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Best Data Storage Device – Best External Hard Drive

What Is an External Hard Drive?

An external hard drive is just a hard drive that is connected on the outside rather than on the inside to a computer. Some storage devices draw power from their data cable, connected to the computer itself, while others may require an AC wall connection to derive power on their own. External hard drives are also called portable hard drives.

Having one of the best data Storage devices is a necessity as we live in a digital age. It is common for people to capture family photos of important moments of their lives, stories or novels they write, games they play, or files they work. To properly store our valuable information, we rely on technology.

You always should have a back-up. As media files, game files and workloads have increased in size exponentially, storing all this files in your computer or laptop will slow down your storage devices. So if you’re a photography enthusiast or if you’re a music lover, an external hard drive will come in handy to store your extra files.

Selecting an external HDD or SSD allow you to take them with you or transfer files from device to device and also gives you peace of mind that your files are safe. Reliability really is important, however. By getting a cheap, unreliable disk drive, you could easily lose all your back-up data if it gets corrupts or breaks. When searching for the best external hard drive, some things to keep in mind are affordability, amount of storage, company warranties, and how durable the life of the external hard drives is.

Storage devices manufacturers today are designing fast, affordable, multi-terabyte best external hard drives for cheap.

Types of External Hard Drives or Data Storage Devices

Before getting further into our article, it’s important to talk more in-depth about the different kinds of external drives. Factors such as size, Transfer speed, interface, Portability and durability, Security, Compatibility and Extra features are also should be considered. External Hard Drives comes in two types – Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid-State Drives (SDD).

HDD

From the early days of computers, Hard disk drives (HDD) have been the common type of storage. HDDs use spinning magnetic disks to store data with 3.5-inch mechanisms inside and require a power adapter. A hard disk drive consists of a series of disk-like platters made with non-magnetic material, which is coated with a thin layer of magnetic material. Data is stored on this thin film by magnetizing.

The disk spins at a high speed and a magnetic needle head mounted on a moving arm reads data from different points on the disk. The magnetic needle head can jump to different points on the disk to read the data that’s stored there or write new data on to it.

The spinning of the disk is the source of the iconic humming noise in a computer, but most modern hard disk drives now a day are fairly quiet.

Speed is a main concern with these spinning disks, as it takes time for the magnetic heads of the drive to find the data on the disk. Longevity is another major concern. Usually, hard disk drives are very robust and can be used for many years without problems. However, the spinning disks inside are sensitive and creates vibrations.

You can often hear a grinding or scratching sound when your hard drives experience mechanical failure. Head Crash may happen, when the magnetic head scratches the magnetic film. This Head crash results in data loss as the magnetic film gets damaged.  Even though External hard drives usually come in a shock resistant hefty enclosure, they become unusable in case they fall off.

Like said, to get a lot of storage space for less money, external HDDs are your best bet.

SSD

External solid-state drives (SSDs) are mostly found in the notebook-style form factor. Solid-state drives are much more modern alternative to traditional hard disk drives. As the name states, Solid-state drives have no moving parts. Most solid-state drives use flash memory, which is also used in USB flash drives and memory cards for digital cameras.

Instead of using a spinning magnetic disk, these devices use memory modules, where the data to be stored is flashed. They use tiny gate transistors in cells by which the data is implanted on the memory module based on electric pulses. So the data is stored electrically, instead of magnetically.

In SSD data transfer speed is improved as there are no mechanical parts like traditional spinning disks. As there is no physical needle head that needs to move, Solid-storage disk has the advantage of being able to write in multiple places on the memory modules quickly.

SSD has longevity issues as the data is written directly to the flash memory module. Writing and erasing data in a particular area over and over again will cause it to wear out. They are damage proof from physical shock and smaller in size the regular hard disk drives. SSDs are significantly faster than HDDs but also very expensive.

Why Would You Use an External Drive or Storage Device?

An external hard drive is going to be more expensive than an internal one in almost all cases. But there are other advantageous reasons to choose external hard drives to interior ones.

Portability

Internal hard drives are locked inside your machine, that the data you store there can’t be carried along with you. The most obvious advantage of External Hard Drives is portability. External Hard Drives are light in weight and small in size, so you can fit them your pocket or bag to access it quickly and immediately.

External hard drives give you the freedom to carry the work on your desktop on the go with a single cable. Most External Hard Drives don’t require external power, meaning your data is only a USB or Thunderbolt connection away.

Backup

Lastly, it’s a good idea to use External Hard Drives for backup. There are a few reasons for that. First, if something goes wrong with your computer and causes you to lose access to your internal data, external drives can be plugged into another machine.

Having a local backup on an external hard drive and a cloud-based backup with an online backup service will protect you from any trouble that may strike you.

Buying External Hard Drive or Storage Device for PC and Mac

Just like internal hard drives, external hard drives also come in different shapes and sizes. They’re also available in different prices. Finding what kind of external hard drive to buy can get you confused quickly if all you see are rectangles with random GB and TB numbers.

We considered value above all else. The term, value, to us, is how well price, features and performance are balanced. Samsung has a fighting chance against its rivals because of its excellent decent build quality and price-to-performance ratio. 

Features get messy but price and performance are straightforward. When looking at features, we’re happy with almost everything and anything. That includes something as small as including multiple cables for different device connections in the box or as big as bundling along with a backup utility and password protection for the drive. 

Apart from that, we also considered product support and warranty periods. Mostly all external hard drives come with a limited warranty, but they differ from drive to drive. We considered the warranty period, how easy it was to make use of and the conditions applied because of the “limited” clause.

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Features

As mentioned earlier, features are in broad range for external hard drives. Sometimes, an external drive may include nothing else but just the drive. You plug it into one of the USB ports and get to using it. Though that is acceptable, there are other things we look for when it comes to features.

More importantly, we look for other utilities that come with the drive, such as an automatic backup software, encryption and password protection. Apart of that, we also consider the overall build quality and what else included in the box in this section.

Samsung Portable SSD T5

If you’re looking for superior performance, the Samsung T5 remains on top among the best external hard drives of 2021. T5 is superb pedigree of Samsung leaving no stone unturned. Out of the box, you get the tiny 11mm thickness drive, which is smaller than a business card and weighs just 51g, a USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable, a USB-C to USB-A cable and has a good-looking metal finish.

USB Type-C and USB-A cables are wrapped with a Velcro strap, attached to the drive itself, making the whole package easy to carry along. It’s a little cheaper than other rivals.

The drive is built neatly and packaged wonderfully, but what’s most important is its password protection feature. While you set up the drive, you’ll be asked to install a security utility where you can manage it. Here, you can set your password, which will be prompted each time the drive is plugged in.

It supports Windows and MacOS and additionally Android, out of the box. Only a few other drives support this option.

Samsung Portable SSD T5
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Best External Hard Drive 2020
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Western Digital My Book

The Western Digital My Book is the quite opposite of the Samsung T5. It’s big, bulky and measures 6.7 by 1.9 by 5.5 inches and weighs 2.02 pounds. Designed as a desktop backup solution rather than fit into your pocket. You’ll require an extra power outlet, since the Western Digital My Book needs its power adapter to operate which is included in the Box. It comes with Western Digital’s full range of features. The WD My Book comes with a three-year warranty, longer than that of two years you get with the Seagate Backup Plus.

You can set a password by default, but the My Book comes with other utilities too. An automatic backup tool for local and cloud backup, a security tool with password protection for privacy and a general utility. With this lot of features, you can encrypt your device, configure advanced storage setups and backup your drive. Thanks to a larger capacity, better value per GB, and a longer warranty period.

This drive is ideal for content creators, professionals as well as home users having a huge media collection who are in need of higher storage volumes. Western Digital My Book is more versatile and an excellent choice, with enough capacity to last you for several years. Western Digital My Book is our best Choice for external data storage devices.

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Seagate Backup Plus Portable

Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive runs on the Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) technology that is designed to increase the storage density. Those features come in the form of downloadable Seagate Dashboard backup software, automatic file synchronization, allowing you to effortlessly backup your files.

An executable setup is also available to help users get step-by-step guidance for product registration, warranty activation, and redemption of the value additions Self-powered via USB connector, Excellent build quality with aluminum casing that makes it feels very solid, though still quite light. It features USB 3.0 connectivity and can be used with both Mac and Windows.

The drive comes with a 2-year warranty but not quite as the 3 years offered by the Western Digital. The Backup Plus Portable Drive is one of the major largest-capacity portable drives in market available today. Adding to the appeal are the drive’s speed, extra features like the Lyve personal cloud service, and a relatively inexpensive cost per GB. It’s a much-less-expensive way to store your files locally than on cloud-based services. The Backup Plus portable drive is bus-powered which needs only one Micro-USB 3.0 port and comes with a standard USB cable included. This cable will take care of both data and power connections when the drive is connected to a computer’s USB port.

The PC Backup part is basically the local backup; here you can either customize real-time local backups or let the software, by default, pick what should be backed up for you. Though it lacks some of the features of the My Book and T5, the Backup Plus Portable offers a great value for cold storage and backup application for digital content creators like bloggers, YouTubers, photographers, editors or desktop warriors. It is inexpensive, portable and feature-rich package. The Seagate Backup Plus Portable drive beats everything currently available in the market.

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Pricing

Price comparison is very much difficult when it comes to external hard drives, not because there’s anything deceptive going on but because capacity needs to be considered. For this section, we not only have the overall price of each drive, but also the price per GB so you can more accurately compare each drives. 

Plus, the data transfer speed and style of the drive also needed to be taken into consideration. Flash-based storage will always be more expensive than mechanical drives as they consist of electronic parts, but we didn’t want to take them out of comparison. We’re considering the overall value you get per GB and not just the price.

Seagate Portable

Per GB wise, the standard Seagate Portable drive is the cheapest. But the difference between Seagate portable and other external drives, such as the Toshiba Canvio Basics and WD Elements, is very less. What makes the big difference here is the features. 

As with the Backup Plus Portable, you can use Seagate Toolkit which consists of three main backup functions: PC Backup, Mobile Backup, and Social. The Canvio Basics and Elements drives don’t come with this kind of features, so though the Seagate Portable is similar to those other drives in almost every aspect, its features place it a step above them.

Western Digital My Book

As mentioned earlier, the My Book is a desktop-focused backup solution, means it comes in high storage capacities. As the storage space goes higher, the price per gigabyte goes lower, making WD My Books extremely value for the money. If all you’re concerned only with storage space, no other drive is cheaper than a WD My Book. The My Book is much less pricier than the same-capacity Seagate Innov8.

That’s largely because of the Bulky form factor. Unlike our other picks, a Western Digital My Book can’t be carried along easily; especially considering it needs for external power source. Essentially, it’s just a 3.5-inch HD in a USB 3.0 packed in shiny black polycarbonate enclosure, which brings down the cost considerably. 

SanDisk Extreme Portable

The SanDisk Extreme Portable stands out as another cheaper portable SSDs. Being smaller and water resistant; it performs almost as well as the T5 and G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD. The Extreme Pro Portable has a rugged design with an aluminum chassis and ABS top, and is IP55-rated. Means resistible to both water and dust. While the silicon rubber case make it easy to carry the Extreme Pro. The drive is also shock resistant and can withstand a drop of 2m on a concrete floor without major damage.

It might have a better Build Quality but it lacks in features. The drive ships with a copy of SanDisk’s SecureAccess 3.02 software that allows you to create a password-protected folder to store all your private files using 128-bit encryption. You also get the three-dimensional nature of BiCS Flash which helps to improve performance, reduce heat dissipation and reduce costs.

It is a compact drive, which comfortably reside in a shirt pocket and far smaller than most recent smartphones. The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is rugged and pocket-sized and also affordable, with some nifty features. When you’re dealing with large amounts of data the Sandisk Extreme Portable Pro is the portable USB SSD you need. 

SanDisk Extreme PRO 
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Best Data Storage Device – Best External Hard Drive
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Speed and Everyday Performance

We’re not taking price into consideration in this aspect. If you’re trying to save money, a traditional spinning disk isn’t a bad choice. When compared to HDDs because of how they store data the SSDs are clear winner

Warranty and Support

This segment focuses on warranty and support. Unlike software companies, which often offer exceptional support, hardware manufacturers also give you little to no support. We’re looking for disks whose companies providing support through self-help and direct contact go above and beyond.

In this segment, we’re also looking at the warranty period. In addition to how long warranty period lasts, we’ll consider what they provide under warranty and how easy it is to take advantage of. 

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD

The G-Drive Mobile SSD is the only drive that offers a five-year limited warranty. Most external SSDs only offer three years hence this justifies the high price tag. You’ll get it repaired or replaced free of cost Plus, if there are problems caused by G-Technology.

Support wise, G-Technology provides proper documentation for its products, which is common with manufacturers of external hard drive. In their website, you’ll find downloads, product specifications, an FAQ and start-up guide sand many more. The self-help resources should be well enough. If not and you need more help, you can reach out them over email. 

Samsung T5

Samsung offers a three-year of limited warranty on T5 drives. Like most company limited warranties, Samsung only covers issues related with the manufacturing of the drive. Damage resulting from dropping by you, the shipping process or the distributor won’t be covered under warranty.

Samsung, having wide range of products, provides maximum support possible. Even though there is little support documentation provided in the box, there are three methods to contact, which any hardware manufacturer usually provides. You can schedule a door-step repair, send an email to the sales team or call a support representative.

Seagate Backup Plus Portable

The Seagate Backup Plus Portable, and all other Seagate disk drives comes with a two-year limited warranty and excellent support. This makes sense because it’s a cheaper, spinning drive, but there are many other support options. In addition to knowledgebase articles and discussion forums, there are automatic troubleshooting tools, as well as phone and email support.

Furthermore, Seagate offers Rescue subscriptions at $14.99 for three years. That service is like an insurance policy for your data, which means Seagate will attempt to restore drive in the event your data is corrupted.

The Best External Hard Drive or Best Storage Devices

Taking all things into consideration, the Samsung T5 dominated the Best external hard drive competition. It’s expensive, but it will cover up all the flaws seen in its other external SSD competitors. It’s available in handy capacities. Unlike the ADATA SD600, which is only available in 512GB, the Samsung T5 comes in 1TB and 2TB capacities.

All combined with the uncompromising data transfer rates, makes the Samsung T5 look a lot more attractive. The drive is a little expensive compared to rivals, but you’re not going to find such great performance in such a small package.

Plus factor is that, its features are great. It’s the only drive that supports Android out of the box, offers password protection option and it comes with two cables for USB Type-C and USB-A connections. Weighing only 51 grams and measuring smaller than a business card.

It’s a complete package, with generous three year warranty and protected by a rugged metal enclosure. The Samsung T5 has every reason to be listed on our recommendation as best data Storage devices to buy with utmost confidence if you’re looking for speed, portability and capacity, t

The Best PS4 External Hard Drive

There are no separate exclusive options for PS4, other than of a branded option by Seagate. PS4 games aren’t that large Unlike Xbox One, putting the emphasis on portability. Though there are a lot of options, we’re going to give our vote to the WD Elements. 

Western Digital Elements are the best bet as they have a solid drive, especially if you want a lot of storage for cheap. The 4TB variant of Western Digital will cost you only $100, and though it’s a little slow compared to rivals, the price puts any other external SSD on the market to shame. 

If you need for more speed and don’t mind less capacity, a portable SSD like G-Drive Mobile SSD and Samsung T5 will make your games much faster. For capacity and price, though, we have to give it to the Western Digital Elements drive for PS4

The Best Xbox One External Hard Drive

Any external hard drive can be used with the Microsoft Xbox One by plugging it into one of the USB ports. Here storage capacity is a major concern. Because of this, a high-capacity, low-cost option, such as the Western Digital My Book, is best fit as best data storage device.

The Xbox One and Xbox One X files are smaller than the PS4 Pro, so you can arrange some extra space next to this game console. Western Digital My Books come with a lot of features namely encryption and backup, that’ll be irrelevant when plugged into a console.

Plus, it also needs additional external power source. In reality, it’s a combination of speed, size and affordability. What’s more is, the new design is excellent, stylish and keeps all that is good in a sleek new aesthetic.

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Conclusion

The Samsung T5 is the best option, not only for its build quality and speed, but also for its compact size, excellent support and many other features. The Seagate Portable or Western Digital Elements will work for those who feel the Samsung T5 price is high and especially for those who don’t need insane transfer speeds.

At the end, it’s all about your need. the WD My Book will be an ideal fit as best external hard drive if you’re interested in backing up your whole computer or laptop, If you’re looking an best external drive for use of an Adobe Premiere Pro cache, then, the Samsung T5 will work well as best data storage device.

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