Want a lot of memory in your pocket for a little money? Then your choice is an external hard drive. Which one is worth buying in 2021 – our editorial team understands.
The Best External Hard Drives Consumer Guide 2021
1. WD 4TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive HDD
A popular external hard drive model, which has been produced by Western Digital since 2013 virtually unchanged. The buyer can choose the volume from 500 gb to 4 TB. Inside the box is the WD10JMVW-11AJGS1 2.5-inch hard drive, running at 5,400 rpm and with an 8-MB buffer. Connectivity is provided by a USB 3.0 port, which in theory could give you data transfer speeds of 500MB/s. But, in fact, you can’t count on speeds higher than 120 MB/s.
- Proven model
- Compact size
- Quality random – some work for years, others break down in a week after purchase
2. Transcend 1 TB StoreJet M3 Military Drop Tested USB 3.0 External Hard Drive
A family of portable hard drives first released back in 2012. The choice of storage capacity here is not the widest – 1 or 2 TB. The model is quite massive compared to its competitors. Some confidence in the design of the box is given by its rubberization. Many users believe that this can save the hard drive in the fall. However, it is not worth experimenting, especially with a neglected hard drive, because the manufacturer does not declare shock resistance in the characteristics. By the way, note that in the family of these hard drives there are models with USB 3.0 connectors, as well as with universal USB Type-C, which will please owners of modern devices.
- Well-proven model
- There is a version with USB Type-C port
- Competitors also offer cheaper models
3. Seagate Expansion Portable 4TB External Hard Drive HDD
A portable hard drive from industry giant Seagate. The series features an interesting (but impractical) design and a large number of modifications, up to models positioned as a solution for Xbox consoles. The volume of the line is extensive – from 500 GB to 4 TB. The hard drive is quite compact, but this has a disadvantage – many people complain about the flimsy plastic case, which is noticeable squeaks. There are also questions about the quality of the hard drive itself, there are reviews about drives that stopped showing signs of life a few months after purchase. But there is a one year warranty.
- Reasonable price
- One year warranty
- Can suddenly stop being detected by the computer
4. ADATA HD330
The line of original external hard drives stands out against the monotonous competitors. To begin with, the case has a strong and voluminous silicone shell, which can really protect the hard drive, for example, when carrying it around. However, you have to pay for this with increased size and weight. Unlike its competitors, the HD330 uses a USB 3.1 interface. On the outside the port is no different, but the speed in real use can reach 200 MB / s. This, of course, is not an SSD, but significantly more than the competitors. By the way, this disk has an extended version of 5 TB.
- Protected design
- Fast USB 3.1 interface
- Comparatively high price
5. Western Digital My Passport
Well-known series of external hard drives from WD enjoys the constant attention of customers, although it is not without flaws. The model can be credited with a nice appearance and as many as six color options. You can also choose the capacity of the hard drive – 1, 2, 3 or 4 TB. Then begins the nuances. For instance, some users come across devices which are noticeably noisy while working. Others are faced with a sudden failure, because of which not only the device died, but the data were irretrievably lost. All this is “seasoned” with a soldered-in USB-connector in the case board and noticeable heating during operation.
- Well-known brand
- Attractive appearance
6. Toshiba Canvio Ready
A relatively recent model, released on the market in 2016. You can choose from 500GB, 1TB, 2TB and 4TB storage capacities. Toshiba uses their own MQ01 series hard drives in this model, which adds confidence in the long and happy life of the device. The drive connects using a USB 3.0 connector, which means the speed, while high, is not record-breaking. The model has a rare quality for an external hard drive – it almost does not feel vibration. But some people won’t like the Toshiba Canvio Ready – the hard drive has a soldered-in USB connector, which means you can’t insert another 2.5-inch drive into the case.
- Good build quality and stability
- No annoying vibration
- Can not be replaced in case of hard drive failure
7. ADATA HD650 External Hard Drive
Another model from ADATA. The case has a silicone coating, which does not so much protects against shock as dampens the vibrations that occur during the operation of the hard drive. On sale now there are 1, 2 and 4 TB models, as well as versions with USB 3.0 or 3.1 connectors. The latter provides much faster data transfer, but provided that your computer is equipped with such a port. Failures are infrequent, but if something goes wrong, the failure will be related to the connector. If the warranty expires by then, the hard drive itself can easily be moved to another case that is compatible with 2.5″ hard drives.
- Possible connector defect
How to choose an external hard drive
In 2021, classic hard drives are rapidly losing ground to SSDs. The same trend can be seen among external drives as well. But even now, the best external hard drives of 2021 have a number of advantages, the most important of which is price. Despite the decrease in the cost per conditional gigabyte of SSD, hard drives are still beyond competition in this indicator.
What do you need from a device that will often be taken on the road? A sturdy case, of course. Some models with a plastic casing, even from reputable manufacturers, cannot boast this, annoying users with creaks. Fully metal external hard drives are rare now, but you can find models with aluminum inserts. The most advanced hard drives have a rubberized casing and even water protection. Pay attention to whether the design allows you to disassemble the case and take out the hard drive, in case of breakage. Otherwise, a faulty connector will put an end to a perfectly serviceable drive.
There are several memory sizes on the market for the best 2021 external hard drives. The 512GB size is rare these days, with 1TB becoming the standard. If that’s not enough for you, there are 2, 3, or 4TB versions. Of course these are all 2.5″ hard drives. The large 3.5″ hard drives have practically disappeared from the market, not being able to compete because of their size and the need for additional power.
Connectivity and Speed
Today’s external drives use two USB interfaces for connection and several variations of connectors. Basically, the best 2021 external hard drives run on USB 3.0, which offers a maximum transfer speed of 120MB/s. Advanced models work with a version of USB 3.1 (aka Apple’s Thunderbolt 3), which, in theory, can deliver speeds of 1.2 GB/s. In practice, the hard drives themselves are not able to produce such figures and the speed rarely exceeds 200 MB/s. As for connectors, in most of the external drives used USB Type-B, which is an expanded version of microUSB. More and more often there are models with modern Type-C. And there are quite exotic drives with the usual large USB.
Reliability and warranty
It is believed that the best external hard drives 2021 remain more reliable means of storing information than solid-state drives, which have some limit of recorded data. But in reality, users encounter breakdowns. Most often they are not related to the hard drive itself, but to the connector and controller. A separate category of failures is related to the fall of the device during operation, because hard drives do not tolerate this. In any case, you should choose models with the least amount of negative reviews and the longest warranty.