The best external hard drives not only offer ample storage but also excel in terms of compatibility and speed. There are a lot of choices out there if you're looking for a little bit more memory, and if all you care about is the size of the thing, then it's hard to go wrong. However, if you want to make sure you get the best external hard drive then you need to consider a few more factors than just size.
To help you out, we've put together a list of the best external hard drives around, considering factors like size, of course, but also speed, compatibility, durability, and price to ensure we've selected only the best around while recognising that quality technology doesn't always require a hefty budget.
We've also categorised each of our picks to help you select the right device for your needs. The Western Digital My Book, for example, is one of the best external SSDs for gaming due to its large storage capacity and fast speeds, whereas the Samsung T7 Shield is more of a general-purpose bit of kit due to its rugged exterior that's suitable to travel with.
What we're trying to say is that whatever it is you're after, we've got you covered! So, without further ado, let's dive into our comprehensive guide, so you can make an informed purchase.
Best external hard drives
- SanDisk Extreme Pro
- Samsung T7 Shield
- Western Digital My Book
- LaCie Rugged SSD Pro
- Seagate One Touch
- Crucial X8
1. SanDisk Extreme Pro
Best overall external hard drive
First up, we've got the SanDisk Extreme Pro, which essentially offers the perfect balance of speed, price, and storage. It's everything an external hard drive should be and more, and it has a useful little handle too. That means you're less likely to drop it, but it's got drop protection of up to 2 meters anyway, so it's okay if you do.
This SSD has incredible 2000MB/s speeds, a forged aluminium chassis that effectively acts as a heat sink to reduce the risk of overheating, and it's both water and dust-resistant to match.
It's also compatible with a ton of devices, and all of this excellence comes at a fairly reasonable price too. It's a great SSD in every possible respect. If you want something that can do everything, this is it.
2. Samsung T7 Shield
Best general-purpose external hard drive
As far as general-purpose SSDs go, this one is a doozy. It's IP65 water and dust-resistant, has a rubber exterior that helps protect it from falls and shocks, and it's hard to drop in the first place as the rubber provides a natural grip. Along with that, the speeds of 1050MB/s are nothing to sniff at.
While it's not as fast as some of the other options on here, it's still good enough for gaming in our opinion, and is exceptional when it comes to photography or videos. It's also cheap enough for the size that you can pick one up just to have a bit more storage for any work you might need to backup, or random slideshows you've made for fun.
Its toughness really is its biggest plus point, although it's worth touching on its compatibility as well, with it being useable on Mac, PC, most game consoles, Android devices, and more. A very solid option, all things considered, for everyday use.
3. Western Digital My Book
Best external hard drive for gaming
Gamers, rise up. Actually, sit back down and order this. Then rise up again when it turns up. Why? Well, the Western Digital My Book is built specifically for gaming, working on PlayStation and Xbox consoles, PC, and Mac.
What's more, it features speeds of up to 2,000MB/s, meaning it can easily load up games and play them flawlessly when you finally find the time to sit down and play. It's also shock-resistant, plus it's incredibly sleek, making it easy to carry around with you if you find yourself gaming wherever you go.
Ultimately, it's up there as one of the best external hard drives for gamers, and it also goes on sale fairly often, so keep an eye out for that, especially if you can nab a 4TB one.
4. LaCie Rugged SSD Pro
Best premium external hard drive
We're not going to lie to you, the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro isn't the cheapest option out there, but it is incredibly powerful. In fact, alongside having a whopping 4TB of storage, this SSD also boasts speeds of up to 2800MB/s, which will have even 8k videos playing smoothly.
Aside from that, this thing is more rugged than Batman's calloused feet as it's IP67 rated for water resistance, has a three-meter drop tolerance, and has two-ton car crush resistance. It's also dust-resistant too because being crushed by a car and surviving, but then dying on an unvacuumed floor would suck.
Connectivity-wise, it's compatible with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C on Windows and Mac, making it a useful bit of kit no matter which side of the pond you sit on. So, if you've got the cash for it, make sure you check out this excellent LaCie device.
5. Seagate One Touch
Best midrange external hard drive
While style isn't necessarily the best thing about a portable SSD, this one has it, which is nice if you're the kind of person who wants to make sure all of their tech always looks good. Of course, it wouldn't be on this list if it just looked good; it's also an excellent SSD in just about every way.
With a 2TB size and speeds of up to 1030MB/s, this SSD can perform just about any task, including running video games. There's an app that works with it too, allowing you to comfortably and easily transfer files from your Android phone onto the SSD, making it great in multiple situations - we love a bit of flexibility in our devices.
Speaking of which, connecting this thing is made easy with both USB-C and USB-C-to-A compatibility, meaning it is suitable for Windows and Android. This, alongside its aforementioned features, helps make this an excellent midrange contender.
6. Crucial X8
Best budget external hard drive
Finally, we have a good choice for those looking for an inexpensive hard drive. The Crucial X8 Portable SSD has a modest 1TB of storage, but still has decent speeds of up to 1050MB/s. Along with that, it can work with a variety of devices, including consoles, and is drop-proof up to two metres.
Despite being under half the price of many of the other options on this list, it still does a very respectable job of most tasks as well as gaming. It's definitely at its best when being used as a good bit of extra storage for backups and photos and whatnot, but at this price, it does way better than you'd expect.
Its compatibility list is almost endless too, with it working with Windows, Mac, iPad Pro, Chromebook, Android, Linux, plus the majority of major consoles thanks to USB-C and USB-A connectors. Overall, we'd say it would be hard to go wrong with this inexpensive Crucial bit of kit.