An external hard drive is a must-have for adding storage and/or backing up your files. As laptops get smaller and lighter they rely more and more on cloud storage. This is great with a good internet connection but when offline, it’s nothing but frustrating. Today, external hard drives are cheap, light and quick. Backing up to a hard disk gives you the security of knowing exactly where your files are stored. Plus, you have full access to 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 backup your files – it’s a cheap solution, easy and once you’ve picked the right hard disk from the verdicts below, there are no additional costs.
Backing up your files isn’t 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 and you can sleep easy. Even if the worst happens, you can still recover all those precious memories and must-have files.
How to choose an external hard drive
There are five aspects to consider when buying an external hard drive, storage size, compatibility, portability, speed & robust design.
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. On the subject of speed, an SSD will significantly outperform an HDD. Plus, an SSD has no moving parts meaning that it’s less likely to fail (more on this later).
So whether you simply need more storage or you want an external hard disk for backup, here are the Verum verdicts…
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 or laptop. 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.
HDD | SIZE 1TB | DIMENSIONS 78x109x14 | WEIGHT 149g | USB 3.0 | SPEED Fast | WARRANTY 2 Years
Toshiba Canvio 1TB | Verdict price £40 | Check the best price on Amazon
Best External Hard Drive for Macs
LaCie 2 TB
Sleek, all aluminium design makes this a great looking 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 feel – showing that storage and back-up can be stylish. 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. There’s a smaller 1TB version if that fits your budget. Alternatively, 4TB & 5TB models that are larger and heavier, 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 additional Mac storage.
HDD | SIZE 2TB | DIMENSIONS 88x122x10 | WEIGHT 200g | USB 3.0 & USB C | SPEED Very Fast | WARRANTY 2 Years
LaCie 2 TB Mobile Disk | Verdict price £76 | Check the best price on Amazon
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.
HDD | SIZE 2TB | DIMENSIONS 80x117x15 | WEIGHT 170g | USB 3.0 | SPEED Fast | WARRANTY 2 Years
Seagate 2 TB Expansion disk | Verdict price £57 | Check the best price on Amazon
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 a load more games then there are 4TB and 8TB capacity drives, but this Seagate 2TB drive is perfect for most gamers.
HDD | SIZE 2TB | DIMENSIONS 76x114x10 | WEIGHT 135g | USB 3.0 | SPEED Fast | WARRANTY 2 Years
Seagate 2TB Game Drive | Verdict price £70 | Check the best price on Amazon
Best Portable External Hard Drive
WD 2TB Elements
The majority of HDD hard drives claim to be portable & indeed they are, but as mechanical devices, they have moving parts, which with a few knocks & bumps, can fail. The obvious alternative is an SSD, which has no moving parts and is significantly quicker. 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 clearly 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 SSD drives by the price and need a small, light & reliable hard disk – choose the WD 2TB Elements.
HDD | SIZE 2TB | DIMENSIONS 82x111x15 | WEIGHT 130g | USB 3.0 | SPEED Fast | WARRANTY 2 Years
WD 2TB Elements | Verdict price £58 | Check the best price on Amazon
Also consider – The same drive, with double the storage…
WD 4TB Elements | Verdict price £86 | Check the best price on Amazon
Best External SSD
Looking for ultra-fast, lightweight & robust storage? This solid-state drive (SSD) is the right choice. With no moving parts, solid-state drives have less to go wrong, are tiny and weigh less than your phone. The Samsung T7 is excellent value for money, compared to other SSDs and comes with a USB-C and USB-3 cables, making it the ideal companion for the latest PC & Mac laptops.
Super fast SSD
You get incredible performance, it has claimed 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
It’s faster, lighter, smaller and more robust than the mechanical alternatives. This Samsung SSD is the size of a credit card, although slightly thicker. And at a weight of only 58 grams, it is a truly amazing piece of kit.
SSD | SIZE 1TB | DIMENSIONS 57x85x8 | WEIGHT 58g | USB 3.0 & USB C | SPEED Ultra Fast | WARRANTY 3 Years
Samsung 1 TB SSD | Verdict price £170 | Check the 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 are cheaper, physically bigger, heavier and rely on moving parts. Typically a 1TB Hard Drive or HDD will cost less than half of the equivalent sized SSD.
An SSD is small, lightweight uses less battery power and is incredibly quick. Plus, as they have no moving parts, there’s less to go wrong. They don’t wear out & can handle being dropped.
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. It will give you super-fast speeds with the LaCie drive & an ultra-fast connection with the Samsung T7.
All the Verum recommended hard disks come complete with cable.
Recommended Hard Drives
Perfect budget storage
Toshiba Canvio 1TB | Verdict price £40
See price on Amazon
MacBook external storage
LaCie 2 TB Mobile Disk | Verdict price £76
See price on Amazon
Small & lightweight HDD
WD 2TB Elements | Verdict price £58
See price on Amazon
Ultra-Fast, small and robust
Samsung T7 SSD | Verdict price £170
See price on Amazon
Why Spend More?
Budget allowing, choosing an SSD is an easy option. They’re more robust, much faster, tiny & super light. Comparatively, traditional hard disks (HDD) are far more likely to fail. They don’t like bumps & in time, the technology simply wears out. Buy an SSD & it should keep going indefinitely.
Choose any of the Verum hard disks detailed above and you will get excellent, reliable storage for the right price. Should you need more storage, choose from the same models above, but opt for more terabytes (TB). As a guide, a single TB will be big enough to store around 250,000 photos.
The Samsung SSD costs more, but it’s quicker, quieter and far less likely to fail when compared to an HDD. If your budget will stretch, the Samsung T7 is a great investment.