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Best External Hard Drive 2021: Fast Hard Drives for Photos, Files & More

hard disk back up advice to keep pictures and files safe online. avoid losing everything

The best external hard drive is a must for fast & reliable storage. The benefit of backing up your files is often only truly realised when you lose everything.

Today, the best hard drives are cheap, fast and portable. Backing up to a hard disk gives you the security of knowing exactly where your files are stored. Plus, you have full access to all your stuff – even when the wifi isn’t working.

An external hard disk is a great backup option. As the price of cloud storage creeps up, there are plenty of good reasons to hook up an external disk and keep your files secure.

Backing up your files may not be exciting, but bad things do happen. If your computer fails, you get hit with ransomware or your laptop is stolen, you could lose everything. Photos, videos, work, dissertation – everything. Back up your files and you can sleep easy. Even if the worst happens, you can still recover all those precious photos and must-have files.

How to choose the Best External Hard Drive

Verum compares 100s of hard drives in order to recommend the best. We consider six key aspects – storage size, connectivity, portability, speed, robust design & value.

For storage size, big is better. It’s hard to have too much storage space. In terms of compatibility, most drives work with most devices – assuming they’re formatted correctly. What’s important is to have a free USB connector on your device (scroll down to see image). USB 2.0 as a minimum and USB-C as the best/fastest option.

SSD vs. HDD – Which Technology to Choose?

SSD technology significantly outperforms HDD. Solid State Drives (SSD) are much faster, more reliable, smaller and lighter – The only negative is that they’re more expensive (more on this later).

If you simply need more storage or you need an external hard drive for backup, here are the best hard drives you can buy, right now…

Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Hard Drive - best buy recommended UK - Verum Verdict
Toshiba Canvio Basics – Fast, reliable and great value

Best Cheap External Hard Drive:
Toshiba Canvio Basics

Whatever your storage needs, this is a great budget hard drive – perfect to work alongside your PC, laptop or Chromebook. Connectivity is fast, via USB 3.0 (blue), which is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 should your PC not have the latest ports. It’s super easy to use, with plug and play compatibility, straight out of the box. Power is also via the USB cable, so there’s no need for an external power supply and extra wires. This hard drive weighs only 150grams. It’s lighter than most of its compatriots and it’s compact, physically.

There are 2TB, 3TB & 4TB options should you want more storage and can stretch the budget. The Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Hard Drive is the ideal budget storage/back up solution for your files. 

The Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB hard drive will give you enough storage for over 250,000 pictures and at less than £50 it’s a great buy.


Toshiba Canvio 1TB | Verdict price £40 | See Best Price on Amazon

LaCie 2TB Mobile External Hard Drive - Recommended UK - Verum Verdict
LaCie 1TB Mobile Drive – The perfect storage for your MacBook

Best 1TB External Hard Drive for Mac:
LaCie Aluminium Hard Drive with USB-C

With a sleek, all aluminium design, this hard drive the ideal storage companion for your Mac. Rather than just another black plastic box, the aluminium casing and laser-cut design, give this hard disk a premium and robust feel.

Connectivity is via USB-C, giving plug and play for the latest Macs, plus a second cable is included for legacy models and most PCs & laptops. As you’d expect, there’s no need for an additional power cable.

The Lacie hard drive weighs only a few grams more than an iPhone. It has a slim design and feels robust. Plus, there’s a 2TB, 4TB & 5TB model (use the same link below), should you need to store lots of big files. There are cheaper hard disks available, but the stylish aluminium chassis and USB-C make the LaCie 2 TB Mobile Drive a great choice for all your Mac storage.

SPECIFICATION | HDD | SIZE 1TB | DIMENSIONS 88x122x10 | WEIGHT 200g | USB 3.0 & USB C | SPEED Very Fast | WARRANTY 2 Years

LaCie 1 TB Hard Drive | Verdict price £54 | See Best Price on Amazon

Seagate Expansion 2TB External Hard Disk - Recommended UK - Verum Verdict
Seagate 2 TB Expansion drive – The perfect external hard disk for your PlayStation games

Best External Hard Drive for PlayStation:
Seagate 2 TB

There are a number of external hard drives that are marketed specifically for the PS4, but any decent hard drive with a USB 3.0 connection will work perfectly on your PS4, Xbox or PC.

Let’s be clear, the 500MB internal hard drive that comes with the PS4 is too small and assuming you don’t fancy opening your games console up, voiding any guarantee and installing a new internal drive, the best option to add an external drive.

Big enough for all your games

The Seagate 2TB external hard drive will hold around 50 games, so buy this & you can stop stressing about storage and get on with enjoying your gaming. The Seagate external hard drive is stylish and will look good next to your PS4. It will work, straight from the box, with the supplied cable.

The unit is fractionally heavier than the competition, but as it’s going to be gently purring next to your PS4, rather than being lugged around, this shouldn’t matter. The best buy external hard disk for PlayStation is the Seagate 2 TB Expansion.


Seagate 2 TB Expansion disk | Verdict price £55 | See Best Price on Amazon

Seagate 2TB Game Drive - Recommended UK - Verum Verdict
Seagate 2TB Game Drive – Perfect storage for your Xbox games

Best External Hard Drive for Xbox:
Seagate 2TB Game Drive

The Xbox architecture means you can use any external hard drive that’s PC compatible with USB 3.0 connectivity. That said, should you want your new external hard drive to look great next to your Xbox, then the Seagate 2TB Game Drive does the job.

It’s essentially, the robust and respected Seagate drive in a case that’s designed specifically for Xbox. It will work, with the supplied lead, straight out of the box. The other advantage of an external drive is that you can take your games library to a friends house (remember your Xbox Live login details).

With so many great games out there plus loads more on the horizon, sooner or later, you’re going to need a decent-sized external hard drive. Should you be planning to buy a load more games then there are 4TB and 8TB capacity drives, but this Seagate 2TB drive is perfect for most gamers.


Seagate 2TB Game Drive | Verdict price £65 | See Best Price on Amazon

WD2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive - Recommended UK - Verum Verdict
WD 2TB Elements – Compact & light portable storage at a great price

Best Portable External Hard Drive:
WD 2TB Elements

The majority of HDD hard drives claim to be portable & indeed they are. However, essentially they’re mechanical devices and with a few knocks & bumps, they can fail. An SSD is the premium alternative. However, they’re more expensive, especially if you need storage above 500MB. 

HDD technology that’s built to last

The Western Digital Elements hard drive uses traditional HDD technology but it’s tiny, lightweight and reasonably priced. This storage and back-up device has been around for a couple of years now, meaning there are loads in circulation and studying reader reviews, it’s clearly robust & bears the test of time. 

It’s available at a variety of capacities from 500MB to 4TB, although going below 1TB will only save pennies and makes little sense as you’ll most probably need more storage in the future. If you’re put off buying an SSD drives by the price and need a small, light & reliable hard disk – choose the WD 2TB Elements.


WD 2TB Elements | Verdict price £56 | See Best Price on Amazon

Also consider – The same drive, with double the storage…
WD 4TB Elements | Verdict price £85 | See Best Price on Amazon

Samsung External (SSD) Solid State Drive – The ultimate, fast & light, storage for laptop, Chromebook or MacBook
Samsung 1 TB External (SSD) Solid State Drive – Tiny, robust & ultra-fast. Available in red, blue & black

Best External SSD:
Samsung T7 – Ultra Fast & Reliable External Hard Drive

Looking for ultra-fast, lightweight & robust storage? The Samsung T7 is the best Solid-State Drive (SSD) you can buy. Solid-State Drives have no moving parts meaning they are far more robust than traditional HDD drives. They don’t wear out and are less susceptible to damage when dropped.

Importantly, this drive is supplied with two cables. The first is a USB-C to USB-C cable, delivering ultra-fast transfer speeds between the SSD and any device with a USB-C port (PC & Mac). Plus, there’s a USB-C to USB-2/3 cable for connecting all older devices. The Samsung T7 is designed for the future but it is also backwards compatible – it will work with your device.

Ultra-Fast External SSD Storage

Incredible performance comes as standard. This best buy SSD has a maximum read/write speeds of 1000 MB/s – which is approaching 10x quicker than the HDD (120 M/bs) equivalent. The Samsung T7 1TB SSD, really does, tick all the boxes.

Tiny, super light SSD

Fast, light and physically small, the T7 is more robust than a mechanical HDD. The Samsung T7 SSD is the size of a credit card, although slightly thicker. And at a weight of only 58 grams, it weighs less than your phone. It’s a truly amazing piece of kit.

SPECIFICATION | SSD | SIZE 1TB | DIMENSIONS 57x85x8 | WEIGHT 58g | USB 3.0 & USB C  | SPEED Ultra Fast | WARRANTY 3 Years | Black, Blue & Red

Samsung 1 TB SSD | Verdict price £140 | See Best Price on Amazon

What’s the difference between HDD & SSD?

Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD) use different technologies to store and retrieve files. HDD disks rely on moving parts. They’re much cheaper than an equivalent SSD but physically bigger & heavier. Typically a 1TB HDD Hard Drive will cost around half the equivalent sized SSD.

An SSD is tiny, ultra-fast and uses less battery power. Plus, as they have no moving parts, there’s less to go wrong. They don’t wear out & can handle being dropped (within reason!)

How do I identify a USB connector?

The image below shows three USB ports suitable for connecting an external hard disk to your computer or console. Take a look at your device/s to see which port you have available.

USB-C is the best option as it delivers ultra-fast speeds. The LaCie & Samsung T7 drive are both equipped with this port.

All the Verum recommended hard disks come complete with cable/s.

USB 2.0, USB 3.0 & USB C ports to identify compatibility & speed for the best hard disk
USB Connectors (on your computer or console) for an external hard disk

Best Hard Drives

Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Hard Drive - Recommended UK - Verum Verdict

Toshiba Canvio 1TB | Verdict price £40
See price on Amazon

WD2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive - Recommended UK - Verum Verdict

WD 2TB Elements | Verdict price £56
See price on Amazon

Samsung External (SSD) Solid State Drive – The ultimate, fast & light, storage for laptop, Chromebook or MacBook

Samsung T7 SSD | Verdict price £140
See price on Amazon

The Verdict

The Samsung T7 SSD is super fast, lightweight and with no moving parts, it’s less likely to fail than an HDD. This superior technology initially costs more, but as the drive will last longer – it will save you money over time. Plus, you’re less likely to encounter a data loss problem in the future.

Choose any of the Verum hard disks detailed above and you will get excellent, reliable storage for the right price. Go as big as your budget will allow – nobody complains of having too much space! As a guide, 1TB will be big enough to store around 250,000 photos. Click on any of the links above to see different size options for each drive.

The Samsung T7 SSD is ultra-fast, quiet and is significantly more robust than any HDD. It’s the most reliable storage for your files.

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