The 7 Best External Hard Drives in 2021
Store data anywhere you like with the best external hard drives in 2021.
Data storage is fast becoming one of the most important topics for both hobbies and jobs. You need lots of places to store the rapidly growing amount of data in your everyday life, whether it’s school projects, game files, or family photos. We feel that the Western Digital Elements 2TB External Hard Drive is a great example of a data storage device everyone can appreciate thanks to its size, affordability and other features.
External hard drives like this one are fantastic products to keep around. They can provide extra storage space if you ever have more than what your computer came with, or they can let you take photos or other files to another home or school without having to send them over the Internet. This is much more secure. Let’s take a look at the above hard drive and more in our guide to the best external hard drives in 2021.
Western Digital Elements 2TB External Hard Drive
Best Overall External Hard Drive
Why should you buy this? The WD Digital Elements 2TB External Hard Drive is an affordable and excellent piece of hardware that can work for computers, game consoles, and any other devices for whatever storage needs you have.
Western Digital Elements 2TB
Who’s it for? This is a perfect pick for those looking for a solid all-around external hard drive that comes with varying capacity options and compatibility with most users’ needs.
Why we picked the Western Digital Elements 2TB:
This extra hard drive features both USB 3.0 in 2.0 compatibility to let you plug it into a multitude of devices and store your data as you need to. Regardless of the device you pair with it, you’ll enjoy fast data transfer speeds and improved PC performance. The last aspect is especially true since the hard drive is specifically formulated for various Windows operating system versions ranging from 7 to 10.
You can also reformat this hard drive if you want to use it with other operating systems. It comes with a manual you can use to enable this effect. We also really like the hard drive comes in several different sizes ranging from 1 TB to 5 TB without spiking too high a price as you go up and capacity.
Lastly, the hard drive comes with a two-year manufacturer’s limited warranty. This is excellent value for money and lets you exchange the hard drive in case it ever crashes when you’re using it regularly.
Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB External Hard Drive
Best Budget External Hard Drive
Why should you buy this? This affordable external hard drive lets you store your data on the cheap, and it’s extremely easy to use.
Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB
Who’s it for? This is a perfect external hard drive if you need quick extra storage space for your computer or gaming console but don’t want to spend too much time.
Why we picked the Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB:
This external hard drive is among the easiest to use; just plug it into your USB 2.0 compatible device or gaming console and you’re good to go. There’s no extra software to install, so you can drag-and-drop various files into the hard drive and immediately unplug it without any repercussions for your data or the device.
It doesn’t require an external AC power cord and is formatted for several versions of Microsoft Windows. It can be reformatted for Mac operating systems, and it includes a standard one-year limited warranty for parts and labor.
Furthermore, we very much appreciate its sleek design with a matte, smudge-resistant surface that protects it from damage. The real value lies in the affordable asking price; it’s so cheap that there’s no reason not to grab one for long-term storage of any files, be they games or photos.
WD 2TB My Passport Ultra for Mac
Best External Hard Drive for Mac
Why should you buy this? This external hard drive is a great choice for Mac users, as it’s preformatted for those operating systems, requiring no additional you put on your part.
WD 2TB My Passport Ultra
Who’s it for? This is a perfect external hard drive for anyone who uses a Mac instead of a Windows PC.
Why we picked the WD 2TB My Passport Ultra:
This hard drive comes ready for use with Mac computers right out of the box. This is distinct from most other external hard drives that are formatted for Windows computers; they normally require reformatting on the part of the user in order to be combined with Mac computers.
It features USB 3.0 compatibility but is also USB-C ready, giving you several connecting options based on your needs and your data speeds. It also features password protection with 256 bit AES hardware encryption, making it an excellent choice if the data you store on the hard drive is sensitive to any extend.
Furthermore, it comes with a sleek and innovative metal cover that both provides it with extra durability and an excellent look. The hard drive’s purchase includes a three-year manufacturer’s limited warranty, which covers you from regular wear and tear and provides excellent peace of mind.
Maxone 500GB Ultra Slim Portable External Hard Drive
Best External Hard Drive for PS4
Why should you buy this? The Maxone 500GB Ultra Slim Portable External Hard Drive is both aesthetically and functionally an excellent partner for use with your PlayStation 4.
Maxone 500GB Ultra Slim Portable
Who’s it for? This is a perfect external hard drive for PS4 users that want to store extra games or downloadable content without deleting it and having to re-download it later.
Why we picked the Maxone 500GB Ultra Slim Portable:
This external hard drive is top-quality through and through. For starters, it features an ultra-slim and sturdy metal design and three different colors, including pink, gray and gold. The frame is made from aluminum, protecting the hard drive from scratches and imparting it with excellent durability and strength.
It offers extremely fast and stable support for PlayStation 4 and Pro users, making it an ideal choice if you want to transfer games to the storage device instead of your main hard drive. It doesn’t refuse or delete games by accident. If you have multiple consoles, it’s also compatible with Xbox Ones, as well as Microsoft Window computers and Mac computers.
It’s powered by USB 3.0 technology and allows for superfast transfer speeds up to 5 Gb per second. The hard drive is also very easy to use; plug it in and download your files immediately without having to install software or use an external power supply.
Seagate STGX2000400 Portable 2TB External Hard Drive
Best External Hard Drive for Xbox One
Why should you buy this? This external hard drive is a great choice if you’re primarily an Xbox gamer that wants to store their stuff without deleting it for re-downloading at a later date.
Seagate STGX2000400 Portable 2TB
Who’s it for? This external hard drive is a perfect choice for Xbox users or those who swap between Xbox gaming and PC gaming relatively frequently.
Why we picked the Seagate STGX2000400 Portable 2TB:
This device has a lot to like, starting with its variable capacities ranging from 1 TB to 5 TB. This allows you to choose the size of hard drive that best suits your needs without being locked into an overly expensive asking price. It’s designed to work with both Windows or Mac computers and similar consoles, but it’s especially good for Xbox devices thanks to its Windows focus.
Furthermore, it’s USB 3.0 compatible and it’s extremely easy to use. Just plug it in and you’ll be able to automatically download files to the hard drive without having to install software or provide an external power source. Your computer or gaming system should recognize it without any delay.
It also comes with a one-year limited warranty you can use if it ever gives you technical trouble over regular use. Its small size, durability, and lightning-fast download speeds make it a great piece of hardware to combine with your Xbox.
Transcend StoreJet 25M3S 2TB Hard Drive
Best Portable External Hard Drive
Why should you buy this? The Transcend StoreJet 25M3S 2TB Hard Drive is lightweight and durable, making it one of the best travel-friendly external hard drives available.
Transcend StoreJet 25M3S 2TB
Who’s it for? We think this would be a phenomenal choice for those who travel frequently and who need to keep their portable data safe as they move from computer to computer.
Why we picked the Transcend StoreJet 25M3S 2TB:
This external hard drive is built for travel from the ground up. To begin, it’s made with a durable casing that comes in three colors from gray, to green to blue. It also comes in two sizes between 1 and 2 TB. No matter which size you pick (standard or slim), you’ll benefit from the excellent casing that covers the entire hard drive. This is bolstered by a three-stage shock protection system to protect your data if you ever dropped the hard drive from a significant height.
Even better, the hard drive complete data management software and data recovery software. This means you might be able to recover any files that were physically or digitally damaged over your travels. A One-Touch automatic backup button creates an immediate copy of your data for further security and peace of mind.
Aside from these positive points, the external hard drive features a USB 3.1 interface for added speed and stability when transferring data. This makes it one of the best external hard drives if you need to copy data from another computer quickly and get back to your travels.
WD 8TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive
Best External Hard Drive for Photos
Why should you buy this? This high-quality external hard drive is a perfect choice if you need to store lots of visual media thanks to its expansive space and its fantastic design.
WD 8TB My Book
Who’s it for? We’d recommend this external hard drive for those who have lots of photos they want to ensure are protected over the long term.
Why we picked the WD 8TB My Book:
Taking a look at this external hard drive, it’s easy to see why it’s such a good deal. It’s both USB 3.0 and 2.0 compatible, which provides it with great data speed and transfer stability. This makes it a good choice for pictures with of lots of raw visual data, such as photos with high-resolution.
Furthermore, you can pick it up in several sizes that are suitable for large photo transfers, ranging from 3 TB to 14 TB. Pictures take up a lot of digital space, so you need tons of room in order to store a full album of them. The hard drive is also improved by the presence of hardware encryption that can only be accessed via password; this ensures that your photos can’t be looked at by anyone besides yourself.
It comes with a three-year manufacturer limited warranty, which is excellent given its high asking price. But we also really like the automatic backup that’s included with the hard drive by default. This is even more added value and can help protect your pictures when all may seem to be lost.
How we test
Finding the right external hard drive for everyone isn’t easy. To determine top external hard drives from poor ones, we looked at lots of factors, including data storage capacity, USB compatibility, and durability.
For instance, some external hard drives, like the WD 8TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive, are better suited for storing lots of photos or other high-volume data. Pictures and other visual media usually take up lots of space, so we found plenty of hard drives of variable capacities so there should be something appropriate for your file type and amount.
We also prioritize connectivity. Many of the best external hard drives, like the Transcend StoreJet 25M3S 2TB Hard Drive, have advanced USB file transfer speeds and stability. This makes them a great choice for transferring lots of data quickly.
Finally, we also look for hard drives that are compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. Some are compatible with both, but most hard drives are suitable for one type of system or the other.
External Hard Drives FAQ
What is an External Hard Drive?
In a nutshell, an external hard drive is the same type of hardware as an internal hard drive; it’s just connected to your computer on the outside rather than the inside. These hard drives store data of various types and can connect to computers or other devices via USB ports.
External Hard Drive vs Flash Drive
A flash drive is a miniature version of the hard drive that can usually only hold a few gigabytes of memory. Thus, flash drives are best if you only have a little bit of data to store or move from computer to computer. Extra hard drives are better if you want long-term storage or you need to store lots of data.
What is the Best External Hard Drive?
The best external hard drive for your needs will largely depend on what you need to store and your operating system. For instance, those who only need to store a little bit of data can go with the Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB External Hard Drive, which is both affordable and only 1 TB in size.
You should also pay attention to your operating system. If you have a Mac, we’d strongly recommend the WD 2TB My Passport Ultra for Mac, which is preformatted for Apple computers. This makes it easy to transfer data from your Mac to a hard drive compared to other external devices.
How Much is An External Hard Drive?
An external hard drive will run you anywhere between $50 and several hundred dollars depending on the storage capacity, file transfer speed, size, and other features like encryption or file recovery software.
SSD vs HDD Drive
SSDs and HDDs both store data, but SSDs are much newer and don’t have any moving parts. They take up less space on a PC and provide data retrieval much more quickly than HDDs, which are older but less prone to data loss.