After several hours of research and the scrutiny of thirty models currently available on the market, I made a selection of the best 7 external hard drives, HDD and SDD combined.
Personally, my preference is for the LaCie Porsche Design, which is an excellent value for money. But if you have the means, the Samsung SSD T5 is the champion of all categories of external storage units.
A shopping guide is presented at the end of this article. I invite you to consult it to best target your needs before investing in the external hard drive that will make you happy.
Why Trust Our Selection?
The editors of Techksp spend hundreds of hours researching, analyzing and comparing products to the best value for money. Our choices are unbiased, and we never accept one another.
The best cheap external hard drives
For this part of my selection, I focused on models available at less than 90 $. In this price range, there are already excellent external hard drives that have almost everything to please everyone. Almost? Yes, because this is not the place where SSD enthusiasts will find their account.
Note that, for ease of comparison (especially at the price level), when a model has several sizes in terms of storage capacity, I focused on the 2 TB version, while indicating the possible variants.
Toshiba Canvio Basics 2: the best cheap
- Compact and lightweight
- Sober and efficient design
- The high speed of writing and reading
- No software provided
- Need formatting for use on Mac
For several years, the range Canvio Basics of the Japanese Toshiba is unanimous in the world of external hard drives. Indeed, although these models are among the cheapest on the market, they are nonetheless (very) well equipped.
This year, a renewed version has made its entrance, and it is a new success!
Available in several sizes (500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, and 3 TB), this new model renews its design, for a more compact version (10.9 × 7.4 × 1.4 cm) of only 146 grams.
The shell is made of matt hardened plastic, so as not to print any fingerprints, and breathe strength. No frills here. With this sober external hard drive, Toshiba shows that what he is looking for is efficiency.
Its installation is frankly top because it is Plug and Plays: just plug the micro-USB cable (USB 3.0) and check that the LED lights, and off you go. No software is needed, the hard drive immediately recognizes the computer and vice versa.
(By cons, who says no software, said no possibility of an automatic backup. But, at that price, we will not do the difficult!)
Its transfer rate is extremely fast: although it is an HDD, it behaves almost like an SSD at this level, since its rotating disk rotates at 5400 rpm. It achieves the performance of 140 MB / s read and 137 MB / s write.
Although a little slow at startup, as soon as the transfer is started, we forget about it. This model, moreover, is very quiet, because the vibrations emitted while working are almost imperceptible. Last but not least, it hardly heats up. What more?
Ah yes, the small downside for Mac users: Canvio Basics is equipped with NTFS system usable on Windows. If you want to use it on Mac, you must first reformat it to the HFS file system.
Seagate Backup Plus Slim: an alternative to Toshiba Canvio Basics for Mac users?
- Compact and lightweight
- NTFS driver for Mac included
- Plastic coating
Seagate is an American company renowned worldwide for its external hard drives for several years. In other words, a giant in the field. With the Seagate Backup Plus Slim, he offers us this time a model ultra thin HDD, with only 1.2 cm thick (11.4 x 7.6 x 1.2 cm) and 140 grams on the scale.
If we regret the plastic coating that does not give a great impression of strength, we admire the sober design of this external hard drive declined in five colors (black, blue, red, white and silver – my favorite). At the level of capacity, this model has something to satisfy the greediest of you, since it can get 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, and even 5 TB!
As with its Japanese competitor above, we find here a Plug and Play system, with a micro-USB 3.0 connection. The LED, this time, indicates the current transfers, with a variable intensity.
Formatted by default in NTFS for Windows, it also has a driver that allows direct use on Mac OS (no reformatting necessary, so).
The integrated software is easy to use. On Windows, it also allows a backup in continuous or periods, depending on the configuration chosen, and this backup can be done both locally and on the cloud (Seagate also offering for one year 4 GB of storage on Seagate Cloud Storage Service). However, this backup module is not available for Mac OS. Seagate advises its users to fall back on Apple Time Machine if they want a similar system.
An application also allows the Backup Plus Slim to communicate directly with your smartphone or iPhone if it is connected to the same WiFi network as your computer. Two scenarios are possible: either you use the sharing function to transfer your images directly from the hard drive to social networks, or you can save data from them.
The speed of rotation of its disk is, again, equivalent to the Toshiba Canvio Basics: 5400 rpm. So we are again in front of an extremely fast device, although it is an HDD. It reaches about 119.3 MB / s read and 103.2 MB / s write, slightly less than its Japanese competitor.
Finally, he does not heat up either.
Mac OS users who do not want to go through the “reformatting” step will find the Seagate Backup Plus Slim a great alternative to the classic Toshiba Canvio Basics, thanks to a little more investment.
The best midrange external hard drives
If we turn around a hundred euros, we end up with external hard drives of excellent quality, each with a feature or software that distinguish them from previous models.
A little extra that can be worth the extra investment according to your needs!
LaCie Porsche Design: the best midrange
- Elegant design
- Windows and Mac compatibility
- Nothing significant
It’s been a few years now that LaCie and Porsche are collaborating to offer us materials combining the technology of the first and the design of the other. At this level, the LaCie Porsche Design external hard drive is a success.
This HDD, while still small, is a little heavier than the previous models: 13 x7,7x 1,5 cm for 300 grams. But if we look at the materials used, we quickly understand why: exit the plastic, hello aluminum.
The result? An external hard drive more robust and frankly elegant declined in three colors: silver, gold and – the readers among you will be delighted! – pink.
Memory level, we have the choice between 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, and 4 TB. And the point of view connectivity, we still have a plug and play operation, but with a new feature: you can either choose a Micro USB 3.0 connection, a USB-C. This is the first model of our selection to support USB-C, and it is not negligible at a time when it is becoming more and more the standard in high-tech!
Although the brand presents this external hard drive as designed “for your Mac”, it is nonetheless perfectly compatible with Windows. In fact, it has a partition of about 200 MB with an installer for both environments!
Western Digital My Passport: the external hard drive with multiple software
- Original design
- Automatic backup software included
- The flashy look does not please everyone
This HDD external hard drive stands out in the market for its original design, a little Dr. Jekyll & Mister Hyde, since it combines a glossy and sleek smooth shell half with another textured and more “fun” textured half. More than a hard drive, it seems to be dealing with a small box, which is reinforced by its size: 11 x8.2x 2.2 cm. The weight is 245 grams.
When you first install the program according to the type of computer you have, you will also be offered other programs, such as the Desktop Manager utility, which allows you to get information about the status of your drive. such as its temperature, or the LaCie Private-Public software, which gives you the ability to encrypt your data, for better security.
Finally, in terms of performance, we are again close to the SSD, since this disc runs at 5400 rpm, this time for an average performance of 128 MB / s read and 125 MB / s write, or an intermediary between the Toshiba and the Seagate above.
If you’re serious about design and durability, or if you’re a Mac user, and you can afford a little more investment, I highly recommend the LaCie Porsche Design!
Everything is available in six colors: white, blue, yellow, orange, red and black (it is the latter, which gives it a more sober look, which wins my preference), and in four levels of capacity: 1 TB, 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB.
In the lower part, we find the USB 3.0 connection port and a small Led lamp, witnessing the activity of the disc. The whole thing can land on 4 rubber feet for better grip to prevent the disc from slipping.
Directly ready to use, it is formatted in NTFS and compatible with any PC running Windows 10, 8 or 7. For cons, Mac users, again, will have to go through a reformatting prior to its use.
It comes with several utilities, including WD Backup, which allows you to accurately determine what documents to copy to your hard drive and when. Coupled with the Acronis True Image software, it even allows access to the system backup of your computer, which allows you to create a kind of clone of it, since will be kept copies not only of your files but also the operating system of your computer and all the programs on it!
Next to that, are WD Security, which encrypts your data, and WD Drive Utilities, which gives you information on the state of your drive.
At the speed of writing and reading, it comes slightly behind the Seagate Backup Plus, but it is still among the very first in its class since it takes about 120 MB / s reading and 115 MB / s in writing.
In the end, the WD My Passport hard drive offers more than adequate storage capacity, good performance in speed and encryption capability. All, added to its original line and a good value for money makes him an excellent choice.
Silicon Power Armor A60: the external hard drive for fighters
- Nice design
- Lack of velocity
Silicon Power has distinguished itself in the market of external hard drives by its reinforced models, often resistant to water and/or shocks.
The A60, it has the PX4 waterproof standard: it is resistant to dust more than 1mm and splash water from all sides. It also meets the MIL-STD-810G standard, which was created by the US Army’s US Army Equipment Testing Laboratory to certify that the product is rugged and truly super-durable for use in the field. real professional.
No doubt, therefore, this external hard drive is made to travel. Its dimensions (13.9 x 9.4 x 1.8 cm) and its weight (272 grams) obviously feel a little, but it remains correct.
The design is also part of this nomadic device, with its rounded edges, its black and green color, and its cover to protect the USB 3.0 connector (and here it is a “real” USB that we have and not a Micro-USB as on competing models – we see that the miniaturization of the object was really not the primary concern of the manufacturer). The data transfer is indicated by a blue diode on the top of the housing.
As for the Toshiba Canvio Basics, we are here faced with an external hard drive provided without software. But if you’re good in English, you can download the program SP Widget from the Western Digital site: this one allows you to save your data synchronously or to encrypt them.
Formatted in Fat32, this external hard disk is usable on both Mac and Windows. Not jealous.
On the other hand, if it is the most resistant of our top, Armor A60 is certainly not the fastest, since it reaches an average of 107 MB / s in reading and 105 MB / s in writing.
In the end, it is a good external hard drive for travel enthusiasts, because if it is not the most compact, the lightest or the fastest, it is certainly the most robust of our selection.
The best high-end external hard drives
When we come to some investment, we inevitably expect (big) more than justify it.
It is in this category of external hard drives that we will (finally) encounter SSD, or models whose storage capacity defies the imagination.
Samsung SSD T5: the best high end
- Elegant and compact design
- True silent
- Incredibly fast
- The price…
Well, I admit, we climb here in a dizzying way in prices. But we must admit that Samsung’s T5 is really spectacular and that the technologies it embodies make the difference compared to other models available on the market. It is that he has in the belly this little!
Small, yes, because it measures just 7.4 × 5.7 × 1 cm! And it’s weight? Ridiculous! 51 grams. This small size, coupled with its brushed metal coating, makes it the ideal device to carry at the bottom of his pocket.
Are you afraid, then, to give him a bad shot? No problem, it resists a fall up to 2 meters high.
It comes in two colors, which vary according to the size of the memory: blue for the 250 and 500 GB versions, black for the 1 and 2 TB.
Connectivity level, here we have a USB-C connection. But do not panic, for those who own computers that do not yet have this technology, Samsung also offers a classic USB 3.0 adapter.
What makes its originality (and price) is the fact that it embeds a new generation of memory: Samsung inaugurates with the T5 4th generation V-NAND TLC 3D memory. Késako? In short, the 3rd generation was able to stack 48 layers of cells, and the 4th generation allows 64. In the 250 GB, 500 GB and 1 TB versions, there are 4 memory chips of 256 GB, suggesting the stacking of 8 32GB dies per chip. The 2 TB version uses chips of 512 GB 16 dies of 32 GB.
And in the end what gives? Read speeds up to 540 MB / s and write speeds up to 515 MB / s. No, I’m not kidding. The USB 3.1 port supports up to 10GB / s of copy speed and more and secures your data with AES 256-bit encryption. A real gem of high-end …
Moreover, who says SSD says no mechanics. So we end up with a perfectly silent external hard drive.
By default, it is formatted with the exFAT file system, which is suitable for both Mac and Windows but Windows enthusiasts can reformat it to NTFS for even greater performance.
With the fastest transfer rates on the market, Samsung hits hard with its 5T. If you have the opportunity to pay such a sum, you probably will not regret your purchase.
Western Digital My Duo Book: Almost infinite disk space …
- Huge storage capacity
- A high speed of treatment
- Easy maintenance
- Several software packages provided
- Less nomadic
Here we are on the second external hard drive of my selection proposed by Western Digital. But be careful, even though I really wanted to introduce it to you because of its absolutely incredible capabilities, the Western Digital My Book Duo is primarily intended for professional use!
With this model, exit the compact and the discretion. Here we have a case that is no less than 18x16x10 cm and 2.35 kg. As much to tell you that we do not play in the same yard! And indeed, its capabilities exceed what the average user will usually need since it exists in 4 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB, 12 TB, 16 TB, and even 20 TB!
We find here the double design that was the originality of My Passport: the upper half of the case is glossy smooth plastic, and the lower half is textured and matte. This time, no color game, the model is declined only in black, to mark certainly its professional destination.
This time, we find several ports. First, there is the USB-C 3.1 charging port (but a USB-C to USB cable is also provided). Then there are two USB 3.0 ports at the back.
Inside the case (which can this time open with a lever – which facilitates maintenance and offers the opportunity to update parts), we have two hard drives that turn at 5400 tr/min. And in fact, the data is striped on both hard disks simultaneously, allowing for faster data processing. Suddenly, even if we are facing an HDD, we get a performance level close to the SSD, since we can reach the trifle of 388 MB / s read and 370 MB / s write!
The possibility is also given to record data on both disks at once: if we lose space, we gain security, which can be an undeniable asset for a working tool.
Finally, like the My Passport, this external hard drive comes with a battery of software, such as WD Backup, WD Drive Utilities, and WD Security.
How to select your external hard drive?
Choose your external hard drive
Gone are the days when we were suffering from low-definition multimedia content. With high-quality audio and video recorders, and powerful computers that can process them effectively, more high-definition multimedia content becomes available online.
The disadvantage, therefore, is the increased need for memory capacity to store the same length of video images or the same amount of photos as before.
The computer or the cloud as storage spaces
The mass storage capacity of a computer is usually between 250 GB and 1 TB. Part of this space is already reserved for the operating system and various utilities. So, in the remaining space, do we want to store our data, or is it easier to go through an external storage unit?
It was thought that with the advent of the Cloud (the possibility of online storage), the need for a storage unit external to the computer would become obsolete. Well, it’s the opposite that seems to happen! The sale of external hard drives is starting again because they are seen as a complementary alternative. Indeed, the cloud is safer (your hard drive, it can take a bad shot), but it is quickly more expensive when one must extend its storage capacity beyond 1 TB.
SSD or HDD?
HDDs or Hard Drive Disks are traditional, large storage capacity but more delicate and fragile, they make noise sometimes but not always and can not be moved without precautions.
Solid State Drives (SSDs) are fast, easy-to-use, high-performance hard drives that hardly heat, and have almost no latency. They are nevertheless generally more expensive and their capacity often does not exceed 1 TB.
The storage capacity of external hard drives can range from 500 GB to 40 TB for hyper-luxury versions. Well, at the same time, 500 GB, it is quickly filled, I do not advise you too much, except to want a small unit easily transportable, which will play the role of a super USB key.
It is necessary, before investing in a cheaper device because its storage capacity is less, to ask you about the types of files that you will store and in what quantity, because it would be a shame to have to invest in a second one. disk once the storage capacity of the first reached due to a miscalculation.
If you plan to backup only important data every 15 days, most standard hard drives are enough, but if you want to play video games that have data stored on the hard disk, you need to consider a very fast disk, a SSD undoubtedly, with good storage capacity and a USB 3.0 interface or 3.1 (10 times faster than USB 2.0 that disappears gradually) or USB-C.
Originally, hard drives come with a cable through which you can connect it to your computer.
But today, some offer a wireless network interface. The idea is to be able to access the content of the disc from any device connected to WiFi, especially from smartphones and tablets.
Synchronization and backup
Some brands ship backup utility software with their device. This makes it possible to synchronize the files of a computer with those of the external hard disk, a way to automate the backups and even to couple a backup with the Cloud, which is top.
If you leave your hard drive at home, there is not much reason to fear possible shocks. But if you take it everywhere with you, it is necessary to invest in an external hard drive able to properly protect your data.
Even if it is important to choose, in this kind of case, something solid and end, it should not be at the expense of robustness.
If you need to protect your data permanently (imagine that you work for NASA …), know that there are encrypted hard drives.
Do you have a PC or a Mac? Be sure to keep this in mind at the time of purchase as some hard drives are only compatible with one or the other.
The specific case of gamers
If you are an inveterate player, I recommend investing in a hard drive with at least 2 TB of memory. It must also be USB 2.0, at the risk of not working with some consoles. Finally, I remind for video games, an SSD is more efficient.