Are you looking for an ultrafast hard drive for video editing or a rugged device to back up your photos? The best external hard drives are a convenient way to backup and store important data.

Let's face it. Cloud storage costs a mere pounds per month, and trim, slim external SSDs are extremely handy and cheaper. The latest portable SSDs are more stylish and more durable due to the absence of moving parts. While these would be great reasons to choose external SSD drives, the advantage of having efficient backup is the primary reason.

However, with the hundreds of hard drive options ranging from dirt cheap to super expensive—choosing which one is right for your needs is not a DIY job. The storage space is the most important factor; you can increase or decrease it per your preferences. Physical size, quality, connectivity and colour also make sense.

We have tested dozens of brands to find the best portable hard drives for your workflow. Below here, check out our favourite external hard drive brands and their best picks.

ASUS TUF Gaming AS1000 – Best for Gamers

While ASUS isn't the first name that comes to mind in external hard drives, the brand offers premium options for gamers and those looking for a unique aesthetic. The ASUS TUF series is mainly known for its rugged designs and RGB lighting for a coordinated gaming setup. ASUS TUF Gaming AS1000 is a perfect example of this. It is a portable, high-performance M.2 NVMe SSD that uses a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2x1 connection to ensure compatibility with PCs and other devices.

As for the rigidity, this external SSD device has been subjected to stringent tests to ensure your precious data is well-protected from everyday spills and knocks. The NTI Backup Now EZ software support enables easy data backup and recovery.

Remember that this is a portable hard drive unit, so you can easily carry it around. Compared to other brands, this hard drive has various selling points such as blazing-fast M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD sequential read/write speeds of up to 10 Gbps, which is up to 10X faster than conventional external HDDs and up to 1 TB of storage. 

Another good news is the aluminium-alloy chassis and internal thermal pad that effectively dissipates heat to optimise the data transfer and improve the durability of the hard drive. Lastly, the TUF Gaming AS1000 has a USB-C port and cable to ensure compatibility with laptops and PCs and the latest generation PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles. Get the best prices on buying ASUS TUF Gaming AS1000 from the Laptop Outlet.

LaCie 2big RAID – Best for Creatives

For creative professionals and others who want to store and deal with massive amounts of data, the LaCie 2big RAID portable hard drive is a good bargain. It is designed exclusively with videographers, photographers, and other content creators in mind.

Looking at the design, you'll see that the handsome grey and black case houses two spinning-platter drives—4TB each. You can set up the 2big in various configurations: either as two distinct 4TB drives, a single 8TB drive for enhanced performance, or a 4TB drive with automatic mirroring or backup to the second drive. 

Setting up the 2big RAID is a breeze. Simply plug it in, choose your RAID configuration, and you're all set. Your computer identifies it as one big (or fast) drive. LaCie's Toolkit software offers additional management options, which're unnecessary for primary use.

This external drive promises reliability and brings the exceptional performance benefit you'd expect from 7,200rpm platters, and the sturdy aluminium enclosure further adds to the package's longevity.

The only area where LaCie may fall short of impressing you is its premium price tag, especially compared to single-drive options with similar capacities. You're paying for the RAID functionality and the LaCie brand.

Samsung T7 Shield 4TB – Best High-Capacity Drive

Samsung is the major player in the external hard drive market, featuring top-of-the-line options like Samsung T7 Shield. The T7 Shield has a compact and rugged design. It's clad in a grippy, rubberised shell that feels reassuringly protective. Under the hood, the IP65 rating means it can withstand dust ingress and water splashes.

Samsung isn't messing around when it comes to performance and speed. You'll enjoy read speeds of up to 1050 MB/s and write speeds of up to 950 MB/s, thanks to its PCIe NVMe internal technology. More storage space generally means more NAND for caching and better-sustained throughput with larger datasets, and 4TB does wonders. 

Are you going hiking with your sensitive information? The T7 Shield is a good choice, and it supports optional AES 256-bit hardware encryption, which helps keep your data safe from prying eyes. You can set a password to unlock the drive, and Samsun's Magician software makes it easy to configure your security measures. 

With its top-tier performance and ample capacity, the Samsung T7 Shield can handle the largest end-user data sets at a decent price per terabyte. 

Seagate Backup Plus – Best Among all Above

Seagate, the OG of storage solutions, has six hard drive lineups, and the Backup Plus truly shines among them all. This hard drive balances the strengths of Seagate's Basic range with cutting-edge features of its own. It is available in seven colours with a 1-year data recovery warranty.

The best part? Seagate Backup Plus is a portable and lightweight hard drive that allows you to carry it around. It is not as bulky as traditional hard drives and doesn't require an external power supply – Connect the drive to your computer via USB 3.0, and it's ready to use. No software installation is needed!

Compared to its contenders, the Seagate Backup Plus offers a free data recovery warranty (a 1-year photo cloud storage service) and a 4-month Adobe Creative Cloud photography subscription. In addition to that, it is compatible with Windows and macOS computers.

Best External Hard Drive Brands: Price  Comparisons

Brand Best Model Storage Range Interface Speed Price
Samsung Samsung T7 Shield 250GB - 2TB USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) 540 MB/s £60-£250
Seagate Backup Plus Portable 1TB - 5TB USB 3.0/3.1 50-100 MB/s £40-£100
LaCie LaCie 2big RAID 1TB - 5TB USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) 130 MB/s £80-£200
ASUS ASUS TUF Gaming 1TB-2TB USB 3.2 Gen 1 540 MB/s £50-£80
SanDisk Extreme Portable 500GB - 4TB USB 3.2 Gen 2 (20 Gbps) 1050 MB/s £80-£200

How do you choose the best external hard drive?

When it comes to choosing the right hard drive, you'll want to consider what you want to do with the drive, how fast it should be, and what you want to do with it. Every external hard drive can store files, but storage capacities, technologies, and connection options vary. Keep these critical factors in mind before purchasing an external drive.

Storage Capacity

 This is the most essential specification to consider when buying an external. It means nothing to buy a high-speed device with high-end encryption if it doesn't have room to store all your data. Ideally, up to 1 terabyte (1TB), models offer a lot of room and are usually only a couple of pounds more than a smaller capacity drive. You're likely to invest in a larger drive if you want to store dozens of hours of 4K videos, millions of DSLR photos, and larger vector-based art files.

HDD vs. SSD

External storage devices come in a hard disk or a solid-state drive. Hard disks spin data when you need it to write or retrieve. These are often loud, larger, and fragile, as the smallest hard disks are 2.5 inches across. Hard drives are good options if you want to save money on the highest storage capacity.

On the other hand, solid-state drives have no moving parts, and they can store data with a silent operation. They are smaller than HDDs but are more expensive, so expect to pay more per gigabyte.

Connectivity

You'll see more than one USB connection on most hard drives available today. Ensure the hard drive you buy supports USB Type-C for quick data speeds. You can buy a USB-C to USB-A adapter if your device lacks USB-C, but the USB-A cannot power the drive. Thunderbolts are quicker than USB-C ports, with 40 gigabytes per second bandwidth. Most external drives are not compatible with Thunderbolt because USB is faster, but you can find Thunderbolt on premium hard drives and make sure your computer has this connection to make the most out of it.

 Power Requirement

The latest external hard drives do not need external power; instead, they're powered by USB via your computer. However, a few old external hard disk drives need external power. A hard drive that requires power to boot up isn't portable to carry all around, so purchase one with a power brick if you want to use it on the go.

Price

In most cases, external hard disk drives don't cost you an arm and a leg for higher storage capacities. Buying a single hard drive with a spacious room is cost-effective instead of multiple smaller ones with little space. SSDs are more expensive than HDDs, and prices rise quickly with capacity: 16TB drives will cost you around £2500.

Conclusion

External hard drives are simple devices with multiple hidden features and benefits. To get you started in the right direction, we have highlighted some of the external hard drive top brands and their popular models at various prices and capacities. They're fine choices for your varying needs. Price comparisons of all the brands further assist you in purchasing portable hard drives based on your budget constraints.