The hard drives in the new 2018 Mac mini are PCIe which means they are very fast, but also expensive. Unlike previous models, you cannot upgrade the internal hard drive. It is soldered in. But thanks to the USB-C interface on the new Mac Mini, an external SSD drive is now a good option.
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If there is one thing I am obsessed with when it comes to technology, it’s my pictures. I keep them extremely organized and culled. I am equally as fanatical about getting them backed up. When it comes to music, movies, and TV shows – I can rebuy anything I lose due to hard drive failure. When it comes to pictures of my family, no amount of money can recreate them if I lose them. Over the years, my strategy has evolved as services have changed. I’ll do my best to keep this article up to date as things change in the future.
iCloud Photo Library
I wrote about iCloud Photo Library vs. Google Photos a few months back if you want to look at the differences. No, iCloud isn’t free, but I think it’s worth the money if you are using all Apple devices. I pay $10 per month for the 2 TB plan. I am only using around 250 GB right now, so I have plenty of room for growth.
For backup #1, I am using iCloud Photo Library. This service puts a copy of all of my media on Apple’s servers, and that means if I lose my iPhone, iPad, or MacBook Pro, I can sign into a new device using my iCloud account, and all my media will be there. One thing to remember is that iCloud Photo Library is a sync service. Syncing means that if you delete a photo on one device, it’ll be deleted elsewhere. For that reason, I don’t consider iCloud Photo Library a true backup.
If your Mac can hold all of your media, I recommend having iCloud Photo Library download all of your media. This can be done in Photos > Preferences > iCloud. By keeping full resolution copies offline, I can enable a few more backup mechanisms.
Time Machine Backups
Because I keep a copy offline, I can use macOS’ Time Machine app to create another copy of my entire library. External hard drives are incredibly inexpensive these days (2TB and 4TB models can be bought for less than $100, and here is a USB-C model if you need it). I keep a drive at work and one at home. The one at work is backed up daily. The one at home gets backed up on the weekends. I am now up to four copies (my laptop, iCloud Photo Library, and two external drives).
Going back to my original recommendation of keeping an offline copy of your iCloud Photo Library, I also think having a service like Backblaze makes a lot of sense.
Backblaze will automatically back up all your files including documents, photos, music, and movies. Unlimited files. Unlimited file size. Unlimited speed.
For $5 per month (or $50 per year), you can backup all of the contents of your computer (including any external drives that get plugged in at least every few weeks). Backblaze’s app for Mac is native (no Java), and it’s extremely fast. If you’ve got a fast internet connection, Backblaze can saturate your connection if you want (how fast it backs up can be customized).
One thing that makes Backblaze different from something like iCloud Photo Library is that it’s a one-way backup. It’s not trying to sync data between devices, but instead, take what is on your Mac and back it up.
Sign up for a free trial of Backblaze here.
Even if you are all in on Apple hardware and services, an excellent final backup might be something like Google Photos. The free version downscales your photos slightly, but if you are already keeping all of your copies in iCloud Photo Library, Google Photos can be just a fail-safe to all your other methods.
I upload my media from the iPhone app. So as I add new pictures to my library from my Mac (or take Photos on my iPhone), the Google Photos app uploads whenever I open it on Wi-Fi. If you have a vast library, it’ll take a while to back it up, but you’ll be left with yet another complete copy of your family photos.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is the security of your online accounts. Getting locked out of your online accounts. Apple, Google, and Backblaze all offer two-factor authentication. Enabling this allows you to add another layer of security. You can use an app like Authy or 1Password to generate the codes for Google and Backblaze. Apple’s method includes using another trusted device to verify new devices (using your iPad to verify a new iPhone, etc.). I advise to use unique passwords on all of your accounts and use two-factor authentication whenever available
By deploying this system, I have ended up with multiple backups in multiple locations (home, work, and offsite with Backblaze). You don’t have to do everything, but I would advise to not just rely on iCloud Photo Library. You should be doing a 3–2–1 backup strategy. 3–2–1 means that you have three copies in 2 location, and 1 of them is offsite.
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Welcome to our guide to buying the best external hard drive or backup hard drive in 2019. When looking to buy the best external hard drive for your needs, there are quite a lot of things you need to consider - and this guide will help you.
Plus, with Amazon Prime Day 2019 rapidly approaching, there's a good chance that we're going to see some major price cuts to the best external hard drives out there. If you do find a killer deal for any of the drives on this best external hard drive list, then you can buy in full confidence that you're getting a brilliant external drive for your money.
When buying the best external hard drive for your needs, you need to make sure you get a device that can safely and securely store your important files. Reliability is of the upmost importance here, as you do not want to buy an external hard drive that fails on you - making you lose all your important backups.
The best external hard drives will also be quick - either because they use SSD (Solid State Drive) technology, or because they use the latest connectivity technology, such as USB-C.
Best External Hard Drive For Mac Photos And Videos
The biggest deciding factors when it comes to data transfer rates is the connection the drive uses, and whether it is a standard hard drive or a solid state drive (SSD). Many external hard drives use USB 2.0 connections, but for faster speeds you'll want USB 3.0 or ideally the newer USB Type-C connection. You'll need to ensure your PC or laptop also has a USB Type-C port.
Find the best external hard drive for your PC or Mac. Welcome to our list of the best external hard drives money can buy in 2018. With the best external hard drives, you never have to. The Apple USB Super drive is a sleek and compact optical drive capable of reading and burning CDs and DVDs.Only slightly bigger than a CD case, this external DVD burner for Mac is easy to carry and use.
Details: External drive; plays and burns DVD, CD Much like the Patuoxun above, LG's GP57EW40 is an inexpensive, lightweight unit that can be picked up for a good deal less than Apple's SuperDrive. I have a new Mac Mini - no DVD reader/writer so need to get one. I'm in London UK. I can buy off amazon, ebay, whatever. Need to know a good compatible external DVD - the usual Mac one seems to have a bad reputation for breaking down in posts I've read.
You'll also need to think about how much storage space you need. The best external hard drives offer a range of capacities. We'd recommend 500GB to start with, as that gives you plenty of space to store your files without costing too much money.
However, if you deal in large files, such as high resolution photos and videos, then you may want to consider buying a bigger drive, with external hard drives offering terabytes (TB) of storage space.
Buying the best external hard drive for your needs involves figuring out how much space you need. You don't want to buy an external hard drive that's too small, and end up running out of space, but neither do you really want to pay over the odds for storage space you'll never need.
So, we've listed the best external hard drives money can buy in 2019. Each external drive (or backup hard drive) on this page has been carefully picked to make sure it offers fast data transfer speeds – essential if you move lots of big files regularly – while also offering sturdy build quality so you don't have to worry about them breaking and losing your files.
When buying the best external hard drive for your needs, there are certain things you need to take into account. For example, you'll want to make sure you have a drive that offers fast data transfer speeds.
In this guide we list the best external hard drives with both traditional hard drives and faster (and more expensive) solid state drives.
Still, the best external hard drives are also dependable and rugged, so you can safely store your data without worry. The best external drives will also be light enough to carry in your bag, with large capacities so that you can keep your data safe when travelling.
There's a huge range of external hard drives on offer, so we've put together this list of the best external hard drives to help you find the perfect one for your needs.
1. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive
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Capacity: 2TB Interface: USB 3.0
Today's best Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC 2TB deals
An external hard drive you can buy without breaking the bank, Buffalo's MiniStation Extreme NFC could be your match made in heaven.
With compatibility for both Mac and Windows machines, the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC is very flexible, and comes with a rugged case that's dust and water resistant, along with a built-in USB 3.0 cable.
Not only is your data kept protected from knocks and drops with the rugged shell, but it's also got 256-bit AES security features and NFC (Near Field Communication) features as well.
Essentially it allows you to unlock the drive to get to your files quickly and easily by tapping the supplied NFC card onto the drive's body. Pretty neat!
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- This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro
2. Western Digital My Passport Ultra 4TB external hard drive
Comes with Encryption and a long warranty
Capacity: 4TB Interface: USB 3.0
The latest generation of the Western Digital My Passport Ultra range of external hard drives has landed, coming in sizes from 1TB to 4TB. It features cloud storage and 256-AES encryption, along with WD's own software suite.
It is a good performer when it comes to data transfer speeds but doesn't come near the top of the leaderboard. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't reach the top speeds of solid state external drives, but for external hard drives based on traditional HDDs, this is the drive to consider.
3. Samsung T5 SSD external hard drive
The best external SSD of 2018
Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB Interface: USB Type-C
If you'd rather have an external hard drive that took advantage of solid state drive (SSD) speeds, then the Samsung Portable SSD T5 is definitely the best external hard drive for you. Samsung has a brilliant reputation for external SSDs, thanks to products like the T3, and the T5 builds on its predecessor by adding a fast USB Type-C connection that ekes out every last drop of performance from the solid state drive inside. Of course, it's also backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 if your PC doesn't have USB Type-C. It's expensive, but it's well worth the cash.
Read the full review: Samsung Portable SSD T5
4. Adata SD700 External SSD
Capacity: 256GB, 512GB or 1TB Interface: USB 3.0
The Adata SD700 will suit those looking for a rugged storage device that can provide ample capacity without costing too much. It performs superbly well and remains the only SSD we’ve seen that is IP68 rated.
Thanks to the solid state drive that resides in this external hard drive, it's a lot faster than external drives that use traditional spinning hard drives - so you're getting great transfer speeds as well as rugged protection.
It also comes in capacities up to 1TB, so you don't have to worry about missing out on storage space just because it uses an SSD - this drive really does hit all the right notes.
5. WD My Book Duo 4TB external hard drive
Capacity: 4TB Interface: USB 3.0 x 2
If you're looking for the absolute largest capacity external hard drive, then the WD My Book Duo 4TB is the one to get, offering a huge 4TB (you can also get versions with up to 20TB) of storage space over two hard drives.
If you don't mind sacrificing some of the ample storage space you can set the drives up in a RAID array, so you have file backups of your files should one of the drives die.
This USB 3.0 drive has many of the features of a fully-fledged NAS device (including a high price), and if you have a router with a USB 3.0 port you could use this as a network attached storage device in its own right.
The device, which comes with two-year warranty, has 256-bit AES hardware encryption, and automatic backup software (WD SmartWare Pro).
Worth noting that the enclosure used is fully serviceable and that WD ships the drive already pre-formatted for Windows users (NTFS).
6. Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt external hard drive
Best Thunderbolt external hard drive
Capacity: 1TB, 2TB Interface: Thunderbolt, USB 3.0
If you have a device with a Thunderbolt port, then this is a great option, as it provides twice the speeds of standard USB 3.0 drives. It's also not especially expensive compared to other Thunderbolt drives. The price is kept down due to its use of a traditional hard drive, rather than an SSD, which limits the potential speeds. It also comes with a USB 3.0 port for people without access to Thunderbolt.
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the WD MyBook Duo
7. Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB
Capacity: 5TB Interface: USB 3.0
Today's best Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB deals
If you want to combine speed and capacity, then the Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB is definitely worth considering. It comes in a range of sizes up to 8TB and it beats the competition when it comes to read and write speeds as well.
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On top of this storage and speed, you get a decent amount of peace of mind thanks to Seagate's lower than average failure rates, especially in bigger capacity hard drives.
You also get backup software, and the drive is compatible with both Windows and Macs, though it's formatted for Windows out of the box unless you go for a Mac-specific hard drive - though these are more expensive.
8. Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro external hard drive
Capacity: 2TB Interface: USB 3.0 and Wi-Fi
Today's best Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro deals
Even if we had mixed feelings on past versions of the My Passport Wireless, the 2016 “pro” variant of the external HDD restores faith in the Western Digital name. The design, for one, has been overhauled and no longer resembles the My Passport Ultra or My Passport for Mac. Instead, there’s now a more premium feel to the My Passport Wireless Pro. It resembles an external DVD drive, but considering the onboard SD card slot, don’t worry about getting it confused with anything else. For photographers, this will make the Wireless Pro stand out.
For everyone else, there’s a massive 6,400mAh battery built into the device. This lets the drive be used completely free of wires over 2.4GHz or 5GHz channels. When it’s wired up, however, don’t expect cutting edge connection tech, as the My Passport Wireless Pro uses only USB Type-B to Type-A. Completely absent is the latest and greatest USB-C connection.
Where the My Passport Wireless Pro compromises on affordability, it’s able to benefit in just about every other area. Of course, not everyone needs a wireless hard drive or SD card support, but for those who do, it’s almost essential.
Read the full review:Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro
9. LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 4TB
Capacity: 4TB Interface: USB-C
Today's best LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 4TB deals
You may have stumbled upon the LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive when perusing the Apple website for USB-C accessories. There’s a reason for that: the Porsche Design ships with both USB Type-C to Type-A and USB Type-C to Type-C connectors, making it a worthy candidate regardless of your setup.
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It’s expensive for an external hard drive, don’t get us wrong, especially if you’re in the market for the top-end 4TB option. On the other hand, this is an HDD that could theoretically output speeds of up to 5Gbps, if it weren’t hindered by the limits of SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) technology.
Comprising five 800GB platters in a 15mm form factor, the LaCie Porsche Design Mobile is an excellent challenger to the Seagate M3, though it’s notably bigger in both weight and dimensions.
Sure, it packs an extra convenience factor in the form of USB-C, but it should be noted that the Porsche Design Mobile is still limited to USB 3.0 speeds. Plus, even an aluminum finish can’t prevent it from clashing with your Rose Gold MacBook. Nevertheless, LaCie’s offering is the best USB-C external HDD money can buy, at least for the time being.
Read our full review:LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 4TB
10. iStorage diskAshur 2TB external hard drive
Best for security
Capacity: 2TB Interface: USB 3.0
Typically, iStorage hard disks cater best to governments and multinational organizations around the world, for good reason too – they offer tight security like no other drives around.
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If someone tries to tamper with your iStorage drive, you can configure it to self-desturct. What's more, the data is encrypted by the 256-bit AES protocol, with multiple forms of protection in place to ensure the bad guys don't get in no matter how persistent. When you consider all that extra security, the prices won't scare you away either.
Sure, it's still expensive, four times the price of an equivalent 2TB drive, and unlikely to be the most nimble performer. But, you're paying for a product that's virtually uncrackable. Bear in mind, though, you'll get no help from the manufacturer if things go awry and you lose your password.
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Read our full review: iStorage diskAshur DT
Gabe Carey and Matt Hanson also contributed to this article