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The Best Portable Hard Drive - 2021

Last updated on June 21, 2021

We looked at the top 5 Portable Hard Drives and dug through the reviews from 16 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best Portable Hard Drives.

Best Portable Hard Drive

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Our Picks For The Top Portable Hard Drives

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  Best All-Purpose Pick

Silicon Power A60 2TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive

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Silicon Power

A60 2TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive

Overall Take

Shock and Water ResistantThis portable hard drive is great for gaming — it gives you a large amount of storage and is made to withstand rough and heavy use.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus Oh So Savvy Mom, Tech Gear Lab, Indenpendent, Techeblog. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Strongly recommended. This is my second Silicon hard drive. The first working more than two years in hard environment without issues. Very fast."
Cons
"Actual test speeds are lower than other drives tested"
  Best Basic

Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive

Toshiba

HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive

Overall Take

Traditional DriveIf you need a simple, easy-to-use drive that offers a high capacity for backups and media storage, this one is ready to handle the job.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus Oh So Savvy Mom, Tech Gear Lab, BestReviews. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Very reliable and handy! I was able to back up all videos and photos in my iphone and all my important docs. Will definitely consider buying again."
Cons
"No data recovery service."
  We Also Like

Western Digital WD 4TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

Western Digital

WD 4TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

Overall Take

Security and Backup FeaturesProprietary software and security tools make this high-capacity drive a great option for creating automated backups for computers.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus Oh So Savvy Mom, BestReviews, Tom’s Hardware, Creative Bloq. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" If you guys want an external hard drive WITHOUT plugging it into the wall, then I recommend this."
Cons
"Dated Micro USB connection."
  Best Low-Maintenance

Seagate Portable HDD 2TB External Hard Drive

Seagate

Portable HDD 2TB External Hard Drive

Overall Take

Easy Setup ExperienceYou get up to 16 TB of data and an easy setup experience with this traditional portable hard drive, which uses USB 3.0 technology.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus Oh So Savvy Mom, Tech Gear Lab, BestReviews. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" With optional password protection, AES 256-bit hardware encryption, and transfer speeds of up to 540MB/s this SSD is fast and secure."
Cons
"Slower read/write speeds."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
12

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the portable hard drives available to purchase.
5

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

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16

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Oh So Savvy Mom, Tech Gear Lab, BestReviews, Tom's Hardware, Creative Bloq.

181,887

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including

Our experts reviewed the top 5 Portable Hard Drives and also dug through the reviews from 16 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Portable Hard Drives.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

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The Best Overall

Silicon Power A60 2TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive


Our Expert Score

10.0
4 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

9.4
4,612 user reviews

Our Take

This rugged, portable hard drive is water-resistant and shockproof with a protective internal suspension and an anti-slip, anti-scratch surface. It also offers a large capacity (up to 5 TB) for gaming or other uses. It uses a USB 3.1 connection for broad compatibility and comes in cool color options.

What other experts liked

Strongly recommended. This is my second Silicon hard drive. The first working more than two years in hard environment without issues. Very fast.
- Oh So Savvy Mom
Most HDDs are bulky and heavy, but this one slides easily into a small pocket or purse.
- Tech Gear Lab
There's a clear reason this one made our list, as it yields itself to those who need a portable drive that can withstand a tough environment.
- Indenpendent
An innovative built-in slot is designed for simple cable carrying and storage.
- Techeblog

What other experts didn't like

Actual test speeds are lower than other drives tested
- Tech Gear Lab

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive

Our Expert Score

8.6
3 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

9.4
29,384 user reviews

Our Take

Available in a few color options, this sleek and lightweight traditional hard drive works with both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 and is made for fuss-free instant use with Windows systems. You'll have plenty of space for files with this reliable plug-and-play option, which offers up to 4 TB of storage capacity.

What other experts liked

Very reliable and handy! I was able to back up all videos and photos in my iphone and all my important docs. Will definitely consider buying again.
- Oh So Savvy Mom
It doesn't have any super fancy features but proved to be reasonably durable, surviving a five-foot drop test on both carpet and concrete.
- Tech Gear Lab
Great price for the amount of storage you get.
- BestReviews

What other experts didn't like

Takes forever to import and export things on to this thing! Sometimes it won't even load what's on it (I only have about 8 GB of things on it)
- Oh So Savvy Mom
No data recovery service.
- Tech Gear Lab
Instructions for Mac formatting unclear.
- BestReviews

Overall Product Rankings

Our Portable Hard Drive Findings


Silicon Power A60 2TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive

What We Liked: This rugged, portable hard drive is water-resistant and shockproof with a protective internal suspension and an anti-slip, anti-scratch surface. It also offers a large capacity (up to 5 TB) for gaming or other uses. It uses a USB 3.1 connection for broad compatibility and comes in cool color options.


Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive

What We Liked: Available in a few color options, this sleek and lightweight traditional hard drive works with both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 and is made for fuss-free instant use with Windows systems. You’ll have plenty of space for files with this reliable plug-and-play option, which offers up to 4 TB of storage capacity.


Western Digital WD 4TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

What We Liked: Featuring a large capacity of up to 5 TB, this traditional-style hard drive comes in several basic colors with a slim and compact design. It includes software for streamlined
automatic backups along with password protection and encryption to add extra security.


Seagate Portable HDD 2TB External Hard Drive

What We Liked: Whether you have a Mac or PC, this portable hard drive includes automatic recognition and plug-and-play functionality, making setup easy. It also makes it easy to back up your files and comes with access to a data recovery service. This unit comes with an 18-inch USB 3.0 cable.


Samsung T5 500GB USB 3.1 Pocket Size Portable External SSD Hard Drive

What We Liked: Providing you with 500 gigabytes of storage, this solid-state drive allows you to transfer data almost five times as fast as a traditional hard drive. It’s extremely small and light and comes with two cables for multiple connection options. This high-performance unit can handle drops up to 2 meters.

Our Portable Hard Drive Buying Guide

If you need extra storage for a computer, tablet, game console or phone, a portable hard drive can offer a helpful and flexible solution. These small devices work well whether you desire extra space for documents and media files, need to regularly back up your system or just prefer a portable device that lets you easily access files in different places. A portable hard drive can also help you hold onto an older computer a bit longer if you’re just running short on space.

When shopping for a portable hard drive, you’ll come across two main types: traditional hard disk drives and newer solid-state drives (SSDs). Each type uses different types of technology and has pros and cons that make them suitable for different users and storage needs.

The traditional portable hard disk drive contains moving parts inside and uses a magnetic system, so it has much slower read and write speeds compared to the SSDs available today.  These portable drives can get damaged from drops or knocks more easily, so they often work better if you plan to keep the drive on a desk rather than take it places with you. They can have very large capacities and come at a much lower cost per megabyte than SSDs, so they can offer a good solution for large system backups or multimedia storage.

If you want the fastest data transfer speeds possible, more durability and a lighter weight, you can look into buying an SSD. While these hard drives come at a higher cost for storage, they’re more durable since they don’t have the moving parts that traditional hard drives do. This kind of technology can offer extremely fast speeds where it feels your files or applications load instantly. These drives require less power and come with a lighter weight for even more portability.

Capacities will vary depending on the type of portable hard drive. Generally, you’ll find that portable SSDs come in capacities ranging from 120 gigabytes to 2 terabytes. On the other hand, many traditional hard disk drives start at 500 gigabytes and top out at 4 or 5 terabytes depending on the manufacturer. You’ll want to consider the type of data you plan to store on the device and keep in mind that going bigger can offer more flexibility down the road.

Compatibility is important when choosing a portable hard drive and includes both the formatting of the drive and the type of connection used.

Many drives come pre-formatted to work with Windows computers, so they would need reformating before you could use them with another device like a Mac or Linux computer. Portable hard drives are often designed to connect to devices with standard USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 ports and can offer reasonably fast speeds and high compatibility. Others have a Thunderbolt connection with even faster speeds.

You’ll find that portable hard drives may have special features that enhance durability. If you plan to carry the portable drive around with you and feel concerned you could drop or knock the drive while on the go, consider products that come inside a rugged casing that can protect the drive in extreme conditions.

Some portable hard drive manufacturers incorporate safety features that can come in handy if you plan to store sensitive data on the drive and worry that someone may access the files if the drive gets lost or stolen. For example, you’ll find some drives with fingerprint readers or special encryption that requires a code to access the drive at all. It’s also common for many portable hard drives to come with special software that can boost security.

DWYM Fun Fact

While having a computer in the home didn’t become commonplace until the 1980s and 1990s, you might be surprised to learn that the hard drive actually dates way back to 1953 when IBM came up with the first one. It started selling a commercial version in 1956 with the RAMAC 305 system. This external hard drive was the size of two refrigerators, so there was nothing portable about it. Further, it only provided 5 megabytes of storage; that’s about as much as a decent quality MP3 of your favorite song!

The super-portable hard drives used today didn’t become the norm until the 2000s. Thanks to large leaps in technology, you can now get several terabytes of storage from a hard drive that might even look smaller than your phone. You also benefit from much faster data transfer speeds through developments like solid-state technology and USB-C.

The Portable Hard Drive Tips and Advice

  • If you plan to plug your portable hard drive into a USB hub on your computer, check that the hub can effectively power the drive to prevent damage and data transfer issues. Hubs that don’t use an external power source often specify that you should not plug in a hard drive, while powered USB hubs can handle this kind of storage device without an issue.
  • Some portable hard drives come with an adapter so that you can use the device with both Thunderbolt and standard USB connections. However, keep in mind that you’ll be limited to the data transfer speed of whichever cable and connection you decide to use. For example, if your computer only has USB 2.0 ports, you won’t get the faster speeds even if a USB 3.0 cable gets used.
  • Along with finding black portable hard drives that can blend in with any system, you can find units that stand out, too. For example, you’ll find options in bold colors such as blue, green, red and silver for a more fun look. You can even decorate the portable drive with stickers like you might with your laptop.
  • While many people use a portable hard drive to back up important files, keep in mind that these devices can also fail or get damaged. So, you might also store particularly important files elsewhere, such as in the cloud, or even on another storage device like a flash drive.
  • To prevent possible damage to your portable hard drive, keep it away from extreme temperatures, dirty surfaces and moisture. You’ll also want to position the drive on a surface where there’s less of a risk of it falling. Bumps can damage the internal components, especially if you’re using a traditional hard disk with moving parts inside.
  • You might come across some portable hard drives that require connecting two cables to your device: one for extra power and one for data. So, make sure your device has enough available ports if you go with a product requiring a dual connection.
  • When buying a portable hard drive to use to back up a computer, it’s a good idea to choose an external drive with a larger capacity than your internal drive. That’s because your computer’s backup software often makes incremental backups at different time points, so you might have to delete older backups to have enough space in the future.
  • Keep in mind that while portable hard drives with several terabytes of storage can offer plenty of flexibility, there’s also a tradeoff. If something happens to the drive, that’s a lot of data to potentially lose. So, you might opt to purchase a few smaller drives or at least back up crucial files to the cloud as an extra safeguard.
  • You can usually use a portable hard drive to hold a bootable image of your entire computer for emergencies. This comes in handy in case your computer crashes since you can just plug the hard drive into another computer and boot up into your familiar programs and data. If you do this, you’ll have a much better experience with an SSD. Its faster speed will help with loading your operating system and programs.

About The Author

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Ashley Donohoe 

Ashley Donohoe is an Ohio-based writer and small business owner with a background in business, technology and personal finance. When she's not researching and writing, she spends her time playing piano, making crafts and learning new things. She has 10 years of experience writing for various online publications.