External drives are quick and easy to use, and they’re usually extremely portable. Transferring files from one computer to the next can be much faster with the help of an external hard drive. They’re often used to store backup files or files too large to keep on a primary computer.
- Best Backup Drive For Mac
- Portable Ssd Drive For Mac
- Best External Ssd For Imac
- Best External Storage For Mac
- Best 8tb Ssd External Mac Drive Pro
Nov 22, 2021 Best external hard drive and SSD for 2021: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox. Our current top picks for the best external hard disk drive and external solid-state drive are below. But the 8TB is the. Dec 10, 2021 Seagate BarraCuda 8TB. SAMSUNG 870 QVO SATA. Sabrent Rocket Q 8TB. Inland Platinum 8TB. U32 Shadow 8TB External SSD USB. Oyen Digital 8TB SSD. VectoTech Rapid 8TB External SSD. The VectoTech Rapid 8TB External SSD USB-C Portable Solid State Drive is perfect for taking on the go. So, these were the 10 best external hard drives for Macbook Air and Pro. Every disk mentioned in this article has its own pros and cons, we have tried our best to list out the good and bad in every product. For Mac users, external SSD can be really helpful for storing content and transferring it to a different place. Oct 22, 2021 Largest Capacity External SSD - U32 Shadow 8TB. Best Budget External SSD - PNY Elite 480GB. Fastest External SSD - Samsung X5 2TB. Best External SSD for Gamers - Seagate Storage Expansion Card. Apr 23, 2021 The best 8TB external hard drive to buy is the WD 8TB My Book (view at Amazon). It's relatively compact for the size, being housed in a 3.5-inch unit. It has fast transfer speeds, backup software for both WIndows and Mac, and it includes a three-year warranty. For a more budget-friendly option we like the Seagate Expansion 8TB (view at Amazon.
If you find that you’re constantly running out of space — or your overall computer performance is beginning to suffer — an external hard drive can be a very safe and secure way to move files around.
External hard drives vs. flash drives
External hard drives are basically hard drives (HDD) or solid state drives (SSD) that are wrapped in their own protective casing and connect to your computer from the outside as opposed to the inside. Flash drives are external drives, but they aren’t as fast, and they don’t usually store as much space as their larger external hard drive relatives. Some external hard drives get power directly from the computer connection. Others will need to be plugged into the wall. There are varying levels of storage capacity in an external hard drive, and the overall size of the HDD depends on the model.
For Mac users, buying an external HDD already formatted for your system makes getting started much easier. This is because when you initially connect an external HDD made for Mac (to a Mac computer), you won’t be required to format it before you begin transferring files. External HDDs that are not specific to Macs may also work, but you’ll need to reformat them first.
Even though Mac computers are capable of reading hard drives that are formatted for Windows, if you intend on using your external HDD as a bootable disk or want to use it to backup files with your Mac’s Time Machine, you must format it to be entirely Mac compatible.
Your HDD will need to power itself by either an AC power cord or through its data cable that plugs into your computer. There are obvious benefits to getting power directly from your computer, but hard drives that are larger and more powerful may need an independent power source to optimise efficiency.
In terms of storage space, 1,000GB is equal to 1TB (terabyte). Typically, 1TB is enough for 250,000 MP3s or 200,000 digital photos. This is also how much space you’d need for about 120 HD videos.
Common storage sizes for external HDDs include:
Portable hard drives are designed for travel. They’re lighter, thinner, and will likely have extra protection for the casing. They’re made to easily slip in and out of a laptop case or book bag, taking up very little space. The best external hard drives should be able to withstand an occasional drop or two.
Some external hard drives are meant to stay relatively stationary. They tend to be bigger in size and don’t have as much protection against drops. These drives tend to pack a slightly larger punch than smaller, more portable HDDs.
This is a common connection type for many external hard drives. USB is very compatible with Mac machines, especially those with older versions. Its max transfer rate is 10 Gb/s. Most (but not all) Mac computers and will have at least one USB port that supports external memory.
This is a newer form of USB connection that delivers more power and slightly faster speeds for Mac users. New hard drives will come with the proper connection cords to ensure compatibility. The max transfer speed provided by USB is 20 Gb/s.
Thunderbolt connections are the latest in data and power transfer and are popular amongst Mac devices. Its strength is in its speed and power as well as its ability to chain more than one device to a single computer. Its max transfer speed is about double that of USB-C at 40 Gb/s.
External hard drives for Macs: prices
Overall storage space will typically play the main role in the final price you’ll pay for an external hard drive.
$50 and under
In this range, you’ll find quality external drives that hold 500GB to 1TB of storage for Mac computers.
$60 to $80
If you’re looking for anywhere between 2TB and 3TB of storage space, you’ll be spending within this price range.
$100 to $150+
You won’t be able to find many quality HDDs that hold 4TB of space for under $100. As you get closer to 8TB of storage, you’ll be looking at spending $150 or more.
For those who want hefty amounts of storage — 10TB or more — you’ll need to invest $200 or more.
Avoid unplugging your hard drive before unmounting it from your computer. Disconnecting your HDD while it’s transferring or updating can cause files to become damaged or even lost forever. It can also put unnecessary stress on your computer and the hard drive itself.
Even though many external hard drives are built for portability, you’ll still want to take extra care of them so they last. If possible, look to keep them in a travelling pouch or case for greater protection. This will undoubtedly extend the overall life.
Q. How long will files last on a quality external HDD?
A. Typically, the files will remain until you delete or destroy them — intentionally or by accident. Generally, your external HDD for Mac should last anywhere between three to five years. A good indicator is how long your manufacturer's warranty is for, as studies have shown that they are fairly accurate when it comes to HDD lifespan.
Q. Can I use my HDDs with my Mac and Windows computer at the same time?
A. Technically, yes. Mac-compatible hard drives will come formatted for Mac right out of the box. If you want to use it for Windows also, you’ll have to partition your drive and create the needed space to support your windows files or disks.
Game consoles today come with 1TB drives (equivalent to approximately 1,000GB of hard drive storage), but the drives get full quickly if you aren't good about taking games off the drive as you add more. And most new computers don't come with much internal hard drive storage space unless you're splurging on a high-end model -- they usually have 256GB or 512GB. One way to manage it all is to find the best external hard drive and SSD for your needs.
A traditional hard drive or mechanical drive that uses 'old' hard drive technology (mechanical platters and a moving read-write head to access data) is adequate for the majority of users, thanks to speedier USB-C and USB 3.0 (as well as 3.1/3.2) interfaces. Prices have dropped significantly in the last few years, with even the high-capacity external hard drive models tipping the scales at 5TB but costing just over $100. A solid-state drive doesn't have moving parts and the external SSD drive has up to four times faster read and write speed, but it costs a lot more per gigabyte.
Most of the options on this list of the best external hard drive models will work across platforms -- whether you have a Windows PC, Mac computer, PlayStation 4 or Xbox -- so long as the drives are correctly formatted for the right platform. But a lot of times they'll be designated as working with a specific platform out of the box and sometimes come with backup software that's platform-specific. Unless otherwise indicated, all the PC drives mentioned here are compatible with Windows but can be formatted for a Mac. Many of them include cables or adapters to accommodate USB-C and USB-A ports. But if they don't happen to be included, you can easily buy dongles for about $10.
And remember: A single backup doesn't cut it. Ideally, you'll want redundant backups either off-site or using cloud storage for key data and large files (such as family photos) in case of theft or fire. And make sure to encrypt your data, too.
One important note for console gamers is that the newer PS5 and Xbox Series X (and Series S) consoles are much more restrictive about using external drives. The PS5 can store and play PS4 games from an external drive, but not PS5 games; the Xbox Series X can store Series X games, but you'll have to transfer them to the main SSD to actually play them. The Xbox Series X does offer a proprietary Seagate-made storage expansion card, but it costs $220.
With those caveats noted, our current top picks for the best external hard disk drive and external solid-state drive are below. These (or nearly identical models with less storage capacity) have been used or anecdotally tested by CNET editors. We'll update our list of the best external hard drives and SSDs as we test new products.Sarah Tew/CNET
Western Digital, which owns SanDisk, sells its WD My Passport SSD as well this SanDisk External Portable SSD for basically the same price. I like the design of this model a little better and it's technically ruggedized with an IP55 rating, meaning it can withstand a sustained spray of water. It's also shock-resistant and has a USB-C interface.
The cheaper 'older' version has transfer speeds up to 550MBps while the next-gen version nearly doubles that speed with up to 1,050MBps (just over 1GB per second) and only costs slightly more for the 1TB version. The price for the 2TB model of this external drive jumps to $280 for the newer version.
Your speed will vary if you're moving a mishmash of files to or from the USB drive, but when copying a single large file you should be able to get close to those fast transfer speeds.Amazon
If you're looking for a high-capacity external drive for your Xbox One, the WD Black P10 2TB portable hard drive is a good value at around $80 (The 5TB version is about $140). It gives you portable storage for your coveted game collection. This external drive also comes with a digital code that gives you one month of Microsoft's Game Pass Ultimate if you're a new subscriber. There's also a standard version of the portable hard drive, which also works with PCs and the PS4 for slightly less (it's missing the Xbox branding but is otherwise the same drive). The portable drive can deliver speeds up to 130MBps.Amazon
For $115, you can get an external drive so you don't have to worry about managing the storage space on your PS4 (you can play games without lag directly from the portable hard drive). The 2TB version of the Seagate Game Drive is about $30 less at $80. But you might as well spend the extra dough and get 4TB for this portable external hard drive.
Note that Seagate makes an SSD Game Drive For Xbox but not PS4. The storage drive costs around $200 for 1TB.David Carnoy/CNET
You can use any SSD with your PlayStation PS4/PS5 or Xbox One, Xbox One Series X or Series S to store PS4 and Xbox One games and other content and pick up a nice speed bump when loading games compared with a standard external hard drive like the WD Black P10 above. Note that with the Xbox Series X, you can only archive Xbox Series X and S games to this drive, you can't store full games on it (the Seagate Storage Expansion Card is required for that). The PS5 has the same restriction -- you can only store full PS4 games on external drives.
On its surface, then, the WD Black D30 game drive isn't all that special (it has up to a 900MBps transfer rate, which is basically what a console's USB 3.1 connection caps out at). But it's really its design that sets it apart. It's thicker and more rugged-looking than your typical SSD or flash drive and includes a detachable stand with rubber feet to keep it from moving around wherever you place it. This is an NVMe SSD (Non-Volatile Memory Express) that provides efficient performance and interoperability.It essentially looks like a mini hard drive, which is kind of cool.
The standard version works with PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and One X and S consoles, as well as PCs. The Xbox version shown in the image simply includes an Xbox logo and a month of Game Pass Ultimate, a $15 value, for $20 more. Alas, only new subscribers can use the included code, so if you already have a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you're really paying the extra $20 for the logo.
The 1TB version starts at $150 while the 2TB version starts at $270.
Best Backup Drive For MacDavid Carnoy/CNET
SanDisk makes the Extreme Portable SSD (see above) that delivers speeds up to 1,050MB per second transfer rates. But if you're a photographer or videographer looking for an even faster SSD drive for your PC or Mac, the Extreme Pro Portable SSD is the way to go for extra storage space. The latest version is capable of delivering up to 2,000MBps (2GBps) read/write speeds if you pair it with the right equipment (in order to get the maximum speed, you need a host system that supports USB Gen 3.2 Gen 2x2 speeds).
Compatible with Macs and Windows PCs, it's technically ruggedized with an IP55 rating, meaning this can withstand a sustained spray of water. It's also shock-resistant and has a forged aluminum chassis that acts as a heatsink. It has a USB-C interface and includes both USB-C to USB-C and USC-A to USB-C cable. The 1TB version is around $230 while the 2TB model jumps to $364.Amazon
The Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB is one of the more compact non-SSD drives, making it the best external hard drive for those who are looking to save some space. And at less than $60, this backup drive is also a good value. This Seagate external hard drive can also be connected to Macs that have a thunderbolt port. Available in a few color options, it also comes in 1TB ($55), 4TB ($93) and 5TB ($115) versions, but the higher-capacity drives are thicker.WD
This drive is about as future-proof -- and backward-compatible -- as they come. You pay a bit of a premium over the standard WD drive, but this newer model offers a USB-C connection, meaning it has the latest and greatest USB cable connectivity for Macs and PCs. No USB-C on your system? No problem: Western Digital also tosses in a USB-A to USB-C adapter, so this storage device will work with pretty much any computer straight out of the box.Amazon
Portable Ssd Drive For Mac
The WD My Book desktop drive is available in up to a 18TB configuration, but the 8TB is the best value at around $200. Unfortunately, it's so popular it's out of stock.
Read our WD My Book (Fall 2016) review.Amazon
Best External Ssd For Imac
After Seagate acquired LaCie several years ago, LaCie became the company's premium brand and this external HDD 5TB model can be found on a lot of video editors' desks (including plenty at CNET). This rugged hard disk drive uses a USB-C interface, is compatible with Mac and Windows PCs and is water and shock-resistant. A 4TB Thunderbolt with USB-C version is available for Thunderbolt-equipped Macs for about $200.
Best External Storage For MacDavid Carnoy/CNET
Best 8tb Ssd External Mac Drive Pro
Crucial's X6 external SSD is considered entry-level because it's just not as fast as higher-end models, which can offer read/write speeds that are twice or even four times as fast (the Crucial X8 is the step-up model). Even so, the X6 is about 4x faster than a non-solid-state drive, with transfer speeds of up 540MBps for the 1TB and 2TB versions and up to 800MBps for the new 4TB version, which has one of the lowest prices for a 4TB SSD at around $490.
Comparatively, the 4TB SanDisk Extreme SSD, which has a transfer speed rating of up to 1,050MBps, costs $700. So you're basically looking at a $240 savings if you're willing to take a bit of a speed hit (again, at least the 4GB version of the Crucial X6 has been bumped up to 800MBps from 540MBps).
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