It’s by no means been straightforward to improve the storage in Macs, so it’s all the time a good suggestion to purchase an exterior drive to offer further storage for all of your work recordsdata, photographs, movies and video games. And, in fact, you must all the time have an exterior drive accessible for making Time Machine back-ups in case something ever goes flawed.
Modern solid-state drives (SSD) are the best choice as they’re actually quick, dependable and compact. However, SSDs are nonetheless comparatively costly, with 1TB drives costing round $100/£150, whereas that very same sum of money can get you a 4TB primary desktop exhausting drive with a USB interface (drives with high-speed Thunderbolt ports are usually costlier) Hard drives are slower than SSDs, however in the event you want numerous storage to your essential recordsdata and back-ups then old style exhausting drive remains to be probably the most inexpensive choice. (If it’s an SSD you’re after, learn Best exterior SSD for Mac.)
There are loads of decisions, too, with compact, transportable exhausting drives designed to be used with laptops, and desktop drives with very bigger capacities if you actually need numerous storage. Some exhausting drives additionally present extra options, comparable to built-in docks with numerous Thunderbolt and USB ports, or maybe permitting you to open up the casing of the drive and insert a brand new drive for an prompt improve.
Below are the critiques we’ve acquired together with normal shopping for recommendation that explains what you have to be searching for.
LaCie Mobile Drive – Best for vacationers and finest general
LaCie’s vary of Mobile Drives present a a lot wider vary of choices, in addition to a “diamond cut” design.
Rather than the neon-orange rubber bumper of its Rugged drives, the brand new Mobile Drives are wrapped in sensible aluminum. They’re accessible in two colours: Moon Silver and Space Gray that’s supposed to match the Mac. The “diamond cut” design merely refers back to the exaggerated angular edges and corners; appears to be like apart, the aluminum casing feels actually sturdy.
The Mobile Drives which are 4TB or extra are 4.9×3.6×0.8 inches (124×91.2×20 millimeters) and weigh 0.9 kilos (400 grams) and so they may give somebody a severe concussion in the event you whacked them over the top with it. Drives which are 2TB or much less are bodily smaller, measuring 4.8×3.5×0.4 inches (121.6×87.8×10 millimeters and weigh a extra modest 0.5 kilos (200 grams).
The Mobile Drive has a single USB-C port on the again, however LaCie consists of cables for each USB-C and the older USB 3.0, so you should use the drive with any Mac or PC.
The drives can be utilized with Time Machine for Mac backups, however LaCie affords a ToolKit app that means that you can ‘mirror’ particular person folders. This is an efficient choice in the event you use your Mac at work, and have particular person tasks organized in their very own folders. Any folder that’s mirrored is mechanically backed up and up to date as quickly as you make any adjustments to any file inside that folder. This ensures that your backups are all the time updated with the latest variations of your recordsdata–Time Machine has a one-hour hole between backups.
Our solely criticism right here is that LaCie’s skimpy guide doesn’t present a lot details about the ToolKit app, or the varied formatting choices for the drive, merely leaving you to wade via a bunch of FAQ recordsdata on its web site.
The Mobile Drive offers good efficiency, with write and skim speeds each averaging out at 132MBps in our checks (virtually an identical to the Rugged Secure drives). Backing up a 5GB batch of iTunes songs took precisely one minute.–Cliff Joseph
Seagate Ultra Touch – Best for MacE-book house owners
The Seagate Ultra Touch is offered with both 1TB or 2TB storage. It has a classy design that makes it companion to your MacE-book, and likewise affords encryption to offer further safety to your essential recordsdata and knowledge.
The Ultra Touch measures 4.5×3.1×0.5 inches (115x78x12 millimeters) and weighs 0.3 kilos (151 grams), so you possibly can simply slip it right into a jacket pocket or a bag whenever you’re touring. It’s accessible in both black or white and completed off with a sensible woven material that makes a pleasant change from the boring monochrome colours of most exhausting drives.
Seagate consists of an ordinary USB 3.0 port on the again of the drive, and a USB 3.0 cable that may work with any Mac or PC, and Seagate additionally features a USB-C adapter.
The Ultra Touch consists of the identical ToolKit app that’s used with the LaCie Mobile Drive. The drive can be utilized for automated Time Machine backups in your Mac, however you can even use the mirror choice within the ToolKit app to mechanically again up particular person folders in order that they’re all the time proper up-to-date (and don’t have to attend for Time Machine’s hourly backups).
The ToolKit app additionally handles the encryption course of for the Ultra Touch, though we discovered Seagate’s guide–or lack thereof–to be moderately unhelpful, leaving us to go searching for FAQs and details about this encryption and different options on the corporate’s web site.
Performance is respectable sufficient, though the Ultra Plus received’t win any awards for high-speed backups. It recorded write and skim speeds of 125MBps and 130MBps respectively in our checks, and took 110 seconds to again up a 5GB batch of iTunes music recordsdata. Even so, that efficiency can be superb for routine backups, and the encryption choice can be actually helpful if you wish to be sure that your personal knowledge stays personal even when the drive is misplaced or stolen.–Cliff Joseph
G-Drive ArmorATD – Best rugged transportable drive
The ArmorATD is an enclosure with a 2.5-inch exhausting drive inside that’s shock-mounted, and the rugged aluminum case is surrounded by a silicon sock for further safety. It will face up to minor abuse, extra when off than on and the disks are spinning, however your finest guess with any exhausting drive is to not deal with it like a hockey puck. The connection is USB-C with a pace score of 5Gbps (USB 3.1/Gen 1)–a lot quick sufficient for any exhausting drive. The drive guarantee is for 3 years.
You’ll get round 120MBps writing and 127MBps studying most (with massive recordsdata) from the ArmorATD in your Mac. Good stuff. The Armor ATD arrives formatted to exFAT so that you’re good to exit of the field underneath each Windows and macOS. However, exFAT will extract a 5 % max penalty, so Mac customers will wish to reformat the drive.–Jon L. Jacobi
Read our full
G-Drive ArmorATD overview
WD My Passport – Best funds transportable
Western Digital’s My Passport drive offers loads of transportable storage at a aggressive worth. The My Passport begins at simply $79.99/£49.99 for 1TB storage, going as much as $189/£119.99 for 5TB, so it’s a very inexpensive backup choice in the event you’re on a decent funds.
The bodily dimension of the drive is determined by the quantity of storage you select. The 4TB drive we examined measured a chunky 4.2×3.0×0.8 inches (107x76x19 millimeters) however the 1TB and 2TB fashions are simply 0.43 inches) (11mm) thick. The 4TB drive remains to be sufficiently small to slide into jacket pocket with no hassle in any respect. It’s very solidly constructed too, so we’d be completely happy to make use of it in outside places with our MacE-book.
However, the drive is displaying its age just a little, utilizing ye olde USB 3.0 interface, so that you’ll want an adaptor in case your Mac solely has USB-C. Its learn and write speeds of 108MBps and 100MBps respectively aren’t going to win any awards both, however the My Passport will nonetheless be superb for the occasional Time Machine back-up whenever you’re on the transfer along with your laptop computer.
There’s additionally a mannequin known as My Passport For Mac that features further cables for each USB 3.0 and USB-C, and is pre-formatted in Apple’s HFS+ format, however that’s barely costlier so it’s not important until you’ve acquired a bit of additional money to spare.–Cliff Joseph
LaCie 1big Dock – Best for professional and inventive customers
As the title suggests, LaCie’s 1big Dock is greater than only a easy exhausting drive. It begins at $369/£349.99 for a drive with 4TB storage, going as much as $889/£869.99 for 18TB, and its 7,200rpm IronWolf Pro exhausting drive offers robust efficiency with learn and write speeds of 235MBps through its Thunderbolt 3 port. That makes it choice for anybody that wants a quick drive for giant video, photographs, and audio recordsdata.
The major Thunderbolt port additionally offers energy for charging a MacE-book laptop computer as properly. You even have the choice of popping open the entrance panel to swap out the usual exhausting drive and insert a brand new drive to offer an prompt improve.
But the factor that basically makes the 1big Dock stand out from most of its exhausting drive rivals is its built-in hub and connectivity options. There’s a second Thunderbolt port that may permit you to join extra Thunderbolt and USB-C gadgets, and a DisplayPort 1.4 interface for an exterior monitor.
The entrance of the drive additionally offers an ordinary USB 3.0 port and slots for each SD and CompactFlash (CF) reminiscence playing cards, making it an ideal choice for artistic customers who must import recordsdata from cameras and different gadgets.
There’s additionally a model of the 1big Dock accessible that makes use of quicker solid-state storage too–in fact, it’s fairly a bit costlier.–Cliff Joseph
Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hard Drive – Best for desktop storage and connectivity
Seagate’s FireCuda Gaming Hub is a formidable all-in-one system that mixes a speedy desktop exhausting drive with a flexible Thunderbolt dock. But all these further options imply that it’s large and heavy–and likewise fairly costly. If you’re searching for a extra inexpensive various choice that also has a little bit of gaming eye-candy then the FireCuda Gaming Hard Drive ought to match the invoice.
It’s not only for gaming, in fact, and it’s accessible with 1TB, 2TB or 5TB of storage, so it offers loads of room for all of your music, photographs, movies, and work recordsdata. The drive solely has an ordinary USB-A interface (USB 3.2) although, so house owners of newer Mac fashions that solely have USB-C will want an adapter (not included). The USB port offers energy to the drive, too, so you should use the FireCuda both as a desktop drive or as a transportable drive along with your laptop computer if you wish to.
The drive works with Time Machine, as you’d count on, however Seagate’s ToolKit app offers extra choices for creating sync plans that back-up particular folders. It even means that you can customise the lighting and colours emitted from the drive’s entrance panel.
The drive’s efficiency is much like that of different compact exhausting drives that we’ve seen, recording learn and write speeds of 133MBps and 130MBps respectively. And, with its aggressive pricing and helpful ToolKit app, the Gaming Drive deserves to draw a wider viewers than simply the gaming market.–Cliff Joseph
G-Tech G-Drive USB-C – Best for enormous media recordsdata
G-Tech has all the time centered on offering high-performance storage gadgets for artistic customers who work with numerous photographs, video, and audio recordsdata, and the G-Drive USB-C is an inexpensive desktop drive that gives good efficiency and bucket-loads of cupboard space.
The G-Drive is neatly designed with a sensible, sturdy aluminum casing, and it begins with a minimal of 4TB storage, going proper as much as 18TB, which needs to be sufficient even for skilled customers working with 8K video. The drive’s excessive capability signifies that it requires an exterior energy provide, however the USB-C port on the again of the drive additionally offers 45W pass-through energy, so you should use it to cost a laptop computer without having a separate energy provide for the laptop computer as properly.
USB-C and USB-A cables are included within the field, so it’ll work with older Macs that don’t have USB-C without having an adapter.
Performance is sweet too, with the 4TB mannequin recording learn and write speeds of 170MBps with the BlackMagic Disk Test. There’s additionally a model of the G-Drive that has each USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports, however that’s much more costly, so this USB-C mannequin is the best choice in the event you merely need numerous exhausting drive storage at an inexpensive worth.–Cliff Joseph
WD_Black D10 – Best funds performer
Western Digital’s WD_Black drives are primarily geared toward players who need a quick drive to spice up loading instances for his or her video games, which explains why the menacing black design of this D10 desktop drive appears to be like like a chunk of heavyweight munitions from the Call Of Duty video games. But a quick drive may even enchantment to anybody that has numerous picture, video, and audio recordsdata that they wish to retailer on their Mac, and the D10 has different options that may turn out to be useful too.
Some elements of the design are just a little odd. There’s just one model accessible, with 8TB storage, though its $240/£199.99 price ticket on Amazon remains to be aggressive for a quick drive comparable to this. It’s outfitted with solely an outdated USB A interface (although it’s USB 3.2) maybe to offer compatibility with older video games consoles, so that you’ll want an adapter in case your Mac solely has USB-C.
Its 7,200-rpm drive offers excellent efficiency, reaching learn and write speeds of 245MBps and 240MBps, respectively. The D10 requires an exterior energy provide, so it’s very a lot designed for desktop use, nevertheless it additionally has two extra USB 3.2 ports on the again of the drive that may present energy to different gadgets, comparable to an iPhone or iPad. These ports are just for charging, although, so you possibly can’t use the D10 as a dock for connecting peripherals comparable to a printer or reminiscence stick.–Cliff Joseph
How to decide on the correct Mac exhausting drive
We’ve rounded up the perfect Mac exhausting drives above, however earlier than making a shopping for choice that you must take into consideration the way you’ll be utilizing the system. To discover the perfect exhausting drive to your wants, that you must reply a number of questions.
How a lot storage do I would like?
Hard drive storage is comparatively low cost. Unless you’re actually out to save lots of your pennies, the smallest dimension of exhausting drive we’d suggest is 1TB.
Upgrades to 2TB, 3TB, and even 4TB are additionally cost-effective–the worth per megabyte goes down the upper the capability, so making the bump as much as the subsequent mannequin is a good suggestion. Each terabyte can retailer round 11,000 music albums at 192kbps high quality, however such storage doesn’t appear so grand when you begin archiving 4K video.
Portable or desktop?
If you assume you’ll be pleased with a 1TB to 4TB exhausting drive, you should purchase a transportable drive. These use small 2.5-inch disks, and so they match fortunately right into a coat pocket. Portable drives are normally bus-powered, too. This means you simply must plug them into your desktop or laptop computer, no separate energy provide is required. There’s only one cable, and the drive will barely take up any house.
If solely an ultra-high capability exhausting drive will do, take into account a desktop unit. These use bigger 3.5-inch drives and have a tendency to cowl capacities from 4TB to 18TB. They’ll must be plugged in for energy; that’s superb if it keep residence the entire time, or strikes from workplace to workplace.
Rugged drives for journey
Some transportable drives provide ruggedization. Shock safety is crucial type for a tough drive, as not like an SSD they’ve transferring components that may be completely broken following a drop. Rugged drives normally have some type of rubber coating that soaks up affect forces, and a toughened enclosure that received’t dent, crack or collapse underneath any regular quantity of strain.
A number of even have water resistance. While few are rated IP68 like aniPhone 11 Pro, that means they are often submerged in water with out harm, a number of can deal with rain or water jets/splashes.
Buy a bigger drive, although, and also you’re extra more likely to get different options. Desktop models might have a built-in “hub”, letting you plug-in reminiscence playing cards or peripherals utilizing USB ports. These are significantly helpful in case your present setup has restricted connectivity, or the USBs you do have simply aren’t that helpful.
Which connector do you want?
Matching the exhausting drive’s connector to these of your laptop computer or desktop can also be important. You’ll get a cable within the field, however it should both terminate with a USB-A or USB-C formed plug, as seen right here:
Unless you could have an outdated Mac or MacE-book that solely affords the outdated USB-A port, you’ll will need the newer USB-C connector, which additionally doubles up as Thunderbolt. Every Mac offered by Apple up to now few years incorporates a USB-C model connector, though some Mac desktops nonetheless provide the older USB normal as properly.
Not all USB-Cs are the identical, although. The USB-C port on Macs additionally helps Thunderbolt 3 and in some circumstances Thunderbolt 4. USB-C relies on USB 3.1 and affords as much as 10Gbps. Thunderbolt 3 affords as much as 40Gbps. Thunderbolt 4 additionally affords 40Gbps, however has a number of different benefits, together with a 32Gbps knowledge charge, which can be a profit to anybody who must switch massive video recordsdata to from the drive to their desktop for enhancing. There’s additionally a brand new USB 4 normal that provides between 20Gbps and 40Gbps bandwidth that you will note alongside the newer Thunderbolt 4 normal, however word that USB 4 doesn’t provide all of the options of Thunderbolt.
It’s clear that Thunderbolt is a greater choice than USB in case you are searching for the perfect interface to your exhausting drive, however Thunderbolt choices are more likely to be costlier than their USB counterparts.
Wireless and NAS
Not each exhausting drive must be plugged in: you can even go for a network-attached storage (NAS) drive which permits to to wirelessly switch recordsdata and backups. These network-attached storage drives hook up with your own home Wi-Fi to share their knowledge with different gadgets in your house. That is likely to be a sensible TV, Apple TV, a pill or laptop computer.
A NAS is especially helpful if you wish to arrange a media server at residence. This is sort of a wi-fi jukebox you possibly can fill with movies, photographs and music. Read our
finest NAS drivesfunction for extra.