Laptops and computers pack plenty of storage space nowadays, but it’s not limitless. There may come a day where you need to add a few gigs to fit the rest of your files. One way is to open your computer and upgrade the storage inside, assuming your computer is repair-friendly. Alternatively, you can buy an external hard drive. Not only is it a useful way to back up your data, but it lets you easily move files from one device to another. These are the best external hard drives you can buy today.
See also: The best external hard drive deals
The best external hard drives:
Editor’s note: We will update our list of the best external hard drives over time.
1. Seagate Portable Drive
Our list starts with the Seagate Portable Drive. The headline feature is how slim it is relative to other external hard drives with similar storage configurations. Another nice touch is the aluminum enclosure, along with up to 5TB of storage space before the drive gets any larger.
The 120MB/s transfer speed isn’t the fastest, but it’s typical of mechanical hard drives. Also, the Backup Plus Slim uses USB 3.0 instead of USB-C, which is something to note if your computer only has USB-C ports.
2. Western Digital My Passport Ultra
At first blush, the Western Digital My Passport Ultra looks like any other external hard drive. However, taking a closer look reveals a surprisingly compact hard drive with one key feature: USB-C.
Also read: The best USB-C cables
Yes, there’s a USB-C port on the My Passport Ultra. The hard drive comes with a USB-C-to-USB-C cable, though it also includes a USB 3.1 adapter for those with access to the older port. Transfer speeds hover around 125MB/s, so don’t expect blazing read and write speeds. At least the hard drive features an anodized metal finish.
3. Samsung T5
Unlike mechanical hard drives, the Samsung T5 is an external solid-state drive (SSD). That means there are no moving parts to worry about. That also means the Samsung T5 is incredibly slim and compact, easily fitting in a shirt pocket.
Don’t let the size fool you into thinking transfer speeds are slow, however. Thanks to its use of Samsung’s V-NAND flash memory and USB-C, the T5 provides transfer speeds of up to 540MB/s.
4. SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD
We continue the portable SSD offerings with the SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD. According to SanDisk, maximum sequential read and write speeds are rated at 1050 and 1000MB/s, respectively.
Apart from being speedy, the Extreme Portable External SSD is also rugged. The portable SSD features an IP55 rating for protection against water and dust. Also, it can withstand drops from up to two meters onto a concrete floor.
5. Adata SE800
There are plenty of hard drives out there with massive capacities, but they sacrifice a great deal of portability. On the other hand, the Adata SE800 offers a powerful combination of up to a 1TB capacity and heavy-duty endurance.
With read and write speeds of up to 1000Mbps and a weight of just 40 grams, the SE800 is perfect to take on the go. It packs USB-C connectivity, but the durability features are where this Adata option really shines. The hard drive is MIL-STD 810G-rated for drop tests and it carries an IP68 rating for water and dust.
Speedy USB 3.2 Gen 2 connectivity helps to guarantee top speeds while a hairline brushed metal finish gives the Adata SE800 a luxurious feel. It comes in either 512GB or 1TB capacities.
6. Western Digital My Book Duo
Jumping from the most portable hard drive to the least, the Western Digital My Book Duo is a tank. It’s best for those who mostly stick to their desks and want to maximize their storage options.
The My Book Duo is RAID-0 ready with WD Red drives inside and a USB-C port along with two USB-A options that allow for plenty of peripherals. As for speed, the My Book Duo handles up to 360Mbps sequential reading and can switch to RAID-1 to mirror your data. There may be faster speeds out there, but with a capacity of up to 24TB, you should never be hurting for space with this one.
7. LaCie Rugged
Another option that’s designed to face the elements, the LaCie Rugged makes our list of the best external hard drives for a number of reasons. From the capacity of up to 5TB to the six different formats, there’s plenty of flexibility available in a compact package.
You’ll probably never misplace the LaCie Rugged thanks to the bright orange bumper. The bumper works twofold — protecting the device from falls and water, and housing a convenient USB-C cable. You can max out the laptop transfer speed at 130Mbps and the LaCie Rugged can reportedly withstand up to one ton of pressure.
8. Western Digital Black P10
Pretty much all of the best external hard drives so far have been made for everyday use. However, gamers often find themselves needing extra storage too with how large games have become. That’s where the Western Digital Black P10 makes its name. With a capacity of up to 5TB, you should be able to manage up to 125 new games at a size of 36GB apiece.
Beyond the storage capacity, the Black P10 has an industrial design that feels like it belongs in your gaming arsenal. It’s smaller than a standard Xbox controller and sits flat, and speeds of up to 140Mbps should keep you running smoothly. Weighing in at just about eight ounces, you should be able to stuff the Black P10 in a backpack and not feel any difference.