Our 5 Best External Hard Drives in 2020
Thanks to technological advancements over the last decade or so, media files and work loads have increased in size exponentially. Like myself, I'm sure many of you have found yourselves in a situation where you simply haven't got the space to accommodate the latest game title or media file. It's a problem that shows no signs of slowing down.
Up until recently, you're only option to increase storage capacity for your PC, laptop or console was to open her up and fit an additional storage solution. Luckily for us, this is no longer the easiest and most affordable way to go.
Storage manufacturers are today, churning out external storage solutions faster than ever before, and they're affordable! In this article we will take a look at our top 5 external hard drives currently available this 2019. The products range from super quick external SSD's to high capacity 10TB HDD's and everything in between.
External hard drives are a brilliant solution if you want to boost your computers hard drive without installing anything internally. They also work alongside laptops and games consoles such as PS4 and Xbox one via a number of different connectivity options. The possibilities are endless, let's waste no more time and have a brief look at what we have to offer:
Seagate have gone in a new direction for the design of their backup plus slim by finishing it with a fabric outer skin. The stylish new design is just the start of this impressive external hard drive which boasts so much.
It's easily one of the best price/performance products in this list, it also comes with the reliability and longevity that Seagate provide in their products making it an absolute steal.
Samsung T5 Portable SSD
The best price/performance external SSD
Samsung have once again proved themselves worthy of creating a superb, high performance, affordable hard drive solution. The T5 portable is by far the best price/performance SSD in this list and shows off Samsung's capabilities yet again.
The T5 portable is a great little external SSD option which is both sleek and rapid. The design is something that looks really stylish straight out the box and pairs nicely with any PC, laptop or games console.
It has super quick read/write times as well as rapid transfer rates via the USB-type C adapter. It does come a price, but one that lives up to it's performance.
Seagate Backup Plus Hub
High in capacity ,high in performance.
Seagate's backup plus hub is a fantastic solution if you're looking for a large external hard drive option which isn't going to destroy your bank account. The backup plus hub comes in a variety of sizes to suit your needs and has impressive read/write speeds.
The backup plus hub is a beast and makes for the perfect desktop storage solution thanks to it's huge capacity and fast sequential speeds. It comes in several different sizes to accommodate your needs and has a multitude of connectivity options making it very versatile.
It is the largest product here but comes with the largest capacity. It has good read/write speeds for a HDD which makes the price a little bit easier to stomach.
G-Technology 1TB G-Drive Mobile Pro SSD (Thunderbolt 3)
The best high end external storage solution
If you're looking for an external hard drive that is ultra fast in performance whilst being light and sleek in design then look no further than the G-Technology G-Drive SSD. It blows everything in this list out the water, but comes at a price.
If you're looking for an ultra fast storage solution then look no further. The G-technology G-drive makes everything else in this list look sloth-like thanks to the thunderbolt 3 connection.
It is expensive, but what you get for the price is unparalleled speed and efficiency which can not be bought cheaply. This is a perfect solution for gamers and business owners that can not be slowed down.
Western Digital My Passport
Another affordable external hard drive from WD
Western Digital have a brilliant ability to design and provide very efficient products at affordable price points. Their Passport may be one of the finest examples of this and is the most affordable option in this list.
Lastly is our value pick which comes to the table from Western Digital who are the masters of quality products at affordable prices.
Compromised have been made here to accommodate it's low price but nothing too serious that would deter me from buying. Its a great little all round product which comes in at a very reasonable price.
What Is An External Hard Drive?
An external hard drive, for those that literally know nothing about technology, is a piece of hardware which is used to store and transfer files. It is exactly the same as your internal hard drive only external and portable.
An external hard drive can be used in a number of different scenarios thanks to their versatility and capacity. Think games consoles, extra desktop media storage, business files on the go and additional games library storage. The options are endless.
You can connect your hard drive to your device in a number of different ways with varying degrees of speed and effectiveness. The most common method is via USB. Modern technology has seen the invention of USB 3.1, USB Type-C and thunderbolt which have seen transfer speeds increase massively.
Whatever the situation, whatever the size and whatever the budget, their is an external storage option out there for you!
How To Buy The Best External Hard Drive?
This is the big question, which hard drive is best for me. It can be a difficult question to answer, so to make it easier, we first recommend establishing what your requirements and needs are. Whether you're looking for additional gaming storage for titles you only play on a semi regular basis, or need a business hard drive which is safe and secure the first point of call is understanding your needs.
Once you've established what you're looking for in a hard drive, the next step is understanding the areas to consider when purchasing a hard drive. Once you learn the in's and out's of hard drive technology you'll be able to make the correct, informed decision on which is right for you.
Things To Consider With External Hard Drives
Things to consider when your buying an external hard drive can be super simple or a bit nightmarish depending on what your needs are.
To make life easier we've put together a list of areas which we feel affect you as a consumer when looking to purchase the correct hard drive.
Storage capacity is probably the first thing you'll think about when purchasing a hard drive. As many will know, games have increased in capacity 10 fold since the likes of duke nukem 3D making many storage's feel small and incompetent. Some of the most popular game titles will now take up 50GB of space (some as much as 100GB) meaning your 300GB/500GB storage is going to be filling up quickly. However this is just gamer specific.
If you're into content design your storage needs will differ depending on the quality of the files your working with. 4K video files are going to eat up the same amount of space just as quick. As a home desktop computer, your picture and music may not be as space sapping as 4k video editing but will eventually achieve the same goal.
The point I'm trying to make is, storage needs are going to vary depending on what you're using the hard drive for.
A gamer might need 2TB as a minimum, same applies for a video content editor. Whereas a family desktop may only require 500GB. Essentially, whatever you want to store, there will be a product for you.
Hard drives range from 250Gb right up to 10TB+ and they vary in price so deciding before hand which size you need might just save you a few bucks down the line.
Read and write speeds are another area which certainly need consideration when looking at hard drives. Whether it be an external hard drive or a static one, read and write speeds vary and directly effect how fast your storage will be at performing tasks.
Both read and write speeds are measured in MB/s. The more data your hard drive can read per second computes to have efficient it can do it's job. You're realistically looking for the highest read/write times possible which still fit within your budget.
The average read/write speed for an external hard drive these days is roughly between 110-150MB/sec. So take that as a rough guideline when looking at which one suits you.
Be aware that this will affect the price of the product so if you're looking to stick to a budget you may have to sacrifice speeds to achieve your goal.
Connectivity plays a major part in transfer speeds which vary depending on the USB type you opt for. The most popular choice is the USB 3 which will in theory should produce transfer rates of up to 5GB/sec. However, in real world situations you're more likely to achieve 300MB/sec.
Other popular connections include USB-Type C and USB 3.1 gen 2 which not every computer has access to. That being said, if you are lucky enough to have the option of these 2 ports you'll have access to much faster speeds and better efficiency.
New technology has seen the invention of Thunderbolt 3 connection which has a maximum speeds of 40Gb/sec which is seriously impressive. The issue with this however, is bottlenecking. You will be bottlenecked well before you reach these speeds as the drive itself isn't able to perform at such speeds. None the less it's a look into the future of what is possible.
RPM speed is something which is likely to be extinct in the coming years thanks to the new technology of solid state drives which no longer uses a disk. RPM, as many will know, stands for revolutions per minute and relates to how fast the physical disk can move in order to find the file you're wanting to use.
In a nutshell, the higher the RPM the faster the hard drive is. Simple. The RPM will effect the cost of the hard drive but not hugely so try and source the quickest possible. Ultimately we would steer you towards SSD which makes use of new technology altogether boasting hugely improved speeds across the board. But we understand that isn't always affordable.
Seagate Backup Plus Slim
- Hard Drive TypePortable Desktop HDD
- Read/Write Speed151MB/sec - 134MB/sec
- Capacities1TB to 5TB
- Solid Read/Write Speeds
- Nice slim refined design with fabric finish
- Good value for money
Seagate have paved the way once again taking the top spot in a hard drive article and it's difficult to argue against it positioning. The sleek design was the first thing we noticed when looking at the Backup Plus Slim as it's been finished with fabric. It comes in a variety of colours so you can match it to your desired device. Always nice.
Performance wise, this hard drive is actually pretty fast boasting read speeds of 151MB/sec and write speeds of 134MB/sec respectively. For the price that's about as good as you're going to get from HDD.
Overall it's a really well designed hard drive and due to popular demand Seagate have released a 5TB version for those needing that little bit extra. This would make a fantastic addition to the $500 pre build which is currently lacking in the storage department.
Samsung T5 Portable SSD
- Hard Drive TypeHigh speed Portable SSD
- Read/Write Speed540MB/sec - 520MB/sec
- Capacities256Gb to 2TB
- Rapid transfer times
- Aesthetically very attractive
- High 4k read/write speeds
- Maximum capacity is 2TB
- Expensive compared to other external options
Samsung's T5 Portable SSD is a really impressive piece of kit, it comes to the table with USB 3.1 which boasts double the speed of regular USB transfer rates. Effectively taking the speed from 5GB/sec to 10GB/sec if you have the relevant USB 3.1 gen 2 port available.
As we all know, with SSD you get massively increased read and write speeds which are displayed in the T5's impressive 500+MB/sec read/write. This is almost 4 times quicker than the quickest HDD in this list and puts into perspective how much more efficient solid state drive's have become.
This comes at a price however, SSD will always be more expensive than it's HDD counter part and for good reason. You pay for quality in the technology universe which is why we make value for money one of our top priorities.
Ultimately the Samsung T5 portable SSD is a great little storage solution which comes in a number of sizes ranging from 256GB up to 2TB. If you're a gamer that's going to be running secondary games off your external hard drive we highly recommend this as an option.
Seagate Backup Plus Hub
- Hard Drive TypeHigh Capacity Portable HDD
- Read/Write Speed188MB/sec - 153MB/sec
- Capacities4TB to 10TB
- Surprisingly quick read/write speeds
- Displays solid price/performance
- Variety of USB connections
- Quite bulky in design
- Noise can be noticeable
This is Seagate's second entry into our best of guide and holds the current high-capacity crown thanks to it's up to 10TB storage capacity. It's not just the size that impressed us though, it also has excellent connectivity boasting a singular USB 3 connector at the rear and 2 USB 3 ports at the front.
The Backup Plus Hub is a desktop hard drive solution meaning it does require power to operate but with that comes a few cool features we think you'll enjoy.
It has excellent read/write speeds for both it's size and price, coming equipped with 188MB/sec read and 153MB/sec write speeds. Noise levels are also pretty low as far as desktop hard drives are concerned so it's gets a thumbs up in that department as well.
G-Technology 1TB G-Drive Mobile Pro SSD (Thunderbolt 3)
- Hard Drive TypeHigh End Portable SSD
- Read/Write Speed2,695MB/sec - 2,289MB/sec
- Capacities500Gb - 1TB
- Lightning quick speeds
- Decent build quality designed to last
- Thunderbolt 3 connectivity
- At the peak of what you will pay for external SSD
By far the highest performing hard drive out of the bunch is the G-Technology G-Drive which comes equipped with thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Thunderbolt 3 for those who didn't read the 'what to consider' section is connection with much faster transfer speeds than the likes of USB 3.1 gen 2 and Type-c. It boasts almost double that of it's nearest rival making it perfect for gamers or businesses that simply can not be stalled.
The G-Drive comes in 2 sizes, 500GB and 1TB, and is fully mobile making it exceptionally good for keeping your most important documents with you at all times. The design is sleek and compact with a classic black and silver theme. The thunderbolt symbol displays the power which this hard drive has to offer.
All this doesn't come cheap however, it is by far the most expensive hard drive in our list due to it's performance levels. What you get for that price however is unmatched performance and efficiency.
Right now we consider this a luxury, but a seriously good one at that. It would make an excellent addition to a silent gaming build as it provides almost zero noise.
Western Digital My Passport
- Hard Drive TypePortable HDD
- Read/Write Speed115MB/sec - 113MB/sec
- Capacities1TB to 4TB
- Value good value
- Nice design that comes in several different colours
- Good variety of sizes
- Not the quickest speeds
Finally we come to our budget pick which is in the shape of Western Digital's My passport. Don't be fooled by the price tag though, there's plenty of pro's to this hard drive which start with it's excellent value for money.
The WD, as we'll call it, comes in 4 sizes ranging from 1TB up to 4TB and has average read/write times of 115/113MB/sec. This is where the negatives stop however. The WD feels extremely robust and well built as far as budget hard drives go and is extremely quiet. The slim, all black design is both sleek and stylish and would pair with consoles superbly.
Overall the Western Digital My Passport would make an excellent addition if you're looking for a cheap additional storage solution which is going to stand the test of time.
That's the breakdown of our best external hard drives this 2019. We've tried to cater to everyone's needs by choosing the best products in each of the specific categories.
Hopefully you've found the article informative and it's given you a better idea of which hard drive to go for. My personal favourite for all round use has to be the Seagate Backup Plus Slim thanks to the size variety and price. However, like non-external hard drives, the difference between SSD and HDD is massive and one we definitely feel is worth the investment.
Which hard drive best suited your needs? Why not leave us a comment below letting us know, alternatively, if you can think of something that would be better suited, feel free to leave suggestions as well!