When your laptop or computer’s hard drive is near capacity, it truly pays to know more about the best external hard drives. Yes, there’s nothing worse than running out of storage on your computer, especially if you’re trying to save important photos, documents, or videos.
But, are you saving too much? Digital hoarding and disorganization are real issues that many people struggle with. This makes sense, especially in the wake of the pandemic where many Americans relied solely on their technology for work, socializing, and simply staying connected with friends and family. As we all snapped photos and videos, not many of us took the time to organize or sift through our digital storage, leaving the digital contents of our devices in disarray.
According to a survey of 2,000 Americans, nearly 60 percent say they never delete photos or videos from their digital devices. Many cite the sentimental value of their digital media as the reason they don’t delete old items or any items for that matter. Of course, people will say that saving your digital files to the “cloud” is always an option, but you might be interested to know that even the cloud isn’t immune to running out of storage space.
In fact, as you read this, scientists are scrambling to prevent global data losses of epic proportions. According to a study conducted by researchers at Aston University, the total data worldwide, also called the global datasphere, will increase by 300 percent over the next three years.
Obviously, people are utilizing the cloud’s storage capabilities, but just how long will that last? And, what improvements need to be made over the next few years to prevent the loss of our digital memories? Clearly, something must be done to prevent a possible global data crisis.
But, that’s enough of the stats and studies, you came here looking for the best external hard drives and that’s precisely what we’re giving you. Study Finds did the digging, consulting 10 expert review sites to find the best external hard drives for storing your extra digital files. As always, feel free to share your favorite external hard drives with us in the comments section below!
The List: Best External Hard Drives for 2023, According To Tech Pros
The one storage device that most frequently appears in the top spot across expert lists for the best external hard drives is the Western Digital My Book external hard drives. These impressive digital storage devices are a favorite amongst gamers, photographers, videographers, and more. Although these external hard drives come in different models, each with its own storage capacities such as 4TB and 8TB, you can’t really go wrong with any of them.
“It may be shaped like a monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but our tests found that the WD My Book is the best external hard drive for the money. It offers hardware-based 256-bit AES encryption and WD Backup software, and it gives you 4TB of HDD space for about $100. Plus, capacities up to 18TB are available,” explains Tom’s Guide.
These extra features are only part of what makes the WD My Book one of the best external hard drives available, especially for professionals looking to beef up their desktop storage.
“The 8TB version of the Western Digital My Book ($249.99) can hold thousands of hours of video, or millions of MP3s or photos. It’s backward-compatible with current and older Macs and Windows PCs, a plus right now as USB standards are changing. With a good mix of capacity, pricing, and performance, it’s a shoo-in as our latest Editors’ Choice for desktop external hard drives,” writes PC Magazine.
The performance aspect of the WD My Book hard drives involves speed, which the My Book offers plenty of. “It features consistent read and write speeds, a performance feature you’ll be hard-pressed to find in the external hard drive world. Optimal rates were measured at 192 MB per second on Windows. Actual speed tests averaged 150 MB second, the fastest HDD speeds in this review,” explains Tech Gear Lab.
The next storage device to appear across expert lists for the best external hard drives is the Seagate Backup Plus. This external hard drive was a close second and could easily make a case for the top spot on this list, and for good reason. The Seagate Backup Plus is a versatile external hard drive with lots of neat features.
“Combining on-point performance and strong encryption, Seagate’s Backup Plus Ultra Touch portable drive is a great choice for everyday backups and security-first use alike. Plus, a fabric coat adds appeal,” writes PC Magazine.
One of the best features of the Seagate Backup Plus is the ability to automate your digital saving routines.
“The device is ultra portable for easy carry, and it offers a straightforward design that works with both Windows and Mac. The USB 3.0 drive gives easy access to your files, and you also have the ability to set up automatic backups, whether it is daily, weekly, monthly, or on-demand. As a bonus, with your purchase, you’ll receive a two-month membership to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan, plus a two-year warranty,” explains ZD Net.
Clearly, this external hard drive is designed for busy professionals who want to ensure their precious digital assets are safe and secure.
“Seagate has six different external hard drives families, and the Backup Plus is certainly the one that grabbed my attention the most. It combines the strengths of Seagate’s Basic range (affordability, no-frill approach) with some unique features of its own like a plethora of colors – seven in all – and a 1-year data recovery warranty,” further explains Tech Radar.
Yes, another Western Digital hard drive that needs to be considered as one of the best external hard drives is the WD Black P10 Game Drive. This hard drive came up too many times across expert sites to ignore. The WD Black P10 was easily the most recommended external hard drive for gaming. But, this external hard drive is great for more than basic gaming, and creators love this hard drive for its versatility.
“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,” writes Tech Radar.
The plug-and-play capability of this external hard drive makes it one of the most diverse gaming hard drives available. “You get up to 5TB of storage, which can hold up to 125 games, plus USB 3.0 connectivity, albeit with a lower hard disk form factor of 2.5 inches,” adds ZD Net.
The ability to hold 125 games is incredible, and you get all of this for a decent price. “Endowed with a gamer aesthetic, the WD Black P10 Game Drive can serve as a simple, stylish repository for your massive game library at a reasonable price,” PC Magazine furthers.
4. LaCie Rugged
The LaCie Rugged external hard drives are an excellent choice for anyone who works outdoors or needs to travel a lot with their storage device. The LaCie Rugged is available in a couple of different models, so you’ll want to choose the one that’s best for your needs. However, you can’t go wrong with a LaCie Rugged, regardless of the model.
“If you are a creative professional in the market for an external HDD, be sure to check this drive out. There aren’t many competitors: Most other HDD solutions are much larger, and flash-based SSDs don’t yet offer similarly-priced capacity, nor the same value-adds,” explains Tom’s Hardware.
“The go-anywhere drives above are a solid solution for people who need to make backups in the field, like photographers and videographers. But if you want an extra level of comfort, this padded drive from LaCie has long been a favorite of travelers. LaCie makes both an SSD version and a traditional spinning drive version,” adds Wired.
The LaCie Rugged hard drives are also fairly fast and offer some neat design features to make using them on the go easy and hassle-free.
“Under its tough exterior, the LaCie Rugged manages decent transfer speeds via Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 connections. Therefore, you should be good to use this drive with any computer on the market. The Thunderbolt cable is even designed to tuck neatly into the perimeter of the casing, so you don’t have to worry about losing it. And, with a 2TB storage capacity, you have ample space for all your important files,” writes IGN.
We know, Western Digital products are filling this list, but according to the experts, this company makes great external hard drives. The WD My Passport is certainly no exception to this, and it certainly earned its place amongst the best external hard drives.
“This external hard drive provides a ton of storage space at an affordable $100 price, letting you get effectively 1TB per $25. Sure, you don’t get the high speeds of an SSD, but for general use, you often don’t miss that. And, the USB 3.0 connectivity still gives the device decent transfer rates, so you won’t be waiting all day just to transfer a few gigabytes of content between your computer and your drive,” raves IGN.
One of the advantages you’ll likely enjoy most about this external hard drive is its overall portability, and it’s available in various sizes. “The 4TB model is compact and weighs just 250g. You probably wouldn’t want to try and jam one into a shirt pocket, but they’re almost as portable as a smartphone, just a little chunkier. The 1TB Passport is slightly thinner and weighs 170g if you don’t need as much space,” explains PC Gamer.
“WD’s My Passport 4TB mobile USB 3.0 drive lets you stuff a lot of data in your pocket without emptying it of cash. While not as fast with sequential transfers as the LaCie and Seagate drives we’ll be comparing it to, it’s certainly fast enough. And, at $115 on the street, it’s considerably cheaper,” adds PC World.
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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations