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The Best External Hard Drives to Backup Your Computer

Is your laptop running out of storage? Or maybe you just want to backup your photos or music?

external hard drives
Lacie

There are two main reasons why you'd buy an external hard drive. First, your laptop or desktop is running out storage space; it's a common problem, especially if your computer is several years old. Or secondly, if you want to backup your various digital files (photos, videos, music) so that if something happens to your computer (maybe it breaks or gets stolen), you don't lose everything. Maybe it's a combination of both.

You might be thinking, why would anybody invest in an external hard drive when you could just use a cheap cloud-based service, like 1Drive or iCloud? Well, there are a number of reasons.

First, an external hard drive is a one-time fee and while it'll be a more expensive upfront cost, it will less expensive in the long run — those monthly subscription fees add up.

Secondly, there's security. With cloud services you hand over all responsibility for your photos, documents and other data to that storage provider; with an external hard drive, you’re in the driver’s seat.

Finally, there's speed. Even if you have a really fast internet connection, the transfer speeds with cloud services can’t compete with today’s external hard drives. Plus, they often come with a bandwidth cap.

Sure, external hard drives need more desk space and they’re less portable, but knowing the things you need are secure — that’s priceless. (Note: if you're looking for a portable hard drive, which are smaller, cheaper and more rugged, check out the Western Digital's My Passport or SanDisk's Extreme Portable SSD.)

Seagate Backup Plus Hub

Seagate
Seagate Backup Plus Hub
bhphotovideo.com
$121.99

Best Hard Drive for Mac

Capacity: 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 12TB, 14TB
Price:
$130 — $520
Connectivity:
USB-A (3.0)
Compatibility:
Mac and Windows

The newer version of Seagate’s dependable Backup Plus ($100), the Seagate Backup Plus Hub adds an extra USB 3.0 port — that's two in total, so it doesn't completely steal one of your computer's previous ports — and it now rests on its side. It comes with companion software that makes managing your stored files super easy. And it's small and compact (about the size of a book), so it won't take up too much desk space.

Samsung T5 Portable SSD

SAMSUNG T5 Portable SSD
SAMSUNG amazon.com
$129.99

Best Hard Drive for PS5

Capacity: 1TB, 2TB
Price:
$130+
Connectivity:
USB-A (3.0)

For backup applications, all you really need is a ton of storage. But when it comes to gaming, speed is also a concern. Through extensive research, the experts at Digital Foundry have found that Samsung's portable SSD offers the best performance for PS5 owners, but at a bit of a premium price. If you're looking for a balance that will give you more storage but less speed, the Seagate Portable is a more economical option.

Lacie 2big Raid

Lacie
Lacie 2big Raid
amazon.com
$369.00

Capacity: 4TB, 8TB, 16TB, 28TB
Price:
$350 — $1,000+
Connectivity:
USB-A (3.0) and USB-C
Compatibility:
Mac and Windows

Lacie's 2big Raid is a robust external hard drive that was designed with creative professionals (specifically photographers, videographers and YouTube creators) in mind. It's available in a number of high capacity configurations, boasts super-fast transfer speeds (up to 440MB/s) and built-in cooling system (fan), and it comes with one-month free trial of Adobe's Creative Cloud. Additionally, it has a large blue status light makes it one of the most conspicuous hard drives you can buy. The only real downsides are that it's rather large and expensive.

Lacie d2 Professional

Lacie
Lacie d2 Professional
amazon.com
$184.99

Capacity: 4TB, 6GB, 8TB, 10TB, 14TB
Price:
$185 — $350+
Connectivity:
USB-A (3.0) and USB-C
Compatibility:
Mac and Windows

The Lacie d2 Professional is another external hard drive that was designed for photographers and other creative professionals. It's smaller and more affordable than the company's 2big Raid (above), and actually works very similarly. The downside is that it's not quite as much of a beast — it lacks the same transfer speeds and built-in cooling system. That said, for people who don't need (or want) a hard drive that's as big and "pro-grade" as the 2big Raid, this is the next best thing.


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