The Best External Hard Drives on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers

By
Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStoc/Getty Images

Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy (like pillows), but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star reviews and lots of ’em) products and single out the most convincing. While we’ve written before about our favorite battery packs, the best Wi-Fi-connected outlets, even a comically long phone charger, here we’ve found the best-reviewed external hard drives on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best plug-and-play portable external hard drive for PC or Mac

Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable Hard Drive

4.5 stars, 3,159 reviews

“I bought this to easily store my pictures and videos. It was easy to use, straight out of the box, just plug in the USB cord and move my items from my PC to the drive, disconnect, and I’m on my way. No need to install anything. Simple and tons of storage. The files transferred pretty quickly, too. About 11 minutes to transfer around 69 videos and a bunch of pictures. It is small, fits in the palm of your hand. Definitely worth the price.”

Best waterproof and shockproof portable external hard drive for PC or Mac

Silicon Power 1TB Rugged Armor A80 IPX7

4.3 stars, 1,340 reviews

“I got this drive to replace the identical one-terabyte drive I purchased four years ago that just now started to make a few noises, but still works (better safe than sorry). My first drive took some abuse! Besides the typical knocking it off a counter, off a desk, into the middle of an equipment cabinet, I’ve traveled around the world several times with this drive in a backpack, and it keeps on working, even after several of my colleagues’ plastic drives that are just a couple bucks cheaper have split, cracked, the cable shorts out, and they are stuck without data. My one-terabyte version has been referred to as magical, mythical, and near bulletproof … It uses a standard USB, not the mini or micro, which seems to be a bit more durable on the cable when abusing this drive, and comes with two cables, a three-foot cable, and a little three-inch cable that is fitted into the side of the drive, so if you’re in a pinch and can’t find the longer one, you can make do. After four years, that little cable still stays securely in the drive as it is tossed around my backpack all day. If you are a road warrior, clumsy, or just plain need a drive that won’t fail should a small child start helping you ‘clean’ your desk, drop the extra couple bucks and get a drive that can handle the abuse. It’s the Nokia brick phone of external hard drives.”

Best external hard drive for PS4

WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive

4.4 stars, 4,242 reviews

“I bought this drive to expand the storage capacity of my PlayStation 4. I own a 500 gigabyte model, and although that seems like a lot of storage, it really doesn’t go far. It amounts to a few games and some other miscellaneous content. It got to the point where I would have to delete my favorite games, just to play something new. That’s not something that I wanted to continue to do. It took literally five seconds to format this drive as an external storage device, and around 20 minutes to transfer most of my games from the PS4 storage to this drive … So far, this drive works great. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between playing games stored on this drive versus playing them in the PS4 internal drive. That’s exactly what I’d hoped for … I’m so glad I bought this drive. It has freed me! I am now able to play all the games I want, without the frustration of having to constantly delete and reinstall my favorite games.”

Best four-terabyte portable external hard drive for PC or Mac

Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Portable External Hard Drive

4.1 stars, 14,520 reviews

“I have about ten of these now and they are great; quiet, fast, and reliable … This drive is SMALL, portable, lightweight, and doesn’t need to be plugged in. I am a professional photographer and backup all of my photos on these drives. I take it with me everywhere because it is about the size of my hand. I use this with my computer on the plane, in the car, on vacation, and at home; I can use it sitting at my desk, or relaxing in my La-Z-Boy. I just love the portability. Great drive!”

Best four-terabyte external hard drive for beginners

WD 4TB Black My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

4.3 stars, 4,119 reviews

“This is a terrific product. I am a Mac user as well as PC, and I found it easy to convert to a format readily accessible for both. Western had easy instruction to find, access, and follow on their support site. I am not a programmer or IT guru, so even I could get it done in short order. Once done, it was a breeze, and I was able to transfer all my data and files to the drive and free up necessary hard-disk space. It is light, portable, and fast. I can now access the data between my Mac and PC. If you need a drive, I recommend this one without reservation. The price was right, and it is a solid performer. Great for the road warrior like me.”

Best shockproof four-terabyte external hard drive for PC or Mac

LaCie Rugged USB-C and USB 3.0 4TB Portable Hard Drive

4.1 stars, 964 reviews

“I’m a media professional. I work with a lot of RED footage, project files, and music. I need a reliable, fast, and portable drive to take with me on shoots to handle on-site data transfers. Previously, I had brought a 5400 RPM Thunderbolt Drive with me on shoots, and transferring 100 or so gigabytes of footage would take about 45 minutes to an hour. Sitting around and waiting for the footage to dump at the end of a long day is the last thing you want to do, so I looked for other alternatives … And so far, so good. It’s survived a couple shoots and a few plane trips. It feels solid, and it’s USB-powered, so it’s truly portable. I haven’t dropped it yet, so I can’t testify to its durability in that regard. It’s cut down data-transfer speeds to ‘Is this real life?’ levels. 100 gigabytes takes five to ten minutes. It’s truly a time-saver. And time is money, and money is good to buy yourself a ticket to Disneyland, where you can buy mad amounts of corn dogs to eat.”

Best desktop external hard drive for video-editing

Seagate Expansion 4TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0

4.2 stars, 6,510 reviews

“FINALLY, an external hard drive that I can trust! I’d been toying with too many portable external hard drives, and after two failed on me, I knew it was time to get another desktop drive that would stay in its assigned place on my desk. What a relief it has been to have something sturdy for protecting my files! It was easy to set up, no partitioning necessary on my iMac, and it mounts instantly. Nothing more frustrating than waiting five minutes for an external drive to load when you’re in a hurry! I’m not sure if I’ll ever need all five terabytes, but … as someone who deals with Final Cut Pro (video-editing software), it only makes sense to overestimate the amount of space I’ll need, so I never run out.”

Best desktop external hard drive for Xbox One

WD 4TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive

4.3 stars, 4,722 reviews

“Using it with the Xbox One was simple — just plug it into the USB port, wait about 30 seconds, and it asks if you want to keep it formatted for pictures and music, or if you want to format for games. Formatting took less than a minute, and I was ready to roll. It then asked if I wanted to use this as my primary drive and I said yes. The average Xbox One game takes about 22 gigabytes of install space, and my largest is Forza 6 with pretty much all the expansions at 63 gigabytes. Moving everything over took a while, but once it was done, I had barely filled a third of this drive. Nice! What’s even better is the Xbox One’s internal drive is a 5400 rpm drive, while this Western Digital is 7200 rpm. So even though it’s external, my games loaded faster (in the case of large transfers like Forza and Tomb Raider, significantly faster). I’ve used this almost daily for half a year now to give it a good run before reviewing, and it has held up beautifully. I regularly take it to a friend’s to plug-and-play, so he doesn’t have to install my games to his internal for us to play. It is the same price for twice the storage as the Seagate, and it just seems to be a much better drive. Five stars for sure.”

Best desktop external hard drive with built-in USB hub for PC or Mac

Seagate Backup Plus Hub 8TB External Desktop Hard Drive Storage

4.1 stars, 1,013 reviews

“This is a really fast drive by any measure, and especially considering that it’s a huge eight-terabyte device. It is more than twice as fast as a couple of my major brand-name four-terabyte ‘backup’ drives and twice as fast as most of my USB 3 thumb drives … It’s also really useful in that it comes with a built-in hub, which permits me to connect a further two more drives directly to this one (daisy-chaining, in effect), thereby reducing some of the inevitable ‘cable clutter’ that accumulates around all of my computers, and more importantly, it adds a couple of USB 3 ports that are missing, and sorely missed, on my laptop without requiring me to purchase a separate hub. I like this thing and would definitely buy it again.”

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

9 Best External Hard Drives on Amazon, According to Reviews