Having an external HDD for your computer is not only nice because of the extra storage space that it gives you, it’s also a good tool for protecting your most vital information and a convenient way to transport files without having to lug your computer around.
If you already know all about external HDDs and are simply here for the list, scroll past the following section. For everyone else, here’s a crash course on external HDDs so that you know what to look for when it’s time to buy.
External HDDs- The Basics
An external HDD is essentially just a secondary hard drive for your computer that you use to increase your computer’s storage capacity. They are also commonly used to transfer files and data from one computer to another. Almost every computer offers a connection port for at least one external HDD. The type of connection determines the speed at which your files will be transferred between your external and internal hard drives. Typical connections are USB 2.0/3.0/3.1, FireWire, eSATA, and Thunderbolt.
There are many external HDDs on the market for you to choose from, and as with any product, some do a better job than others when it comes to meeting your specific needs. The most basic question you need to ask yourself is if you need a desktop or notebook class HDD.
Desktop class HDDs generally offer more storage and speed than their notebook brethren. Because of this, they typically require their own power supply and will take up a lot more real estate on your desk. They aren’t really meant to be moved, but will typically hold about 6TBs of data.
Notebook class HDDs, however, are designed to be mobile. You can fit them in a briefcase- or even your pocket- to access or transfer your files no matter where you are. They will offer a little less storage space (usually around 1TB) and slower speeds than a desktop class, but the portability makes up for it.
Unless you’re transferring TBs of information at a time on a regular basis or dealing with high-demand processes, though, speed isn’t really that important anyway, especially if you’re limited to a USB 2.0 or FireWire connection.
Other features to take into account are encryption options, warranty length, software (which not all external HDDs require), and design/aesthetic.
iStorage diskAshur DT– $541.82
One of the very features you’re sure to want from an external HDD is security, this applies to any user, generally. You don’t get better security than with this amazing piece of kit from iStorage, it really is the ultimate option when considering a new external HDD. The diskAshur DT is a sleek little external HDD that offers some of the best encryption and security features on the market today. While it’s meant to be portable, it does require a power supply to use. The USB 3.0 connection (backwards compatible with older USB ports) gives you transfer speeds up to 5gbps, and no required software means you can basically just plug in and go.
Again, though, security is the key feature here. The first thing you’ll notice when looking at the diskAshur DT is the physical PIN pad on the top- before anything on the drive can be accessed, the PIN must be entered correctly. This prevents remote hacks and if the PIN is entered incorrectly multiple times, it will require you to enter it on your computer itself, so that no automated system can crack the code. The drive will also destroy any stored information if anyone tries to pry it open manually, and military grade AES 256-bit hardware encryption keeps your data safe at all other times.
When you consider an average external HDD can be simply plugged into any computer, giving complete access to all of your data, it’s this type of device which really does keep you secure.
Basically, if high security is what you’re after, you can’t go wrong with the iStorage diskAshur DT. For these reasons, the diskAshur scores top of our list for 2016.
Lacie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2– $1,221.78
If you do have the need for speed, you’re going to love the Lacie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2. The Thunderbolt 2 connection will allow you to transfer gigabytes worth of files within seconds or work on a variety of demanding projects at once, a chore that would leave other HDDs smoking.
It’s considered a “semi-portable” desktop class, as it will need its own AC adapter to run, but it’s not too big or heavy despite its metal casing. Only having 1TB of storage is a downside (especially considering the price), and while Thunderbolt 2 is amazing, only a few Macs and really high-end PCs support the connection.
Still, if blazing fast speed is your top priority, you won’t be disappointed with the Lacie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 thanks to an insane 1000MBps write and read speed.
Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB– $89.00
Featuring portability, plenty of memory for a laptop class and an affordable price tag, this sleek and sexy drive is just about the best basic external HDD that you can get in 2016. It lacks the security features and speed of the two previous drives on this list, but if you’re not carrying sensitive data and you aren’t picky about performance, this is a great device.
The Backup Plus Slim connects via USB 3.0 (and is backwards compatible with older USB connections) and features an optional dashboard program for Windows that lets you backup your mobile and social media data via the Cloud (as long as your drive is plugged into your computer). These are neat features that ensure you never lose a priceless picture again.
If you have a work computer and a home computer, the Backup Plus Slim will allow you to easily transport data back and forth between your machines- it will fit right in your pocket and all you need is the USB cable to start transferring.
The bottom line is that if you’re not looking for anything too fancy, this drive will serve you very well. The two year warranty leaves a bit to be desired, but there aren’t too many other downsides for this budget external drive.