Best External Hard Drives in 2022 with Buying Guide

External hard drives combine reliability and price. No matter how much storage space you require. Find regular HDDs with smaller than 1TB storage, so get something with 2-4TB.

It is a functional space youíll likely need unless you are regularly backing up HD video content, large volumes of professional photos and steady flow of modern video games. Even 4TB is plenty for the majority of users.

Picking up an external HDD or SSD not only gives peace of mind that files are safe, but they allow you to take them with you or transfer them from device to device.

Reliability is essential. Get an unreliable drive, cheap, and you could quickly lose all your backup data if it corrupts or breaks. HDDs and even SSDs from the most reliable and reputable manufacturers are mostly cheap, so there is no real need to cut corners here – pay a few hundreds more for something you can trust with precious data and memories.

You may check some of the models on the online.

Seagate Backup Plus 5TB external hard drive

PROSCONS
Affordable and portable, Available in several colors, Wide compatibilityLacks Thunderbolt support, No built-in encryption/security features

Speaking of “backups of backups”, this drive is available in several colors so you might want to buy it in red if you want it to stand out in a drawer full of black HDDs, or use different colours to separate different projects while keeping track of “which drive contains what”. Beats reading stickers. Its 5Gbps USB 3 interface makes it very fast and compatible with everything. Seagate would like you to install its “Dashboard” software for Windows and Mac OS, yet the drive works perfectly fine on any OS without it. Space-thirsty XBOX One X users will love to fill with games. It has no security or built-in encryption

WD Elements 12TB external hard drive

PROSCONS
Large capacity, Most storage for the buck, Vertical format saves desk space, Great air flowNot portable, External power adapter is required, Risky with kids around

The product is pre-formatted with NTFS making it ready to use with Windows computers, a handy gesture considering that if you attempt to do a a full-format -as opposed to a “quick format”- on a capacity as large as 12TB you might end up waiting all day for it to finish. Mac users, of course, can just plug and reformat the drive, after a little wait it will work as well. While 12 terabytes should be enough storage expansion to keep you happy for a long time and store plenty of backups, work files or entertainment, larger versions are available:, capacities start at  3TB and go up to four, six, eight, ten, 12, 14, 16 and up to a whopping 18TB.

SanDisk G-Drive Professional 18TB external hard drive

PROSCONS
Five year warranty, Daisy chain up to six units using ThunderBolt, Fast 7200 RPM drive, AC-powered or USB-powered, Formatted for MacExpensive per GB, Must be reformatted for PC use

The G-Drive Pro delivers just that by using a fast 7200 RPM class Ultrastar HDD capable of up to 195 MB/s inside its attractive aluminum case. The 18TB version is the most impressive of a family of high capacity drives that start at 4TB. Its pair of Thunderbolt ports means you can hook six units to one another with a single cable going to a Mac (or PC). A Thunderbolt 3 cable is included and SanDisk also provides a generous 5-year warranty, making the case for choosing any other drive rather hard.

ADATA HD710 PRO rugged external hard drive

PROSCONS
Speedy, Very rugged silicone case, Good cable managementDesign may not appeal to all users

An IP68-rated device can withstand dust, dirt, and sand, and can be submerged up to 1.5m under water for 30 minutes. Sounds good? Well, that’s the kind of certification rating the ADATA HD 710 Pro packs up its sleeve. The firm went above and beyond to protect HDD internals with a silicone casing, triple-layered construction and vibration sensing technology so it can withstand falls from 1.5m. We reviewed the earlier models when they were more expensive and less attractive, here. Super useful when taking the drive with you in a backpack.

Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 4TB USB / Thunderbolt external SSD

PROSCONS
Super fast, Portable and lightweight, Supports Thunderbolt and USB 3.2, Available in QLC and TLC versionsHigher capacities are costly

Its superb compatibility with Windows, Mac and Linux offers blazing fast transfer speeds of up to 2700 MB/s when connected to a computer supporting Thunderbolt 3 or higher. If however you connect it to a computer with a USB 3.2 port, the speed drops down to a still very speedy 900 MB/s. The performance of flash based storage also depends on the kind of flash memory used: QLC flash memory is best suited to read-intensive workloads, while TLC flash memory is best suited to write-intensive workloads. It boasts an integrated temperature and health monitoring system that should prevent it from getting too hot. Something that worried owners of its “Nano” sibling.

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme external hard drive

PROSCONS
Portable, Lock/unlock via NFC, Hardware encryption, No power adapter to carry around, Three year warrantyLarger than most 2.5inch portable drives

Water-resistant and shock-proof, the MiniStation Extreme NFC from Buffalo isn’t indestructible, but it’s a nice change from some of the dangerously flimsy external hard drives available. The rugged chassis stores a 2.5-inch laptop hard drive enclosed in shock-absorbent bumpers designed so the HD can survive drops from up to 1.2 meters (4 feet). A key feature is its 256-bit AES encryption with near-field communication (NFC) capability, allowing it to be unlocked with a simple touch of a smartphone. With NTFS pre-formatted, it can be used immediately with a Windows computer. Mac users can format it into HFS+ if they wish so, of course. Better yet, if you format it as exFAT,  it will support Mac, PC and the Playstation 4 and 5 game consoles all at once. 

WD My Cloud Home 8TB external hard drive

PROSCONS
Can stream video, Supports Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, USB port available to plug in external drivesNo redundancy (single hard disk)

The latest iteration has the same vertical format, but with a minimalistic and stylish design that combines white and some textured silver at the bottom. It has great internal air flow thanks to ample vents at the top and bottom of the case.  At its rear panel you will find a 5Gbps USB 3.0 port to plug an external drive or flash drive and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Setup is as simple as plugging the power adapter, connecting the included network cable to the RJ45 socket and to your broadband router. Then you create a “WD My Cloud” account and associate it with the Android or iOS app -although thatís not mandatory. The perfect affordable storage for gaming consoles.

WD BLACK 5TB P10 Game Drive external hard drive

PROSCONS
Ample storage, Compatible with all game consoles, Pre-formatted as ExFATAdapter for USB-C devices isn’t included

It features a USB 3.2 Gen-1 interface at 5Gbps connected via a USB Micro-B connector at the back side. A 18-inch (45.7 cm) A-to-Micro-B is also included. What sets this drive apart aside from the gaming aesthetics is its total compatibility. Since it comes pre-formatted with the ExFAT file system in addition to being compatible with PCs and Macs it’s plug-and-play compatible with the Sony PlayStation 4, PS5 and the Microsoft Xbox One. Inside it there’s a 2.5″ 5,400 rpm SATA drive so don’t expect SSD speeds, but 140MBps at most. This is intended mainly for storing downloaded games to move back and forth to your console’s internal storage.

Aegis Desktop 4 TB FIPS 140-2 encrypted external hard drive

PROSCONS
FIPS 140-2 certification, Brute-force defense and self destruct, Locks if unplugged from USB, Compatible with an OS, Software-free setup, Solid Aluminum enclosureNot USB powered,, Only one year manufacturer’s warranty

The Aegis Desktop 4 TB drive from Apricorn is an encrypted external hard drive available in capacities from 2TB up to 18TB that comes in a sturdy aluminum casing 4.5Ēx7.2Ē and 1.5Ē thick. Its Padlock button panel at the top resembles the familiar cashpoint or ATM layout with 0-9 digits plus Cancel and a Lock/Unlock key. Three clear indicator lights show its status: locked (red), unlocked (green) or Admin Mode (blue). All the configuration is software-free. There is a perforated ventilation panel on the front of the drive, on the back thereís its USB 3.0 port, power connector, an On/Off switch, and a lock slot for anchoring the drive to a desk. It has handy features like unattended auto lock, and the drive can auto-lock as soon as the USB connection is lost -e .g. if the USB cable is removed. It is exceptionally suited for scenarios where software-based encrypted devices can’t function such as diagnostic machinery or any embedded system.

Sabrent Rocket Nano 2TB external SSD

PROSCONS
10 Gbps USB 3.1 – Gen 2 interface,, Aluminum casing, Bus powered, Supports Mac and PCGets hot

Sabrent’s Rocket Nano drive comes in a fantastic aluminum case resembling a very large thumb drive and is powered by a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port which doubles performance over a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port. It is powered via the USB port and both USB-C and Type-A cables are included. It is also totally OS-agnostic, it works on  Windows and Mac OS.  It is handy to put in your pocket -sadly there doesn’t seem to be a way to attach it to a keyring- for PC work on the road. The rocket Nano measures 2.75″ tall and weighs just 2 ounces, making it a great option for storing backups when upgrading a NVMe SSD. Benchmarks show impressive 967 MB/s read speeds, so this device is a good option to boot operating systems on systems with limited internal storage but supporting 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2.

All external hard drives are compatible with Macs and Windows PCs, so compatibility is rarely an issue.While cloud storage is convenient, itís not guaranteed to be at your fingertips forever. Backing up your files to an external drive is just good practice.

Why to backup?

  • To ensure that all vital information is safe and secure.
  • Whatever happens to the computer or internet connection

Choosing an External Drive

Storage Capacity

  • Itís no good buying a high-speed device with encryption and remote access if itís not big enough to store information.
  • Mid-range flash drive: directly transferring documents, photos, or other media from one device to the other, to expand the storage space of laptop or tablet
  • A 1TB drive should suit most needs for the foreseeable future to store a lot more or keeping files and folders long term.

HDD VS SSD

External drives are served up in two types: HDDs and SSDs.

HDDSSD
HDDs are hard drive disk use spinning magnetic disks to store data.SSDs are solid-state drives use tiny gate transistors in cells that help flip on or off based on electric pulses with no moving parts.
SlowerFaster
CheaperExpensive
LargerCompact
More easily damagedStand steadfast

Transfer Speed

Transfer speed is incredibly important but is not dependent on the size. Two main factors on how fast your drive can operate

  • Underlying Storage Technology
  • Connectors Used

External SSDs tend to be more expensive than their HDD counterparts and have small storage capacity. You donít need one or the other, as there are larger SSDs and can be bought for a premium price. The connector between the external drive and the PC or mobile device is a USB interface.

  • USB 2.0 is an old standard and should be avoided. The port is typically not colour-coded on PCs.
  • USB connections beyond 2.0 are a bit confusing with specifications listed as USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen1, or USB 3.2 Gen1. Although virtually the same with a speed of 5Gbps and typically colour-coded blue.
  • USB 3.1 Gen2 and USB 3.2 Gen2 are same and colour-coded in red to have 10Gbps transfers.
  • The fastest, USB 3.2, or 3.2 2◊2, offers up to 20Gbps.
USB-AUSB-C
Most common, Old schoolNewer, Smaller
Connector type a rectangular box and This-side-up-only connection.Offering a reversible connector

Portability and Durability

  • External drive for backups stored, with network-attached storage (NAS) devices may be a better bet. They are typically stand-alone wired device on local network packing multiple trips and storage modes.
  • For portability, it is essential to be lightweight, small for getting it immediately and quickly. You must check that it should not require an external power cable.
  • Most external drives weighty and tiny. At times these have huge digital storage capacity but physically diminutive. But SSDs are opposite
  • Consider an SSD over an HDD for durability as they are equipped with rugged casings to protect them against damage.

Security

  • Encryption is a good idea if data stored on the external drive is sensitive.
  • Drives are compatible with software encryption solutions.
  • You could even opt for a physical security system like the pin-code input on the Apricorn if youíre extremely security conscious.

Some drives come in durable casings to prevent physical tampering. They have a secondary security layer embedded in the printed circuit board (PCB) dipped in resin.

Compatibility

External hard drives are often formatted for a specific operating system. This setup isnít irreversible, but you can reformat a hard drive, or partition it. Make sure the external drive is compatible with the target operating system.

Gaming

SSD speed is more important, as a slower drive can affect waiting times and game responsiveness. USB 3.1/3.2 is quite crucial though new gaming consoles and computers are likely to upgrade to faster speeds over USB-C. Gamers should look for auto-backup features and universal compatibility. Finally, some drives are specifically designed to match PS4 colours, and some are optimized for Xbox.