Better computer software is what we all crave, but it comes at a price: memory. Every smart machine we possess is limited in its operation by how much RAM it has to run programs, and how much digital storage space it needs to stash said programs under the proverbial hood. Then there’s the issue of transporting all the data we need from home to office to remote location to laptop to desktop. Plus, keeping all your information on a single drive which can be corrupted, hacked, infected with viruses, or simply thrown into a fire by an angry ex is deadly foolish. The solution is to use an external hard drive.
External hard drives provide a backup storage location for everything on your computer, as well as a transportable way to get what you need from one location to another without lugging around extensive equipment. Like USB drives an external hard drive is nothing more than a stash box where you can stow important information, such as all those Hollywood films you certainly didn’t pirate from torrent sites. They’re the answer to your memory woes, but you need to get one of the 10 best external hard drives to keep it all safe and secure.
Toshiba Canvio Connect II
Kind to the budgeted with a sexy little frame that comes outfitted with a blue LED that tells you when it’s in operation, the Canvio Connect II works as good as it looks. Read/write speeds land in the 100 MB/s range, which is plenty for all but the power user, and it even stays put with rubber feet. No encryption to be had, so keep your eyes on it if you’re hiding national secrets. Purchase: $50+
Seagate Backup Plus
Capacity: 1-8 TB
Seagate excels at providing a plethora of storage for a minor investment. Our suggestion is to go as big as you can, since you’ll save increasing amounts of cash per TB the larger you aim. The read/write speed is solid, though not face-melting, usually ranking at about 150MB/s either way, which is plenty quick unless you’re deadly impatient. Integrated USB 3.0 makes connectivity easy and lets you charge other devices on the move. Where you’ll find fault is the lack of encryption which means prying pirates can crack it if you’re sloppy. Purchase: $59+
Western Digital Elements
Western Digital, or WD if you’re lazy, has an external HD (and SSD) lineup that is practically above reproach. Using the industry standard USB 3.0 tech, 100 MB/s is where the read and write speed clocks in. There’s no frills, security encryption, or special features to be had here, just a fairly high storage per dollar ratio that’s simple and smooth. We don’t love the 1-year warranty, so consider that if you’re tough on tech. Purchase: $60+
Capacity: 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
First and foremost, the SD700 has a rating of IP68, which lets it live around dust, sand, dirt, grit, grime, and can be submerged in water up to 1.5 meters. The reading and writing speeds are fairly standard for an SSD using USB 3.0, which is to say 430 MB/s. It supports 256 AES encryption, though you’ll need to download it as part of Adata’s “HDDtoGO.” Purchase: $99+Buy now
Capacity: 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB
Using USB-C tech, the Blackbox is equipped to work with existing and future computers of all types, and does have a respectable amount of storage built into a tough body backed up by a decent 3-year warranty. It caps out at about 150 MB/s for reading and writing, though there’s a more costly SSD version that is plenty quick. If you’re an on-the-go techie that needs sturdiness and size, but aren’t married to blistering speeds, there’s little better.
Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC
Able to resist dust and water, the case on the MiniStation isn’t even the best part of the story. The impressive security is really what to watch as it gives you 256-bit AES encryption that unlocks with an NFC card. A single tap and it’s ready to serve your Mac or PC. It’s not going to scream with speed, but with a large size for a little money, it doesn’t need to. Purchase: $126+
Capacity: Up to 2TB
A little on the pricey side for a drive that doesn’t boast big-time storage, the T5 has 256-bit encryption to go with its tuxedo smooth aesthetic, and gets up to 500 MB/s when it comes to reading and writing, thanks to an upgraded USB 3.1 interface. The company says it can handle a drop of 6 feet, but we didn’t do any real world tests, because these buggers aren’t cheap. Purchase: $128+
Capacity: 275GB, 525GB, or 1TB
An aluminum case complete with rubberized sleeve make the Atom more than capable of taking an ordinary drop and still ticking away, though try to avoid spiking it on concrete. It runs like a gazelle, clocking in 420 megs per second when writing and close to 300 when reading. Best of all, out of the box is USB-C connectors that also have a USB-A adapter, so whatever your setup, be it PC, Mac, or Other, this should plug and play without a hitch.
Western Digital My Book Duo
Capacity: 4TB or 16TB
When you want to really stash away as much as humanly possible, or need loads of redundancy, there’s no bigger, better, badass on the block than the Duo. It’s got a pair of USB 3.0 ports, can be setup as a RAID array, has automatic backup software built-in, can be used on a network for storage of multiple users, and has that sweet 256-bit AES encryption that the paranoid need. When size matters, here’s where you go. Purchase: $249+
SanDisk Extreme 900
Lifting the Extreme 900 gives a true sense of solidity, thanks to the aluminum and rubber exterior that is more than capable of taking a bit of abuse without showing any hiccups in operation. It has a nice USB 3.1 interface and comes with a USB-C cable, and a standard USB, making it ready to go on any computer. Formatted with exFAT that can tackle both Macs and PCs, it writes and reads around 450 megabytes each second, and your data gets guarded by 128-bit AES encryption. Nice, but you also only get three years worth of warranty for the entry fee. Purchase: $288+