Best External Hard Drives in 2020 (November Reviews)

Lawrence Bonk Written by: Lawrence Bonk Last Updated: 17 Jul 2020

To help you in your search of the best external hard drives, we came up with a list of the top 7 products available on the market. We selected our choices based on the drive’s capacity, the durability of materials, the bus speeds of the connections,, spindle speeds, ports, manufacturer support, and system compatibility . We also showcased some portable external hard drives that don’t need external power supplies but also chose a few good options for those who need more storage and don’t mind a separate power connector.

In the end, we chose Western Digital’s Elements External Hard Drive as the best external hard drive due to its portability, sleek design, and a good track record of reliability and endurance. Read on for the rest of our choices below.

Top 7 Best External Hard Drives

 #1  Western Digital Elements External Hard Drive

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: Western Digital is known for their reliable storage media, which includes the Elements line. This 2TB external hard drive features a sizable capacity and fast USB 3.0 interface in a travel-friendly package.

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  • Large capacity
  • Extremely portable
  • Proven track record of durability

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  • Doesn’t include backup software
  • Reformatting needed for Macs

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The WD Elements Portable 2TB External Hard Drive is perfect for backing up files on your PC for long-term storage or for when you’re on the go. Measuring 4.3” L x 3.2” W and weighing 0.29lbs, it’s portable enough to fit inside your bag pocket. It’s also pre-formatted for plug-and-play use with Windows and is ready to use out of the box without any required setup.

This compact drive boasts of USB 2.0 and 3.0 compatibility without requiring a separate power supply, so you can transfer your data from any computer with ease. It has a huge 2TB capacity, housed in a stylish, lightweight design. Western Digital also offers a two-year limited warranty with this item. All of these features combine to make WD Elements one of the best external hard drives for photos, videos, and other documents. You may also want to consider the best internal hard drive as well.

 #2  Seagate STGY80000 External Hard Drive

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: This pick has a whopping 8TB storage space and compatibility with both Windows and Mac. It’s a reliable pick for video editors, and the standard 5400 RPM hard drive it comes with promises reliability for archiving as well.

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  • Best quality & 5400 RPM speeds
  • Excellent for video editings;
  • Easy drag-and-drop operation

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  • A bit bulky
  • 1-year warranty

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Seagate’s External Hard Drive offers the biggest storage space on our list. With 8TB, you can fit several PCs’ worth of data here, making it reliable for video editors. Save copies of your favorite movies and albums—you won’t need to worry about running out of space anytime soon. This makes it perfect for long-term file storage, as it will safely sit on top of your desk.

This 2.43-lb hard drive is very easy to use and measures 7.1” x 4.7”. Its drag-and-drop operations guarantee convenient file transfers with speeds of up to 160mb/s. It also comes with its a power adapter, an 18” USB 3.0 cable, and a 1-year warranty. It doesn’t come with automated backup software, though, but its compatibility with either a Windows or Mac PC means it can utilize their respective back-up functions natively. Speaking of Mac, read about the best external hard drive for mac you can buy.

 #3  Toshiba Canvio Basics External Hard Drive

Award: BEST DESIGN

WHY WE LIKE IT: This external hard drive is small enough to be portable while offering adequate 2TB storage space (up to 4TB). We also liked its sleek matte design and fast USB 3.0 connection.

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  • Slim and light construction
  • Matte design repels fingerprints and smudges
  • Very easy setup

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  • Cable is slim and short
  • Reformatting for Mac needed
  • 1 year warranty

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Toshiba’s Canvio Basics External Hard Drive is slim, portable, and offers a big enough storage of 2TB. Its sleek case is made of smudge-resistant matte black finish. It also gives the same plug-and-play functionality without any required software. Plus, it’s compatible with both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. With its 2TB capacity and 150mb/s speeds, you can use this as a standard backup for your various photos and documents.

Measuring 4.3” x 3.1”, this 0.33-lb external hard drive is ready to use out-of-the-box for Windows PCs. However, if you’re a Mac user, expect that you’ll need to reformat this using your machine before you can use it. Toshiba offers a 1-year warranty for this external drive. While not as portable as the best micro sd card, these external drives go anywhere.

 #4  LaCie Rugged Mini External Hard Drive

Award: MOST DURABLE

WHY WE LIKE IT: This external hard drive features a shock, dust, and rain-resistant casing, making it the best external hard drive for photographers. The sizable 4TB storage also means you can store a huge amount of photos in one drive.

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  • Best for photographers
  • Shock, dust, and rain-resistant
  • Easy backup software

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  • Copy speed is slightly average

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The LaCie Rugged Mini External Hard Drive captivates with a bright orange rubber protector to keep it safe from accidental bumps, as well as dust and rain. Mini yet durable, this 0.66-lb external hard drive can survive occasional drops. It has a 4TB storage capacity and compatibility for both Windows and Mac computers without needing to reformat the drive.

We see the Rugged Mini as a perfect external hard drive for active multimedia creators, as they wouldn’t need to worry about exposing this hard drive to the elements while they travel around the world. Perfect for storing copies of your creative data such as photographs, digital drawings, and film projects, the Rugged Mini measures 5.3” x 3.4” and has transfer speeds of 130mb/s. It also offers a 2-year product warranty. For gaming, have a look at the best external hard drive for ps4.

 #5  Maxone Ultra Slim External Hard Drive

Award: BEST BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: This pick is the best external 1TB hard drive and the slimmest one on our list. Highly portable and reliable, it comes in three different colors depending on your taste.

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  • Slimmest and lightest weight
  • Best 1TB
  • 3-year warranty

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  • Only 1TB capacity

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The Maxone Ultra Slim External Hard Drive comes with a capacity of 1TB. At 0.4” thick, it’s the slimmest among the choices on our list. And with its measurements of 4.7” x 3.4”, it can easily fit inside your pocket for convenient carrying. For reliable file speeds of up to 150mb/s, it’s equipped with an advanced cooling system thanks to its aluminum construction that helps dissipate heat faster. This is the best external hard drive for ps4 because it makes transfers to and from your console worry-free. Perfect for PS4 gamers, installation is a breeze, as well as backing up copies of your favorite games.

This 0.45-lb external hard drive is also compatible with both Windows and Mac systems but will require reformatting for Mac PCs. It comes in three different designs: champagne gold, rose pink, and space grey. It also offers a 19” USB 3.0 cable, along with a 3-year warranty. If you need a drive for Xbox, try the best external hard drives for xbox one.

 #6  G-Technology G-Drive External Hard Drive

Award: BEST FOR MAC

WHY WE LIKE IT: This pick is an extremely well-built drive with a stylish aluminum case. It’s also plug-and-play-enabled for Mac and compatible with Time Machine. Plus it has a large capacity of 6TB.

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  • Premium build quality
  • Large 6TB capacity
  • 3-year warranty from manufacturer

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  • No software for PC

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The G-Technology G-Drive features a solid, hefty desktop external hard drive clad in a durable aluminum case that’s perfect for workstation-level backups. This product is a very reliable tool primarily for creative professionals who are Mac users. With transfer rates of up to 245mb/s, backing up your Mac PC will be pain-free. It will also go along well with Mac computers because of the similar design cues.

This external hard drive is Time Machine-ready, making it easy for you to back up and restore files. If you plan on using it with a Windows PC, you’ll have to reformat it before use. It measures 7.7” x 5.1” and also offers a 3-year warranty. You may also want to choose the best external ssd.

 #7  Fantom Drives External Hard Drive

Award: BEST FOR GAMING CONSOLES

WHY WE LIKE IT: This pick is the best external hard drive for Xbox One because of its higher transfer and read speeds compared to others on this list. At 7200RPM, it spins faster, giving you faster and more reliable read speeds.

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  • Best for Xbox One
  • Fast 7200RPM hard drive
  • Updated USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface

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  • A bit noisy

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The Fantom Drives External Hard Drive is ideal for game consoles like PS4 and Xbox One. With its fast 7200RPM hard drive, it will meet the demanding fast loading speeds of your game console and serve as an expansion of its internal storage. It measures 10.8” x 3.8” x 9”, and its case is made of durable aluminum, which also helps dissipate heat more efficiently. You can choose either black or silver for its casing.

This 2.4-lb external hard drive’s next-generation USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface ensures compatibility with the newest PCs in the market, so it’s suitable as a backup drive for your Windows or Mac PCs. It also comes with its own stand and has an efficient plug-and-play functionality. Make sure to place it in a well-ventilated area, since it can heat up more than the other hard drives on our list due to its faster spin speed. This external hard drive has a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.

How We Decided

External hard drives are a must nowadays, and aside from being able to store large amounts of data, we factored in each item’s durability and the support that the manufacturer provides.

When choosing the best external hard drive, the materials used must have high-quality durability. We considered whether they were made of sturdy aluminum or protected with features such as resistance against dust and drops. Protection against drops or stability on a desk were preferred features because hard drives have moving parts that can get damaged in case of too much jostling.

We prioritized products that have USB 3.0 compatibility and those that can be used for both Windows and Mac computers. When it came to portability, we decided to include both external hard drives that were compact enough to be carried around as well as desktop hard drives.

Another factor we looked into was the bus speeds. Anything below the usual standard transfer rates of external hard drives were excluded from our list, opting instead for items that had reliable speeds of 120mb/s and above.
Lastly, we looked for manufacturer support. For each item, we checked whether they had a warranty and how long each of those warranties would last.

Best External Hard Drive Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Storage capacity
    Look for hard drives with large enough capacities based on your intended use. Are you storing documents and photos for your work or personal use? A 1TB or 2TB hard drive would likely be enough, but you’ll want to invest in 4TB to 8TB ones if you’ll be storing movies and video clips, or if you’re using the external hard drive to store additional games for your game consoles.
  2. Transfer speeds
    Most modern hard drives now support USB 3.0, which is faster than the old USB 2.0 standard, although some faster drives also have compatibility with the newer and faster USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2. Hard drive spin speeds also matter here, as conventional 5,400RPM hard drives are reliable and silent, while 7,200RPM hard drives spin faster and have faster transfer speeds at the expense of noise. An external SSD is much faster than drives that are not external SSDs.
  3. Portability
    Portable hard drives don’t need external power, while desktop types have bigger capacities but need a wall outlet to work. Choose desktop variants if you only plan on using them for backup, but go for portable ones if you’re on the move a lot and want access to your files all the time. This is where external storage shines.
  4. System Compatibility
    External hard drives are usually compatible with a particular operating system, whether it’s Linux, Windows, or Mac. Typically, some drives can be reformatted to suit the OS that you have. For convenient setup, choose the hard drive that matches the system you use. For instance, the WD My Passport is a Passport wireless drive that is popular, but it may not fit your unique needs. The links on our site will help you make an informed decision.

While you are here, read about the best external hard drive for PS4 and the best external hard drives for Xbox One. You can also check out other storage devices.

External Hard Drive FAQs

How long does an external hard drive last?

Depending on how frequently you use it and how you store it, a hard drive normally lasts anywhere between 3-5 years. Regularly check your hard drive for errors and back them up every 3 to 5 years.

How do I keep my external hard drive healthy?

Keep your external hard drives on a flat, stable surface whenever you’re using it, and refrain from moving it when you’re in the process of copying or deleting something. When not in use, ensure that you keep it in a cool, dry place.

How many files can an external hard drive store?

On average, one 1TB hard drive can house at least 310,000 photos, or 500 hours of movies, or even 17,000 hours of music.

Which brand of external hard drive is the best?

These brands are well-known for their reliability in hard drives: Toshiba, Seagate, and Western Digital. Another one that’s worth mentioning is the Samsung T5 SSD external hard drive because of its high-speed processes, portability, and stylish, lightweight design.

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What Else Should You Know About External Hard Drives

If you want to get rid of your crammed internal drive, Gadget Review has hard drive reviews written by our experts for curious consumers like you. Our top lists and news give you the best information about the hard drive market and help you buy the best hard drives based on features like transfer speeds, year warranties, failure rate, hardware encryption and write speeds. 

Our computer accessory reviews tell you about the best hard drives, external power and portable hard drives at the most affordable prices and available extra space, depending on your needs. 

There are various options to choose from like porsche design and western digital drives to upgrade your computer storage. Internal hard drives will replace your desktop hard drive with a new version. There are newer technology solid state drive and portable hard drive that operate faster at a price. 

External hard drives like usb 3.1, book duo, Samsung t5, technology g drive and portable ssd let you move data from one device to another and cloud storage with wi fi, especially if you have lots of data to move. 

USB flash drives are perfect to move around smaller amounts of information through usb ports while flash memory offers high-speed memory for SSDs and other memory types needing speed.

Gadget Review has all the best hard drives reviews that you need before you make a purchase decision.

At Gadget Review, we provide external hard drive reviews so that you can pick the best new products from common brands like Wd, Seagate, Toshiba, Transcend, and others. A great external hard drive will solve your computer storage problems without adding any new troubles when it comes to compatibility or new protocols. Do you only need 500GB of extra data, or should you pick an external drive that can hold 2TB? The type of content you want to store will help determine the answers to questions like these, whether you are looking for the best external hard drive for mac or windows.

External hard drives tend to vary based on both purpose and usability. One device may accept an older external hard drive, while the other may not because of a USB compatibility problem. Some computers format external hard drives automatically, which make them difficult to use with competing brands (think Microsoft and Apple). Navigating this maze can be tricky, which is why turning to Gadget Review to find the best external hard drives is a good idea!

How Can You Choose The Right External Hard Drives

Gadget Review excels at providing external hard drive reviews for the best external hard drives. We'll help you decide between portable hard grives, a portable ssd or flash memory with a full review on a selection of the most popular brands including Transcend, Seagate, WD and Toshiba with a wide range of storage capacities. The samsung t5 portable ssd with 2tb of storage is the more affordable option if your storage needs are moderate. The book duo is the best drive you can buy if you need up to 20tb of storage space.

A portable hard drive is the best way to increase your storage capacity. Choose the right external hard drive based on its compatibility with your existing hardware. Connect these drives to your usb 3.0 port, or usb 3.1 if you have it, so that you can get the highest data transfer speeds possible with a usb 3.0 connection. Password protection is available on some devices if you have sensitive data that must be protected. You can get a model with hardware encryption for extra security.

Internal Hard Drives are known to need formatting before they can be connected to competing brands. If you don't like physical or solid state drives then you should consider investing in cloud storage which comes with similar storage capacities, password protection and automatic backup software. Automatic backups are available with seagate backup. Gadget Review will help you pick the best external hard drive for your machine by giving you great external hard drive reviews on devices which come with a one year warranty.

While you are looking at computer accessories, you may be interested in the best micro SD card, the best USB flash drive, or even the best computer cases.