Best External Hard Drive for Simple, Local Backup

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Today, cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular and widely used, yet external hard drives is still a must-have in many homes and offices. Here are some of the most popular hard disks and some tips on what you should look for when choosing which one to buy. With the advent of mobile phones with amazing cameras and travel action cams like the GoPro, we are creating gigs of memories in the form of photos and videos. These memories are priceless to us and we take all the security measures to ensure they are kept safe for as long as possible. Every single one of us has had a computer fail on us, and the first thought that crosses our mind is, “I wish I backed up my files!”

Always make sure your important photos, videos, documents and so on are backed up safely onto an external hard drive and not leave them in your laptop or desktop’s hard disk, as this can fail at any moment without any notice. Having these files in a portable memory device also makes it easy to share with friends, family or colleagues.

Here are some of the best hard drives of 2017:

  Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive Western Digital My Passport Seagate Backup Plus Lacie Rugged Raid
 Image Seagate Backup Plus 2TB Desktop External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup WD 1TB Black My Passport  Portable External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBYNN0010BBK-WESN  Seagate Backup Plus 4 TB Portable External Hard Drive for Mac USB 3.0 (STDS4000400)  LaCie Rugged RAID, Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 4TB Portable Hard Drive STFA4000400 
Price  from $89.99 $57.99 $99.99 $348.95
Read Reviews Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive Reviews Western Digital My Passport Reviews Seagate Backup Plus Reviews Lacie Rugged Raid Reviews

Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive

Best overall hard drive

Seagate Backup Plus 2TB Desktop External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup
Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive, from $89.99,

This drive comes with the option of 2 TB all the way up to 8TB. It works flawlessly with Windows and is also compatible with Mac. This drive comes with a software suite that will be a joy to social media users, allowing you to upload photos to Flickr or Facebook and directly upload your videos to Youtube. You can even set it up to backup automatically whenever it is connected to the computer.

This drive has a standard, serious look that is just slightly bigger than a 3.5″ internal hard drive. Even though the chassis is plastic, you’ll find that it has a solid feel. Ventilation holes on the bottom and side allow steady airflow to keep the hard disk cool.

Western Digital My Passport

For when you need to transfer data very quickly

WD 1TB Black My Passport  Portable External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBYNN0010BBK-WESN
Western Digital My Passport, $57.99,

My Passport may be relatively inexpensive compared to other on this list, but it stands shoulder to shoulder with them with its capability to transfer data speedily. Its 3.0 USB port allows for write speed of up to 168 MBps and read speed of up to 174 MBps. Available in 1 TB to 4 TB.

This drive is one of the smallest and lightest in the market weighing just over 8 ounces. It uses a single cable for both power and data transfer, and is produced using recycled material in Western Digital’s commendable efforts to reduce carbon footprint.

One important feature I like about WD My Passport is the ability to set password for controlled access. It is pre-loaded with WD Smartware which is very intuitive to use. You will be able to set automatic backups for whenever you connect the drive, and retrieval of accidental deletes are possible as well.

Seagate Backup Plus

Compatible with Apple Time Machine

Seagate Backup Plus 4 TB Portable External Hard Drive for Mac USB 3.0 (STDS4000400)
Seagate Backup Plus, $99.99,

If you’re in the Apple ecosystem, you would be looking for something that is compatible with the Apple Time Machine. Seagate Backup Plus works seamlessly with Mac and has cloud connectivity and social media backup. This is great for folks with large amount of media to keep safe, like a Youtuber or a photographer with lots of photos on Flickr.

With no extra cable needed for power supply and weighing just about half a pound and is 4.5 inches long, this is slim enough to slip into a small carrying bag. Available in 500 GB up to 4TB.

Lacie Rugged Raid

Survives drops up to 1.5 meter and being run over with a 1-ton car

LaCie Rugged RAID, Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 4TB Portable Hard Drive STFA4000400
Lacie Rugged Raid, $348.95,

If you ever lug around your hard disk in dangerous heights (up to 5 feet), this well-padded device will be able to survive the drop. Its orange bumper covers all edges of this hard disk, but such heavy duty drop protection comes at the expense of bulk, weight 1.8 pounds. Tucked under the cover you’ll find AC adapter and a Thunderbolt connection.

The Lacie Rugged Raid has an impressive 240 MBps transfer speed and is available in 250GB up to 5TB.

What are the important features of a good external hard drive?

Different people in various industries will have different uses for the data they backup on their portable hard disk, which makes the priority order of features vary slightly. Generally, performance of the drive will come first, followed by design and security.

A solid, top-rated hard drive should excel in these areas:

Performance: The first thing we look at when we choose a hard drive is its storage capacity. For the average user, a 500GB or 1TB drive is normally sufficient. A slower transfer speed is probably acceptable for home use, but one might look for a faster transfer speed for office use.

Design: A portable hard disk should be exactly that — portable. A slim, lightweight design is highly desirable for folks that have a need to lug around the disk constantly. Ideally there should be strong outer shell that gives protection from bumps the disk might suffer while being on the move. A single-cabled bus connection that transfers data as well as provide power is preferred by most users due to the hard disk’s mobile nature.

Security: If you store sensitive or private data, having a password protection is a must on your drive, along with data encryption capabilities.

Warranty: Almost all top brands come with on or two years warranty. Some, like the Western Digital even offers a limited-time free data recovery service in case anything happens to your drive.

Media creation and consumption is increasingly exponentially, especially with High Definition and Ultra High Definition being the norm now for media. Whereas a few years ago, 1 terabyte seems unthinkable, now there is no shortage of hard drives with a myriad of options and storage capacity up to 5 TB.

Let’s check out today’s bestselling external hard drives on Amazon.


All prices are last updated on 2017-12-14 / Product images credit:

Maya Leighton


Maya Leighton

Best known for her gadget coverage, Maya has written hundreds of tech reviews — scrutinizing every small details for brilliant review pieces. Maya is a fixture at every major tech announcement event and has never missed a single CES.

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