This is one of 3 articles dedicated to storage drives:

1. Best External Hard Drives, SSDs and USB Flash Drives (this article)
2. Best Internal SSDs
3. Best Internal 2.5″ and 3.5″ Hard Drives

If you have the time to do research… but who does in this busy world?

I know that not everyone has the time to read detailed external drives reviews.

I write this guide to help you save money and time by recommending the best external drives.

What are my recommendations based on?

For hard drives: Basically the least expensive reliable external hard drive
For USB flash drives and SSDs: Reliability, price and performance

Know the difference:

type-c-vs-standard-a

On the laptop: USB Type-C on the left, Type-A on the right

USB Type-A versus USB Type-C

Type A and Type C describes the plug’s shape.

Type-A:
The familiar rectangular shaped USB connector.

Type-C
Smaller and reversible: you can insert it either way.

USB Type-C is expected over time to replace USB Type-A as the universal port, seeing as it’s smaller, more capable and reversible.

Make sure to be aware of which USB connector your external drive comes with.

USB Type-C drive: Backward compatible with Type-A ports, with the right cable:
External drives that have USB Type-C connectors are compatible with computers that only have USB Type-A ports, as long as you use a USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable.

Most but not all external drives that have USB Type-C connectors include such a cable, but if it doesn’t come with a USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable, I recommend getting this one from Amazon or this one from B&H for people outside the USA.

USB Type-C port: Backward compatible with Type-A drives, with an adapter
If your computer only comes with USB Type-C ports and you want to buy an external drive with a USB Type-A connector, you’ll need a USB Type-A to USB Type-C adapter, such as this one from Amazon or this one from B&H (Worldwide shipping).

Click on a category to jump to our recommendations

  • Portable hard drives: Portable, medium capacity, low performance and price per GB, sensitive to shocks
  • Desktop hard drives: Not portable, highest capacity, low price per GB, low performance, sensitive to shocks
  • USB Flash Drives: Most portable, inexpensive, shock resistant, average-high performance, low capacity
  • External SSDsVery portable, higher prices, shock resistant, highest performance, medium capacity
  • Memory Card Back-up drives: Back up your memory cards on this device, perfect when traveling without a computer, great for photo/video

This is an Worldwide Guide!

Do you live in the USA?

Use Amazon, B&H and Newegg for your purchase.

Do you live outside of the USA?

No problem. B&H offers worldwide shipping.

My recommendations are based on the prices found at Amazon, B&H and Newegg on March 9th 2018.
Prices fluctuate every day, so I recommend that you click on the links and double-check the prices yourself to see if there’s a better deal available.

Portable external hard drives:

Seagate Expansion:

The Seagate Expansion is a reliable and portable drive that’s the least expensive 1, 2 and 4TB external drive at the moment.

This drive has a USB Type-A connector.

Get the Seagate Expansion:

1TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon, B&H ($49.99) or Newegg ($45.99)
2TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon, B&H ($64.99) or Newegg ($64.99)
4TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon, B&H ($99.99) or Newegg ($99.99)

Alternative

G-Technology USB 3.0 Type A and Type-C cables included
This hard drive comes with both the Type-A and Type-C cable, making it compatible with older and newer computers.
1TB from B&H ($54.99)
2TB from B&H ($69.00)

Transcend Military Drop Tested  USB 3.0:

A nice alternative if you want drive that’s more resistant to shocks, that you know you will carry around often. That said, you could also just buy a protective case and use any external hard drive.

It comes with a 3 year warranty and offers a backup software. That same software lets you use a button on the drive for a “One-Touch backup” which can be a convenient feature for easy backups.

1TB from Amazon or B&H ($65.49)
2TB: Amazon or B&H ($99.99)

5TB

Seagate 5TB Backup Plus Portable External Hard Drive:

The Seagate 5TB Backup Plus is a newly available portable external drive, the first with a 5TB storage capacity.. The only downside is that it doesn’t come with any backup software or encryption feature.

It’s also available in 4 different colors, which is a nice pro.

Via the Seagate Dashboard software, you are provided with tools for local, mobile, cloud and social media backup. Run a one-click backup or schedule an automatic backup plan to protect your files in your Backup Plus portable drive at your convenience.

You can install the free Seagate Mobile Backup app on an iOS or Android mobile device to back up all of the pictures and videos from the device to your external drive or the cloud. The Backup Plus portable drive includes 200GB of cloud storage with OneDrive for 2 years.

This model has a USB Type-A connector.

Get the Seagate Backup Plus Portable External Hard Drive:

5TB from Amazon, B&H ($129.99) or Newegg ($129.99)

Desktop external hard drives:

Desktop external drives offer higher maximum capacity than portable hard drives but are physically bigger and get their power from an external electrical outlet, which makes them less convenient to move around.

5TB or less: Not recommended

If you want an external hard drive with 5TB or less of storage capacity, pick one of portable hard drives recommended above. They are more portable, get their power from the USB port and are less expensive for the same capacity.

6, 8 or 10TB

Seagate Backup Plus USB 3.0 with USB Hub:

 

This is the best and most inexpensive 6, 8 and 10TB desktop drive you can get for your money, it also comes with two USB 3.0 ports on the front of the drive that let’s you connect and recharge other devices.

It includes the Seagate dashboard that lets you manage your backups easily.You can also download Seagate’s free mobile app and do a backup of your photos and videos from your device which can be nice to have in case you lose or break your phone or tablet.

This drive has a USB Type-A connector and comes with a 2 year warranty which is a pretty good.

Get the Seagate Backup Plus

6TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon, B&H ($129.99) or Newegg ($139.99)
8TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon, B&H ($159.99) or Newegg ($159.99)
10TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon, B&H ($299.99)

12TB, 16TB and 20TB

WD My Book Duo:

This drive is a dual drive RAID backup drive. This means that you can set up your drives either to be independent drives (JBOD) with the total capacity split in two, boost performance and get the total capacity as a single drive (RAID 0) or you can have them both store the same data via drive mirroring for extra data security (RAID 1) but lose half the total capacity.

By default, they are configured in RAID 0 for maximum performance and capacity.

The WD My Book Duo also comes with a possibility of data encryption for extra security and also has an integrated backup software for easy backup options and cloud storage backups such as Dropbox.

This drive has a USB Type-A connector and comes with a 2 year warranty which is a plus.

Get the WD My Book Duo

12TB from Click here to see the price on Amazon, B&H ($415.77) and Newegg ($415.77)
16TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon, B&H ($599.00) and Newegg ($642.99)
20TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon, B&H ($799.00) or Newegg ($799.00)

24-60TB, 2x Thunderbolt 3, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C

LaCie 6big

The LaCie 6big is a six drive RAID backup array. This is a Enterprise class drive, this means it supports 0/1/5/6/10/50 RAID through a hardware RAID controller.

It comes with 4 different storage option that range from 24TB to 60TB of total storage.

It has two thunderbolt connectors that can reach read and write speeds of up to 1400 MB/s and a USB 3.1 Type-C controller that has a reading and writing speed of up to 400 MB/s.

It also has an aluminum enclosing which means it dissipates heat better than plastic.

This model comes with a 5 year warranty which is pretty good.

Get the LaCie 6big

24TB from Amazon, B&H ($2499.00) and Newegg ($2599.99)
36TB from Amazon, B&H ($3099.00) and Newegg ($3299.00)
48TB from Amazon, B&H ($3699.00) and Newegg ($4290.87)
60TB from Amazon, B&H ($4299.00) and Newegg ($4699.00)

USB Flash Drives:

Modern USB 3.0 flash drives are the most portable external drives and generally offer a better performance than regular hard drives, but lower performance than Solid State Drives. Unlike hard drives, they are shock proof, so it’s fine if you drop it. They are great to have one handy at all times as you never know when you are going to need one. The USB flash drives that we recommend can be attached on a string, chain, key rings, etc. which can be convenient.

Inexpensive 3.0 USB Keys:

SanDisk CZ43:

Simply put, these flash drives offer better performance than other USB 3.0 flash drives around this same price range, with read speed of up to 150MB/s.

They are also some of smallest flash drives, that let’s you fit them pretty much anywhere and they come with a cap to make sure it stays protected wherever it is.

This key also comes with a software that encrypts your data with the 128-bit AES encryption algorithm for extra protection of all your files.

It also comes in a bunch different storage capacities up to 128GB and has a 5 year warranty which is better than most drives offer.

Want a USB Key that offers better performance and/or more storage capacity? See my recommendations below.

Get the SanDisk CZ43:

16GB from Amazon and B&H ($8.95)
32GB from Amazon and B&H ($12.99)
64GB from Amazon and B&H ($19.95)
128GB from Amazon and B&H ($29.95)

USB Type-C and Type-A Flash Drives:

Kingston Data Traveller Micro Duo, Type-A and Type-C:

This flash drive offers both connector: the common Type-A and the newer Type-A

This allows you to connect it on pretty much any computer, whether it has a Type-A and or Type-C port, and other devices with USB Type-C ports, like newer smartphones.

This flash drive has a retractable head which means you can carry it anywhere (On a keychain, backpack or in your pockets) without fear of breaking it.

On top of that, you get a 5 year warranty which is better than the average.

Get the SanDisk Ultra USB Type-C:

32GB: Click here to see the price on Amazon and B&H ($16.50)
64GB: Click here to see the price on Amazon and B&H ($30.60)
128GB: Click here to see the price on Amazon and B&H ($53.40)

High performance USB Flash Drive:

SanDisk Extreme Pro:

As far as USB flash drives go, this model is one of the best performance wise, with read speeds of up to 420MB/s and write speeds up to 380MB/s, which is close to what some low performance SSDs can output, faster than the vast majority of USB flash drives out there, as well as any hard drive, without sacrificing reliability.

Available in two storage sizes: 128GB and 256GB.

It has a nice looking finish and solid metal casing, with a retractable end cap-less design that let’s you carry it around without worrying about breaking it.

Backed with a lifetime warranty.

Get the SanDisk Extreme Pro:

128GB: Click here to see the price on Amazon, B&H ($79.99)
256GB: Click here to see the price on Amazon and B&H ($128.99) 

External SSDs:

SSDs are larger and heavier than USB keys but are still way smaller in size and lighter than portable hard drives. Performance wise, they are the fastest for reading and writing data and the ones that carry the highest performance can be used for the most demanding tasks such as photo and video editing. We recommend 3 performance tiers, one very small model and different storage capacities.

Entry-level:

Entry-level SSD drives are the most inexpensive portable SSD drives on the market. I recommend them for regular use and storage where having the higher performance speed of a SSD helps, but these drives can fall behind when it comes to writing heavy files at a high consistent speed, so if you’re doing heavy photo editing or real time editing of something like 4K video, look at our mid-range or preferably high-performance external SSDs recommendations instead.

Transcend ESD220C:

The Transcend ESD220C is the least expensive external SSD that I recommend. It is also very portable and lightweight as it is about the size of a business card which makes it easy to carry even in your pockets and the build is also shock resistant.

This drives comes with a 3 year warranty which is great.

I only recommend the 120GB drive, higher capacities aren’t price competitive with higher performance drives.

This drive has a USB Type-A connector at the end of the cable, but the drive itself has a Type-C input, so you can always use a Type-C to Type-C cable for newer devices with only Type-C inputs.

Get the Transcend ESD220C:

120GB from B&H ($67.99)

Inexpensive 2TB:

VectoTech Rapid Portable Solid State Drive:

If you are looking for 2TB of storage capacity for a relatively low price for a portable SSD, this model is the right choice.

This drive offers a good read and write speed for an entry-level external SSDs and has a lightweight and steady build. It is also shock and vibration resistant for a better durability and comes with a warranty of 2 years which is pretty good.

This drive has a USB Type-A connector.

Get the VectoTech Solid State Drive:

2TB: Click here to see the price at Amazon

Mid-Range performance:

WD My Passport USB 3.1 Type-C External Solid State Drive:

The WD My Passport External Solid State Drive offers a good performance when it comes to backing up high resolutions images , videos and heavy files but has less performance when providing sustained sequential writing of heavier 4K videos. This is a good choice for photographers and graphic designers who want to do quick backups of their files or even work directly on the drive. It also has an encryption software for an improved security of your files.

It is shock resistant, vibration resistant and has a solid build for improved durability.

It comes with a 3 year warranty which is definitely a plus.

WD includes one USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable and one USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable, so you can use the My Passport portable drive with your current and future gear.

Get the WD My Passport USB 3.1 Type-C External Solid State Drive:

256GB: Click here to see the price on Amazon and B&H ($99.99)
512GB:  Click to see the price on Amazon and B&H ($139.99)
1TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon and B&H ($296.99)

Want a drive that offers similar performance but has more storage capacity? See my recommendation below.

Highest performance:

Samsung T5:

The Samsung T5 delivers significantly higher performance than entry-level performance external SSD drives.

It is recommended to work on and store high resolution images and 4K videos or anything that is heavy. It is shock resistant, vibration resistant and has a solid build for improved durability.

This drive also comes with an encryption software for an improved security of your files.

It also comes with a 3 year warranty which is definitely a plus.

Samsung includes one USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable and one USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable, so you can use the T5 portable drive with your current and future gear.

Get the Samsung T5:

250GB: Click here to see the price on Amazon or B&H ($124.90)
500GB: Click here to see the price on Amazon or B&H ($159.99) 
1TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon or B&H ($341.38)
2TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon or B&H ($739.99)

Most portable:

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD:

The SanDisk Extreme Portable is a reliable and very portable drive that comes in different storage sizes.

It also has a USB 3.1 Type-C connector but it comes with both USB Type-C and regular USB cables so that you can use whichever you need.

This drive comes with a 3 year warranty which is great.

Get the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD:

250GB:  Click here to see the price on Amazon and B&H ($109.99)
500GB:  Click here to see the price on Amazon and B&H ($179.00)
1TB: Click here to see the price on Amazon and B&H ($349.00)
2TB: B&H ($699.00)

Memory Card Back-up drives

Sanho HyperDrive ColorSpace UDMA 3

The Sanho Hyperdrive ColorSpace is a great choice if you need a external storage drive that you can use to transfer the content of your SD or CF card, without the need to carry a computer, as it has its own interface from which you can manage and initiate data transfers.

What is great about this drive is that you can chose from several pre-existing storage sizes from 500GB to 2TB or you can buy the device without a drive and add one yourself. This device supports regular 2.5″ hard drives and 2.5″ SSDs.

This device also has wireless transfer with supported devices and comes with a 1 year warranty.

This device has a USB type-A connector.

Note that if you use SD cards, the WD My Passport Wireless recommended earlier in the article is a wireless hard drive with a SD slot, but no interface.

Get the Sanho HyperDrive ColorSpace UDMA 3

Case only fom Amazon and B&H ($249.99)
500GB fom Amazon and B&H ($498.95)
750GB: $598.95 from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
1TB fom Amazon and B&H ($648.95)

2TB: $698.95 from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this edition of the Best External Drives article.

If you have a question, I invite you to leave a comment below this article.