The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (2024)

Laptop drive almost full? Need to back up your photos? Desktop-size and portable platter storage has never been cheaper. Our deep-dive reviews help you track down the right external hard drive.

ByTony Hoffman

Tony Hoffman

Senior Analyst, Hardware

My Experience

Since 2004, I have worked on PCMag’s hardware team, covering at various times printers, scanners, projectors, storage, and monitors. I currently focus my testing efforts on 3D printers, pro and productivity displays, and drives and SSDs of all sorts.

Read Full Bio

UpdatedJuly 2, 2024

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Table of Contents

Despite the popularity of slim, speedy external SSDs, external hard drives—based on spinning platter disks—are still essential, cost-effective storage. Modern hard drives are ever more capacious for the money: For as little as $50, you can add a terabyte to your laptop or desktop by plugging in a USB cable. Important factors we consider in evaluating external hard drives include speed, capacity, and cost per gigabyte, as well as physical size, style, ruggedness, and the interface it uses. This guide makes sense of these and many more factors. PCMag has been testing and reviewing external drives for decades, and we've outlined here our top choices. Our current pick for the best external desktop drive for most people is the WD My Book, and for portable drives, the WD My Passport (5TB), though we stand behind all our recommendations. Read on for all of them, plus the shopping basics to know.

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Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions.Read our editorial mission & see how we test.

Our Top Tested Picks

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (2)

Best Desktop Hard Drive for Most People

Western Digital My Book

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$179.99 at Amazon $199.99Save $20.00See It

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (3)

Best Portable Hard Drive for Most People

WD My Passport (5TB)

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$136.49 at Amazon See It

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (4)

Best Portable Hard Drive for Gamers

WD Black P10 Game Drive

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$79.20 at Amazon $84.99Save $5.79See It

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (5)

Best Desktop Hard Drive for Creative Pros

LaCie 2big RAID

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$699.00 at Amazon See It

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (6)

Best Rugged Portable Hard Drive for Windows Users

ADATA HD710M Pro External Hard Drive

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$74.98 at Amazon See It

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (7)

Best Rugged Portable Hard Drive for Mac Users

SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD

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$94.99 at Amazon See It

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (8)

Best Security-Minded Desktop Hard Drive

iStorage DiskAshur DT2

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$194.00 at Amazon See It

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (9)

Best-Designed Portable Hard Drive

LaCie Mobile Drive (2022)

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$164.99 at Amazon See It

Best Prime Day External Hard Drive Deals This Week*

  • Samsung T9 Shield 2TB Portable USB-C Solid-State Drive$236.54(List Price $299.99)
  • LaCie Rugged Mini 2TB Portable USB 3.0 Hard Drive$93.46(List Price $109.99)
  • WD Elements 18TB Desktop External USB 3.0 Hard Drive$321.82(List Price $529.99)
  • SanDisk 1TB Extreme Pro USB-C Portable Solid-State Drive$122.32(List Price $149.99)
  • WD My Passport 4TB Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive$98.99(List Price $129.99)

*Deals are selected by our commerce team

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

  • RELATED:
  • Best External Hard Drives for Macs
  • Best External SSDs

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (10)

Best Desktop Hard Drive for Most People

Western Digital My Book

4.5 Outstanding

  • Comes in a variety of large capacities.
  • Three-year warranty.
  • Requires external power adapter.

Drive TypeExternal Desktop

System-Side InterfaceUSB 3.0

USB Powered?

Capacity8 TB

Spin Rate5400 rpm

Cables IncludedUSB Micro-B-to-A

Backup Software Included?

Warranty (Parts/Labor)3 year(s)

Other Features

If you're addicted to downloading videos and snapping up every game you can find online, chances are you need inexpensive, voluminous storage to house it all. The Western Digital My Book, now available in capacities up to a whopping 22TB, can hold thousands of hours of video, or millions of MP3s or photos. With a good mix of capacity, pricing, and performance, it's a shoo-in as an Editors' Choice pick for desktop external hard drives.

Most of us need a large repository for our data files, including the scads of pictures we've taken over the years, music files, and those downloaded movies we've been meaning to watch. The Western Digital My Book is an excellent choice to store them all, offering tremendous capacities at a low cost per gigabyte..

GET IT NOW

$179.99 Amazon

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Western Digital My Book Review

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (11)

Best Portable Hard Drive for Most People

WD My Passport (5TB)

4.0 Excellent

  • 5TB is peak portable single-drive capacity.
  • Small and light.
  • AES-256 hardware encryption with password.
  • Ships with apps for backup/restore, reformatting and checking drive health, and more.
  • At list price, the 5TB version has a higher cost per gigabyte than the 4TB version.

Drive TypeExternal Portable

System-Side InterfaceUSB 3.0

USB Powered?

Capacity5 TB

Spin Rate5400 rpm

Cables IncludedUSB Micro-B-to-A, USB-A-to-C adapter

Backup Software Included?

Warranty (Parts/Labor)3 year(s)

Other Features

Its combination of solid performance, hardware encryption, and useful utilities makes the 5TB WD My Passport a strong contender for everyday backup of sensitive data or storing a massive collection of videos, photos, and documents. Slightly rounded edges and ripples give the My Passport drive both the look and the feel of a consumer gadget. The ripples also make it easy to grip the device.

The 5TB WD My Passport is a product of the manufacturer's added effort to make a simple plastic box look attractive. Add a choice of colors, a size that can fit in a shirt pocket, a range of capacities from 1TB to 5TB, and easy-to-find discounts from list price, and the WD My Passport is a clear standout and our Editors' Choice pick among high-capacity portable hard drives.

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$136.49 Amazon $139.99 Best Buy $139.99 Walmart

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WD My Passport (5TB) Review

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (12)

Best Portable Hard Drive for Gamers

WD Black P10 Game Drive

4.0 Excellent

  • Sturdy, compact design
  • Good grippability
  • Appealing gamer aesthetic
  • USB Type-C cable not included

Drive TypeExternal Portable

System-Side InterfaceUSB 3.0

USB Powered?

Capacity4 TB

Spin Rate5400 rpm

Cables IncludedUSB Micro-B-to-A

Backup Software Included?

Warranty (Parts/Labor)3 year(s)

Other Features

With the ribbed appearance of a corrugated shipping crate, the WD Black P10 Game Drive’s styling gives it the appearance of a container you (or your enemies) might use for cover in the wasteland of one of the games you might store on it. If you appreciate the gamer aesthetic, the P10 is an obvious choice over more vanilla offerings like the WD My Passport or the Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch.

That said, as a platter-based hard drive, it's best equipped to store a game library; you're better off loading the games you're currently playing from an SSD. If you conservatively figure an average game size of 100GB, the 4TB version tested here can hold about 40 titles, serving as the stylish main repository of your collection for years to come, and for a much more modest outlay than you'd spend on an SSD of similar capacity.

The WD Black P10 Game Drive is primarily for gamers to store a game library and who appreciate the edgy shipping-container aesthetic that's a common motif in post-apocalyptic FPS games (and a few such movies as well). It's also cost-effective compared with using an SSD to house your library.

GET IT NOW

$79.20 Amazon $84.99 Best Buy

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WD Black P10 Game Drive Review

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (13)

Best Desktop Hard Drive for Creative Pros

LaCie 2big RAID

4.0 Excellent

  • Can use RAID 0 for higher speed and capacity, RAID 1 for drive mirroring, or JBOD (RAID off).
  • Five-year warranty with five years of Data Rescue recovery.
  • Drives are hot-swappable.
  • High price per gigabyte.
  • Need to download utilities to manage the drive.
  • Kensington lock slot secures only the case, leaving the drives easily removable.

Drive TypeExternal Desktop

System-Side InterfaceThunderbolt 3, USB 3.0

USB Powered?

Capacity8 TB

Spin Rate7200 rpm

Cables IncludedUSB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB-A

Backup Software Included?

Warranty (Parts/Labor)5 year(s)

Other FeaturesHot swappable drives

The LaCie 2big RAID external hard drive, aimed squarely at videographers, photographers, and other content creators, earns kudos for design excellence in both looks and features. The handsome gray and black case houses two spinning-platter drives—4TB each in the 8TB version we tested. You can configure the 2big so your computer sees it as two separate 4TB drives, as a single 8TB drive with faster performance, or as a 4TB drive that's automatically mirrored or backed up to the second. You can also hot-swap drives, easily sliding an old one out and a new one in with no tools, without turning the LaCie unit off.

The LaCie 2big RAID array promises the reliability and delivers the performance benefit you'd expect from 7,200rpm platters, magnified by the default RAID 0 setting, while the optional RAID 1 setting is available if you want data redundancy. (A JBOD mode is also available if you don't want to use RAID.)

The LaCie 2big RAID desktop array offers cavernous capacity to creative types and others who need to store and work with massive amounts of data. Available in capacities up to 16TB when we reviewed it, it has since added even higher volume, up to a monstrous 40TB.

GET IT NOW

$699.00 Amazon

Learn More

LaCie 2big RAID Review

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (14)

Best Rugged Portable Hard Drive for Windows Users

ADATA HD710M Pro External Hard Drive

4.0 Excellent

  • Durable in drop tests.
  • Good dollar-per-gigabyte ratio.
  • Trim enclosure.
  • Lightweight for a ruggedized unit.
  • Cable storage around the edges.
  • Camouflage exterior may not be for everyone.
  • Plastic housing only.

Drive TypeExternal Portable

System-Side InterfaceUSB 3.0

USB Powered?

Capacity2 TB

Spin Rate5400 rpm

Cables IncludedUSB Micro-B-to-A

Backup Software Included?

Warranty (Parts/Labor)3 year(s)

Other Features

There are rugged hard drives, and then there's the ADATA HD710M Pro External Hard Drive. Its IP (ingress protection) rating of IP68 for dust resistance and waterproofing (in the last case, submerged up to two meters for up to one hour) matches the best rating of any hard drive or SSD we have reviewed. The ADATA HD710M Pro also has grips and channels around the edges of the drive to keep the detachable USB cable tethered to the drive at all times, even when not plugged into the USB connector.

The ADATA HD710M Pro is a good choice for outdoor workers, as the drive is able to take a tumble, and keep out water, sand, and dust. It comes in at a better cost per gigabyte than its solid-state brethren as well.

GET IT NOW

$74.98 Amazon

Learn More

ADATA HD710M Pro External Hard Drive Review

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (15)

Best Rugged Portable Hard Drive for Mac Users

SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD

4.0 Excellent

  • Rugged enough to protect from the elements, with rubberized sheath and port cover
  • Attractive design
  • Ideal for use with macOS
  • Both USB-C and USB-A cables bundled
  • Competitive pricing
  • Lacks software suite and hardware-based encryption
  • Requires reformatting for use with Windows

Drive TypeExternal Portable

System-Side InterfaceUSB 3.0

USB Powered?

Capacity2 TB

Spin Rate5400 rpm

Cables IncludedUSB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB-A

Backup Software Included?

Warranty (Parts/Labor)3 year(s)

Other Features

The SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD is a cost-effective, semi-rugged external hard drive available in capacities up to 5TB. As a spinning (5,400rpm) platter drive, its speed can't compare with an SSD, but it should work well for travelers or mobile workers who need lots of capacity for the spend. With a rubber bumper and internal shock mounts, the ArmorATD is rated to survive up to 1,000 pounds of pressure or a drop from 3.3 feet. Its ingress protection (IP) rating of IP54 promises some security against sand and rain. It comes formatted in Mac-friendly HFS+, one of two formats (along with APFS) compatible with the macOS Time Machine backup system. If you only have a Windows computer, you could (carefully) reformat it to NTFS, but you would probably be better off getting a hard drive already formatted in NTFS or exFAT.

Like other products in the SanDisk Professional line, the G-Drive ArmorATD is strongly geared to Mac use. It's best for traveling Mac users looking for a drive that can withstand a tumble or a rainstorm and want better capacity for the price than they would get with an SSD.

GET IT NOW

$94.99 Amazon

Learn More

SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD Review

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (16)

Best Security-Minded Desktop Hard Drive

iStorage DiskAshur DT2

4.0 Excellent

  • Immense capacity
  • Low cost per gigabyte for a security-centric drive
  • AES-XTS 256-bit full-disk hardware encryption
  • FIPS 140-2 Level 2/3, NCSC CPA, NLNCSA BSPA, and NATO Restricted certifications
  • Easy for authorized users to unlock
  • No protective case or ruggedness features
  • Low score in PCMark 10 benchmark for everyday storage tasks

Drive TypeExternal Portable

System-Side InterfaceUSB 3.2

USB Powered?

Capacity14 TB

Spin Rate7200 rpm

Cables IncludedUSB-B to USB-A

Backup Software Included?

Warranty (Parts/Labor)3 year(s)

Other Features

With cavernous capacity and a minuscule cost per gigabyte compared with security-centric SSDs, the iStorage DiskAshur DT2—a desktop-style hard drive—is a formidable solution for corporations, institutions, and agencies needing to keep sensitive data safe. With a slew of protective features and boasting an impressive set of certifications, this PIN-authenticated external drive is easy for authorized users to access but impervious to attempts by outsiders to break in. As a desktop hard drive, it is not USB-powered, but instead must be plugged into its included AC adapter. As it will generally be used in an office or server room setting, it lacks any ruggedness features to speak of—the protection it offers is from human threats.

The DT2 isn't slim or portable like many external drives—in form, it’s a classic desktop spinning hard drive. But it is easy for authorized users to unlock and access using its built-in keypad, and it has a slew of security features and certifications to assure you it'll keep bad guys out. If you need to store and protect large volumes of data, this is a great choice.

GET IT NOW

$194.00 Amazon

Learn More

iStorage DiskAshur DT2 Review

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (17)

Best-Designed Portable Hard Drive

LaCie Mobile Drive (2022)

3.5 Good

  • Sleek design
  • Available in capacities up to 5TB
  • LaCie Toolkit software handles backup, restore, and mirroring
  • Three-year access to data recovery service
  • Compatible with Windows, Macs, and iPads
  • Relatively pricey
  • Low PCMark 10 overall test score

Drive TypeExternal Portable

System-Side InterfaceUSB 3.2

USB Powered?

Capacity5 TB

Spin Rate5400 rpm

Cables IncludedUSB-C to USB-C

Backup Software Included?

Warranty (Parts/Labor)3 year(s)

Other Features

Sporting a tasteful silver-and-black chassis, the LaCie Mobile Drive (2022) is a mildly redesigned version of the company's external hard drive that we reviewed in March 2019. Available in capacities up to 5TB, the new drive is easy to set up and use. Its LaCie Toolkit software enables backup, restore, and mirroring. Its touch of style brings a slightly higher cost than other external spinning hard drives, however.

The 2022 iteration of the LaCie Mobile Drive is a good choice for anyone who values capacity over speed, and who appreciates a rare touch of elegance in a platter-based hard drive. It costs a tad more per gigabyte than much of its platter-based ilk, but less than SSDs of equivalent capacity.

GET IT NOW

$164.99 Amazon

Learn More

LaCie Mobile Drive (2022) Review

Buying Guide: The Best External Hard Drives for 2024

How to Choose an External Hard Drive

Hard drives may get you more capacity for your dollar by far, but first you need to consider a major difference in external storage these days: the hard drive versus the SSD.Solid-state drives (SSDs) have fewer moving parts than traditional hard drives, and they offer the speediest access to your data. Unlike a conventional disk-based hard drive, which stores data on a spinning platter or platters accessed by a moving magnetic head, an SSD uses a collection of flash cells—similar to the ones that make up a computer's RAM—to save data.

Just how much faster is it to access data stored in flash cells? Typical read and write speeds for consumer drives with spinning platters are in the 100MBps to 200MBps range, depending on platter densities and whether they spin at 5,400rpm (more common) or 7,200rpm (less common). External SSDs offer at least twice that speed and now, often much more, with typical results on our benchmark tests in excess of 400MBps for the slowest ones. Practically speaking, this means you can move gigabytes of data (say, a 4GB feature-length film, or a year's worth of family photos) to an external SSD in seconds rather than the minutes it would take with an external spinning drive.

Not only is it faster to read and write data stored in flash cells, but it's also safer. Because there is no spinning platter or moving magnetic head, if you bump the SSD while you're accessing its data, there is no risk that your files will become corrupted and unreadable.

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (18)

(Credit: Molly Flores)

Still, while external SSDs are cheaper than they were a few years ago (see the best we've tested at the preceding link), they're far from a complete replacement for spinning drives. Larger external drives designed to stay on your desk or in a server closet still almost exclusively use spinning-drive mechanisms, taking advantage of platter drives' much higher capacities and much lower prices compared with SSDs.

Portable hard drives can be a great value if what you need is raw capacity above all else. You can find a 2TB portable hard drive for less than $100 with ease (possibly even a 4TB one, depending on the day), while 5TB hard drives go for about $150 and 6TB models for about $180. A 2TB SSD, though? Expect to pay around twice as much as you would for that 2TB hard drive. Likewise, most 4TB external SSDs start around $300, and most 8TB models start at $600 and up.

Should I Get a Desktop Hard Drive, or a Portable Hard Drive?

If you have a large media-file collection—perhaps you are a photo or video editor, or maybe a movie buff—you'll likely need several terabytes of space in which to store it. In that case, your best option is a desktop-class hard drive. We define these as having one or more spinning-platter drives inside and requiring a dedicated power cable plugged into AC power to work. (Of course, in this scenario, your files are going to have to stay at your desk.)

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (19)

(Credit: Molly Flores)

A desktop drive with a single platter mechanism will typically use a 3.5-inch drive inside and comes in capacities up to around 20TB. Most are roughly 5 inches tall and 2 inches wide. In addition to storing large media collections, these drives can also serve as inexpensive repositories for backups of your computer's hard drive that you schedule, using either software that comes with the drive or a third-party backup utility.

The next size up for consumer desktop drives is about the same height but twice as wide, to accommodate more than one platter-based hard drive mechanism in the chassis. These larger models are more expensive but also much more capacious—think 24TB or more (in that case, populated by two 12TB drive mechanisms). In the case of these and single-platter-drive products, you're not meant to swap out the drive or drives inside.

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (20)

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

The largest desktop drives are often much, much bulkier than the first two categories, so big that you'll want to stick them under your desk or in a dedicated server closet. They're mostly intended for professional use in editing studios, surveillance control rooms, and the like. Their defining characteristic is the ability to swap drives in and out of their multi-bay chassis easily, so most provide quick access to the drive bays at the front of the device.

Most such multi-bay devices are sold without the actual hard drives included, so you can install any drive you want (usually, 3.5-inch drives, but some support laptop-style 2.5-inchers). Their total storage capacities are limited only by their number of available bays and the capacities of the drives you put in them. Some in the storage industry refer to these (as well as smaller-capacity externals as a whole) as DAS—for "direct attached storage"—to distinguish them from NAS, or network attached storage, many of which are also multi-bay devices that can take two or more drives that you supply. (See our separate roundup of the best NAS drives.)

At the other end of the physical-size spectrum are portable drives. Hard drive-based portables make use inside of the same kinds of platter-drive mechanisms used in laptops. These are called generically "2.5-inch drives," though they are actually a smidge wider than that. Any portable platter-based hard drive should fit easily in a purse or even a coat pocket. As a rule, portable drives get their power from the computer to which you connect them, through the interface cable, so there's no need for a wall outlet or a power cord/brick.

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (21)

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

The best way to gauge relative value among similar portable drives is to calculate the cost per gigabyte, dividing the cost of the drive in dollars by the capacity in gigabytes to see the relative per-gig price. Example: A $60 1TB (1,000GB) hard drive would run you about 6 cents per gigabyte, while an $80 2TB (2,000GB) drive would work out to about 4 cents per gigabyte.

Need Redundancy or Extreme Speed? Consider a RAID-Enabled Drive

If you buy a larger desktop drive with two or more discrete spinning-platter drive mechanisms inside, you'll almost certainly have the option to configure the drive as a RAID array using included software. Depending on which RAID level you choose, you can prioritize capacity, speed, or data redundancy, or some combination thereof.

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (22)

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

A collection of spinning drives configured with a RAID level designed for faster data access can approximate the speeds of a basic SSD, while you should consider a drive with support for RAID levels 1, 5, or 10 if you're storing really important data that you can't afford to lose. Hit the link above for an explanation of the traits and strengths of each RAID level. Some require you to sacrifice raw capacity for data redundancy, so you'll want to pay attention to the nuances of each level.

Which Drive Interface Should I Get?

How an external drive connects to your PC or Mac is second only to the type of storage mechanism it uses in determining how fast you'll be able to access data. These connection types are ever in flux, but these days, most external hard drives use a flavor of USB, or in rare cases, Thunderbolt.

Right now, the fastest connection type in wide use on hard drives is Thunderbolt 3, which is handy assuming you have a newer laptop or desktop with a Thunderbolt 3 port. (Thunderbolt 4 is found on most new Macs and some new PCs, but hard drives that use it are not yet common.) Both Thunderbolt interfaces piggyback on a USB Type-C connector (not all USB Type-C ports support Thunderbolt, though) and offer blazing peak throughput of up to 40GBps. As a bonus, a desktop drive that supports Thunderbolt might also come with additional DisplayPort and USB connections that allow you to use the drive box as a hub for your keyboard, mouse, monitor, and other peripherals. (See our explainer Thunderbolt vs. USB-C: What's the Difference?)

You'll only see the speed benefits of Thunderbolt, however, if you have a drive that's SSD-based, or a multi-drive, platter-based desktop DAS that is set up in a RAID array. For ordinary external hard drives, Thunderbolt is very much the exception, not the rule. It tends to show up mainly in products geared toward the Mac market.

A desktop hard drive with a single platter-based mechanism inside, or a portable hard drive, is far more likely to make use of plain old USB instead. Almost every recent drive we have reviewed supports USB, and the same goes for laptops and desktops. USB ports are ubiquitous, and many external drives now come with cables with both rectangular USB Type-A connectors and oval USB Type-C ones to enable adapter-free connections to PCs that have only one type. If the drive includes only a single cable, you may need an adapter, depending on your computer's available USB ports. Be mindful of that.

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (23)

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

In addition to their physical shape differences, USB ports on the computer side will variously support USB 3.0, 3.1, or 3.2, depending on the age of the computer and how up to date its marketing materials are. You don't have to worry about the differences among these three USB specs when looking at ordinary hard drives, though. All are inter-compatible, and you won't see a speed bump from one versus the other in the hard drive world. The drive platters' own speed is the limiter, not the flavor of USB 3.

The only case with hard drives where the USB standard matters much is if you connect a drive to an old-style, low-bandwidth USB 2.0 port, which is better reserved for items like keyboards and mice. (Also, if it's a portable drive, that USB 2.0 port may not supply sufficient power to run the drive in the first place, so the speed shortfall may be moot.) Any remotely recent computer will have some faster USB 3-class ports, though.

Is a Rugged or Secure Hard Drive Worth It?

If you carry your drive around frequently, you'll want to pay attention to how rugged the drive is. Some models include plastic bumpers, and some even meet military standards for shock and dust protection. (Look for support for specifications such as IP67 or IP68.)

A subset of drives come with essentially uncrackable AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption that you can engage. A few are endowed with a host of additional security features, anything from encasing the drive's innards in epoxy (to destroy the electronics, should the drive's casing be physically breached) to sporting a virtual keypad whose letters and numbers change location each time the drive is connected, to prevent an onlooker from guessing, say, a password from a user's sequence of keystrokes. Many such drives are designed to meet rigorous certification standards mandated by some corporations and government agencies. You pay a premium for a secure hard drive, but with one you can rest assured that your data won't be stolen.

The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (24)

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

Perhaps the only thing you don't need to pay all that much attention to is the warranty. Sounds counter-intuitive, perhaps? Sure, a long warranty is nice. But if your drive breaks because you dropped it, the warranty likely won't cover that, anyway. Even if the drive fails because of a manufacturing defect, most warranties simply replace the drive and don't cover the cost of recovery services that attempt to rescue your data from the broken drive. For most folks, the real value lies in what's on your drive, not the drive itself.

Ready to Buy the Right External Hard Drive?

We trust our advice helped clarify what you need to know. To get you started in the right direction on product picks, the external hard drives (platter-based models) listed here are the best we've tested of late, at a variety of prices and capacities. They're a fine starter mix for your research. Remember that most of them come in a range of capacity options, so know that even if the specific model we tested is too big or small for your needs, the drive maker may offer it in a more fitting size. And don't forget to explore our recommendations for the best external SSDs as well if you need more speed than a platter-based drive can offer.

Compare SpecsThe Best External Hard Drives for 2024

Our Picks

Western Digital My BookSee It$179.99 at Amazon WD My Passport (5TB)See It$136.49 at Amazon WD Black P10 Game DriveSee It$79.20 at Amazon LaCie 2big RAIDSee It$699.00 at Amazon ADATA HD710M Pro External Hard DriveSee It$74.98 at Amazon SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATDSee It$94.99 at Amazon iStorage DiskAshur DT2See It$194.00 at Amazon LaCie Mobile Drive (2022)See It$164.99 at Amazon

Editors'Rating

Editors' Choice

4.5Editor Review

Editors' Choice

4.0Editor Review

4.0Editor Review

4.0Editor Review

4.0Editor Review

4.0Editor Review

Editors' Choice

4.0Editor Review

3.5Editor Review

Drive Type

External DesktopExternal PortableExternal PortableExternal DesktopExternal PortableExternal PortableExternal PortableExternal Portable

System-Side Interface

USB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.2USB 3.2

USB Powered?

Capacity

8 TB5 TB4 TB8 TB2 TB2 TB14 TB5 TB

Spin Rate

5400 rpm5400 rpm5400 rpm7200 rpm5400 rpm5400 rpm7200 rpm5400 rpm

Cables Included

USB Micro-B-to-AUSB Micro-B-to-A, USB-A-to-C adapterUSB Micro-B-to-AUSB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB-AUSB Micro-B-to-AUSB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB-AUSB-B to USB-AUSB-C to USB-C

Backup Software Included?

Warranty (Parts/Labor)

3 year(s)3 year(s)3 year(s)5 year(s)3 year(s)3 year(s)3 year(s)3 year(s)

Other Features

Hot swappable drives

Where to Buy

$179.99 at Amazon $136.49 at Amazon $139.99 at Best Buy $79.20 at Amazon $84.99 at Best Buy $699.00 at Amazon $74.98 at Amazon $94.99 at Amazon $194.00 at Amazon $164.99 at Amazon

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Further Reading

The Best Secure SSDs and Hard Drives for 2024

ByTony Hoffman

The Best External Hard Drives and SSDs for Mac in 2024

ByTom Brant&Tony Hoffman

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About Tony Hoffman

Senior Analyst, Hardware

Since 2004, I have worked on PCMag’s hardware team, covering at various times printers, scanners, projectors, storage, and monitors. I currently focus my testing efforts on 3D printers, pro and productivity displays, and drives and SSDs of all sorts.

Over the years, I have reviewed iPad and iPhone science apps, plus the occasional camera, laptop, keyboard, and mouse. I've also written a host of articles about astronomy, space science, travel photography, and astrophotography for PCMag and its past and present sibling publications (among them, Mashable and ExtremeTech), as well as for the PCMag Digital Edition.

Read Tony's full bio

Read the latest from Tony Hoffman

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The Best External Hard Drives for 2024 (2024)

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