Best External Hard Drive for Mac (Review & Top 10 List)

OnlineSpunky Top Picks For You!

NameCapacityInterface
Western Digital My Passport 4TB4TBUSB 3.0Check Price
Samsung Portable SSD T5250GB – 2TBUSB 3.1 (Gen 2)Check Price
G-Technology G-RAID with Thunderbolt 38TB – 24TBThunderbolt 3, USB 3.1Check Price
Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt1TB, 2TBThunderbolt, USB 3.0Check Price
LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 4TB4TBUSB-CCheck Price
Adata SD700 External SSD256GB, 512GB or 1TBUSB 3.0Check Price
WD My Book Duo4TB – 20TBUSB-C (Gen 1)Check Price
LaCie Rugged USB-C1TB – 5TBUSB 3.1Check Price
iStorage diskAshur 2TB external hard drive2TBUSB 3.0Check Price
Toshiba Canvio Premium1TB- 3TBUSB 3.0Check Price

Hey, folks in today’s guide we’re going to solve your biggest concern about the best external hard drives for Mac. We’re so excited to have you here with us today. We have a lot to cover a ton of hard drives in all different shapes, sizes, and functionality depending on what exactly it is that you are looking for.

Mac systems are loved all around the world by creative professionals for their software hardware harmony and advanced capabilities. Macs, iMacs and especially MacBooks are notoriously difficult when it comes to upgrading the internal hard drives, which means if you’re running out of storage space it’s best to offload some of your files onto an external hard drive.

External hard drives offer you to vastly expand your available storage in an instant. Without any need to open up your machine, and the cost involved is relatively minor considering the price of a new internal solid state drive. You can transfer your data from your MacBook’s SSD or your iMac’s Fusion drive when it fills up, or keep one plugged in 24/7 as a store for any critical data.


How to select the best external hard drive for your MacBook Pro?

Here, we are providing a buying guide also that will help you to figure out what to look for to buy the best external hard drive. We’ll also discuss some of the common features of external hard drives for Macs and what to look at when doing comparisons between different drives.

You can use these tips to evaluate any external hard drive you find out on the web, even if it isn’t already on my list.

1. Storage considerations – How much storage do you need?

First, you need to consider your storage requirement of an external storage device that has enough capacity.

If you want to buy a smaller capacity hard drive then around 500GB is a good sweet-spot for external storage.

On the other hand, for larger ones at 1TB or greater, you are really out to save your pennies, the smallest size of hard drive we’d recommend is 1TB.

Moreover, upgrades to 2TB, 3TB, and even 4TB are also cost-effective and often making the bump up to the next model is a good option.

Each terabyte drive can store around 11,000 music albums at 192kbps quality, but when you start archiving 4K video, it doesn’t seem so grand.

You also need to consider your future use that uses more data in the coming years, not less.

2. Portable or desktop

If you think you’ll be happy with a 1-4TB hard drive, then you’ll need to consider to buy a portable drive. These are small 2.5in disks and as such, they can fit happily into a coat pocket. They are generally bus-powered too, means you just need to plug them into your desktop or laptop, no need of separate power supply. There is only one cable and the drive will barely take up any space.

In case you need an ultra-high capacity hard drive then consider a desktop unit. This uses a larger 3.5in drive and tend to cover capacities from 4TB to 12TB. These desktop drives will need to be plugged in for power.

3. Hard drive or SSD?

The next consideration is whether to get an external storage device that uses a traditional hard drive or another one with an SSD.

Generally, traditional external hard drives are more affordable and come in larger capacities. These external SSDs come with large capacities but these can be expensive.

On the other hand, SSDs are much faster than traditional hard drives because they don’t have any mechanical or moving parts. SSDs are generally more robust and smaller in physical size as well.

So, if you want to store huge amounts of data or want to run programs off the drive then the xternal hard drive is the way to go. But if speed is your top priority for example, if you move then choose an SSD.

Also read: Hard Disk Drive vs Solid State Drive

4. Ruggedisation

Rugged external drives generally have some form of rubber coating that soaks up impact force and a toughened enclosure to protect the drive from dent, crack or collapse under any normal amount of pressure. Also, some have water resistance means they can be submerged in water without damage, several can handle rain or water jets/splashes.

5. What extra features do you need?

You should buy a larger drive through and you’re more likely to get other features.

Desktop systems may have a built-in “hub”, allowing you to plug in memory cards or peripherals using USB ports. These features are specifically helpful if your current setup has limited connectivity or the USBs you do have just aren’t that handy.

However, matching the hard drive’s connector to those of your laptop or desktop is also essential. These come with a cable in the box but it will either terminate with a USB or USB-C shaped plug.

If you have an older MacBook then you’ll need an older USB type. But if you own a recent MacBook then you’ll want a USB-C connector.

Generally, not all USB-Cs are the same as MacBooks support Thunderbolt 3 which has eight times the bandwidth of USB 3.0. But sometimes the disks themselves just aren’t quick enough to break through the data speed limits of normal USB 3.0.


10 best external hard drives for Macs in 2019

Here is the list of best Mac hard drives and external storage options for your Mac in 2019. Find out which Mac hard drive can perfectly help you to increase your Mac’s storage or safely back up your Mac.

1. Western Digital My Passport 4TB

Super secure storage for Mac or PC

Western Digital comes with 256-AES encryption along with WD’s own backup software. When you download its security software, meaning you can rest easy knowing your private information and data is safe. But this hard drive only comes formatted for Windows and you will need to be formatted before use it with your Mac.

Western Digital’s My Passport external drives are the best for home entertainment & photographers. The latest generation has made the jump to USB-C, which is perfect for modern MacBook owners who only have USB-C ports available. Also, the drive includes cables for connecting to both reversible USB-C and old school USB-A connectors.

These external hard drives are available with 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, or 4TB of storage with very good data transfer speed. This specific drive is formatted to work with macOS out of the box. However, you will probably want to reformat it to macOS Journaled or exFAT, depending on what you plan to use it for. These drives find a great balance between high storage capacities and quick file transfers.

Pros:

  • Large capacity
  • Good data transfer speeds

Cons:  

  • WD backup software is basic
  •                  

2. Samsung Portable SSD T5

The best speedy and large external storage device

The Samsung T5 SSD is an excellent performing storage device. It offers a  speed up to 550 MB/sec, as it uses a solid state drive. T5 SSD plugs directly into PCs and Macs with either a newer USB-C port or USB-A, is roughly the size of a matchbox and being a flash storage device, contains no moving parts, so can survive being dropped.

External SSDs may costly than hard disks, but if transfer speed is the most important consideration when looking for the best external hard drive for your Mac, then this is the drive to go for. You can easily load edit and save 4K video directly on the T5, which can be very slow with a USB hard disk, you can install applications onto it or even run another alternate operating system off it at full speed.

Pros:

  • Very good performance
  • Very high capacity

Cons:

  • Expensive

3. G-Technology G-RAID with Thunderbolt 3

The fastest, slim and stylish external hard drive for modern desktop Macs

G-Technology is one of the fastest high capacity hard drives you can plug into your Mac with a huge 4TB of storage space that zips along its USB 3.0, eSATA or FireWire connection.

This is designed as to use of silver aluminum that perfectly matches Apple’s iMac casing, keeping desktop areas with a premium look. The all-aluminum enclosure gives the drive, with 7200 RPM, this hard drive works hard and fast to get your files transferred quickly.

The latest incarnation of its G-RAID dual hard disk Thunderbolt, making it perfect for people who are using Macs that are a couple of years old.

A Thunderbolt 2 port isn’t just a start performer, capable of 440 MB/sec transfer rates in RAID 0, which is pretty incredible for hard disks, but it also gives you a few extras. It comes with HDMI 2.2 port on the back, which routes a video signal for an external display over the G-RAID’s Thunderbolt 3 cable. It also offers a USB-C port to connect to Macs or PCs that lack Thunderbolt.

However, expect to pay a small fortune for the largest capacities, you can buy a cheaper, lower capacity G-RAID and upgrade it with off-the-shelf hard disks yourself.

Pros:

  • Lashings of fast disk storage
  • Easy removal of disks

Cons:

  • High price

4. Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt

A brilliant and affordable Thunderbolt external hard drive

Those who want to make use of your Thunderbolt port, this Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt

is a great choice, as it offers twice the speeds of standard USB 3.0 drives. It still uses a traditional hard drive, rather than an SSD. This means speeds aren’t quite as fast as possible, it at least keeps the price down while offering large capacities.

Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt is also not especially expensive compared to other Thunderbolt drives. Helpfully, it has also a USB 3.0 port for connecting to computers that don’t have a Thunderbolt port.

Pros:

  • Low price compared to other Thunderbolt drives

Cons:

  • Limited hard disk performance

5. LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 4TB

The best USB-C star external hard drives for Macs

The LaCie Porsche Design is another best external hard drives for Macs. You may have considered it when perusing the Apple website for USB-C accessories because the Porsche Design ships with both USB Type-C to Type-A and USB Type-C to Type-C connectors, making it a notable candidate regardless of your setup.

Moreover, This is also one of the most stylishly-designed external hard drives on this list, and it comes with a large 4TB capacity and it performs brilliantly. However, this is an HDD that could theoretically output speeds of up to 5Gbps. With MacBooks coming with USB Type-C connections, this is an excellent – and stylish – an external hard drive that makes the most of this speedy Newport.

Pros:

  • Fast USB-C connection
  • Great design

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • You need USB-C ports to take advantage of speed

6. Adata SD700 External SSD

The best cheap external SSD for Macs

The Adata SD700 external SSD will suit those looking for a rugged storage device that can offer ample capacity without costing too much. Its performance is superbly well and remains the only SSD we’ve seen that’s IP68 rated.

Helpfully, the solid state drive that resides in this external hard drive, it’s a lot faster than external drives that use traditional spinning hard drives. So you’re getting good transfer speeds as well as rugged protection. SD700 also comes in capacities up to 1TB, so you don’t have to worry about storage space just because it uses an SSD. This Adata SD700 drive really does hit all the right notes.

Pros:

  • Great performance
  • IP68 rating

Cons:

  • No USB Type-C

7. WD My Book Duo

A high capacity external drive for your Mac or PC

If you’re looking for a high capacity external USB hard drive, then the WD My Book Duo is the one to get, as it now goes all the way to 20TB. Those who don’t mind sacrificing some of the ample storage space. You can set the drives up in a RAID 1 array, so you have file backups of your files should one of the drives die. This is an excellent feature if you’re going to use this device to back-up sensitive data such as your creative work, you can add a level of protection in case things go wrong.

It offers two additional USB ports on the rear, so you can simply insert flash sticks. The device comes with a two-year warranty, has 256-bit AES hardware encryption, and automatic backup software. Moreover, the enclosure used is fully serviceable and that WD ships the drive already pre-formatted for Windows users (NTFS), so you’ll need to reformat it to work with your Mac.

Pros:

  • Huge amounts of space
  • Integrated USB hub

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Limited performance compared with Thunderbolt drives

8. LaCie Rugged USB-C

Rugged designed storage for Macs

The Lacie’s rugged hard disk series is instantly popular for its orange casing, which is a rubber enclosure that guards your disk against even medium-height drops up to 1.2m, along with your precious data.

According to Lacie it can evidently withstand the pressure of a one-ton car and is resistant to water. That makes it a great option for content creation such as participating in daredevil sports, traveling the world, just a bit paranoid or simply clumsy.

This drive is widely popular among outdoors photographers because it can withstand drops, dust, and even the occasional splash of water, giving you the comfortable peace of mind to take it on the road with you.

One of the greatest things is its built-in Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) cable -a nice touch for Mac users on-the-go and no need to carry around a cable with you.

Pros:

  • Rugged design
  • Backwards compatible with older USB

Cons:

  • Ugly orange casing

9. iStorage diskAshur 2TB external hard drive

A brilliant external hard drive for extra security

If you’re looking for an external hard drive with high security than you’ll like the iStorage drive here. In case someone tries to tamper with your iStorage drive, you can configure it to self-destruct. Helpfully, the data is encrypted by the 256-bit AES protocol, with multiple forms of protection in place to ensure the unwanted people don’t get in no matter how persistent.

When you consider all that extra security, the prices won’t scare you away either. It offers more pricey than the other drives of its capacity, but the extra security it provides will be well worth it for many people.

Pros:

  • Physical security
  • Rugged design

Cons:

  • Expensive

10. Toshiba Canvio Premium

The best plug and play drive for MacBook owners

Toshiba Canvio Premium is already formatted to the Mac OS Extended file system, so you can start dragging and dropping files right away. This drive also complements a MacBook nicely and with anodized aluminum top, it is just a slightly less fine finish than a MacBook keyboard surround.

It’s both the 1TB and 2TB versions are an ultra-slim of 13.5mm thick, but the 3TB we have here is 19mm thick. Toshiba drive includes a little USB-C adapter rather than bundling two cables and full-size USB is the default. This means the Toshiba Canvio Premium for Mac is a USB 3.0 drive rather than a Thunderbolt 3 one. It offers max bandwidth of 5Gbps (625MB/s) rather than 50Gbps (5000MB/s).

The Toshiba Canvio Premium for Mac also offers a little extra security program too with HDD Password Tool feature. This is a very easy and powerful app that lets you password protect the entire drive’s contents to keep secure your sensitive work or personal data on the drive.

Pros:

  • Extra security program tool
  • A neat little fabric carry case

Cons:

  • A bit expensive

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