Best WD External Hard Drives iMore 2021
An external hard drive gives you access to a large amount of storage wherever you are. If you're a photographer who needs to save images or videos on the fly or a business owner who needs to backup presentations and large data files frequently, an external hard drive may be just what you need. Portable storage devices such as our top pick, WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive (WDBU6Y0020BBK), are easy to carry and excellent for keeping your data safe.
- Best Overall: WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive (WDBU6Y0020BBK)
- Best for Mac: WD 5TB My Passport for Mac Portable External Hard Drive (WDBA2F0050BBL)
- Best Desktop External Hard Drive: WD 8TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive (WDBBGB0080HBK)
- Best Ultra-Portable: WD 4TB My Passport Ultra-Portable External Hard Drive (WDBFKT0040BGY)
- Best for Gaming: WD Black 5TB P10 Game Drive Portable External Hard Drive (WDBA3A0050BBK)
Best Overall: WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive (WDBU6Y0020BBK)
The WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive (WDBU6Y0020BBK) comes in storage increments of 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, and 5TB, making this a great option for storing large amounts of data. This external hard drive weighs in at only 4.64 ounces and measures in at 4.35 by 3.23 by 0.59 inches, making it small, compact, and excellent for use on-the-go.
This external hard drive delivers fast-transfer rates and is formatted to Windows 7 or higher. It is compatible with USB 3.0 devices and backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices also. Use this hard drive to free up space on your computer so that it doesn't become slow due to minimal internal storage space. This storage device doesn't come with auto-backup software or password protection.
The encasing around this external hard drive is comprised of a durable shell that is sleek and modern-looking. It features shock-resistant properties that ensure this external hard drive stays protected, even when accidentally dropped. Western Digital backs this product with a 2-year limited warranty.
- Formatted to Windows 7 and higher
- Comes in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, and 5TB options
- No auto-backup software
- No password protection
Best for Mac: WD 5TB My Passport for Mac Portable External Hard Drive (WDBA2F0050BBL)
If you're searching for an external hard drive that is compatible with your Mac and double-compatible with Time Machine, then look no further. The WD 5TB My Passport for Mac Portable External Hard Drive (WDBA2F0050BBL) is explicitly designed for just that. This device weighs 7.41 ounces and measures in at 4.22-by-2.95-by-0.75 inches.
This external hard drive features password protection and Western Digital Discovery software for easy storage and back-up. It also comes equipped with 256-bit AES hardware encryption. Pair this with the cloud-based Western Digital Discovery software, and your data will be kept extremely safe and secure. The WD 5TB My Passport for Mac Portable External Hard Drive allows you to log in to your social media platforms through the Western Digital Discovery software and download, import, and share images and videos directly from your My Passport.
To use this device, simply unbox it, plug it into your Mac via the included USB-C or USB-A cable, and immediately start using it. You can set automatic backup features with Apple Time Machine, or you can manually drag and drop files from your laptop to the external hard drive. Some customers mention slight malfunction issues when using it with Time Machine, however.
- Password protection
- Western Digital Discovery software
- Designed for Mac
- Included USB-C and USB-A cables
- Can have slight malfunction issues with Time Machine
Best Desktop External Hard Drive: WD 8TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive (WDBBGB0080HBK)
When it comes to a heavy-duty and dependable external hard drive for your desktop, the WD 8TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive (WDBBGB0080HBK) is a game-changer. This desktop hard drive measures in at 5.5 by 1.9 by 6.7 inches and weighs 3 pounds. It is well-suited for both Windows and Mac devices and comes equipped with auto-backup features through Western Digital Backup software and compatibility with Time Machine.
If your job or hobby requires you to use social media often, then you may be interested in the social-friendly features of this external hard drive. You can store, organize, and import images and videos straight from your social media accounts via the Western Digital Discovery software. This also keeps your media files extra safe as they are backed up to an additional platform.
The storage capacity on this WD My Book Desktop External Hard Drive ranges from 3TB to 14TB, so you can ensure that you have enough storage space for even your largest files. Your files remain safe and secure through password protection and 256-bit AES hardware protection. Simply designate a personalized password to lock up or access your data.
Start using this storage device immediately after unboxing. Connect this external hard drive via a USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 port and start transferring files at a rapid rate. Some customers mention that when powered up, this device can vibrate on the desktop, but most customers state that it is only a minor fault.
- Large amount of storage space
- For Mac and Windows devices
- Social-friendly features
- Password protection
- Hardware encryption
- Can vibrate on desktop
Best Ultra-Portable: WD 4TB My Passport Ultra-Portable External Hard Drive (WDBFKT0040BGY)
The WD 4TB My Passport Ultra-Portable External Hard Drive (WDBFKT0040BGY) measures in at 4.33-by-3.21-by-0.85 inches and only weighs half a pound, making it an extremely compact and portable external hard drive. Formatted for Windows 7 or above operating systems, this pocket-sized hard drive is great to use outside of the office and on-the-go.
This ultra-portable external hard drive comes prepared to keep your files safe with its built-in 256-bit AES hardware encryption and password protection feature. You can safely store critical information and important documents without having to worry about third-party viewers. This external hard drive also comes equipped with Western Digital Backup software to ensure that your files are safely preserved.
If you're worried about losing files, you may be interested in the included Western Digital Discovery software, which allows you to double-save your documents, photos, and videos in a secure cloud-based environment. Use the WD Discovery software to access your social media platforms to import and save media files from your digital presence.
This device features a visually appealing metallic design that is backed by a 3-year limited warranty. It comes equipped with 1TB to 4TB of storage space and is compatible with USB 3.0 devices and also backward compatible with USB 2.0 devices. Some customers mention that when overloaded, it can cause system reboots without warning.
- Built-in hardware encryption
- Password protection
- WD Discovery software included
- Can cause system reboots when overloaded
Best for Gaming: WD Black 5TB P10 Game Drive Portable External Hard Drive (WDBA3A0050BBK)
The WD Black 5TB P10 Game Drive Portable External Hard Drive (WDBA3A0050BBK) is the ultimate external hard drive for gaming. Designed with gamers in mind, this device is compatible with multiple game consoles, including Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac. Enjoy saving all of your favorite games to this drive so that you can play anywhere.
This premium gaming hard drive comes with a storage capacity of 5TB. That is equivalent to around 125 games at an average of 36GB per game. This means you have enough space to store a multitude of games across multiple consoles. With this drive, you even have enough space to continuously upgrade downloaded games to keep up with the expanding storyline.
Although this device delivers speedy transfer rates of 140MB per second, some users mention that it can become a little slower with larger game files. It also does not come equipped with password protection.
Measuring at 4.65-by-3.46-by-0.82 inches and weighing half of a pound, this external hard drive is lightweight and portable. Place this device in your backpack or purse and have access to your gaming library wherever you go. You don't have to worry about damage as this external hard drive is made with a durable encasing that is also shock-resistant.
- Compatible with Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac
- 5TB of storage
- Lightweight and portable
- Can be slower than 140MB per second with larger game files
- No password protection
External hard drives offer an additional form of storage space to the internal hard drives on your PC or laptop. Available in many different storage capacities and equipped with specific security protocols, external hard drives keep your videos, photographs, and documents safe while clearing up space on your computer. If you require a heavy-duty hard drive with 14TB of storage space, or a hard drive solely to store your gaming library, there is an option for you.
However, when it comes to a device that can accommodate enough storage for your every-day tasks at school or work, we recommend the WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive (WDBU6Y0020BBK). This shock-resistant external hard drive comes in increments of storage space ranging from 1TB to 5TB, making it a great basic storage device for every-day use.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Camille Sanghera is a freelance writer who loves telling stories through writing. When she is not content writing, you can find her watching movies, playing sports, or writing books. Check out her blog at www.happycoconut.ca.
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