External hard drive

External hard drive (Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash)

If it hasn’t happened already, it will at some point. I’m talking about a catastrophic loss of your data, either due to a computer failure or some other technological disaster. That’s why it’s more important than ever to back up your computer to an external hard drive. These devices do more than provide peace of mind. They’ve become indispensable ways for us to handle large media files or expand the storage of our computers. The market is so crowded with external hard drives that it’s difficult to choose the right one for you. Do you need it to be wireless, optimized for a gaming console, or lightning-fast? We have scoured tech websites for the best external hard drives to meet your needs.

While many people are happy to upload all their information to the “cloud,” others like to have a physical device to store all their data at home or work. Still, others need a portable way to get the files from one location to another. Some people like to have a backup to their backup, and experts say it’s a good idea to keep an extra copy of your data in another location. How big of an external hard drive do you need? The general rule of thumb is to purchase one that is at least twice as big as the hard drive on your computer. Whatever your needs, we turned to eight expert reviews to find the best external hard drives they recommend most. Did we miss one you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

woman in black long sleeve shirt covering her face with her hands
A woman stares at her computer with her head in her hands (Photo by Elisa Ventur from Unsplash)

The List: Best External Drives, Per Experts

1. Samsung T7 (Various Models)

Samsung T7 Touch
Samsung T7 Touch

Imagine carrying all your favorite movies, music and games in your pocket, without a single worry about them getting damaged. That’s the magic of Samsung’s T7 SSD. Coming in a sleek aluminum shell, the T7 is about the size of a credit card stack, making it perfect for those on the go. But don’t be fooled by its size – this little powerhouse boasts transfer speeds of up to 1,000Mbps, according to CNN. Worried about security? The T7 Touch, as mentioned by CNN, goes the extra mile with a built-in fingerprint sensor, adding an extra layer of protection for your precious data. While the T7 Touch comes in classic black or silver, some reviewers wish for a bit more variety in the color department.

Security is a major concern for many SSD shoppers, and thankfully, Samsung keeps that in mind throughout the T7 line. Wired says that all T7 models come with hardware-based encryption for peace of mind. If you’re looking for a more rugged option, reviewers at Wired recommend the T7 Shield, which boasts a drop-resistant casing for those inevitable bumps and tumbles. While it doesn’t have the fingerprint reader of the T7 Touch, it does offer a balance of security and portability at a slightly lower price point.

No matter which version of the T7 you choose, you won’t be disappointed with its storage capacity. Popular Mechanics points out that it comes in options ranging from 500GB to a whopping 2TB, making it a great choice for photographers, videographers, and anyone who needs to carry a large amount of data with them. The price tag might seem a bit steep at first, but considering its portability, speed, and durability, it starts to feel like a worthwhile investment, especially if you factor in the peace of mind from its security features. Plus, its universal compatibility, thanks to the included USB-C cables, means you can use it with pretty much any device you own. So, whether you’re a busy professional, a creative on the move, or just someone who likes to keep their entertainment library close at hand, the Samsung T7 SSD is a great option to consider.

2. Western Digital My Book

Western Digital My Book
Western Digital My Book

Ever feel like your computer storage is overflowing with downloaded videos, game collections, and endless photo albums? If so, you’re not alone! PC Magazine calls you a “data enthusiast” (we like that better than “hoarder”) and recommends the Western Digital My Book as your new best friend.

This external hard drive is a beast, according to reviewers. PC Mag says it can hold “thousands of hours of video” or “millions of MP3s or photos,” thanks to capacities that go all the way up to a mind-blowing 22TB! That’s enough space to store your entire digital life, with room to spare for future adventures. And the best part? The price is surprisingly reasonable, making it an “Editors’ Choice” for desktop storage solutions.

Tom’s Guide agrees, calling the My Book the “best external hard drive for the money.” They highlight its built-in security features, like 256-bit encryption, to keep your precious files safe. Plus, it comes with handy backup software to make sure you never lose a single memory. Sure, it’s a bit on the bulky side and needs to be plugged in, but for the sheer volume of storage and peace of mind it offers, those are minor inconveniences.

As Popular Mechanics puts it, with this much space, you’ll never have to delete those old vacation photos (or that embarrassing collection of childhood music) ever again. So, if you’re a business owner, a creative professional, or just someone who loves to hold onto their digital memories, the Western Digital My Book is definitely worth considering.

3. SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

Forget worrying about dropping your external hard drive during your daily commute – the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD is built tough, according to reviewers at Wired. They describe it as “lightweight” and “life-proof” thanks to its IP22-rated casing, which can shrug off dust and moisture. Sure, it might cost a bit more than some drives, but for on-the-go data backup with blazing-fast speeds, Wired says it’s the clear winner. They even admit to appreciating the slightly larger size, making it easier to spot amongst the chaos of a backpack.

If you value speed above all else, Popular Mechanics says the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD won’t disappoint. They rave about its “sleek, compact design” that’s tough enough to handle everyday bumps and bruises. Plus, it boasts impressive water and dust resistance, making it the perfect companion for outdoor adventures. No more scrambling to shield your drive from a surprise downpour!

Tom’s Guide dives into the technical specs, highlighting the super-fast sequential read speeds of up to 1,050MBps. They even put it through their own tests, and it consistently came out on top (or close to it) in terms of performance. An added bonus? SanDisk’s Secure Access software keeps your data safe with private encryption. So, whether you’re a photographer editing on the go, a freelancer juggling multiple projects, or just someone who values their digital life, the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD is a powerful and secure option to keep your important files safe and accessible.

4. Western Digital Elements

Western Digital Elements
Western Digital Elements

In the never-ending quest for digital storage space, the WD Elements series keeps popping up as a reliable solution for your data woes. Wired calls it a workhorse, perfect for those who value affordability and reliability. They’ve been using these drives for “over a decade” for data backups, and haven’t let them down yet. Sure, they’re not the most portable option, requiring an external power source, but for sheer storage capacity at a friendly price point, they can’t be beat. Just be sure to shop around, as Wired suggests – sometimes you can snag a massive 10 or even 12 terabyte drive for practically a steal!

Lifewire points out that storage needs can creep up on you quickly, especially with things like 4K videos hogging up space. That’s where the WD Elements truly shines. They recommend the 10TB model for those who need serious storage space, without breaking the bank. It’s an investment, for sure, but one that will keep your digital world organized and accessible for a long time to come.

5. Western Digital My Passport

Western Digital My Passport
Western Digital My Passport

Need a portable powerhouse to store your digital life? Look no further than the WD My Passport, according to reviewers raving about its style, security, and spaciousness. CNN calls it a “stylish yet rugged package” with enough storage to hold a whopping “100,000 photo files.” Imagine that – your entire photo library, perfectly organized and accessible wherever you go! And it gets even better – CNN says they were able to store two whole backups of their library on a single My Passport, giving you peace of mind and extra room for future memories.

PC Magazine agrees, giving the My Passport its coveted “Editor’s Choice” award. They love the combination of speed, security (thanks to hardware encryption), and handy software utilities that come pre-loaded on the drive. Whether you’re a business professional juggling sensitive data or a creative mind with a massive collection of photos and videos, the My Passport can handle it all.

Tom’s Guide dives into the design aspect, highlighting its compact size and sleek look. They mention its “shiny ridged surface” and a variety of color options, from classic silver to bold red, so you can choose a My Passport that matches your personality. It’s the perfect blend of style and functionality, making it a great choice for anyone who wants a reliable and good-looking way to keep their digital world safe and organized.


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. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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  1. Tcip says:

    This “article” was posted 2023-01-01…….

  2. James R Hess says:

    I find it fascinating that WD is even in this list as it is the one brands that has consistently failed at 13 months of ownership. I have 80 Tb of external drives attached to my PC. 40Tb for basic photography storage and 40 Tb for a duplicate copy of those files. I only buy Seagate now and have only had one issue and it has been resolved.

  3. Josh Heath says:

    If you work with any of these storage devices, we can help! Check out our wiping, testing, and inventory solution, WipeOS (wipeos.com).

    Great article, Matthew – Thanks fo sharing.