Best External Hard Drives 2020 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

There are a lot of things to check while picking an External Hard Drive apart from good looks because the data you’re going to store in it might be precious. So that’s why we thought of creating this outstanding Best External Hard Drives 2019 Buyer’s Guide.

Best External Hard Drives

People tend to confuse and make wrong choices when picking an external hard drive for various needs.

As said earlier, good looks don’t determine the efficiency of a particular hard drive. Many factors determine the best.

Like USB Interface technology, Rotation Speed of the hard drive, Storage Capacity, Hard Drive Technology and Size of the Hard Drive.

Best External Hard Drives 2019

Not every Hard Drive that made our list fits everyone needs. Some can be expensive, and some can be affordable. Some can be portable, and some cannot and needs an additional power supply so pick according to your needs.

So Here’s the final list of the Top External Hard Drives of 2019

ProductSpeedPortsWeight 
Samsung T5
Portable SSD
504 MB/s Read
401 MB/s Write
USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C0.1 lbCHECK PRICE
LaCie Rugged500+ MB/s
Read & Write
Thunderbolt +
USB Type C
0.9 lbCHECK PRICE
WD My Book174 MB/s Read
173 MB/s Write
USB 3.03 lbsCHECK PRICE
Seagate Backup Plus Hub165 MB/s Read
156 MB/s Write
USB 3.02.34 lbsCHECK PRICE
CalDigit Tuff130 MB/s Read/WriteUSB 3.00.6 lbCHECK PRICE
Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC110 MB/s Read/WriteUSB 3.00.6 lbCHECK PRICE
Seagate Backup Plus124 MB/s Read
121 MB/s Write
USB 3.00.3 lbCHECK PRICE
LaCie Porsche Design150 MB/s Read/WriteUSB Type C 0.7 lbCHECK PRICE
WD Black
My Passport
125 MB/s Read
113 MB/s Write
USB 3.00.53 lbCHECK PRICE
WD Elements116 MB/s Read
116 MB/s Write
USB 3.00.3 lbCHECK PRICE

Samsung T5 Portable SSD – Best Ultra Portable External SSD

T5 was a huge success for Samsung. Currently, Samsung is the leading brand in the realm of SSD business

Either Internal or External, Samsung’s SSD’s are the top-notch performance beasts out there.

The major selling point for them is they’re not overpriced for the performance offered by them.

Samsung T5 Portable SSD Review

Unlike other SSD’s Samsung’s gives a better dollar to performance value.

Coming to the product – Samsung T5 which got recently updated with a newer controller and other internals is somewhat slower concerning theoretical throughputs.

But this one offers better 4K IOPS which is a good thing, and we’ll get more about this in the later part.

T5 is the best ultraportable external SSD out there on the market. Hands Down! Weighing at around 0.1 pounds, there’s no alternate found to tackle this.

Features & Performance
Samsung T5 Portable SSD offers consistent speeds both in read and write department.

  • Peak performance of the Drive is 540 MB/s, but in our testing, we’re able to see 504 MB/s Read, 401 MB/s Write
  • All Metal design of the drive makes you forget about going for rugged alternatives that offer damage safety
  • I would say it’s not just portable because it’s ultraportable. Samsung T5 Portable SSD fits in the middle of your palm. It’s not as long as an M.2 SSD and not as large as a traditional SSD.
  • Weighing at 0.1 pounds the drives footprint looks a U.2 SSD Drive enclosed in an ultra-strong case.
  • Comes with a USB Type C to C and USB Type C to A cables and offers an optional AES 256-bit hardware encryption
  • 3-year warranty period is a major plus point for a super fast SSD at an affordable price.

As an SSD consists of no moving parts, you no need to worry about the drive getting hot after long use. It’ll get hot but not as much compared to a traditional external hard drive and also consumes less power while delivering peak performances.

Pros
  1. Ultra Portable – Smallest External Hard Drive with an SSD.
  2. USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C – Latest Standard for peak performances at 540 MB/s.
  3. Price is almost similar to an internal SSD despite being an portable drive.
Cons
  1. USB Type C is not adapted to all devices as of now.
  2. Sequential Transfer Speeds are a little bit slower than the previous model. Not much of a con but if you’re using the drive to only dump large data then this can be one.

Samsung T5 Portable Hard Drive comes in various sizes starting from 250GB up to 1TB. I would suggest picking a minimum of 500 GB drive because having less free storage on an SSD drive might slow the transfer speeds. It’s called as SSD Provisioning, and it’s a whole new topic for another day.

LaCie Rugged – Best Rugged Hard Drive

LaCie’s Rugged made top #2 on our list due to its wide variety connectivity offerings. This drive offers speed, protection and the best compatibility

It might not be as fast as the Samsung’s T5 but it’s still fast and the customer can pick whatever model he prefers for his needs.

But with greater protection and compatibility comes greater bulkiness.

LaCie Rugged Review

Yes, this drive weighs a lot compared to #1 nearing to a pound.

Features & Performance
LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt USB-C Portable Hard Drive can offer speeds up to 500 MB/s with it’s SSD Option and USB Type C port model

  • Not only it’s Drop, Dust and Water Resistant but it’s also Crush resistant. Maybe that’s why it’s named as Rugged
  • Supports Thunderbolt to take advantage of that USB Type C Gen 2 offering and can offer speeds upto 500 MB/s on SSD model
  • Offers Awesome compatibility, You can choose either USB 3.0, Type C and Type C with Thunderbolt while buying one
  • Best-in-class 3 Year Warranty and lives upto the claims of the brand about its ruggedness
Pros
  1. Has SSD Offering with peak performances of about 500 MB/s
  2. Water+Dust+Crush Resistant with brand support
  3. Higher Capacities are available to buy up to 5 TB
Cons
  1. Weighs nearly 0.9 pounds
  2. Not Good Appealing

If you choose the HDD model in this variant, your speed might be limited to 130 MB/s only.

WD My Book – Best Desktop External Hard Drive

WD My Book is the first and best Desktop External Hard Drive that made it to our list of 10 Best External Hard Drives

Desktop external drives are not portable, and their size is comparatively larger to the portable drives

But this size of theirs gives an edge for them to perform at greater performances at cheaper prices offering larger storage.

WD My Book Review

Don’t plan on taking this Hard Drive with you. There’s a reason why it is called Desktop External Hard Drive. To accommodate those 1 or 2 3.5″ bulkier drives the whole device packs some weight

To be precise this drive weighs 3 pounds and needs external power to make it work so not so portable after all

Features & Performance

WD My Book Desktop Hard Drive is not portable for sure but the 3.5″ drives are cheaper and faster

  • In our tests, we got around 174 MB/s Read, 173 MB/s Write with this Hard Drive.
  • It offers Dual Drive option, Where you can get an additional bay to mount extra 3.5″ drive for future upgrades saving the cost of buying an extra hard drive
  • Despite being popular to offer 8 TB out of the box, You can get it up to 20 TB directly from the store
Pros
  1. Transfer Speeds are considerably high compared to the competitors
  2. Has Dual Drive option. An extra HDD bay can be used to expand the storage of the drive in the long run.
Cons
  1. A little bit expensive than competitors
  2. Can’t charge other devices via USB like some Desktop External Hard Drives.

This drive can work as an auto backup machine using WD Backup Software if you’re on Windows. If you’re on macOS, then it can be configured with Time Machine. The only downside for this External Hard Drive is that it doesn’t Power Deliver to external devices connected via USB

This is not a considerable drawback and having this function might also affect transfer speeds. But people who would love to have this feature might get disappointed.

Seagate Backup Plus Hub – Cheapest Desktop External Hard Drive

In our list of top 10 External Hard Drives, Seagate Backup Plus Hub is one of the cheapest offering with high transfer speeds.

It doesn’t look as elegant as the WD My Book. But, Hey! who cares. It’s going to be sitting around in the home

Seagate over thought about this drive and made the Power Deliver to external devices connected possibly making this ideal at an affordable price point

Seagate Backup Plus Hub Review

Like WD My Book, this one also packs considerable weight to it –  2.34 lbs, Definitely not for portable usage

You can simultaneously charge other device and transfer at the same time using the 2 USB ports on the drive

Features & Performance

This drive cost less by 20$ than WD My Book's 8TB Variant with decent transfer speeds.

  • In our tests the drive speeds are as follows: 165 MB/s Read, 156 MB/s Write
  • Connects via USB 3.0 port and the Seagate Dashboard software can help backup all the data to the drive easy when mounted.
  • 2-Year or Variable Warranty on the device
Pros
  1. Cheapest High Storage Desktop External Drive
  2. 2 USB 3.0 Ports. One can be used to charge other devices
Cons
  1. Only 2 Year Warranty + No second Hard Drive bay
  2. Transfer speeds are less and No higher capacity variants available directly from the manufacturer

8 TB might look like it’s more than enough. But people who tend to buy Desktop External Hard Drive sure has lots of data needs and believe me 8TB won’t cut it

In the long run and in the era 4K and emerging 8K. 8TB is not going to be enough. If you want to future proof and alongside get a Desktop External Drive then go for WD My Book

CalDigit Tuff USB-C Portable Rugged Hard Drive

CalDigit Tuff is similar to LaCie Rugged when considering protection offered to the precious data drive

but it doesn’t come available with an SSD out of the box unlike LaCie Rugged

The drive comes bundled with a USB Type C and USB Type A cable for backward compatibility. So you no need to worry about your host worrying about not having a Type C port

CalDigit Tuff Rugged Review
Features & Performance

The drive comes with a Type-C (Gen. 2) Interface Speeds Up To 10Gb/s, Compatible with USB & Thunderbolt 3

  • It’s IP57 Certified i.e., Water+Dust+Shock protected. You can immerse the drive in water up to 3.5ft for 30 mins.
  • Speeds are not that great. In our tests, the Drive’s peak performance is only around 130 MB/s Read & Write
  • This particular drive is a 7200 RPM one unlike other HDD having 5400 RPM. But it still lacks SSD option.
Pros
  1. Rugged Drive: Water, Dust, and shock resistant with IP57 certification
  2. 7200 RPM HDD for better 4K IOPS, Refer to our Buyer’s Guide at the end part for more details.
  3. Thunderbolt 3 Support up to 10 Gb/s
Cons
  1. No SSD and Higher Capacities available.
  2. Overpriced for the current storage option.
  3. Poor implementation of ports. For an HDD there’s no need for Thunderbolt support up to 10 Gb/s

You’re halfway through in our list of 10 Best External Hard Drives of 2019, If you want to navigate to any section of the article quickly, you can do from here:

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC – Best Secure External Hard Drive

Buffalo MiniSattion Extreme NFC external hard drive is not only secure and can be authenticated using an NFC secure card

But also it’s rugged and has IP3X and IP5X certified standards to protect the drive from Dust, Water, and shocks.

The downside is that its ruggedness is not as perfect as the above-discussed drives.

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC Review

If you’re here to pick the drive basing on its protection standards. Then it’s better to pick above models than this.

Features & Performance

Military spec shock protection including IPX3 standard water resistance & IP5X standard dust resistance to ensure data is safe against the elements

  • 110 MB/s Read/Write Transfers speeds over USB 3.0 port
  • NFC Smart Card is included to authenticate the drive when needed which safeguards the precious data inside the drive
  • 256-AES Hardware Encryption capability works awesome with the Smart Card
  • Automatic Backup’s using the buffalo’s proprietary software and has support for macOS’s Time Machine
  • 3-Year Warranty and support for the Hard Drive to recover data if anything happens
Pros
  1. NFC Smart Card Support is a great addition to having 256bit AES H/W encryption
  2. As it is aimed at security as priority, Being rugged gives this drive an edge over competition
Cons
  1. Not detachable USB 3.0 cable might break if usuage makes any wear and tear down the road
  2. Considering the price point the drives throughputs are not impressive

As mentioned earlier, this drive is good for people who wants to keep their data very confidential. The NFC Smart Card is the best way. The drive weights 0.6 Pounds not including the smart card.

But you’re planning to buy this looking at its ruggedness features and their certifications. Then Don’t, The drives mentioned above are good at this when compared Buffalo MiniStation Extreme

Seagate Backup Plus  – Cheapest High Storage Portable Hard Drive

Seagate is one of the oldest storage makers. This drive Seagate Backup plus is the cheapest High Storage External Hard Drive

In 2019 updated list of Best External Hard Drives, 2 drives from Seagate made into the list and one being the Cheapest Desktop Hard Drive.

You can check here: Seagate Backup Plus Hub – Cheapest Desktop External Hard Drive

Seagate Backup Plus Review

This drive offers up to 5 TB of storage out of the box and doesn’t put a hole in your pockets.

Features & Performance

Seagate Backup Plus ranges from 1TB and going up to 5 TB at the cheapest price available for a 5TB hard drive which is portable.

  • In our test the drive transfer speeds are as follows: 124 MB/s Read, 121 MB/s Write
  • 2-Year Limited or variable warranty
  • USB 3.0 which is backward compatible with USB 2.0 like all other Hard Drives
  • Weight at 0.3 lb with larger footprint which helps in better heat dispation
Pros
  1. For just 3x the price of 1TB you can get a 5TB option with this drive
  2. Speeds are considerable decent for a 5400 RPM drive
Cons
  1. 2 Year Warranty by Seagate is a bummer

Being cheap puts this drive as one of the product that made to the list of Best External Hard Drives. I would suggest to pick at least a 4 TB model

Because 4 TB is just 2X the price of 1 TB, whereas 5 TB is 3X the price of 1 TB but still it is the cheapest 5 TB Portable Hard Drive

LaCie Porsche Design – Best Premium External Hard Drive

Same as Seagate Backup Plus, LaCie Porsche Design Hard Drive offers storage variants ranging from 1 TB up to 5 TB

It’s the best Premium External hard drive as of now. Premium in the sense the looks of the drive and definitely not the cost.

It costs slightly more when compared to the Seagate’s but offers better throughputs

LaCie Porsche Design Review
Features & Performance

LaCie Porsche Design Portable Hard Drive comes equipped with a USB Type C connector for modern I/O

  • In our tests, the theoretical transfer speeds were around 150 MB/s in both Read and Write operations.
  • USB Type C cable helped in the gain of speeds over USB 3.0 hard drives. It also comes with a USB 3.0 Cable for better compatibility
  • Highest Storage options available and not too pricey for the premium looks
  • Comes with 2 Year Warranty period
Pros
  1. Speeds are good due to USB Type C Support included by the controller in the hard drive
  2. All Aluminum enclosure gives decent protection
Cons
  1. USB Type C is not fully utilized by the limitation of the drive being an HDD and not SSD
  2. Over priced 4 TB and 5 TB variants

WD Black My Passport – Popular Budget External Hard drive

WD Black My Passport was the popular choice and the best seller’s choice hard drive since ages.

It’s look has been updated in the year 2016, and since then My Passport amazed the competition by consistently being top in the market.

The controller of the hard drive has been upgraded to better performances despite the radical look.

WD Black My Passport Review
Features & Performance

Having a larger footprint helped the drive dissipate more heat than usual and this made the drive run longer with speed throttling

  • In our tests the drive ran at a speed of 125 MB/s Read, 113 MB/s Write which is better when compared to previous readings
  • Read speed has increased quite a bit along with 4K IOPS. Thanks to the new upgraded controller
  • USB 3.0 Port and 3 Year manufacturer warranty
Pros
  1. Speeds have been improved due to large size, new controller upgrade in 2016
  2. Can get 4 TB drive at 2X the price of 1 TB
Cons
  1. Newer model has larger footprint to carry
  2. Scratches and Smudges prone. Sharp Edges might harm a bit

WD Elements – Cheapest 1 TB External Hard Drive

Final one in the list of Best External Hard Drives is the WD Elements which is the Cheapest 1 TB External Hard Drive right now

Which is fast enough to make the best 10 list. When it got introduced along with its competitors in 2013.

WD Elements was the fastest contender in sequential read and sequential write

WD Elements Review
Features & Performance

Having larger form factor helped a bit. So that it can dissipate heat well and 5400 RPM HDD can perform well

  • As for the benchmarks go the External Hard drives read and write speeds are around 116 MB/s
  • The larger size doesn’t make this portable drive weigh more. Weighing at 0.3 pounds the drive is known for its trust of not being corrupted
  • Western Digital offers a limited 2 Year warranty on the drive
Pros
  1. Less Weight and somewhat large than usual drives which help in cooling
  2. Most Trusted Drive yet at cheapest pricing
Cons
  1. The controller hasn’t been upgraded since 2013
  2. No 256-Bit AES Hardware Encryption

Buyer’s Guide – Best External Hard Drives

This buyer’s guide is intended for all types of customers with all type of needs. Whether you’re here to pick high storage volumes at lower price

Or you’re here to pick the fastest and price is not a factor which you’re bothered. Anyhow, I would strongly recommend everyone going through this guide

Hard Drive Speed

As you might already have seen our Best External Hard Drives 2019 Table at the top, In that we’ve listed the speeds of the individual drives after benchmarking them

Nobody likes a slow drive right? So, that was the whole point to benchmark them whether they reach up to our expectations? Whether the speed claimed by the company that manufactured the drive is true or not?

The average speed of most drives that are available in the market is around 110 MB/s Read as well as Write. If you need more throughputs for needs, then select accordingly

Content Creators and Photographers require higher speed drives for fast editing on portable media. And, they also need larger storage drives for storing data at a lower price.

Going for an SSD based External Hard Drive for editing and picking a slower desktop drive will be the best scenario here. Also, connectivity of the drive matters a lot.

So, we’ve made a detailed part of ports selection while picking the portable hard disk here.

Ports

Good connectivity always matters. Even if the drive is an SSD Based one and can able to handle speeds at peak performance rate of more than 1 GB/s if it is restricted with a USB 3.0, then the drive speeds will be at USB 3.0’s max

And it won’t be able to attain faster than that limit. So, It’s always advisable to choose a right port used for connectivity while buying a portable hard drive

USB Type CThunderboltUSB 3.0USB 2.0

USB Type C is the latest connectivity options that are going to be the mainstream option down the option. There are several reasons for that, and the most important one is speed

USB Type C supports Gen 1 & Gen 2 variants with theoretical throughputs of 5 Gb/s and 10 Gb/s as of now. Which is pretty impressive.

And the other reason is that USB Type C is sophisticated concerning connectivity, It is reversible, and the USB Type C helps in daisy chaining purposes if you own lots of similar port supported devices with you.

As of our best list, There are few devices in the list Best External Hard Drives 2019 which comes with USB Type C out of the box and takes advantage of it

And some don’t because they’re powered by slower Hard Drives. Even if some devices have the port, The manufacturers bundle the device with both Type C as well as Type A connector. So you’re saved here, But only the Type C port is going to utilize the potential

That’s why we’ve mentioned the drive speeds for you to compare and decide.

Thunderbolt is a technology developed by Apple in collaboration with Intel, MacBooks and their Airport devices are supported with this connectivity.

Later, After the introduction of USB Type C, The integration of Thunderbolt made possible using the Type C connector itself. Coming to the metrics

Thunderbolt 1,2, and 3 support the theoretical speeds of around 10 Gb/s, 20Gb/s and 40 Gb/s. As of now, there are no Thunderbolt 3 supported external Hard Drives

Lacie supports Thunderbolt standard, but it also comes with a non SSD based storage capacity at a cheaper price. So, You need to keep that in mind because both of them are needed to support full transfer speeds.

USB 3.0 the current mainstream connectivity that we often see in almost every PC & Laptop. Every budget range PC is now being served with a USB 3.0 Connectivity

It is an outstanding improvement over USB 2.0, But the port looks the same as compared to 2.0. So, It was quickly being replaced with Type C connector

Anyhow, USB 3.0 is capable of handling transfer speed up to 5 Gb/s which is a huge leap over its predecessor. And, coming to the connectivity coupled with the Portable hard drives, Every External Hard drive will have USB 3.0 as the default option.

But due to the limitation of drive speeds, the transfer rates are around 100 – 120 MB/s for most of the drives.

At this stage, you can confidently forget about USB 2.0, Because no drive is being served with it. The maximum throughput of 2.0 is 480 Mb/s which is very low

But it used to be the top connectivity option for decades until USB 3.0 came. Anyway, I thought it’s worth mentioning the legacy port here.

If you’ve picked any eBay or Craigslist Hard Drive, Check the port is not 2.0, or you’ll be facing speed caping troubles. USB 3.0 port is most likely colored blue or in some cases red/green.

But it’ll be colored in almost every drive whereas USB 2.0 isn’t.

Encryption

Encryption is one of the must-have features for any storage device. Have you heard the phrase ” Privacy is a myth, my friend! “, well apparently it’s damn true.

So, It’s better to be precautions than to suffer later. Most of the Best External Hard Drives listed in this article possess some encryption.

But you have to pick which level of encryption you’re looking for and how’s it’s going to benefit you. If you’re worried about your precious data from being stolen or tampered, then Encryption is the only way to secure

Samsung T5 Portable SSD has optional password support along with 256-bit AES HardWare encryption and some of don’t

So, it’s better to pick one which has such feature when you’re spending for the longer run

Warranty

Some manufacturers provide disaster recovery support, Menas they’ll help recover your lost data in cases of malware attacks or accidental mishandling to your Hard Drive done physically or using any programs.

But this can only be attained if you’re still under warranty period. The standard period of warranty offered by most manufacturers is 3 years.

So, Try to get one with a minimum of 3-year warranty unless its features and the price is compelling enough to comprise to get it. Some even offer 5 Year warranty periods to attract users that are cautious about their data

But not all 5 Year warranty drives are good enough to satisfy your needs. The longer warranty might be a trap too to lure you into picking them, That’s why we made the list of Best External Hard Drives 2019

Top Rated External Hard Drives – People’s Choice


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1 thought on “Best External Hard Drives 2020 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide”

  1. Hi guys! Just wanted to drop you a line to say that I really enjoyed reading your guest article on Peaches and Screams UK site! Great perspective. Have an awesome day!

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