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The Top External Hard Drives: A Comprehensive Buying Guide

Some Of The Top External Hard Drives Around!

Let’s face it – finding the most reliable external hard drive can be a challenge! And whether you are looking for the best 1TB external hard drive or the best external hard drive for photographers – the search is often the same!

We have both good and bad experiences with external hard drives. After trying out a cheaper one years ago (and losing everything to a small drop) the one Bruce uses now has been rolling along for years! Oh, and he uses a PC – not a Mac, so keep that in mind as we go through the post!

So, to help you out – we’ve put together this little buying guide to understanding the specs and differences between different makes, models, and details. You won’t have to head to Walmart for these bad boys! Ready? Let’s get to exploring the top external hard drives.

Things to Consider when Buying an External Hard Drive

Before you buy, here are a few of the things you will want to consider about any new hard drive.

Purpose. Let’s start off with purpose. Now, obviously, you are buying an external hard drive to store files. That’s a given. What we are saying you need to consider are:

  • What are you storing? File size and type can dictate the hard drive you get.
  • How often are you transferring? This goes back to transfer speed.
  • How much are you sending across devices? Also related to transfer speed but also capacity to handle the workload.
  • Where are you transferring it? One location – or on the go? This is the difference between a portable external or a stationary one.

Hard Drive Size: This is an important one. The general rule of thumb is to buy bigger then you think you will need. Why? Because even though the price will be higher – there is nothing worse than filling a hard drive and needing to offload files from it/clean it out.

If you are a photographer, sometimes, this is not an option since all content is valuable – regardless of the age. If you have files that age and CAN be deleted, then sure – but most files aren’t like that.

Files add up over the months and years, and 8 times outta 10 we’re left with cleaning out or buying another hard drive. Bruce made this mistake years ago and now has a 2TB that is more than enough for his workflow. That even accounts for increases in the coming year or two.

Details/Accessories. Do you care about color? What is the outside casing made of? Does it come with an external cushion/rubber bumper? How many cords come with it? What’s the capacity for use across different sized ports? These are all question you should be asking before you buy.

Windows/Mac Compatibility: This is important. You need to buy an external hard drive that is compatible with your operating system. Since Windows and Mac are different, this can dictate the drive you buy. Some external drives come with the capability to work with both out of the box (Western Digital (WD) products, for example). Some Windows drives can be reformatted to use with a Mac – but not all. 

Price/Quality. Generally, the price isn’t much associated with the quality of the external drive but the size of the drive when it comes to memory. That said, yeah, you will pay more for faster connection/transfer specs and for shock-absorbancy. So, now that we’re all thinking about externals, let’s get to the buying gallery!

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Top External Hard Drives

Since we have a PC, we are going to focus on external hard drives that are formatted out of the box for Windows. That said, you can read the questions answered to determine if your choice can be reformatted/partitioned to work with a Mac.

Toshiba Canvio Advance 1TB

Order The Popular Toshiba Canvio 1TB

You might not think of Toshiba being a front-runner in the external hard drive world – but here we are. The Canvio not only has a great design but great reviews to go with it.

  • 1TB – 3.0 USB port, comes in up to 3 TB
  • Compact design in lots of colors
  • Storage Back up software downloadable (with auto sync backup)
  • Password lock feature downloadable software

Touro S 1TB 

Get Your Touro S 1TB

When you are doing your external hard drive research, always look at all the different companies. You might have missed Touro if you were just looking for a Western Digital product, for example.

  • 1TB storage – also comes in 500MB
  • 3.0 USB port at 7200RPM
  • Aluminum enclosure in sleek colors
  • Cloud account optional for backup

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Seagate Expansion 2TB

Order This Seagate 2TB

One of the most trusted names in the hard drive game is Seagate. They specialize in both external drives that are portable but also hubs – as you will see below in the last product!

  • 2 TB model, comes in 4TB and as low as 1TB
  • Great design + external pattern
  • USB 3.0 transfer, compatible with USB 2.0
  • Comes with case (extra charge but worth it)

Western Digital Elements 2TB

Get This 2 TB Hard Drive

One of the classic brands in the hard drive world, Western Digital, has been making a name for itself for years. Their products are often regarded with a high reliability – but always do your homework since models can differ greatly!

  • 2 TB of storage for those files of yours.
  • Compatible with BOTH Mac and Windows
  • USB 3.0 standard, compatible with 2.0
  • Light and portable

Seagate Backup Hub 6TB + Adobe CC Trial

Order Your Seagate 6TB

Back to Seagate for the last one – this is a hub-style external hard drive and not a portable one given the weight of the unit. Still, a hub has its usages and so we wanted to include it for those who may be looking for lots of storage!

  • 6TB Hub for tons of storage – also comes in 4TB – 10TB
  • Formatted for Windows, can be formatted to work with Mac as well
  • Other charging ports available on the device
  • Not as portable since it’s a hub, but great for storage at the home office
  • Schedule automatic backup to protect files
  • Comes with a 2-month trial of Adobe Creative Cloud – this means Lightroom – which we’ve written about as a top productivity app!

And there you have it – some of the top external hard drives on the market. In the end, there are so many different brands, specs, sizes, and overall functionalities that you really should do research before you buy.

That said if you aren’t picky and just need a place to dump extra files, any of these will do! What’s your experience with external hard drives? Any brands you love or dislike? Let us know on Twitter @boardandlife to discuss!

As always, Stay Curious,

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Buying Guide for finding the perfect hard drive