External Hard Drives

Best External Hard Drives

In today’s digital world, having the best external hard drives is essential for storing and backing up all your important data, whether it’s documents, photos, videos, or more. With a multitude of options available in the market, choosing the right one for your needs can be quite a task. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the various factors to consider and the top picks for the best external hard drives in 2023.

Understanding External Hard Drives

External hard drives are portable storage devices that can be connected to a computer or other devices via a USB or other connection. They come in various sizes, capacities, and connection types and can be used as backup storage or to extend the storage capacity of your device.

Hard Drive vs. SSD

One of the primary factors to consider when buying an external hard drive is whether to opt for a traditional hard drive or a solid-state drive (SSD). Hard drives have spinning platters and moving parts, making them more prone to damage from physical shocks. However, they offer more storage capacity for a lower price.

On the other hand, SSDs have no moving parts and use flash memory for storage. They are faster, more durable, and consume less power than hard drives. However, they come with a higher price tag.

Desktop vs. Portable Hard Drives

External hard drives can be classified into two main types – desktop and portable.

Desktop hard drives are typically larger and designed to stay on your desk or in a server closet. They usually require a dedicated power cable and offer higher capacities than portable drives. Desktop drives can have one or multiple platter-based mechanisms inside and are ideal for storing large media collections or for use as a backup repository.

Portable hard drives are smaller, lighter, and designed for mobility. They use laptop-style 2.5-inch mechanisms and get their power from the computer via the interface cable, eliminating the need for a separate power cable. Portable drives are ideal for carrying your data with you and transferring files between devices.

Top Picks for the Best External Hard Drives in 2023

Here are some of the top choices for the best external hard drives available in the market today. These selections are based on various factors such as capacity, performance, features, and price.

1. Western Digital My Book

Best Overall Desktop Hard Drive for General Storage

  • Capacity: Up to 8TB
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Pros: Large capacity options, three-year warranty
  • Cons: Requires external power adapter

The Western Digital My Book offers a deep well of affordable storage for your photos, music, videos, and more. With capacities ranging up to 8TB, this desktop hard drive is an ideal choice for general storage needs.

2. Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub

Best Desktop Hard Drive for Gamers

  • Capacity: Up to 16TB
  • Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 1
  • Pros: Immense capacity options, low cost per gigabyte, tasteful RGB lighting, mature software suite
  • Cons: Single-drive design can’t approach basic SSD speeds, could use more ports

The Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub is perfect for backing up and storing all the games you could ever hope to own. With options for up to 16TB of storage, this desktop hard drive offers an excellent balance between capacity, performance, and price.

3. WD Black P10 Game Drive

Best Portable Hard Drive for Gamers

  • Capacity: Up to 5TB
  • Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 1
  • Pros: Sturdy, compact design, good grippability, appealing gamer aesthetic
  • Cons: USB Type-C cable not included

The WD Black P10 Game Drive is a portable hard drive designed with gamers in mind. With a capacity of up to 5TB, it can serve as a simple, stylish repository for your massive game library at a reasonable price.

4. LaCie 2big RAID

Best Desktop Hard Drive (RAID) for Creative Pros

  • Capacity: Up to 16TB
  • Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • Pros: RAID 0, RAID 1, or JBOD support, five-year warranty with data rescue recovery, hot-swappable drives
  • Cons: High price per gigabyte, need to download utilities to manage the drive, Kensington lock slot secures only the case

The LaCie 2big RAID is ideal for videographers and creative professionals who handle tons of data. With its two hot-swappable high-capacity drives, this desktop hard drive offers maximum flexibility and data protection.

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5. LaCie Rugged RAID Shuttle

Best Portable Hard Drive (RAID) for Creative Pros

  • Capacity: Up to 8TB
  • Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Pros: Flat, easily mailable chassis, RAID 0 or RAID 1 support, bundled cables for USB Type-A and Type-C
  • Cons: No dust and water protection for Type-C connector, high price per gigabyte due to ruggedization and RAID design

The LaCie Rugged RAID Shuttle is perfect for creative professionals who work in the field and produce large amounts of data. It offers the choice of high capacity and fast performance (in striped mode) or half the capacity with data mirrored on the second disk.

6. ADATA HD830 External Hard Drive

Best Rugged Portable Hard Drive for Windows Users

  • Capacity: Up to 5TB
  • Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Pros: IP68 resistance to water and dust, highly crush-resistant chassis, aggressive price for capacity and build, two color options
  • Cons: Heavy and bulky, only waterproof and dustproof when USB cover is closed, could use a Type-C cable

The ADATA HD830 offers superior protection and value for the money in a rugged external platter-based drive. With its durable design and competitive price, it’s an excellent choice for Windows users who need a rugged portable hard drive.

7. SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD

Best Rugged Portable Hard Drive for Mac Users

  • Capacity: Up to 5TB
  • Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Pros: Rugged design with rubberized sheath and port cover, attractive design, ideal for macOS, bundled USB-C and USB-A cables, competitive pricing
  • Cons: Lacks software suite and hardware-based encryption, requires reformatting for use with Windows

The SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD is a stylish and cost-effective portable hard drive for Mac users. It provides some protection from the elements but lacks a software suite and hardware-based encryption.

8. iStorage DiskAshur DT2

Best Security-Minded Desktop Hard Drive

  • Capacity: Up to 18TB
  • Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Pros: Immense capacity, low cost per gigabyte for a security-centric drive, AES-XTS 256-bit full-disk hardware encryption, multiple government certifications, easy for authorized users to unlock
  • Cons: No protective case or ruggedness features, low score in everyday storage tasks

The iStorage DiskAshur DT2 is a desktop hard drive designed for those who need top-notch security for their data. With capacities up to 18TB and a host of security features, this drive offers excellent value for the money.

9. LaCie Mobile Drive (2022)

Best-Designed Portable Hard Drive

  • Capacity: Up to 5TB
  • Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • Pros: Sleek design, available in various capacities, LaCie Toolkit software for backup, restore, and mirroring, three-year access to data recovery service, compatible with Windows, Macs, and iPads
  • Cons: Relatively pricey, low overall test score

The 2022 edition of LaCie’s Mobile Drive features a cool, corrugated design and is an excellent option for those who value aesthetics in their portable hard drive. It’s a little costly, but it’s easy to set up and use, and comes with a handy backup tool.

10. Seagate FireCuda Beskar Ingot External Hard Drive

Best Collectible Hard Drive

  • Capacity: 2TB
  • Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 1
  • Pros: Mandalorian design motif, customizable RGB lighting, status light, includes three-year data recovery service subscription
  • Cons: Limited to 2TB capacity, no USB-C connectivity, price premium for Star Wars trappings, one-year warranty

The Seagate FireCuda Beskar Ingot External Hard Drive combines storage with a touch of Star Wars fandom. Decorated with motifs from “The Mandalorian,” this 2TB external hard drive offers capable performance and a unique design.

Things to Consider When Buying an External Hard Drive

When choosing the best external hard drive for your needs, consider the following factors:

  • Capacity: Depending on your storage requirements, choose a drive with a capacity that suits your needs. Higher capacities usually come at a higher price.
  • Interface: Check the connection type of the drive and make sure it is compatible with your device. USB and Thunderbolt are the most common interfaces.
  • Desktop vs. Portable: Choose between a desktop drive for higher capacity and a portable drive for mobility.
  • RAID support: If you need redundancy or extreme speed, consider a RAID-enabled drive.
  • Ruggedness: If you plan to carry the drive around frequently, consider a rugged hard drive with features like water and dust resistance.
  • Design: If aesthetics are important to you, choose a drive with a sleek and stylish design.

By carefully considering these factors and researching the top picks mentioned above, you will be able to find the best external hard drive that meets your storage needs in 2023.

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