If you're running out of storage space on your laptop, or if you need to back up your data and store that backlog of videos you're going to edit one day (I am, I swear), an external hard drive can solve your problem. The trouble is, there are hundreds of drive options ranging from dirt cheap to crazy expensive—which one is right for your needs? I've tested dozens with different use cases in mind to find the best portable storage drives for your workflow.
Be sure to check out our other guides, including How to Back Up and Move Your Photos Between Services, How to Back Up Your Digital Life, and How to Back Up Your iPhone.
Updated September 2022: We've added Samsung's T7 Shield and OWC's Envoy Pro Fx, and introduced a new bare drive category for upgrading your PC's internal SSD. We've also added the latest drive stats report from Backblaze.
Table of Contents
- Best for Backups
- Best Portable Drive
- Best for Speed
- Best Go-Anywhere Drives
- Best Padded Drives
- Best Bare Drive
- Hard Drive Buying Advice
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I know this guide is for portable hard drives, and this is decidedly not portable, but bear with me. For incremental backups, which we recommend, portability isn't your top priority. And typically, your backup software will run overnight, so speed isn't a huge factor either. Tha...