people's choice

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

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Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, 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 products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)

And while we’ve written about lots of computer accessories — including the best laptop backpacks, the best laptop cases, and the best brush to clean your laptop — here we’ve rounded up the best external hard drives, as praised by the most enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon.

Best-rated external hard drive

Reviewers love how reliable this external hard drive is, with many calling it easy to use and easy to set. One reviewer, who describes themselves as “NOT tech-savvy,” says “the plug-in-go-to-it ease of use is unbeatable” and that it is “by far the best external hard drive I have ever purchased.” Many are impressed with the hard drive’s storage capacity. One who was working as an educational consultant overseas, who bought the hard drive for work, couldn’t believe the storage space they still had when the contract was over. “When I left China, I gave the 2TB portable hard drive with all of my files and videos to the school that I had been working with for over four months … There was still over 1TB of space remaining on the drive when I arrived back in the U.S.” Reviewers have used this drive to store everything from Photoshop files to videos and have tested out its compatibility with computers and gaming systems. “I plugged it in, and at first the Xbox wouldn’t detect it, so I did a full restart and voila!” one reviewer writes. “After installing deleted games onto the external hard drive, I was back to playing video games that I missed.”

Seagate Expansion Portable 2TB External Hard Drive HDD – USB 3.0 for PC Laptop

Reviewers love how reliable this external hard drive is, with many calling it easy to use and easy to set. One reviewer, who describes themselves as “NOT tech-savvy,” says “the plug-in-go-to-it ease of use is unbeatable” and that it is “by far the best external hard drive I have ever purchased.” Many are impressed with the hard drive’s storage capacity. One who was working as an educational consultant overseas, who bought the hard drive for work, couldn’t believe the storage space they still had when the contract was over. “When I left China, I gave the 2TB portable hard drive with all of my files and videos to the school that I had been working with for over four months … There was still over 1TB of space remaining on the drive when I arrived back in the U.S.” Reviewers have used this drive to store everything from Photoshop files to videos and have tested out its compatibility with computers and gaming systems. “I plugged it in, and at first the Xbox wouldn’t detect it, so I did a full restart and voila!” one reviewer writes. “After installing deleted games onto the external hard drive, I was back to playing video games that I missed.”

Best-rated (less expensive) external hard drive

Small but mighty seems to be the consensus among reviewers of this external hard drive. One reviewer says it is smaller than a deck of cards, “but it holds the memory of bigger size external hard drives,” with the added bonus of it being easy to use. “I plugged it into my computer and within seconds was moving pictures, videos, and downloaded items into the Toshiba drive and my computer is running faster and no more error messages of running out of storage,” one reviewer writes. Others raved about its compatibility with everything from PCs to Macs to gaming systems and even phones. A new mom who already took a lot of photos wanted a place to safely store photos of her daughter. “I found this product that had good reviews, was price effective, and had enough space that I could put all of my photos. It wasn’t hard to use, basically just a plug and play situation. It did take a while to get my photos moved over since I had so many but I had no problem getting them saved over and there’s still plenty of room for many more.”

Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0

Small but mighty seems to be the consensus among reviewers of this external hard drive. One reviewer says it is smaller than a deck of cards, “but it holds the memory of bigger size external hard drives,” with the added bonus of it being easy to use. “I plugged it into my computer and within seconds was moving pictures, videos, and downloaded items into the Toshiba drive and my computer is running faster and no more error messages of running out of storage,” one reviewer writes. Others raved about its compatibility with everything from PCs to Macs to gaming systems and even phones. A new mom who already took a lot of photos wanted a place to safely store photos of her daughter. “I found this product that had good reviews, was price effective, and had enough space that I could put all of my photos. It wasn’t hard to use, basically just a plug and play situation. It did take a while to get my photos moved over since I had so many but I had no problem getting them saved over and there’s still plenty of room for many more.”

And now for some micro-picks for every type of external hard drive you might be looking for.

Best compact external hard drive

Reviewers are consistently impressed with the small physical size of this external hard drive, especially those who have to travel with their files. “I feel confident that I can pick this up and go without worrying where to put it,” one reviewer, who lives in a hurricane zone, says, referencing how easy this drive is to pack up and go when a natural disaster strikes. “The Elements drive can fit in my go bag, wrapped in a sheet of bubble wrap and I’m feeling okay about that.” Others say that it can easily fit into a purse and one mentions it “can almost fit in a pants pocket.” Even though it takes an extra step, reviewers also like that this external hard drive can be compatible with a Mac once you reformat it. Other than that, reviewers say this requires very little setup or savvy. “It’s extremely simple to use, there’s no software to install, you simply plug it into your computer’s USB port, and voila!” one writes. “A new drive option appears. With it plugged in, you can save things to that drive, or copy and paste items using File Explorer.”

Western Digital 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN

Reviewers are consistently impressed with the small physical size of this external hard drive, especially those who have to travel with their files. “I feel confident that I can pick this up and go without worrying where to put it,” one reviewer, who lives in a hurricane zone, says, referencing how easy this drive is to pack up and go when a natural disaster strikes. “The Elements drive can fit in my go bag, wrapped in a sheet of bubble wrap and I’m feeling okay about that.” Others say that it can easily fit into a purse and one mentions it “can almost fit in a pants pocket.” Even though it takes an extra step, reviewers also like that this external hard drive can be compatible with a Mac once you reformat it. Other than that, reviewers say this requires very little setup or savvy. “It’s extremely simple to use, there’s no software to install, you simply plug it into your computer’s USB port, and voila!” one writes. “A new drive option appears. With it plugged in, you can save things to that drive, or copy and paste items using File Explorer.”

Best external hard drive for PS4

The wait is over for one user who admittedly had “been lurking in the shadows for a while to catch [an external hard drive] that is specifically marketed as PS4 compatible.” They were happy to find this one, which they believe “will give me plenty of space for my game library throughout the remaining lifespan of the gaming console.” Another gamer calls this a “must have for those who have a large game library.” One user reports having six large games on the drive and still having one terabyte of free space left, but dozens of reviewers have been able to store much more. “BEST INVESTMENT I have ever made for my PS4,” one writes. “I have over 50 games in it and it [still] has loads of space. You can travel with it and use it on friends’ PS4s, which is nice.” Another says this “effectively quadrupled my storage on my 500-gigabyte PS4.” For many this also means they don’t have to choose between their precious games. As one puts it, this external hard drive equals “no more agonized decisions over what to delete off the drive when I get a new game.”

Seagate Game Drive for PS4 Systems 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD – USB 3.0

The wait is over for one user who admittedly had “been lurking in the shadows for a while to catch [an external hard drive] that is specifically marketed as PS4 compatible.” They were happy to find this one, which they believe “will give me plenty of space for my game library throughout the remaining lifespan of the gaming console.” Another gamer calls this a “must have for those who have a large game library.” One user reports having six large games on the drive and still having one terabyte of free space left, but dozens of reviewers have been able to store much more. “BEST INVESTMENT I have ever made for my PS4,” one writes. “I have over 50 games in it and it [still] has loads of space. You can travel with it and use it on friends’ PS4s, which is nice.” Another says this “effectively quadrupled my storage on my 500-gigabyte PS4.” For many this also means they don’t have to choose between their precious games. As one puts it, this external hard drive equals “no more agonized decisions over what to delete off the drive when I get a new game.”

Best external hard drive for Xbox

“Dude, say goodbye to deleting apps and games to make room for updates and game DLCs,” writes one reviewer, who now has enough storage for all their games. Another says this is great “if you are like me and have a Xbox One X and enjoy having all of your games installed so there isn’t this need to delete and re-install a game you want to play and have to wait an hour or more for update and the install every time you want to play a different or new game.” This four-terabyte external drive helped one user who has “over 100 games, 30 which are One X enhanced” store them all with room left over. “After installing every game I own I still have 50 percent free hard drive space,” they write, adding, “I have to buy a lot more games before storage is ever an issue again.” For one user, this offers peace of mind. “I feel like I can rest easy knowing that I have plenty more room for more games.”

Seagate Game Drive for Xbox 4TB External Hard Drive Portable

“Dude, say goodbye to deleting apps and games to make room for updates and game DLCs,” writes one reviewer, who now has enough storage for all their games. Another says this is great “if you are like me and have a Xbox One X and enjoy having all of your games installed so there isn’t this need to delete and re-install a game you want to play and have to wait an hour or more for update and the install every time you want to play a different or new game.” This four-terabyte external drive helped one user who has “over 100 games, 30 which are One X enhanced” store them all with room left over. “After installing every game I own I still have 50 percent free hard drive space,” they write, adding, “I have to buy a lot more games before storage is ever an issue again.” For one user, this offers peace of mind. “I feel like I can rest easy knowing that I have plenty more room for more games.”

Fastest external hard drive

According to a repeat customer, “Samsung took an already fast drive and made it even faster.” Hundreds of reviewers were shocked at how quickly this external hard drive transferred their files. A music producer who thought this would provide “a tiny boost in loading times” said their mind was blown by the speed. “When they say it’s fast, they mean it’s fast,” they write. “Worth the money.” Another reviewer helped quantify exactly how fast is fast. After claiming this has a “faster write speed than any external HD I’ve used before,” they said it moves at about 400MBps, and says “it was a breeze to backup 150 gigabytes of photos, music, and video projects.”

Samsung T5 Portable SSD - 500GB - USB 3.1 External SSD

According to a repeat customer, “Samsung took an already fast drive and made it even faster.” Hundreds of reviewers were shocked at how quickly this external hard drive transferred their files. A music producer who thought this would provide “a tiny boost in loading times” said their mind was blown by the speed. “When they say it’s fast, they mean it’s fast,” they write. “Worth the money.” Another reviewer helped quantify exactly how fast is fast. After claiming this has a “faster write speed than any external HD I’ve used before,” they said it moves at about 400MBps, and says “it was a breeze to backup 150 gigabytes of photos, music, and video projects.”

Best external hard drive for travel

Over 80 percent of reviewers give this portable hard drive a five-star rating, which many chalk up to the speed and size. “I cannot believe you can get such a perfect drive with so much memory packed into such a tiny package that works so well for such a low price,” one reviewer writes, adding an apology for the run-on sentence that was a result of her mind being blown. Reviewers have compared the physical size of this drive to a credit card, and one even said it “can fit into the tiny pocket in my jeans.” This feature makes it particularly appealing to reviewers on the go. “I work as a photographer and need to move a ton of files very quickly while on location to hand off to clients,” one writes. “This is the best solution I have found for the price.” Another mentions how they prefer travelling with this more than other drives. “I was always worried about traveling with a spinning platter HD in the past, so once the SSD drives finally got cheap enough I pivoted over to this rock-solid alternative.”

SanDisk 500GB Extreme Portable External SSD - USB-C, USB 3.1

Over 80 percent of reviewers give this portable hard drive a five-star rating, which many chalk up to the speed and size. “I cannot believe you can get such a perfect drive with so much memory packed into such a tiny package that works so well for such a low price,” one reviewer writes, adding an apology for the run-on sentence that was a result of her mind being blown. Reviewers have compared the physical size of this drive to a credit card, and one even said it “can fit into the tiny pocket in my jeans.” This feature makes it particularly appealing to reviewers on the go. “I work as a photographer and need to move a ton of files very quickly while on location to hand off to clients,” one writes. “This is the best solution I have found for the price.” Another mentions how they prefer travelling with this more than other drives. “I was always worried about traveling with a spinning platter HD in the past, so once the SSD drives finally got cheap enough I pivoted over to this rock-solid alternative.”

Best external hard drive for a Mac

“I can say, without a doubt, that it is one of the best purchases I have ever made,” one confident reviewer says, adding that “with its capacity of 1 terabyte, there is just about no limits to how much I can save.” One reviewer put that into context: A cinephile will appreciate noting that the “terabyte size accommodates about a dozen full-length movies and close to 100 hour-long TV shows.” As another reviewer mentions, “the description didn’t say much about being used as a backup for Macs,” but many Mac users have found this external hard drive very easy to use. “I plugged it in and the MacBook automatically formatted it and started the backup process.” Another notes it is “lightweight, quiet, and simple to install, especially on a Mac.”

Toshiba Canvio Advance 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0

“I can say, without a doubt, that it is one of the best purchases I have ever made,” one confident reviewer says, adding that “with its capacity of 1 terabyte, there is just about no limits to how much I can save.” One reviewer put that into context: A cinephile will appreciate noting that the “terabyte size accommodates about a dozen full-length movies and close to 100 hour-long TV shows.” As another reviewer mentions, “the description didn’t say much about being used as a backup for Macs,” but many Mac users have found this external hard drive very easy to use. “I plugged it in and the MacBook automatically formatted it and started the backup process.” Another notes it is “lightweight, quiet, and simple to install, especially on a Mac.”

Best external hard drive for security

One reviewer who uses this external hard drive as their on-the-go entertainment system couldn’t be happier with this purchase. “I have five episodes of Empire on it, to watch when ever I want,” they say. “How can you beat that.” However, what makes this hard drive stand out are its additional security features, including the ability to password protect your drive, a feature mentioned by more than 70 percent of five-star reviewers. “They are password protected so if plugged into another device it can’t be opened,” one writes. “You also have the option to have it recognize the computer you use/set it up on and won’t require a password if that’s what you choose.” Another adds, “This drive is fast (USB 3.0) and has some security (passcode encryption) which helps you feel like your data is safer if you accidentally lose it.” In addition to being safe, reviewers report it is also sturdy. “After being underwater for eight days during the Hurricane Harvey flooding in Houston I figured all my backup data was destroyed,” one reviewer writes. “After purchasing a new iMac I plugged in the external hard drive and it fired right up. I apparently didn’t lose anything and it has been working flawlessly ever since.”

Western Digital 1TB Black My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

One reviewer who uses this external hard drive as their on-the-go entertainment system couldn’t be happier with this purchase. “I have five episodes of Empire on it, to watch when ever I want,” they say. “How can you beat that.” However, what makes this hard drive stand out are its additional security features, including the ability to password protect your drive, a feature mentioned by more than 70 percent of five-star reviewers. “They are password protected so if plugged into another device it can’t be opened,” one writes. “You also have the option to have it recognize the computer you use/set it up on and won’t require a password if that’s what you choose.” Another adds, “This drive is fast (USB 3.0) and has some security (passcode encryption) which helps you feel like your data is safer if you accidentally lose it.” In addition to being safe, reviewers report it is also sturdy. “After being underwater for eight days during the Hurricane Harvey flooding in Houston I figured all my backup data was destroyed,” one reviewer writes. “After purchasing a new iMac I plugged in the external hard drive and it fired right up. I apparently didn’t lose anything and it has been working flawlessly ever since.”

Best desktop external hard drive

Many reviewers buy this external hard drive in hopes of “shucking” it to get a favorable white label or red label internal drive at a better price. “They are extremely easy to shuck, and as others have noted you are left with a beautiful WD white label drive inside, which performs similar to a WD red drive,” one user writes. “At a fraction of the cost of the ‘internal’ version of the same drive, this 8TB external is amazing. About 15 minutes, a couple old gift cards, and a phillips head screw driver will net you a nice internal storage upgrade.”

But even without the additional labor, reviewers are still happy with this purchase. The “family geek” of one household was particularly impressed when they “copied a bunch of files (I think 150GB) and the copy was very, very, fast … I was so impressed by the performance that I ordered the second one.” In addition to speed, dozens of reviews mention the temperature of the drive, and they love how cool this stays. “These are confirmed to be helium filled, which are waaaay cooler than the air-filled versions,” one writes. Many satisfied reviewers are also repeat customers because they trust Western Digital over all other brands. “Glad I bought this and expect the usual Western Digital lifespan of — I have never had a WD drive die on me ever and I have used WD drives for 25+ years. Only time will tell.”

Western Digital 8TB Elements Desktop Hard Drive

Many reviewers buy this external hard drive in hopes of “shucking” it to get a favorable white label or red label internal drive at a better price. “They are extremely easy to shuck, and as others have noted you are left with a beautiful WD white label drive inside, which performs similar to a WD red drive,” one user writes. “At a fraction of the cost of the ‘internal’ version of the same drive, this 8TB external is amazing. About 15 minutes, a couple old gift cards, and a phillips head screw driver will net you a nice internal storage upgrade.”

But even without the additional labor, reviewers are still happy with this purchase. The “family geek” of one household was particularly impressed when they “copied a bunch of files (I think 150GB) and the copy was very, very, fast … I was so impressed by the performance that I ordered the second one.” In addition to speed, dozens of reviews mention the temperature of the drive, and they love how cool this stays. “These are confirmed to be helium filled, which are waaaay cooler than the air-filled versions,” one writes. Many satisfied reviewers are also repeat customers because they trust Western Digital over all other brands. “Glad I bought this and expect the usual Western Digital lifespan of — I have never had a WD drive die on me ever and I have used WD drives for 25+ years. Only time will tell.”

Best durable external hard drive

Even under the ownership of a self-proclaimed klutz, this external hard drive holds up. “When I take my daily tumbles, this little one [is] probably the only thing that survives without scratches or dings,” they write. In addition to falls, this hard drive has even survived water damage, according to one reviewer. “The most terrible thing that this survived was a fall to a puddle of water,” they write, but even then their drive drive sustained “no damage at all.” In addition to durability, hundreds of reviewers are impressed with the ease, speed, and size of this drive. “I was able to download EVERYTHING from my computer or any old CDs that I had,” one writes. “No files were too large to download, and the time in downloading is VERY SHORT … even with a lot of photo albums, it took very little time.”

Silicon Power 1TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive Armor A30, Shockproof USB 3.0

Even under the ownership of a self-proclaimed klutz, this external hard drive holds up. “When I take my daily tumbles, this little one [is] probably the only thing that survives without scratches or dings,” they write. In addition to falls, this hard drive has even survived water damage, according to one reviewer. “The most terrible thing that this survived was a fall to a puddle of water,” they write, but even then their drive drive sustained “no damage at all.” In addition to durability, hundreds of reviewers are impressed with the ease, speed, and size of this drive. “I was able to download EVERYTHING from my computer or any old CDs that I had,” one writes. “No files were too large to download, and the time in downloading is VERY SHORT … even with a lot of photo albums, it took very little time.”

Best external hard drive for DVR

For those who aren’t quite ready to part with traditional TV, this helps them get the most out of their DVR. “This was much less expensive that purchasing a more expensive Tivo with a larger drive,” one reviewer writes. “Tivo is still the best DVR. Sad that I think we will see it go away as streaming is taking over. I currently have satellite TV but am going to use this for OTA for local channels and streaming for the rest then drop satellite.” RV users have used this to connect to Dish TV. “Ok RVs looking for and external hard drive for their Dish TV Wally (THIS IS IT)!” one excited reviewer writes. “This external hard drive does work on your Dish Wally. I purchased this drive just for this purpose. Easy to install, once installed took Dish one minute to activate.” Others have used it for their gaming systems. “Perfect solution for adding tons of storage to my PS4,” another writes. “I literally plugged it in, the PS4 automatically formatted it, and I’ve been downloading games for days and haven’t made a dent.”

Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD – USB 3.0 for PC Laptop and Mac

For those who aren’t quite ready to part with traditional TV, this helps them get the most out of their DVR. “This was much less expensive that purchasing a more expensive Tivo with a larger drive,” one reviewer writes. “Tivo is still the best DVR. Sad that I think we will see it go away as streaming is taking over. I currently have satellite TV but am going to use this for OTA for local channels and streaming for the rest then drop satellite.” RV users have used this to connect to Dish TV. “Ok RVs looking for and external hard drive for their Dish TV Wally (THIS IS IT)!” one excited reviewer writes. “This external hard drive does work on your Dish Wally. I purchased this drive just for this purpose. Easy to install, once installed took Dish one minute to activate.” Others have used it for their gaming systems. “Perfect solution for adding tons of storage to my PS4,” another writes. “I literally plugged it in, the PS4 automatically formatted it, and I’ve been downloading games for days and haven’t made a dent.”

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12 Best External Hard Drives on Amazon, According to Reviews