Your gaming laptop and gaming PC might be humming along perfectly fine on their solid-state drives. Those will offer plenty of speed, and many are even coming down in price while offering considerable capacity. But, there’s still a valid place for external hard drives in your computing toolkit.External hard drives offer a load of storage while making it easy to move all sorts of files between machines. They also tend to be fairly affordable for the vast storage they offer we’re talking 4TB for $100. In some cases, you can even move beyond files and media to keep programs stored on the drives. So, if you don’t have a lot of room in your devices built-in storage, it’s not unreasonable to install a chunk of your video game library onto an external drive.Considering external storage devices generally connect over USB 3.0 (though some support faster connections), hard drives also work fairly well for this application. Internal hard drives aren’t really maxing out the 6Gbps bandwidth of their SATA III ports, so the slightly lower 5Gbps bandwidth of USB 3.0 connections shouldn’t slow most hard drives down any.
If you’re ready to add an external hard drive to your setup, we’ve picked out some great options. You can find extra-durable models, large storage, networking options, and some extra-secure drives.
TL;DR These are the Best External Hard Drives:
1. Western Digital My Passport 4TB
Best External Hard Drive
Capacity: 4TB Interface: USB 3.0 Weight: 0.46 pounds Size: 0.75″ x 2.95″ x 4.22″
In terms of size, speed, and relative affordability, the WD My Passport is one of the best external hard drives around. The current version comes in a wide range of colors, so you can customize this accessory to your tastes.The 4TB model offers an incredible amount of storage capacity, and for just $100 it’s also surprisingly affordable. The USB 3.0 port offers speedy data transfer speeds. Overall, the My Passport is probably the best option on this list for most users.
2. Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox 1TB SSD
Best Xbox Series X/S External Hard Drive
Capacity: 1TB Interface: Xbox Storage Expansion Port Weight: 0.15 pounds
You can plug any old USB-based external hard drive into your new Xbox Series X/S, but they’ll only let you store your old games from previous generations. New games designed for this latest generation of hardware require faster storage, and the only option for that is the Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X/S.This Seagate drive doesn’t use USB or suffer from its limited bandwidth. Instead, it gets a direct PCI Express connection with the Xbox, which gives it bandwidth that can match the Xbox Series X/S’s own internal storage. It comes at a high price, but it’ll effectively double your Xbox Series X storage or almost triple your Xbox Series S storage, and it’s the most compact drive on this list by far.
3. WD_Black P50 Game Drive
Best PS5 External Hard Drive
Capacity: 1TB Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Max Transfer Speed: 20Gb/s Weight: 0.26 pounds Size: 4.65″ x 2.44″ x 0.55″
As of right now, you can’t use external storage for PS5 games on the PS5, as some games may rely on the incredibly fast speeds of the internal drive in the PS5 to operate properly. But, that’s not the case for backward-compatible PS4 games, which the new console will allow you to store on and play from an external drive. For that purpose, the WD_Black P50 Game Drive is the one you’ll want to get.This drive offers blistering 2,000MB/s read speeds as it’s actually an external SSD, rather than a traditional hard drive. And, with a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 connection, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the drive’s speeds. So, your PS5 will let you load PS5 games quickly from internal storage and PS4 games quickly from the P50 Game Drive. Factor in the performance upgrade some PS4 games can get from the PS5, and you could have an all-around enhanced experience playing PS4 games on the new console with this drive.
4. Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch 2TB
Best Thin External Hard Drive
Capacity: 2TB Interface: USB 3.0 Max Transfer Speed: 120MB/s Weight: 0.33 pounds Size: 0.46″ x 3.07″ x 4.52″
Seagate keeps its external drives fresh, and the Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch 2TB continues that trend. This new drive stays slim and lightweight but delivers on a capacious 2TB of storage. You’ll also find speeds up to 120MB/s keeping your file transfers quick.For this new hard drive, Seagate has moved away from the metal aesthetic of its earlier drive and now offers a woven fabric finish that can blend in with the decor of your home. Though the connector on the drive itself is still an older style, Seagate includes the adapters you need to connect this drive to either USB-A or USB-C ports, giving you flexibility for a wide range of devices.
5. LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt 2TB
Best Rugged External Hard Drive
Capacity: 2TB Interface: USB-C 3.1 (Thunderbolt) Max Transfer Speed: 510MB/s Weight: 0.88 pounds Size: 0.98″ x 3.50″ x 5.52″
If youre hauling your external drive around “in the wild,” hackers and thieves arent all you need to worry about. Theres also the age-old problem of just straight up having butterfingers and watching your precious device turn into a broken brick. Thankfully, there are tough external drives like the LaCie Rugged. Built to withstand falls of over five feet, the bright orange removable cover is also IP54-level resistant to dust and water.Plus, the LaCie Rugged offers fast transfer speeds via Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 connections so it’ll work with any computer on the market. The Thunderbolt cable tucks away neatly into the perimeter of the casing too, so you don’t have to worry about losing it.
6. Western Digital 16TB My Book Duo
Best High-Capacity External Hard Drive
Capacity: 16TB (8TB x 2) Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 1 Weight: 5.2 pounds Size: 7.09″ x 3.94″ x 6.30″
Of course, not all external drives need to be portable, and if you’re looking to backup your desktop computer, there are some cavernous options. One of the biggestand besthard drives is Western Digitals My Book Duo. With two 8TB HDDs, youll be hard-pressed to find a higher-capacity storage option (other than, you know, the bonkers 24TB version).You can even set the two drives up in a RAID 1 array so youve got a huge backup of your huge backup. Plus, you can set up WDs automatic backup software on your computer and forget about worrying over whether your data is backed up or not.
7. G-Technology G-Drive Mobile 2TB
Best External Hard Drive for MacBooks
Capacity: 2TB Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 1 Max Transfer Speed: 140MB/s Size: 0.41″ x 3.23″ x 4.33″
The G-Technology G-Drive Mobile 2TB is the best external hard drive for MacBooks that will set you free from the dongle life. Its main feature is a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port that lets it achieve 140MB/s transfer speeds. That port also means no more fussing around with adapters. And, with more and more PC’s using USB-C, transferring between devices can be even easier.The G-Technology G-Drive is also impressively slim and light, with one of the most compact builds on this list. And, it comes in sliver, space gray, and gold colors to match your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. It’s even made with aluminum for go for the same premium feel as your laptop.
8. Glyph BlackBox Pro
Best External Hard Drive for Mac Desktops
Capacity: 2TB (7,200rpm) Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 2 Max Transfer Speed: 250MB/s Weight: 4.55 pounds Size: 10.3″ x 9.9″ x 2.5″
The Glyph BlackBox Pro easily the best external hard drives for Mac users. It comes formatted in the macOS-compliant HFS+ file system, but Windows users can always reformat it for use as well. You also won’t need to tote around a USB-C adapter either as the BlackBox Pro comes with a USB-C 3.1 cable right in the box. Of course, you could just as easily use your charge cable to connect this drive to your Mac because it’s also Thunderbolt 3 compatible.Unfortunately, you will need to plug in this hard drive into the wall, since it can run off USB power, so it may be best suited for an iMac or Mac Pro desktop, rather than the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro you’re using in the wild. That said, if you plan on taking it on trips and leaving it at the hotel or Airbnb, the Glyph BlackBox Pro also comes in a ruggedized case that can survive beating wherever you take it.
9. iStorage diskAshur 2TB
Best Encrypted External Hard Drive
Capacity: 2TB Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 1 Security: EAL4+ ready on-board secure microprocessor, military-grade AES 256-bit XTS Full-Disk Hardware Encryption Weight: 0.48 pounds Size: 0.75″ x 4.88″ x 3.31″
Some data is so precious you cant trust just any old external drive to handle the job. Behold, the iStorage diskAshur, featuring 256-bit AES encryption and physical numpad on the devices face to lock your data behind a 7-to-15-digit pin. Plus, its even possible to set up the diskAshur so it destroys all its data if someone tries to crack their way inhow 007. But in all seriousness, government organizations use these iStorage drives for a reason, and if youre serious about security, so should you.They’re not only durable, but also convenient thanks to a compact size and neatly built-in USB cable. And, beyond the encryption and automatic locking features, the keys are designed to resist showing signs of keypad usage that might otherwise help someone guess the numbers in your pin.
10. WD My Cloud Home
Best Cloud-Connected External Hard Drive
Capacity: 4TB Interface: USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet Weight: 2.31 pounds Size: 6.91″ x 2.09″ x 5.51″
The WD My Cloud Home is a capable and yet delightfully simple hard drive that connect to any device on your network. Once hooked up to your home Wi-Fi setup, any device on your network can upload files to this drive whether it be a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. And while you’re outside you can also access this storage like a Cloud drive.You can find the WD My Cloud Home in a wide range of capacities, letting you pick out the size that best fits your needs. If you need to ensure the safety of your data, you can even get a model with two drives so it can keep a duplicate copy of each file. That said it isn’t a true NAS, if you’re looking for a robust, expandable Network-Attached Storage solution.
What to Look for in an External Hard Drive
Buying an external hard drive might seem like a simple matter of finding the capacity you want at the lowest price possible, but that’s a sure-fire way of getting a lemon and losing your data forever.If you’re already in the market for a portable HDD over an external solid-state drive, you’re probably more interested in capacity than speed. Definitely don’t expect to get wickedly fast data transfer speeds out of these drives.
Although they might spin at the same 5,400 to 7,200 RPM (revolutions per minute) as the desktop drives in your PC, the USB 3.0 bus limits transfer speeds to about 100 or 200MBps. Comparatively, the fastest Thunderbolt II-enabled SSD can hit speeds up to 2,800MBps.
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam