Best External Hard Drives for Mac iMore 2021
We understand that your data is important to you. Whether it's personal documents, important work files, or just making sure you have everything you need to be backed up, you can never be too safe. The best external hard drives for macOS Big Sur are not only useful for storing data but are an excellent way to transport files from one location to another. When you consider price, ease of use, and portability, the Seagate Backup Plus Slim is the most reliable hard drive you can carry around with you at all times.
- Best overall: Seagate Backup Plus Slim (2 TB)
- Best USB-C: Samsung T5 Portable SSD (2 TB)
- Best capacity: WD 6TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive
- Best Thunderbolt 3 drive: LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt
- Best for legacy hardware: G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB)
- Best fast drive: Samsung X5 Portable SSD (1TB)
Best overall: Seagate Backup Plus Slim (2 TB)
If you want a reliable external hard drive with a decent amount of storage, is super easy to carry around, and has a very affordable price tag, the Seagate Backup Plus Slim is the best option for most people. Formatted for Windows and Mac right out of the box, it's easy to carry all your essential documents from desktop to laptop without missing a beat.
The Seagate Dashboard backup system is a fantastic simple tool that can let you schedule backups to ensure you never miss any critical files you need in case something terrible happens to your computer. You can set automatic backups daily, weekly, or monthly and change the frequency whenever you want.
Seagate also throws in a one-year complimentary subscription to Mylio Create. This can help you wrangle your photo library if you don't already use some photo managing tool and a two-month membership to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan.
- Great backup software
- USB 3.0
- Metal enclosure
- Proprietary cable
- No USB-C
Best USB-C hard drive: Samsung T5 Portable SSD (2 TB)
This small compact SSD drive from Samsung comes with both a USB-C to USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-A, meaning it's perfect to use with your MacBook or Mac.
Its fast 540 MB/s read and write speeds are more than enough to transfer any file. And should be able to store all your photo and video files with ease thanks to its straightforward software. Plus, if you're worried about encryption, the Samsung T5 Portable SSD has you covered with an optional password to launch the drive and AES 256-bit hardware encryption on all your files.
- Super compact
- AES 256-bit hardware encryption
- A little expensive per storage
Best capacity: Western Digital My Book (6 TB)
Compatible with Time Machine right out of the box, the 6 TB storage capacity on the Western Digital My Book is perfect for people looking for a lot of stage at a reasonable price. It's USB 3.0, meaning it's easy to take advantage of its storage speed with fast transfer speeds.
While portability is not the Western Digital My Book's strong suit and it needs a separate power source, it does offer 256-AES encryption when you download its easy-to-use security software. It ensures all your important files and documents stay private.
If you're looking for a drive with lots of space, so you don't need multiple as your storage needs grow, look no further.
- Lots of storage
- 256-AES encryption
- Time Machine compatible
- Not very portable
- Needs power
Best Thunderbolt 3 drive: LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt (2TB)
LaCie hard drives have always been good for people on the go because of the rugged design. The LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt can withstand some dust, dirt, and even a tiny bit of water being splashed on it.
It's 7200 RPM Hard drive keeps things running smoothly. And the included USB-C cable — which supports Thunderbolt 3 — makes it perfect for MacBook and Mac users alike!
- Thunderbolt 3
- 7200 RPM
- Only 130MB/s
Best for legacy hardware : G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB)
While Apple has been going the way of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 for a while now, some of us still use older hardware and thus don't need hard drives with USB-C connections. If you're still rocking USB-A or even a Thunderbolt 2 connection from your Mac, the G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB) is a perfect companion.
Its all-metal design is not only more durable than plastic hard drives, but it also looks stylish! Plus, its 7200 RPM speed allows the G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 to achieve 195 MB/s read and write speeds. This makes it fast enough to transfer large video files quickly and efficiently.
- USB 3.0
- All-metal design
- 7200 RPM
- Needs to be reformatted for Windows
Best fast drive : Samsung X5 (1TB)
If you're used to dealing with giant file sizes and need a hard drive that can handle transfer data fast, the Samsung X5 is one of the fastest SSD's you'll find. Its read and write speeds are 2,800MB/s and 2,300MB/s, respectively, and the entire body is made of metal, making it much harder than plastic drives. Plus, The internal frame on the inside is shock resistant for drops from 2 meters.
This SSD comes with Thunderbolt 3 technology included. This you can take advantage of the fast speeds on your Mac or MacBook Pro, and it doesn't need any formatting, so it's plug and play!
- 2,800MB/s read speed
- Thunderbolt 3
- Gets warm
The Seagate Backup Plus Slim is the best external hard drive for Mac you can carry around with you at all times. It is formatted for both Mac and Windows right out of the box, and its easy-to-use software can automatically do backups for you as often or as little as you want. No matter how you back up your Mac, the Seagate Backup Plus Slim has you covered.
Seagate also throws in a one-year complimentary subscription to Mylio Create. This program can help you wrangle your photo library if you don't already use some photo managing tool. A two-month membership to Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography Plan means it's the best external hard drive for Mac for budding photographers as well.
If you are looking for something with USB-C to use with your MacBook, and nothing here suits your fancy, you can always check out the best USB-C hard drives for Mac to ensure you can use them on your Mac laptop with no dongle needed.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Luke Filipowicz is an iMore staff writer who has been carrying around his Seagate Backup Plus Slim since his college days.
Lory Gil is the former Managing Editor of iMore and an avid believer in having as many backups of your important files and documents as possible.
Rene Ritchie is the foremost authority on all things Apple and has insider knowledge about the goings-on at the biggest tech company in the world. When it comes to accessories for Mac, Rene has used them all.
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