Best External Hard Drive To Transfer From Mac To Pc

iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone/iPad or Mac can automatically upload and store the entire library in iCloud to aces photos and videos from all your devices. However, as we all know, there is only 5GB free for iCloud at the very beginning and the photo library can quickly eat up space. Therefore, many users will choose to transfer photos from iCloud to external hard drive to free up iCloud space. Today, on this page, we will show you how to transfer photos from iCloud to external hard drive on Windows PC and Mac. Meanwhile, at the end of this page, we also recommend EaseUS MobiMover Free to help you transfer photos from PC or Mac to your iPhone if you have carelessly deleted some valuable images on your iPhone and won't get them back.

How to download photos from iCloud to PC and Mac

Step 1: Backup Data in HFS+ Partition on Mac. Just transfer all useful files out from the external hard drive to other devices on Mac. Of course, if you have a backup already, ignore this step. Step 2: Create a FAT32 or exFAT Partition on Windows PC. Nov 22, 2021 When you're working with lots of digital files the best external hard drives and solid state drives (SSDs) are an absolute godsend. It's a good idea to free it up your computer's space by clearing out old files, and if you're working on an SSD-based laptop then you're likely to fill it up quickly, so a handy external drive makes it easy to offload unwanted data and get things moving faster. The distinctive feature of this Thunderbolt external hard drive SSD is an anti-slip surface. The Samsung X5 Portable SSD delivers up to 40Gbps speeds and employs the NVMe interface to faster process heavyweight data. However, this external hard drive better works with Thunderbolt 3 Macs and is rarely compatible with Thunderbolt 3 Windows computers.

Transfer photos from iCloud to PC or Mac is easy by following tips below. Except for pictures downloading, you also can delete all iCloud photos if you don’t need them anymore instead of saving them to another place.

Nov 07, 2018 Drag the Photos Library from the external drive to the Pictures folder on your new Mac. If you should encounter permission errors, when you try to drag the library, enable the 'ignore Ownership' flag for the external drive. To change this flag select the external drive in the Finder and open the Info panel with 'File Get Info'.

1. Open a browser on your PC or Safari on Mac, and go to

2. Log into your Apple ID account username & password and access the main interface like below.

3. Click on Photos in the main interface. Then, choose All Photos album.

4. Press Ctrl on your PC or Command on Mac and choose multiple or total photos in iCloud.

5. Go to the right upper corner and click the Download button in cloud shape and click Download to save the photos on your Windows PC or Mac.

How to transfer photos from PC/Mac to external hard drive

After you have downloaded the photos from iCloud on your Windows PC or Mac, you can start to transfer them to your external hard drive.

1. Plug in your external hard drive to your computer via a USB cable.

2. Find the photo files saved from iCloud and copy them to your external hard drive with ease.

How to transfer photos from Mac/PC to iPhone

If you have deleted some important photos from your iPhone and want them back. You can choose to use EaseUS MobiMover Free to help you transfer files from PC/Mac to iPhone, including photos, music, contacts, videos, playlists, ringtones, and books. Besides, MobiMover Free also allows you to transfer photos from iPhone to PC/Mac at one lick and sync data between two iOS devices without any intermediate operations.

Download and install EaseUS MobiMover Free on your computer by clicking the download button below, then follow the steps to copy photos from computer to iPhone within minutes.

Step 1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC, run EaseUS MobiMover, and choose 'PC to iDevice'. Then, click the 'Select Files' to continue.

Step 2. On this interface, you can select unlimited photos to transfer. Then, click 'Open' to move to the next step.

Step 3. Check the genres you have selected. If the folders/files you selected cover other supported categories, you can transfer them all together with photos from the computer to your iPhone.

By AppleInsider Staff
Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 04:40 pm PT (07:40 pm ET)

Storing an entire collection of photographs in Apple's Photos app on macOS can be a great way of keeping precious memories in order, but there are occasions when it needs to be stored on an external hard drive. AppleInsider explains how to shift the Photos Library to a new location while keeping all images safe and intact.

There are multiple reasons to move the Photos Library away from its default location, with the primary reason being to free up a Mac's storage. Images and videos can quickly consume storage, especially for prolific photographers shooting RAW files, so moving the library to an external drive can be the best option for those with internal drives that are close to their capacity limit.
Putting the library onto external storage also provides the option of sharing the library with others directly, by disconnecting the drive from the host Mac and plugging it into another. This is also useful for those who wish to use the same library across multiple desktops, like an iMac and a MacBook Pro, if they need to regularly access and change the held files.

Pre-move Backup

Before attempting any file transfers, it is highly recommended to make backups of all images, as there is always the possibility of file corruption or another mishap, and keeping a backup is always a good idea for just these occasions. An up-to-date Time Machine backup is ideal, but it is best to make sure the external or remote drive used for the backup is different to the one you wish to use for the Photo Library storage itself.
It may also be worth using cloud storage services to hold the images, such as Apple's own iCloud Drive, Dropbox, and Google Drive. It might also be an idea to try out iCloud Photo Library, a service that automatically uploads your photographs to iCloud, which can be shared to iOS devices and other Mac desktops using the same Apple ID.

Finding the Folder

Before you can make the move, you need to find where the Photo Library is actually located. In most instances, it should appear in the Pictures folder of your Home directory, labelled as 'Photos Library,' potentially alongside other similar libraries for Photo Booth and iPhoto, the predecessor to Photos.
In the event it isn't at the default location, you can find it by opening up the Photos app, clicking Photos in the Menu Bar, then selecting Preferences. At the top of the

Best External Hard Drive To Transfer From Mac To Pc Windows 10

General section will be a line marked Library Location, which will show where it is located, as well as an option to Show in Finder, which will spawn a new Finder window at the right directory.

Importing from iPhone

First, connect your iPhone to your Mac with a Lightning to USB charging cable. A popup will ask if you want to trust your computer, tap 'Trust' and enter your passcode.
Now open Photos on your Mac, where your iPhone will appear under the Devices tab on the left side of the app. From here, you can browse through all of the photos or video in your iOS Camera Roll.
At the top of the page, click on Library, and you can choose to make a New Album for the import. If you wish to erase the photos off of your iPhone after importing, check the box below the Import button before clicking it.
If you chose that option, you will see your photos being deleted off of your iPhone in real-time after importing is completed. Your iPhone photos are now successfully backed up onto your Mac.

The Move

If it is still running, quit Photos by selecting Quit Photos under the Photos Menu Bar, or by pressing Cmd+Q.
Connect the external drive that you wish to use for storing the library, and once it appears on your desktop, drag the Photos Library away from its current location within the Finder and on top of the external drive icon. If you want to place the Photos Library in a specific place within the new drive, open the external drive in a second Finder window, navigate to the correct directory, and drag Photos Library to the right place.
The amount of time it will take for the Photos Library to transfer to the new location will vary on a number of factors, including the amount of images that need to be transferred, the speed of the external drive for transfers, and the transfer method itself. Generally, transfers to an external drive over Thunderbolt 3 will offer the fastest potential speeds when compared to Thunderbolt 2 and USB-based drives.

Accessing the Library

After the file transfer has completed, you will need to inform Photos of the new location. To do this, hold the Option key and click the Photos icon in the dock to launch the app.
This will bring up a new Choose Library window, with a list of libraries available for you to access. Click Other Library and navigate to the location on the external drive that holds the now-transferred Photos Library, select the Library, and then click Open.

At this point, Photos will open and use the library located on the external drive.
While this process can be used to reconnect with the Photos Library, it can also be used to switch between multiple Photo Library archives. This is handy in some cases, such as if a friend or colleague provides their Photo Library on a portable drive for you to browse and use for work.
Note that in order to access your photographs, the external drive needs to be connected to the Mac before entering Photos. The Photos app will warn you if the Library is not accessible in this case, with the solution being to quit Photos and reconnect the drive before relaunching Photos.

Designating the System Photo Library

If you want to use the moved Photos Library - or one of a collection of the Libraries - with a number of Apple services and features, such as synchronization with iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Photo Sharing, and My Photo Stream, you will need to designate it as the System Photo LibraryDrive. This also applies if you wish to have the photographs used by other apps, or to set an image as the desktop background.
Generally, the initially created Photo Library will be the System Photo Library by default, but actions such as moving it or designating another Library temporarily with the label can stop a Photos Library from being used in this way.
To re-enable it, hold down the Option key and open Photos, then select the Library you want to use as the System Photo Library. Once opened, select Photos

Best External Hard Drive To Transfer From Mac To Pc Software

in the Menu bar then Preferences.
Within the General tab of the Preferences window, you should see the current Library's path under Library Location, and two buttons: the previously discussed Show in Finder and Use as System Photos Library. Click the second option to set it as the System Photo Library.

Clearing Space

Transfer Photo Library From Mac To External Hard Drive Mac

One of the main aims of this project is to free up space on your Mac's internal drive, and since the Photos Library resides elsewhere, it is likely to be in your interests to delete the locally-held version. Make sure that this Library is no longer required, and that the version on the external drive is complete and functional before considering deletion of the local copy.
Use Finder to navigate to the directory where Photos Library was located, as discovered in the 'Finding the Folder' section above.

Transfer Photo Library From External Hard Drive To Mac

Right click on the Photos Library and select Move to Trash.
To completely remove it from the Mac,

Transfer Photo Library From External Hard Drive Back To Mac

open the Trash from the Dock or Finder window, and click the

Transfer Photo Library From Mac To External Hard Drive Case For Laptop Hard Drive

Empty button on the top right of the window, followed by selecting Empty Trash

Transfer Photo Library From Mac To External Hard Drive Best Buy

in the confirmation dialog.

Included in this guide:


Backup Plus 5TB external hard drive


Elements 12TB external hard drive


G-Drive Professional 18TB external hard drive


HD710 PRO rugged external hard drive


Rocket XTRM-Q 4TB USB / Thunderbolt external SSD


MiniStation Extreme external hard drive


My Cloud Home 8TB external hard drive


BLACK 5TB P10 Game Drive external hard drive


Desktop 4 TB FIPS 140-2 encrypted external hard drive


Rocket Nano 2TB external SSD
(Image credit: TechRadar)

You may not believe how crucial it is to invest in the best external hard drives you can find. Whether you probably have extremely important, and irreplaceable, files or large projects to keep safe, an external drive can easily back those up. That way, if your laptop, Chromebook, or PC kicks the bucket, you have those files safely tucked away on that drive.

There are some fantastic secure drives and portable SSD drives that add some extra security to your files, and have exceptionally fast read and write speeds. Still, the best external hard drives are more reasonably priced, which means you can spend on getting more storage space. And, they might be the perfect solution if you don’t need the fastest speeds or something that can survive getting knocked around in the bottom of a bag.

Because you can take the best external hard drives wherever you go, and can store a ton of data, these drives are perfect for backing up important files and taking them on the go.

Best external hard drive 2021

Backup your NAS drive with this cloud storage solution
IDrive, the cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. Mac hard drive to windows5TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.'>
Backup your NAS drive with this cloud storage solution

Backup your NAS drive with this cloud storage solution
IDrive, the cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 5TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.

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 utmost 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.

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, end up running out of space and buying another one. However, you also don’t want to pay over the odds for storage space you'll never need.

In addition, the best external hard drives must also be dependable and rugged, so you can safely store your data without worry. The best external drives must also be light enough to carry in your bag, with large capacities so that you can keep your data safe when traveling.

Best overall: this 5TB hard drive delivers excellent value for the price

Interface: USB 3.0
Weight: 0.58lbs (265g)
Reasons to buy
+Affordable and portable+Available in several colors+Wide compatibility
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks Thunderbolt support-No built-in encryption/security features

For the price that until recently used to get you four, Seagate offers five TB of storage in a small device that fits in your pocket and can be used across many platforms. It measures 7.62cm by 11.43cm and is only 1.9cm thick (3 x 4.5 x 0.75 inches) and weighs slightly over 200 grams (about half a pound).

One differentiating factor is the offer of a 1-Year Data Recovery Warranty, although we should stress that they are not magic if your drive is wrecked. You should always backup your data. Yes, even your backups should have redundancy if you're serious about it. How good is your backup if when you're trying to restore it you find the drive is dead?

Speaking of 'backups of backups', this drive is available in several colors so you might want to buy it in red if you want it to stand out in a drawer full of black HDDs, or use different colours to separate different projects while keeping track of 'which drive contains what'. Beats reading stickers.

Its 5Gbps USB 3 interface makes it very fast and compatible with everything. Seagate would like you to install its 'Dashboard' software for Windows and Mac OS, yet the drive works perfectly fine on any OS without it. Space-thirsty XBOX One X users will love to fill with games. It has no security or built-in encryption, but there are plenty of more expensive drives that provide that functionality. Want to know more?

Read the full review:Seagate Backup Plus 5TB

Best price per terabyte

Capacity: 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, 14TB, 18TB
Dimensions: 4.80 x 13.49 x 16.58cm
Reasons to buy
+Large capacity+Most storage for the buck+Vertical format saves desk space+Great air flow
Reasons to avoid
-Not portable-External power adapter is required-Risky with kids around

WD has designed its Elements drives with an attractive case that stands vertically. This seemingly trivial fact not only saves desk space but also keeps the drive's internals cooler. Its top and bottom vent holes.

In the guts of the WD Elements you will find a 3.5-inch, desktop SATA drive capable of 6Gbs transfer rates with the added USB 3.0 to SATA interface. When stacked vertically and with plenty of air gap around, the drives should last much longer than internal ones packed close to a hot CPU or stacked horizontally on top of one another.

The product is pre-formatted with NTFS making it ready to use with Windows computers, a handy gesture considering that if you attempt to do a a full-format -as opposed to a 'quick format'- on a capacity as large as 12TB you might end up waiting all day for it to finish. Mac users, of course, can just plug and reformat the drive, after a little wait it will work as well.

As a desktop drive inside an external enclosure, the WD Elements are not USB-port powered drives, each comes with its own wall wart style power adapter about the size of the average cell phone charger -with a barrel connector.

While 12 terabytes should be enough storage expansion to keep you happy for a long time and store plenty of backups, work files or entertainment, larger versions are available:, capacities start at 3TB and go up to four, six, eight, ten, 12, 14, 16 and up to a whopping 18TB. If you’re looking for the most storage for your money, look no further.

3. SanDisk G-Drive Professional 18TB external hard drive

Best for Mac: Fast external storage that can be daisy-chained

Interface: USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 (x1) Thunderbolt 3 (USB-powered)
Weight: 2.6lb (1.18kg)
Reasons to buy
+Five year warranty+Daisy chain up to six units using ThunderBolt+Fast 7200 RPM drive+AC-powered or USB-powered+Formatted for Mac
Reasons to avoid

If you take an enterprise hard drive and put it inside a durable aluminum case with a portable, stylish design you would get a great external hard drive. But if you added one USB-C port capable of working at 5 GBps and two Thunderbolt ports plus you pre-formatted the drive to be macOS ready, then you have the ultimate Mac external hard drive.

The G-Drive Pro delivers just that by using a fast 7200 RPM class Ultrastar HDD capable of up to 195 MB/s inside its attractive aluminum case. The 18TB version is the most impressive of a family of high capacity drives that start at 4TB. Its pair of Thunderbolt ports means you can hook six units to one another with a single cable going to a Mac (or PC).

The drive comes with an AC power adapter, but can function without it as well when powered via USB 3.2/Thunderbolt, making the power adapter optional and increasing the portability of the drive. Thick as a pair of books, it is small enough to to carry in a backpack without the AC adapter and the tangled mess of wires you get with other drives.

A Thunderbolt 3 cable is included and SanDisk also provides a generous 5-year warranty, making the case for choosing any other drive rather hard.

Best for outdoors

Interface: USB 3.0
Weight: 0.86lb (0.39kg)
Reasons to buy
+Speedy+Very rugged silicone case+Good cable management
Reasons to avoid

With tiny moving parts, Hard disk drives (HDDs) are fragile. All your data can be inaccessible in a second just by a mishap. Most of the failures can be attributed to damaged disk surfaces caused by physical shocks; being hit, falling over or dropped. Sudden shocks, especially while in use, can cause the head to crash or damage the platter. Just exposing it to the elements can ruin your data and your day. That's why if you use external drives while outdoors a regular external hard drive becomes a risky proposition.

An IP68-rated device can withstand dust, dirt, and sand, and can be submerged up to 1.5m under water for 30 minutes. Sounds good? Well, that's the kind of certification rating the ADATA HD 710 Pro packs up its sleeve. The firm went above and beyond to protect HDD internals with a silicone casing, triple-layered construction and vibration sensing technology so it can withstand falls from 1.5m. We reviewed the earlier models when they were more expensive and less attractive, here.

It’s fast with a 5Gbps USB 3.1 interface and with its 4TB capacity it’ll suit the needs more than enough for the average mobile worker on the go. The firm provides this model in four colours which makes separating projects by color-coded drives a breeze, believe me you don't want labels in an outdoors environment. It's 'wrap-around' system means the cable is always with the drive so it doesn't tangle or get in the way. Super useful when taking the drive with you in a backpack.

The icing on the cake comes in the form of ADATA's three year warranty.

5. Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 4TB USB / Thunderbolt external SSD

Best for speed: a pocket speed demon available in QLC and TLC versions

Interface: USB Type-C, USB 3.2, Thunderbolt 3
Weight: 4.55oz (129g)
Reasons to buy
+Super fast+Portable and lightweight+Supports Thunderbolt and USB 3.2+Available in QLC and TLC versions
Reasons to avoid

With an aluminum enclosure that ensures durability while providing great heat dissipation and a very portable size plus super fast speeds the aptly named Rocket leaves little reasons not to choose it. It is available in capacities of up to 16TB and with your choice of flash memory type. It supports the latest fastest standards like Thunderbolt plus you don't need to mess with ports as it's got only one: a USB-C connector in the back that automatically switches between TB3 and USB 3.2 modes.

Besides its superb compatibility with Windows, Mac and Linux, it offers blazing fast transfer speeds of up to 2700 MB/s when connected to a computer supporting Thunderbolt 3 or higher. If however you connect it to a computer with a USB 3.2 port, the speed drops down to a still very speedy 900 MB/s.

The performance of flash based storage also depends on the kind of flash memory used: QLC flash memory is best suited to read-intensive workloads, while TLC flash memory is best suited to write-intensive workloads. Sabrent wisely offers this drive in both QLC and TLC versions, letting you decide based on your work and usage requirements. The price difference is only $100 at time of this writing between QLC and TLC for the 4TB drive, and the TLC version offers speeds of up to 2400 MB/s and 1800 MB/s R/W.

It boasts an integrated temperature and health monitoring system that should prevent it from getting too hot. Something that worried owners of its 'Nano' sibling.

6. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme external hard drive

Best for wireless security: a tap from your smartphone is all that's needed to lock and unlock the drive

Interface: USB 3.0
Weight: 0.66lb (0.30kg)
Reasons to buy
+Portable+Lock/unlock via NFC+Hardware encryption+No power adapter to carry around+Three year warranty
Reasons to avoid

Water-resistant and shock-proof, the MiniStation Extreme NFC from Buffalo isn't indestructible, but it's a nice change from some of the dangerously flimsy external hard drives available.

The rugged chassis stores a 2.5-inch laptop hard drive enclosed in shock-absorbent bumpers designed so the HD can survive drops from up to 1.2 meters (4 feet). It won't survive being dropped out of a window, but it'll be fine being knocked off a table. The IP5X certification means it is almost dust-proof, and the IPX3 certification means it can handle a water spray at up to a 60-degree angle.

A key feature is its 256-bit AES encryption with near-field communication (NFC) capability, allowing it to be unlocked with a simple touch of a smartphone. With NTFS pre-formatted, it can be used immediately with a Windows computer. Mac users can format it into HFS+ if they wish so, of course. Better yet, if you format it as exFAT, it will support Mac, PC and the Playstation 4 and 5 game consoles all at once.

The drive comes preloaded with Buffalo's 'ModeChanger' utility for Windows and Mac that switch it from Open to Secure and vice-versa. Mode switching takes less than a minute and the drive must be reformatted after that.

The LED lights at the front of the drive light up green for USB 2.0 and blue for USB 3.0 connection. Its wraparound USB cable -permanently attached at one end saves you from losing the cable but if you need a longer cable you'll have to use a male/female cable in between.

Read the full review:Buffalo MiniStation Extreme

Best for personal cloud: Access your data from wherever you are

Interface: USB 3.0 and Ethernet
Weight: 2.3lb (1.1kg)
Reasons to buy
+Can stream video+Supports Windows, Mac, Android and iOS+USB port available to plug in other external drives
Reasons to avoid

While cloud storage is convenient, your data is at the mercy of your wallet. If you stop paying, your cloud account is gone and your data sinks into oblivion with it. The solution is to make a hard drive sitting at your premises its own cloud-accessible server.

Western Digital is no newcomer to this field, we reviewed one eight years ago. The latest iteration has the same vertical format, but with a minimalistic and stylish design that combines white and some textured silver at the bottom. It has great internal air flow thanks to ample vents at the top and bottom of the case. At its rear panel you will find a 5Gbps USB 3.0 port to plug an external drive or flash drive and a Gigabit Ethernet port.

Setup is as simple as plugging the power adapter, connecting the included network cable to the RJ45 socket and to your broadband router. Then you create a 'WD My Cloud' account and associate it with the Android or iOS app -although that’s not mandatory. You can also access its contents by loading into a web browser, from there you can download, upload and manage content, including streaming of photos and videos saved on your My Cloud device. Synchronization features with Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox are also provided.

With a single internal hard drive, it has no redundancy. You can plug into it an external HDD of identical capacity or purchase the “Duo' version that comes with dual, mirrored drives from the factory. WD's two-year worldwide warranty is the cherry at the top .

8. WD BLACK 5TB P10 Game Drive external hard drive

Interface: USB 3.0
Weight: 0.51lb (250g)
Reasons to buy
+Ample storage+Compatible with all game consoles+Pre-formatted as ExFAT
Reasons to avoid

It's not a shipping container but it looks like one, a black rectangle with ribbed sides and hex screws. In includes the familiar small activity LED of many external drives. It features a USB 3.2 Gen-1 interface at 5Gbps connected via a USB Micro-B connector at the back side. A 18-inch (45.7 cm) A-to-Micro-B is also included.

What sets this drive apart aside from the gaming aesthetics is its total compatibility. Since it comes pre-formatted with the ExFAT file system in addition to being compatible with PCs and Macs it's plug-and-play compatible with the Sony PlayStation 4, PS5 and the Microsoft Xbox One.

Inside it there's a 2.5' 5,400 rpm SATA drive so don't expect SSD speeds, but 140MBps at most. This is intended mainly for storing downloaded games to move back and forth to your console's internal storage. For PC users, the WD Drive Utilities app and the WD Security app can be downloaded to set passwords, check the drive's health and perform maintenance tasks.

It is also well suited as long-term multimedia storage hooked up to a PC or large-screen smart TV from Sony or a recent Samsung as well - some smart TVs support NTFS and FAT32 or NTFS and ExFat, very rarely do they support all three file systems.

WD sales literature will tell you this stores 150 games, but game sizes vary widely. The firm puts the average size per game at 36GB while some reviewers claim it's 80GB nowadays. In any case, it's a lot of storage to expand your gaming system.

9. Aegis Desktop 4 TB FIPS 140-2 encrypted external hard drive

Best for security: unrivaled encryption and anti-hacking counter-measures

Capacity: 2TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, 16TB, 18TB
Dimensions: 11.43 x 18.28 x 3.81cm
Reasons to buy
+FIPS 140-2 certification+Brute-force defense and self destruct+Locks if unplugged from USB+Compatible with an OS+Software-free setup+Solid Aluminum enclosure
Reasons to avoid
-Not USB powered-Only one year manufacturer's warranty

If you deal with any sensible information leaving it in an unencrypted drive is risky. While encryption can be done in software with a high degree of fine-tuning, nothing beats a purely hardware-based solution that frees you from the software-configuration complexities.

The Aegis Desktop 4 TB drive from Apricorn is an encrypted external hard drive available in capacities from 2TB up to 18TB that comes in a sturdy aluminum casing 4.5”x7.2” and 1.5” thick. Its Padlock button panel at the top resembles the familiar cashpoint or ATM layout with 0-9 digits plus Cancel and a Lock/Unlock key. Three clear indicator lights show its status: locked (red), unlocked (green) or Admin Mode (blue). All the configuration is software-free.

There is a perforated ventilation panel on the front of the drive, on the back there’s its USB 3.0 port, power connector, an On/Off switch, and a lock slot for anchoring the drive to a desk. It comes formatted with NTFS file system but you can use any file system. Internally it uses a 3.5-inch encrypted hard drive, and the circuitry doing the encryption is covered by a layer of epoxy coating protecting it from physical attacks.

After initial set up with a 7-digit to 16-digit code, operation is worry-free and configuration-free. If you lose your password there is no way to access the drive, and if the internal drive is removed and inserted into another PC its contents are unreadable as the data is encrypted before being sent to the drive for storage.

It has handy features like unattended auto lock, and the drive can auto-lock as soon as the USB connection is lost -e .g. if the USB cable is removed. It is exceptionally suited for scenarios where software-based encrypted devices can't function such as diagnostic machinery or any embedded system.

Best for physical size: speedy and half the weight

Interface: USB 3.1 - Gen 2
Weight: 2oz (56.7g)
Reasons to buy
+10 Gbps USB 3.1 - Gen 2 interface+Aluminum casing+Bus powered+Supports Mac and PC
Reasons to avoid

Sabrent's Rocket Nano drive comes in a fantastic aluminum case resembling a very large thumb drive and is powered by a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port which doubles performance over a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port. It is powered via the USB port and both USB-C and Type-A cables are included. It is also totally OS-agnostic, it works on Windows and Mac OS.

It is handy to put in your pocket -sadly there doesn't seem to be a way to attach it to a keyring- for PC work on the road. The rocket Nano measures 2.75' tall and weighs just 2 ounces, making it a great option for storing backups when upgrading a NVMe SSD. Benchmarks show impressive 967 MB/s read speeds, so this device is a good option to boot operating systems on systems with limited internal storage but supporting 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2.

Due to its passive cooling using the case itself for cooling some reviewers have complained that after extensive use the units gets hot to the touch. Might not pose a problem for people leaving it plugged in but caveat emptor. So far, SSDs can't get much smaller and lightweight than this. Maybe it’s got a niche for use in controlled temperature environments.

The best external hard drive: How we choose them

The biggest deciding factors when it comes to data transfer rates are the connection the drive uses, and whether it is a standard hard drive or a solid state drive (SSD). Many external hard drives utilize USB 3.0 connections. However, for faster speeds, you'll want USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 or 4 connections. You'll also need to ensure your PC or laptop also has a compatible port.

You'll also need to think about how much storage space you need. The best external hard drives offer a range of storage space. We'd recommend 1TB to start, as that gives you plenty of space to store your files without costing too much money. That’s certainly good enough for most users.

However, if you’re dealing with large files – such as high-resolution photos and videos – in your typical workload, you should consider buying one with a bigger storage space. Luckily, many external hard drives offer terabytes (TB) of storage space for not much more money.