Most new computers don’t have a lot of storage space – unless you’re on a high-end model, they usually have either 256 or 512 GB. Gaming consoles likeIt comes with 1 TB drives (that’s roughly 1000 GB), but if you don’t regularly eject games from the drive when you get more, the drives reach their maximum easily. A good storage solution is to find the best external hard drive for your needs.
A traditional hard disk drive that uses “old” hard disk drive technology (mechanical platters and moving read / write head for data access) is suitable for the majority of users, thanks to the speedAnd USB 3.0 (as well Interfaces. Prices have dropped dramatically in the past few years, even the bulky capacity models have tipped the scale at 5 TB but cost just over $ 100. The solid-state drive has no moving parts and has read speeds up to four times faster, but it costs much more per gigabyte.
Most hard drives here will work across platforms – whether you have a Windows PC, Mac computer, PlayStation 4, or Xbox – as long as the drives are properly formatted for the correct platform. But a lot of times they’re set as working with a specific platform out of the box, and sometimes they come with backup software for the platform. Unless otherwise indicated, all computer drives mentioned here are compatible with Windows but can be formatted for Mac. Many include cables or adapters to accommodate the USB-C and USB-A ports. But if not included, you can easily purchase.
And remember: don’t break one backup. Ideally, you will need redundant backups either off-site or with cloud storage for key data (like family photos) in the event of theft or fire. And make sure your data is encrypted, too.
With these caveats in mind, below you’ll find our current top picks for the best external hard drives and solid state drives. These (or nearly identical models with less storage capacity) have been used or tested by CNET editors. We’ll update our list of the best external hard drives and SSDs as we test out new products.
David Carnoy / Cnet
SanDisk manufactures an Extreme Portable SSD (see below) that delivers speeds up to 550MB / s at transfer rates, but if you are a photographer or videographer looking for something faster for your PC or Mac, the Extreme Pro Portable SSD is the way. To go for extra storage. The 1TB ($ 190) version costs just $ 30 more than Extreme Portable and offers nearly twice the speed with a transfer rate of 1,050MB per second (just over 1GB per second), according to SanDisk. I copied a 4.2 GB video file to an SSD in 8.1 seconds from my Mac Mini 2019 Core i5 processor with 16GB RAM.
Compatible with Mac and Windows devices, it is technically durable with an IP55 rating, which means it can withstand a constant splash of water. It is also shock resistant. It has a USB-C interface and includes both a USB-C to USB-C and a USC-A to USB-C cable. The price for the 2 TB model jumps to $ 350.
For $ 80, you can get an external drive, so you don’t have to worry about managing storage space on your PS4 (you can play games without lagging directly from the drive). A 2TB version of Seagate Game Drive is about $ 40 less. But you can also spend the extra dough and get 4 TB for this portable external hard drive.
Note that Seagate makes a SSD Game Drive for Xbox But not the PS4. It costs about $ 200 for 1 TB. Read more.
If you are looking for a high-capacity drive for your Xbox One, the WD Black P10 5TB Portable Hard Drive is a good value for around $ 150 (the 3TB version is $ 110). This external drive also comes with a digital code that gives you two months of Microsoft Game Pass Ultimate, which is a great feature, especially if you are already a member. If you don’t need two months of Game Pass Ultimate, you can save $ 10 on the Standard Edition drive, which also works for PC and PS4. The flash drive can deliver speeds of up to 130Mbps. Read more.
The Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB is one of the most compact non-SSD drives, making it the best external hard drive for those looking to free up some space. And for under $ 60, it’s good value, too. It’s available in a few color options, and it also comes in 1 TB ($ 55), 4 TB ($ 93), and 5 TB ($ 115) versions, but higher-capacity drives are thicker. Read more.
This engine is about the future – and backward compatible – as it comes. You pay a little bit of a premium for a standard WD drive, but this newer model offers USB-C connectivity, which means it has the latest and greatest connection for Macs and computers. There is no USB-C on your system? No problem: Western Digital also throws a USB-A to USB-C adapter, so it’ll work with any computer right out of the box. Read more.
After LaCie was acquired by Seagate several years ago, LaCie has become the flagship of the company and this 5 TB model can be found in a lot of video editors’ offices (including many at CNET). This hard drive uses USB-C interface, it is compatible with Mac and Windows computers, and is waterproof and shockproof. a 4 TB Thunderbolt with USB-C The version is available for Macs with Thunderbolt for approximately $ 200. Read more.
Western Digital, which owns SanDisk, sells a WD My Passport SSD plus a SanDisk external portable hard drive for the same price (about $ 170 for the 1 TB version). I like the design of this model a little better and it is technically durable with an IP55 rating, which means it can withstand a constant spray of water. It is also shock resistant. It has a USB-C interface with transfer speeds of up to 550Mbps. The price for the 2 TB model jumps to $ 300. Read a review of SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD.
David Carnoy / Cnet
If you’re looking to save $ 20 to $ 30 on a small 1TB SSD, the RavPower Mini External SSD is priced below some of the competition from brands from SanDisk, Western Digital, Samsung, and more. Amazon has it for $ 150 with a $ 20 coupon that offers data transfer speeds of up to 540MB per second. (Editors note, September 2020: This product appears to have disappeared on Amazon and RavPower. We will remove it from this list if it doesn’t come back soon.) Read more.