections reflect this reality.

Stay with us as we dive into our comprehensive list of the top five portable external drives that are perfect for your file storage needs. No matter your requirements or budget, we are confident that our selections will point you in the right direction!

How do we choose the best portable external hard drive?

Before moving to the top picks, it is important to consider several key factors in order to make a well thought-out decision.

  1. Storage Capacity: The storage capacity of your external hard drive is the most critical factor guilding your purchase. Depending on your unique needs – whether you are storing work documents, photos, videos, or games – the required capacity will vary. If you’re a casual user, a smaller drive with 1TB or 2TB of storage should suffice. However, if you work with large files or have a more extensive media library, you may need a larger capacity, such as 4TB or even 8TB.
  2. Speed: Speed is another important aspect to evaluate when choosing an external hard drive. The speed at which a drive can transfer files to and from your computer can make a significant difference in terms of productivity and overall performance. Generally, hard drives with USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 connectivity offer faster transfer rates than those with USB 2.0. If you are willing to pay a premium, you can opt for newer technologies like Thunderbolt 3 or USB Type-C, both providing even faster transfer speeds.
  3. Durability: A significant advantage of portable external hard drives is their ability to be carried around without worry. However, this also comes with the risk of accidental drops or harsh conditions. Therefore, consider a hard drive with a rugged build or built-in shock resistance to protect your data. Some external hard drives are also resistant to water, dust, and heat, which can be especially helpful if you work in challenging environments or travel frequently.
  4. Portability: Although most external hard drives are portable, their size and weight can vary significantly. Depending on your requirement, you might prefer a slim, lightweight design that is easy to pack and carry around. To achieve optimum portability, look for hard drives with a small form factor and weigh under 1 pound while still delivering the desired capacity and performance.
  5. Compatibility: Before purchasing an external hard drive, it’s essential to make sure it is compatible with your operating system and hardware. Most portable hard drives are formatted to work seamlessly with Windows computers but may require reformatting for use with macOS. Additionally, ensure the drive’s connectivity matches the available ports on your devices. For instance, if you have a newer laptop with USB Type-C ports, you may need a hard drive with the same connectivity or an appropriate adapter.
  6. Price: Lastly, the price of the portable external hard drive plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. With various options in the market, it’s essential to choose a device that offers the best value for money; consider the balance of storage capacity, speed, durability, and compatibility within your budget.

Now that you’re equipped with the required knowledge of how external SSDs work and what they are good for, let’s explore our top 5 picks for the best external hard drives.

Best for Mac

WD 5TB My Passport for Mac, Portable External Hard Drive with backup software and password protection, Blue – WDBA2F0050BBL-WESN

WD 5TB My Passport for Mac

Why we love it

Are you a Mac enthusiast searching for a dependable portable external hard drive for your machine? If yes, My Passport by Western Digital has you covered. With a slim design and an array of vibrant colors to choose from, this hard drive is not only functional but also a treat for the eyes.

WD My Passport boasts some impressive features, including the backup software that comes with it, ensuring that all your precious files remain safe and sound. Additionally, the 256-bit AES hardware encryption and password protection work together to give you that extra layer of security, so you can trust that your data is away from unwanted access.

The SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port allows you to transfer your files at lightning-fast speeds, making your work process smoother and more efficient. Trust us, the WD My Passport is everything you’ve been looking for in a portable external drive.

What you should know

The WD My Passport portable external hard drive also features USB 2.0 compatibility and a 3-year limited warranty. This means you can rest easy knowing your valuable data is safe and your hard-earned money is well spent. The slim form factor makes it a breeze to carry around, so you can access and transfer your files wherever you may be.

Moreover, the My Passport is highly adaptable, working flawlessly with both Mac and Windows operating systems. This versatile feature ensures that users of either platform can enjoy the convenience and efficiency of this portable hard drive.

To sum it up, the WD My Passport is an excellent option for those in search of a dependable and stylish portable external hard drive specifically designed for Mac. It provides an unbeatable combination of security and speed, making it the perfect companion for all of your file storage needs.

The Fastest

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

SAMSUNG T5 Portable SSD 1T

Why we love it

The Samsung T5 Portable SSD isn’t just any run-of-the-mill external hard drive – it’s a true speed demon when it comes to data transfer. Boasting read and write speeds that reach up to 540MB/s, it comfortably secures a spot among the fastest portable drives out there.

But it’s not just about speed. The Samsung T5’s conveniently compact and lightweight design makes it easy to toss into any bag or pocket. And rest assured, with its tough, shock-resistant metal casing, this tiny powerhouse can withstand the wear and tear of everyday life.

Oh, and did we mention security? The T5 offers optional password protection and AES 256-bit hardware encryption, giving you that extra peace of mind to keep your data safe and secure.

What you should know

The Samsung T5 Portable SSD delivers a seamless connectivity experience thanks to its included USB Type C to C and USB Type C to A cables. This means you can easily use it with a variety of devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones, and more! So, if you’re looking for a versatile storage solution that can keep up with your needs, the Samsung T5 Portable SSD is definitely a strong contender.

Now, let’s talk about storage capacities. The T5 comes in four different sizes, ranging from a compact 250GB all the way up to a massive 2TB. This means you’ll have plenty of room to store all your important files, photos, and videos, no matter your storage requirements.

And, of course, we can’t forget the reassurance that a good warranty brings. The Samsung T5 Portable SSD comes with a solid three-year warranty, giving you added confidence in your purchase. Sure, it might be a bit more expensive compared to traditional hard drives, but when you consider the blazing-fast speeds and top-notch durability, it’s absolutely worth the investment.

So there you have it; the Samsung T5 Portable SSD is a reliable, versatile, and fast storage option that’s perfect for anyone in need of a portable and high-quality storage solution.

Best for Gaming

Seagate (STGD2000100) Game Drive for PS4 Systems 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD †“USB 3.0, Officially Licensed Product

Seagate (STGD2000100) Game Drive for PS4 Systems 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD †"USB 3.0, Officially Licensed Product

Why we love it

Seagate External Hard Drive for PS4 is an affordable storage solution for every budget-conscious gamer out there. With an impressive 2TB of portable storage capacity, you can now store over 50 games without having to worry about deleting any to make room.

This officially licensed PS4 accessory boasts a stylish black and blue design that enhances the look of any gaming area. Plus, with its user-friendly setup, you’ll be ready to play in less than two minutes. Simply connect via the plug-and-play USB 3.0 cable, and you’re all set; no need for an additional power source.

What makes the Seagate External Hard Drive for PS4 even more appealing is its portability. You can now take your entire game library with you wherever you go, ensuring your favorite games are always within reach.

What you should know

This Seagate HDD works in perfect harmony with both PS5 and PS4 consoles! With this fantastic device, you have the ability to effortlessly archive your PS5 games and play your PS4 games right from the HDD itself. It’s gaming convenience at its finest.

One of the most striking aspects of this HDD is its lightweight and portable design. It makes it incredibly simple for you to carry it with you wherever you go, ensuring you have access to all your favorite games at all times. And with high-speed USB support, you can experience top-notch gaming without any hiccups.

Another noteworthy feature is the sleek, minimalist design of the Seagate External Hard Drive for PS4. It’s been carefully crafted to complement your PlayStation console, seamlessly integrating with your gaming setup, both in form and function.

Ultimately, with an array of premium features at an incredible value, this game drive is the ideal choice for budget-conscious gamers who need that extra storage capacity for their ever-growing game collections. So gear up and get ready for an enhanced gaming experience like never before!

Best Splurge

Seagate Storage Expansion Card 2TB Solid State Drive – NVMe SSD for Xbox Series X|S (STJR2000400)

Seagate Storage Expansion Card 2TB Solid State Drive - NVMe SSD for Xbox Series X|S (STJR2000400)

Why we love it

Experience seamless gaming, ample storage space, and lightning-fast load speeds with the Seagate Expansion Drive for Xbox Series X|S, a must-have splurge for devoted gamers.

In collaboration with Xbox, this exceptional expansion drive delivers an unmatched gaming experience by replicating the Xbox Velocity Architecture. As a result, you’ll benefit from swifter load times, highly detailed environments, and truly immersive gameplay.

Boasting 2TB of storage capacity, the Seagate Expansion Drive allows you to amass thousands of games spanning four Xbox generations, all without compromising on performance.

What’s more, you can effortlessly switch between numerous titles in just seconds thanks to the quick resume feature, working seamlessly with both the internal SSD and the expansion card. It’s never been easier to get into the game and stay fully engaged at every turn.

What you should know

If you’re an avid gamer looking to grow your game collection without losing out on performance, the Seagate Expansion Drive for Xbox Series X|S is just the thing for you.

Imagine having access to the same high performance as the console’s internal SSD, no matter which game you’re playing. This expansion drive makes that possible, supporting thousands of classic games from the Original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One!

What’s even better is that setting up this sleek accessory is a breeze. Its plug-and-play design effortlessly connects to the Xbox Velocity Architecture in a matter of seconds. You’ll be able to dive into your favorite games almost instantly.

To top it off, the Seagate Expansion Drive comes with a 3-year limited warranty, giving you absolute peace of mind for the long haul. Specially designed to be compatible with Xbox Series X|S, this expansion drive is undoubtedly the ultimate splurge for serious gamers.

So, why wait? Enhance your Xbox experience and expand your gaming horizons with the Seagate Expansion Drive for Xbox Series X|S.

Best Overall

SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD – Up to 1050MB/s – USB-C, USB 3.2 Gen 2 – External Solid State Drive – SDSSDE61-2T00-G25

SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD - Up to 1050MB/s - USB-C, USB 3.2 Gen 2 - External Solid State Drive - SDSSDE61-2T00-G25

Why we love it

Introducing the unparalleled SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD, the ultimate external hard drive available in today’s market. This exceptional piece of technology manages to pack speed, durability, and security into one sleek and compact design.

Offering read speeds as high as 1050MB/s and write speeds reaching 1000MB/s, this high-powered external solid-state drive boasts NVMe performance, making it the ideal companion for content creators and videographers alike.

But that’s not all; this hardy device has been built to endure the demands of a life on the go. With drop protection for falls up to 2 meters and an IP55 rating for water and dust resistance, the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD truly lives up to its name.

And when it comes to keeping your personal content secure, this external hard drive has you covered. With the inclusion of password protection and 256-bit AES hardware encryption, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your private information is safe and sound.

What you should know

The SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD is multi-functional storage solution designed to cater to your needs. This impressive device provides rapid transfer speeds, enduring durability, and top-notch security, all wrapped in a sleek and portable design.

Equipped with a USB-C interface and USB 3.2 Gen 2 support, this portable SSD promises ultra-fast data transfer rates, ensuring you never waste a moment waiting around for your files to move. Coupled with its compatibility with both Mac and Windows operating systems, this SSD promises a seamless experience for any user.

One of the best features of the SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD is the convenient carabiner loop that it comes with. You can easily attach it to your bag, belt, or any other secure spot, ensuring your valuable data stays close and secure wherever you go.

To address your storage concerns, this portable SSD offers a massive 2TB of storage space. It’s perfect for handling large files, such as high-resolution images and videos, without breaking a sweat. You can effortlessly store and transfer your data without compromising on speed or performance.

Best of all, the SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD comes with a solid 5-year limited warranty, providing you both confidence and reassurance in your investment. If you’re in search of a reliable, high-performance external hard drive that’s perfect for your digital life, look no further than the SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD, truly the best external hard drive available today.

Best Portable External Hard Drive: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the best portable external hard drives on the internet. We hope these answers will help you clear any confusion you may have and make an informed decision when choosing the right portable drive for your needs.

What is the read speed of SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD?

The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD boasts impressive read speeds of up to 1050MB/s, allowing you to transfer large files quickly and efficiently. Keep in mind that actual read speeds may vary depending on your device, usage conditions, and other factors.

What are 3 advantages of a portable drive?

Portable drives, such as solid-state drives (SSDs), offer several advantages over traditional hard drives. Firstly, they are lightweight and compact, making them easy to carry around. Secondly, they don’t require an external power supply, as they draw power directly from the computer’s USB port. Lastly, SSDs have flash memory and are more reliable than traditional hard drives, offering faster read and write speeds and greater durability.

What do you mean by write speeds?

Write speed refers to the speed at which data can be written or saved onto a storage device such as a solid-state drive or an external hard drive. It’s an important factor to consider when choosing a storage device, and there are various benchmarks to test external hard drives.

What’s the ideal storage space for gamers?

The ideal storage space for gamers depends on individual needs, but it’s recommended to have at least 1TB of storage. For serious gamers who require large game libraries, a desktop drive with multiple terabytes of storage or an external storage solution like a portable SSD or HDD may be necessary.

What is the difference between an external HDD and an external SSD?

The main difference between an external HDD and an external SSD is the type of storage technology they use. An external HDD is a traditional storage device that uses spinning disks to store and retrieve data, while a standard external SSD uses flash storage, which is a type of non-volatile memory that can read and write data much faster than traditional spinning disks.

Is Seagate backup plus better than Seagate Storage Expansion Card?

Certainly, the Seagate Backup Plus and Seagate Storage Expansion Card serve different purposes. The Backup Plus is a portable backup drive that connects to your computer via USB or Thunderbolt, providing additional storage space for your files, whereas the Storage Expansion Card is designed specifically for the Xbox Series X|S consoles to expand their storage capacity. So, if you’re looking for a backup drive for your computer, the Seagate Backup Plus is a great option, but if you need to expand your Xbox Series X|S storage, the Seagate Storage Expansion Card is the better choice.

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