Best External Hard Drives Windows Central 2020

Having an external hard drive around can come in handy if you need to add a little (or a lot) of extra storage space to your PC setup with little hassle. Navigating the sea of external drives can, however, be quite daunting. So we've compiled a list of the best picks to get you started.

Light and Small: Seagate Backup Plus Slim

Editor's choice

The Backup Plus Slim is one of the smallest and lightest hard-disk drives (HDD) out there, available in four different sizes up to 5TB and four different colors. It's just 0.46 inches thick for easy portability in your laptop bag or pocket, and USB-A 3.0 connectivity means relatively fast transfer speeds up to 120MB/s.

Durable, Fast SSD: CalDigit Tuff nano

Staff pick

CalDigit's Tuff nano USB-C SSD combines compact aluminum chassis, lasting durability, and speedy performance, all for a competitive price. Grab it in 512GB or 1TB sizes and enjoy speeds up to 1,055MB/s.

From $130 at Amazon

SSD in Three Sizes: Samsung T5 Portable

If an HDD just won't do and you have the cash, Samsung's T5 external solid-state drive (SSD) is the best you can buy right now with up to 540 MB/s read and write speeds. This drive has a single USB-C port on it for fast data transfer, but it includes both USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A 3.1 cables in the box. Grab it in 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB sizes.

Colorful Bulk Storage: Western Digital My Passport

This portable HDD is available in sizes ranging from 1TB to 5TB, ideal if you're looking for bulk storage that can still fit in your pocket. It's also available in a few different colors to fit your style. It has built-in 256-bit AES encryption to keep your data safe, and it connects to your PC with USB-A.

Made for Mobility: SanDisk Extreme SSD

SanDisk's Extreme SSD is available in sizes from 250GB up to 2TB, and it's designed to be easily carried around with you. A cutout in the top corner allows you to clip it to a bag or case, USB-C connectivity allows for transfer speeds up to 550MB/s, and it's water and dust resistant so you can worry less about the safety of your data.

Bulk Storage: Western Digital My Book Desktop

If you aren't concerned with portability and simply want a solid, self-powered external HDD for your desktop, look no further than the Western Digital My Book Desktop. Get up to 12TB of storage, protect your files with 256-bit AES encryption, and connect with USB-A 3.0 for file transfers.

Thunderbolt 3 Speed: Samsung X5 SSD

Want the fastest transfer speeds possible (up to 2,800MB/s read and 2,300MB/s write) from your external drive? Samsung's X5 SSD uses Thunderbolt 3 to connect for blistering transfers, and it's all wrapped up in a sleek, compact metal body. If you have a laptop with modern ports and don't want to wait around, this should be a great pick.

If we're picking an external hard drive

All of the drives listed above have their perks and will make a great storage option for the right person. Still, if we're picking one, we suggest the Seagate Backup Plus Slim. It's small enough to easily tote around with you, there are lots of storage options up to 5TB available, and it uses USB-A 3.0 for wide compatibility and respectable transfer speeds. It's also one of the least expensive options on the list, making it ideal for most people. This is the updated version of the drive, with brushed metal finish, two-tone colors, and a two-year warranty.

If you need something with faster speeds and extra durability, we also recommend the CalDigit Tuff nano SSD. You'll ultimately pay more, but you'll see far faster read and write speeds thanks to USB-C connectivity. This drive is also surprisingly small, enough so that you can tuck it away into a pocket without much trouble. It's available in 512GB and 1TB sizes. As a bonus, it's tested to withstand water, dust, and drops.

If you're looking for a storage solution that's quite a bit more robust and expandable, you might be looking for Network Attached Storage (NAS). There's always the option of building your own NAS, but for those who'd rather buy a prebuilt, we've rounded up the best options available now.

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