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Best portable external hard drives 2020-2021: 10 top portable hard disks

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Here’s our pick of the very best external hard drive choices for your PC or Mac backups

A quality external hard drive can provide a great deal more storage capacity than your phone, tablet, or laptop. They are an affordable and very valuable safeguard against data loss.

Portable hard-drives come in 2 types, SSD & HDD. SSD (solid-state drive) drives are a safer means of storage but also more costly. HDDs aren’t as quick or touch as SSDs, but you can get more storage space for less money. In this guide, we will be listing both SSD and HDD drives.

Best Wireless security

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive


Capacity: 2TBInterface: USB 3.0



If looking for a great external hard drive on a budget, look no further than Buffalo’s MiniStation Extreme NFC.

Buffalo’s MiniStation is compatible with both Windows and Mac. Plus, it is a tough, travel-ready, dust, shock and water-resistant HDD. It comes with an integrated USB 3.0 port.

Best Encryption with long service warranty

Western Digital My Passport Ultra 4TB external hard drive


Capacity: 4TBInterface: USB 3.0 + Includes Encryption and a long service warranty



Western Digital My Passport Ultra series comes with 1TB to 4TB capacities. Western Digital has earned a reputation for making some of the best external hard drives available. WD drives also come with cloud storage, 256-AES encryption, and WD’s software suite.

While WD HDD speeds can’t compete with SSDs, they are fast enough for most needs, more affordable and reliable.

Best external SSD

Samsung T5 SSD external hard drive


Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TBInterface: USB Type-C

If you solid-state drive (SSD) external hard drive speeds, then there’s the Samsung Portable SSD T5.



When speed is essential then consider a solid-state drive (SSD). When it comes to SSDs the Samsung Portable SSD T5 tops our list. Samsung has a weel deserved reputation for making high-quality external SSDs like the T5.

The T5 offers a very efficient USB Type-C connection and it’s also reverse compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. While it costs more than a 5 TB HDD, it’s worth it.

Best Hard drive in the palm of your hand

Adata SD700 External SSD


Capacity: 256GB, 512GB or 1TBInterface: USB 3.0.



The Adata SD700 is another fast and secure SSD at a relatively budget-friendly price. It stores 1 TB of data so you save or retrieve your files at SSD speeds.

Best Thunderbolt external hard drive

Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt external hard drive


Capability: 1TB, 2TBInterface: Thunderbolt, USB 3.0



Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt is best for devices with the Thunderbolt port. It can achieve speeds twice as fast as basic USB 3.0 drives. The drive will work with any USB 3.0 port without Thunderbolt. Because it is a standard HDD (not SSD) its price remains relatively low.

Best performance external hard drive

Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB


Capability: 5TBInterface: USB 3.0.



Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB achieves speed and storage capacity. With storage up to 8TB it’s also one of the fastest HDDs available.

Plus, Seagate’s excellent reputation and relatively low failure rates offer peace of mind. Formatted by default for Windows, you’ll need a Mac-specific version that will cost a bit more.

Best rugged external hard drive

LaCie Rugged USB-C 4TB External Hard Drive


Capacity: 4TBInterface: USB-C.



The LaCie’s is a durable external hard drive that securely stores data with its shock, drop, dust, and rain-resistant build. You can get it with a variety of connections including Thunderbolt/USB-C.

Plus, if 4TB isn’t enough you can get you to 8TB of storage.

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