Having an external hard drive around can come in handy if you need to add a little (or a lot) of extra storage space to your PC setup with little hassle. Navigating the sea of external drives can, however, be quite daunting. So we’ve compiled a list of the best picks to get you started.
Weighing in at around eight ounces, this hard-disk drive (HDD) measures in at about the same size as your average wallet. It also packs plenty of space, with sizes ranging from 1 TB to 4 TB. USB 3.0 connectivity means fairly speedy transfers, and Western Digital includes the option to keep your sensitive files protected with 256-bit AES hardware encryption.
The Backup Plus Slim is one of the smallest and lightest HDDs out there, available in four different sizes up to 5 TB and four different colors. It’s just 0.48 inches thick for easy portability in your laptop bag or pocket, and USB 3.0 connectivity means relatively fast transfer speeds.
If you aren’t concerned with portability and simply want a solid, self-powered external HDD for your desktop, look no further than the Western Digital 8TB My Book Desktop. Get up to 10 TB of storage, protect your files with 256-bit AES encryption, and connect with USB 3.0 for quick transfer of your files.
If an HDD just won’t do and you have the cash, Samsung’s T5 external solid-state drive (SSD) is the best you can buy right now with up to 540 MB/s read and write speeds. This drive has a single USB-C port on it for fast data transfer, but it includes both USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A 3.1 cables in the box.
If you’re hard on your hardware, the Tuff drive from CalDigit offers a four-foot drop rating, water resistance for up to 30 minutes in about three feet of water, and a dust- and shock-resistant coating. Use USB-C or USB-A 3.1 to connect, and choose from five different colors, all with 2 TB of storage.
Want the fastest transfer speeds possible (up to 2,400 MB/s read and 1,200 MB/s write) from your external drive? This Plugable 480 GB SSD uses only Thunderbolt 3 to connect for blistering transfers, and it remains small enough to easily tote around with you. It might not have the most storage, but it will make the most of your PC’s modern ports.
If we had to pick an external hard drive …
All of the drives listed above have their perks and will make a great storage option for the right person, but if we’re picking one, we suggest the Seagate Backup Plus Slim. It’s small enough to easily tote around with you, there are lots of storage options up to 5TB available, and it uses USB 3.0 for wide compatibility and respectable transfer speeds. If you need something with faster speeds that keeps the same sleek form, we also recommend the Samsung T5 SSD. You’ll ultimately pay more, but you’ll see read and write speeds up to 540 MB/s and compatibility with USB-C and USB-A ports.
This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.