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      Need to back up your photos? Desktop-size and portable platter storage has never been cheaper. Our deep-dive reviews help you track down the right external hard drive.


      The Best External Hard Drives for 2022. Laptop drive almost full? Need to back up your photos? Desktop-size and portable platter storage has never been cheaper. Our deep-dive reviews help you track down the right external hard drive. Since 2004, I have worked on PCMag’s hardware team, covering at various times printers, scanners, projectors, storage, and monitors. I currently focus my testing efforts on 3D printers, pro and productivity displays, and drives and SSDs of all sorts. Related Hard Drive Picks: Our Top 12 Picks. Western Digital My Book. Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch. WD My Passport (2019, 5TB) Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub. WD Black P10 Game Drive. LaCie 2big RAID (8TB) LaCie Rugged RAID Shuttle. ADATA HD830 External Hard Drive. SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD. iStorage DiskAshur DT2. LaCie Mobile Drive. Seagate FireCuda Beskar Ingot External Hard Drive. In an era when many gigabytes of cloud storage storage cost a mere few dollars per month, and trim, slim external SSDs are getting cheaper, external hard drives, based on spinning platter disks, might appear less essential than they once were. But modern ones are faster, more stylish, and often more durable than their counterparts from a few years ago. They’re ever more capacious for the money, too. For about $50, you can add a terabyte of extra storage to your laptop or desktop by just plugging in a USB cable. Choosing an external drive isn’t as simple as buying the most expensive one you can afford, however. The drive capacity is the most important factor to consider, and it can increase or decrease the cost dramatically depending on your needs. Other factors include the physical size of the drive (is it designed to be carted around, or to sit on your desk?), how rugged it is, the interface it uses to connect to your PC, and even what colors it comes in. This guide will help you make sense of these and many more questions that arise while you’re shopping for an external hard drive. First off: We’ve outlined below our top picks among external hard drives we’ve tested. Read on for our labs-tested favorites, followed by the buying basics you should know when buying an external drive. Our article concludes with a detailed spec breakout of our top choices. The Best External Hard Drive Deals This Week* *Deals are selected by our commerce team. WD Black Game Drive P10 5TB Portable Gaming Drive (Opens in a new window) — $119.00 (List Price $149.99) WD My Passport 5TB Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive (Opens in a new window) — $104.59 (List Price $149.99) WD Elements 14TB Desktop External USB 3.0 Hard Drive (Opens in a new window) — $259.99 (List Price $379.99) Samsung T7 1TB Portable USB-C Solid-State Drive (Opens in a new window) — $109.99 (List Price $139.99) WD My Passport SSD 1TB Portable Solid-State Drive (Opens in a new window) — $129.99 (List Price $199.99) More About Our Picks. Western Digital My Book. Bottom Line: The 8TB version of the Western Digital My Book is a deep well of affordable storage for your photos, music, videos, and more. Comes in a variety of large capacities. Three-year warranty. Requires external power adapter. Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch. Bottom Line: Combining on-point performance and strong encryption, Seagate’s Backup Plus Ultra Touch portable drive is a great choice for everyday backups and security-first use alike. Plus, a fabric coat adds appeal. Fabric-covered enclosure. Small and light. Seagate Toolkit provides handy backup/recover functions, as well as mirroring. Data protected by password and AES-256 hardware encryption. Fabric cover a bit slippery to grip. Seagate Toolkit a separate download. WD My Passport (2019, 5TB) Bottom Line: Its combination of solid performance, hardware encryption, and useful utilities makes the 5TB WD My Passport a strong contender for everyday backup of sensitive data or storing a massive collection of videos, photos, and documents. 5TB is peak portable single-drive capacity. Small and light. AES-256 hardware encryption with password. Ships with apps for backup/restore, reformatting and checking drive health, and more. At list price, the 5TB version has a higher cost per gigabyte than the 4TB version. Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub. Bottom Line: It could use more ports, and platter drives have only so much speed upside, but Seagate’s FireCuda Gaming Hub excels at backing up and storing all the games you could ever hope to own. Immense capacity options, particularly the 16TB model tested Low cost per gigabyte Tasteful, showy RGB lighting Mature software suite. Single-drive design can’t approach basic SSD speeds For a hub, could use another port or two. WD Black P10 Game Drive. Bottom Line: Endowed with a gamer aesthetic, the WD Black P10 Game Drive can serve as a simple, stylish repository for your massive game library at a reasonable price. Sturdy, compact design Good grippability Appealing gamer aesthetic. USB Type-C cable not included. LaCie 2big RAID (8TB) Bottom Line: Designed for videographers and other creative pros who regularly handle tons of data, the LaCie 2big RAID combines two hot-swappable, high-capacity drives with a variety of settings for maximum flexibility and data protection. Can use RAID 0 for higher speed and capacity, RAID 1 for drive mirroring, or JBOD (RAID off). Five-year warranty with five years of Data Rescue recovery. Drives are hot-swappable. High price per gigabyte. Need to download utilities to manage the drive. Kensington lock slot secures only the case, leaving the drives easily removable. LaCie Rugged RAID Shuttle. Bottom Line: LaCie’s two-drive Rugged RAID Shuttle offers the choice of high capacity and fast performance (in striped mode), or of half the capacity with all data mirrored on the second disk. It’s ideal for anyone who works in the field and produces oodles of data. Flat, easily mailable chassis. Can set to RAID 0 for higher speed and capacity, or to RAID 1 for drive mirroring. Bundled cables for USB Type-A and Type-C on PC side. No tab over Type-C connector to protect it from dust and water. High price per gigabyte, due largely to ruggedization and RAID design. ADATA HD830 External Hard Drive. Bottom Line: It’s brawny, but the ADATA HD830 offers superior protection and value for the money in a rugged external platter-based drive. IP68 resistance to water and dust. Highly crush-resistant chassis. Aggressive price for capacity, build. Two colors to choose between. On the heavy, bulky side for some. Only waterproof and dustproof when the USB cover is closed. Could use a Type-C cable. SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD. Bottom Line: The SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD is an attractive, cost-effective portable hard drive, best for Mac users, that provides some protection from the elements but lacks a software suite and hardware-based encryption. Rugged enough to protect from the elements, with rubberized sheath and port cover Attractive design Ideal for use with macOS Both USB-C and USB-A cables bundled Competitive pricing. Lacks software suite and hardware-based encryption Requires reformatting for use with Windows. iStorage DiskAshur DT2. Bottom Line: A vault for sensitive data, the iStorage DiskAshur DT2 is a desktop hard drive offering huge capacity (up to 18TB), a host of security features with multiple government certifications, and a relatively low cost per gigabyte. Immense capacity Low cost per gigabyte for a security-centric drive AES-XTS 256-bit full-disk hardware encryption FIPS 140-2 Level 2/3, NCSC CPA, NLNCSA BSPA, and NATO Restricted certifications Easy for authorized users to unlock. No protective case or ruggedness features Low score in PCMark 10 benchmark for everyday storage tasks. LaCie Mobile Drive. Bottom Line: A metal-skinned gem of a platter hard drive, the LaCie Mobile Drive looks great and performs on point. It’s geared to macOS users, but it will please anyone with an eye for style in their gadgets. Slick, faceted design. Solid-feeling aluminum enclosure. Useful LaCie Toolkit software handles backup and restore, as well as mirroring. On-the-mark performance. A little hefty. Toolkit utility requires a download. Seagate FireCuda Beskar Ingot External Hard Drive. Bottom Line: Seagate’s latest USB external hard drive is decorated with motifs from The Mandalorian” and offers capable performance at a not-too-elevated price. We only wish it were available in a capacity higher than 2TB. Mandalorian design motif Customizable RGB lighting Status light You can show it off, unlike Seagate’s Beskar internal SSD. Limited to 2TB capacity No USB-C connectivity on either end Price premium for the Star Wars trappings. How to Buy an External Hard Drive. Hard drives may get you more capacity for your dollar by far, but first you need to consider a major difference in external storage these days: the hard drive versus the SSD. Solid-state drives (SSDs) have fewer moving parts than traditional hard drives, and they offer the speediest access to your data. Unlike a conventional disk-based hard drive, which stores data on a spinning platter or platters accessed by a moving magnetic head, an SSD uses a collection of flash cells—similar to the ones that make up a computer’s RAM—to save data. Just how much faster is it to access data stored in flash cells? Typical read and write speeds for consumer drives with spinning platters are in the 100MBps to 200MBps range, depending on platter densities and whether they spin at 5,400rpm (more common) or 7,200rpm (less common). External SSDs offer at least twice that speed and now, often much more, with typical results on our benchmark tests in excess of 400MBps.

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