If you need some extra storage for your computer, one easy way to add some is to purchase an external storage device. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at seven of the best external hard drives currently available.
With the increase in access to online media, files, and data, having ample amounts of computer storage has never been more important. While 1TB of storage capacity may have seemed like way more than enough storage space five years ago, with 4K videos, larger games, the rise in content creation, etc., 1TB of storage seems more like a bare minimum now than a comfortable amount.
Fortunately, along with the increasing demand for extra storage capacity has come the rise in options for easy-to-use external storage devices. External hard drives, external SSDs, and flash memory are cheaper and come in larger capacities than ever before. And, if you are looking to add-on to your system’s (or network’s) storage capacity without having to install new hardware, in this guide we’re going to take a look at seven of the best external hard drives, SSDs, and flash memory options.
A Quick Look at the Best External Hard Drives
If you’re short on time and just want a quick look at some of the best external storage options currently available, the table below gives you our picks for the top external hard drive, the best performing external storage option, the best portable option, and the best external option for those who need as much storage capacity as possible.
*Click on the “Read Review »” to read our overviews on each of the external storage devices listed above. You can also scroll further down on this post to read our overviews on our Honorable Mention picks.
Top External Hard Drive:
Seagate Backup Plus
If you need an affordable external hard drive option that can either come in a portable form-factor with a decent amount of storage capacity, then the Seagate Backup Plus might be the option for you.
The Backup Plus comes in a ‘Slim’ style, which is smaller and lighter and is best for users who need a portable option that they can easily take with them wherever they go. The Backup Plus Slim is available in 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 5TB capacities, so it is an easy and affordable way to add a significant amount of portable storage for your devices.
Overall, the Seagate Backup Plus strikes the perfect balance for available storage capacity, performance, price, and portability, all of which combined to make it our best overall choice for external hard drives.
Performance External SSD:
Samsung T5 Portable
If your budget is no concern and you need a fast portable external storage option, then Samsung’s T5 Portable SSD would likely be your best bet. The Samsung T5 offers their portable SSD in capacities of 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB.
The prices aren’t cheap, though. The 250GB option comes in at just under ~$100 and the 2TB option comes in at just under $600.
However, in terms of performance, the T5 will offer you insanely fast transfer times thanks to it being an SSD as well as the fact that it comes with USB 3.1 compatibility. In fact, the drive offers transfer speeds up to 540MB/s, which is significantly faster than any of the other options on this list.
Overall, the T5 won’t be the right option for everyone, mostly due to the price it comes in at. But, if you have a larger budget and you want high-end performance and portability out of your external storage device, then the T5 would definitely be worth considering.
Large USB 3.1 Flash Drive:
Corsair Flash Voyager
Another highly portable external storage option is a USB flash drive. However, up until recently larger capacity USB flash drives came in at very expensive prices. However, as the cost of flash memory have dropped over the past two years, larger flash drives are now more affordable than ever.
Corsair’s Flash Voyager GTX line of flash drives comes in capacities all the way up to 1TB large. You will have to pay a premium for it, though, as it will cost you just under ~$440 to get the Flash Voyager GTX 1TB. For ~$140 less you can get the Samsung T5 external SSD 1TB.
The ease-of-use and the incredibly small form-factor of the Flash Voyager might make the extra cost worth it for some users, though. And, you can always opt for smaller capacities, too, as the Flash Voyager GTX comes in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB as well as the 1TB mentioned above.
And, for performance, the Flash Voyager GTX trails only the Samsung T5 listed above in terms of transfer speeds.
So, in the end, if you are looking for the smallest and most portable external storage option that will offer you incredible speeds as well, the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX might be the best option for you. Just note, though, that it will cost quite a bit more on a per-GB basis than the other options on this list.
Largest External HDD:
WD My Book
If mass storage capacity is your main concern, then you might want to consider the Western Digital My Book external hard drive. The WD My Book comes in capacities of up to 10TB on their single-drive form-factor and up to an insane 20TB on their dual-drive form-factor.
The WD My Book won’t offer performance levels anywhere near the SSD and flash storage options on this list, but in terms of price-per-GB, it will give you a lot of storage for cheap. The WD My Book comes in 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB capacities on the single-drive option, and 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 12TB, 16TB, and 20TB capacities on the dual-drive option.
The single 3TB option comes in at a little over $80, and the dual 20TB option comes in at just under $800. The 4TB single drive option is probably the best value, though, coming in at just under ~$85.
Ultimately, the WD My Book is the perfect option for anyone who doesn’t have a huge budget, or who wants to maximize their budget for the most storage capacity possible.
Honorable Mention #1:
An alternative option to the Seagate Backup Plus, is the Western Digital Elements external hard drives. Like the Seagate Backup Plus, the WD Elements comes in both a slim portable style as well as a desktop style.
The WD Elements does offer higher capacities on the desktop version of the drive, with the option to get it in 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, or 10TB capacities. The portable version of the drive comes in at 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB capacities.
In terms of pricing, the WD Elements drives have a slightly lower price-per-GB. However, the main reason why we don’t have the WD Elements rated higher than the Seagate Backup Plus, is that Seagate’s offering outperforms the WD Elements by a decent margin.
So, while the WD Elements has more capacity options and costs a little less than Seagate’s Backup Plus options, the extra performance of the Seagate Backup Plus helps it edge out WD’s competing option.
Honorable Mention #2:
WD My Passport
If you’re looking for a similar offering to Samsung’s T5 portable SSD, the Western Digital My Passport would be the next best option. Like the Samsung T5, the WD My Passport is another USB 3.1-compatible portable SSD.
The WD My Passport comes in capacities of 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB. In terms of pricing, the WD My Passport comes in at slightly lower costs on a per-GB basis when compared to the Samsung T5. However, where the Samsung T5 stands out over the WD My Passport is in performance. While both are listed at up to 540MB/s transfer speeds, in most benchmarks the Samsung T5 edges out the WD My Passport.
So, if performance is your main concern, it might be worth it to pay a little extra per-GB to get the Samsung T5. If you don’t mind the slightly less performance that the WD My Passport offers, then you can save a little money by opting for it over the T5.
Honorable Mention #3:
Seagate Backup Plus Hub
The Seagate Backup Plus Hub is the desktop version of the Backup Plus Slim and it rivals the WD My Book in terms of overall storage capacity, performance, and price.
Like the WD My Book, the Seagate Backup Plus Hub will offer you higher capacities than any of the other options on this list. The Backup Plus Hub comes in capacities of 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB.
Unlike the WD My Book, though, there is no dual-drive option and so the Backup Plus Hub doesn’t come with the option for capacities over 10TB. On a per-GB basis, the two external hard drives go back and forth on which option is cheaper from one capacity to the next. The Backup Plus Hub’s 8TB and 6TB drives are cheaper than WD My Book’s offerings, but the My Book’s 4TB and 10TB options are cheaper than Seagate’s offerings.
The bottom line is that both options will offer you a very similar experience and so your best bet might be to just go with whatever option is the least expensive at the time you are looking to purchase an external hard drive.
Need An External Hard Drive? These Options Should Work for You
While there are a ton of different external hard drive and external storage devices out there, we feel the seven drives listed above represent the best options for the various use-cases that one might need an external storage device for. So, if you’re in the market for an external storage device, regardless of your specific needs, one of the options above should be the right choice for you.