Best external hard drive and SSD for 2021: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox

Sport consoles at this time include 1TB drives (which is roughly 1,000GB of exhausting drive storage), however the drives max out simply when you do not commonly delete video games off the drive as you purchase extra. And until you are splurging on a high-end mannequin, most new computer systems do not include a lot inner exhausting drive cupboard space — they often have 256GB or 51GB. One option to handle all of it is to search out the most effective exterior exhausting drive and SSD on your wants.

A conventional exhausting drive or mechanical drive that makes use of “previous” exhausting drive expertise (mechanical platters and a shifting read-write head to entry information) is enough for almost all of customers, because of speedier USB-C and USB 3.0 (in addition to 3.1/3.2) interfaces. Costs have dropped considerably in the previous few years, with even the high-capacity exterior exhausting drive fashions tipping the scales at 5TB however costing simply over $100. A solid-state drive would not have shifting components and the exterior SSD drive has as much as 4 instances sooner learn and write pace, however it prices much more per gigabyte.

Many of the choices on this checklist of the most effective exterior exhausting drive fashions will work throughout platforms — whether or not you’ve a Home windows PC, Mac laptop, PlayStation 4 or Xbox — as long as the drives are accurately formatted for the proper platform. However numerous instances they will be designated as working with a selected platform out of the field and generally include backup software program that is platform-specific. Except in any other case indicated, all of the PC drives talked about listed here are appropriate with Home windows however might be formatted for a Mac. A lot of them embrace cables or adapters to accommodate USB-C and USB-A ports. But when they do not occur to be included, you possibly can simply purchase dongles for about $10.

And bear in mind: A single backup would not reduce it. Ideally, you will need redundant backups both off-site or utilizing cloud storage for key information and enormous information (corresponding to household pictures) in case of theft or fireplace. And ensure to encrypt your information, too.

One necessary observe for console avid gamers is that the newer PS5 and Xbox Series X (and Series S) consoles are way more restrictive about utilizing exterior drives. The PS5 can store and play PS4 video games from an exterior drive, however not PS5 video games; the Xbox Collection X can retailer Collection X video games, however you will must switch them to the principle SSD to truly play them. The Xbox Collection X does provide a proprietary Seagate-made storage expansion card, however it prices $220.

With these caveats famous, our present high picks for the most effective exterior exhausting disk drive and exterior solid-state drive are beneath. These (or practically similar fashions with much less storage capability) have been used or anecdotally examined by CNET editors. We’ll replace our checklist of the most effective exterior exhausting drives and SSDs as we check new merchandise.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Western Digital, which owns SanDisk, sells its WD My Passport SSD as properly this SanDisk Exterior Moveable SSD for mainly the identical value. I just like the design of this mannequin slightly higher and it is technically ruggedized with an IP55 score, which means it might stand up to a sustained spray of water. It is also shock-resistant and has a USB-C interface.

The cheaper “older” model has switch speeds as much as 550MBps whereas the next-gen model practically doubles that pace with as much as 1,050MBps (simply over 1GB per second) and solely prices barely extra for the 1TB model. The value for the 2TB mannequin of this exterior drive jumps to $280 for the newer model.

Your pace will range when you’re shifting a mishmash of information to or from the USB drive, however when copying a single massive file you must have the ability to get near these quick switch speeds.


In the event you’re on the lookout for a high-capacity exterior drive on your Xbox One, the WD Black P10 2TB transportable exhausting drive is an effective worth at round $80 (The 5TB model is about $140). It provides you transportable storage on your coveted recreation assortment. This exterior drive additionally comes with a digital code that offers you one month of Microsoft’s Sport Move Final when you’re a brand new subscriber. There’s additionally a normal model of the transportable exhausting drive, which additionally works with PCs and the PS4 for barely much less (it is lacking the Xbox branding however is in any other case the identical drive). The transportable drive can ship speeds as much as 130MBps.


For $115, you may get an exterior drive so you do not have to fret about managing the cupboard space in your PS4 (you possibly can play video games with out lag immediately from the transportable exhausting drive). The 2TB model of the Seagate Sport Drive is about $30 much less at $80. However you may as properly spend the additional dough and get 4TB for this transportable exterior exhausting drive.

Be aware that Seagate makes an SSD Game Drive For Xbox however not PS4. The storage drive prices round $200 for 1TB.

David Carnoy/CNET

You need to use any SSD together with your PlayStation PS4/PS5 or Xbox One, Xbox One Collection X or Collection S to retailer PS4 and Xbox One video games and different content material and decide up a pleasant pace bump when loading video games in contrast with a normal exterior exhausting drive just like the WD Black P10 above. Be aware that with the Xbox Collection X, you possibly can solely archive Xbox Collection X and S video games to this drive, you possibly can’t retailer full video games on it (the Seagate Storage Expansion Card is required for that). The PS5 has the identical restriction — you possibly can solely retailer full PS4 video games on exterior drives.

On its floor, then, the WD Black D30 recreation drive is not all that particular (it has as much as a 900MBps switch fee, which is mainly what a console’s USB 3.1 connection caps out at). But it surely’s actually its design that units it aside. It is thicker and extra rugged-looking than your typical SSD or flash drive and features a removable stand with rubber ft to maintain it from shifting round wherever you place it. This is an NVMe SSD (Non-Risky Reminiscence Specific) that gives environment friendly efficiency and interoperability.It primarily seems like a mini exhausting drive, which is form of cool. 

The usual model works with PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and One X and S consoles, in addition to PCs. The Xbox model proven within the picture merely contains an Xbox brand and a month of Sport Move Final, a $15 worth, for $20 extra. Alas, solely new subscribers can use the included code, so if you have already got a Sport Move Final subscription, you are actually paying the additional $20 for the brand.

The 1TB model begins at $150 whereas the 2TB model begins at $270.

David Carnoy/CNET

SanDisk makes the Excessive Moveable SSD (see above) that delivers speeds as much as 1,050MB per second switch charges. However when you’re a photographer or videographer on the lookout for a fair sooner SSD drive on your PC or Mac, the Excessive Professional Moveable SSD is the best way to go for additional cupboard space. The most recent model is able to delivering as much as 2,000MBps (2GBps) learn/write speeds when you pair it with the proper gear (in an effort to get the utmost pace, you want a number system that helps USB Gen 3.2 Gen 2×2 speeds).

Appropriate with Macs and Home windows PCs, it is technically ruggedized with an IP55 score, which means this may stand up to a sustained spray of water. It is also shock-resistant and has a cast aluminum chassis that acts as a heatsink. It has a USB-C interface and contains each USB-C to USB-C and USC-A to USB-C cable. The 1TB model is round $230 whereas the 2TB mannequin jumps to $364.


The Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB is likely one of the extra compact non-SSD drives, making it the most effective exterior exhausting drive for individuals who want to avoid wasting house. And at lower than $60, this backup drive can be a superb worth. This Seagate exterior exhausting drive may also be related to Macs which have a thunderbolt port. Accessible in a couple of coloration choices, it additionally is available in 1TB ($55), 4TB ($93) and 5TB ($115) variations, however the higher-capacity drives are thicker.


This drive is about as future-proof — and backward-compatible — as they arrive. You pay a little bit of a premium over the usual WD drive, however this newer mannequin presents a USB-C connection, which means it has the most recent and best USB cable connectivity for Macs and PCs. No USB-C in your system? No downside: Western Digital additionally tosses in a USB-A to USB-C adapter, so this storage machine will work with just about any laptop straight out of the field.


The WD My Guide desktop drive is accessible in as much as a 18TB configuration, however the 8TB is the most effective worth at round $200. Sadly, it is so in style it is out of inventory. 

Read our WD My Book (Fall 2016) review.



After Seagate acquired LaCie a number of years in the past, LaCie grew to become the corporate’s premium model and this exterior HDD 5TB mannequin might be discovered on numerous video editors’ desks (together with lots at CNET). This rugged exhausting disk drive makes use of a USB-C interface, is appropriate with Mac and Home windows PCs and is water and shock-resistant. A 4TB Thunderbolt with USB-C model is accessible for Thunderbolt-equipped Macs for about $200.

David Carnoy/CNET

Essential’s X6 exterior SSD is taken into account entry-level as a result of it is simply not as quick as higher-end fashions, which may provide learn/write speeds which can be twice and even 4 instances as quick (the Essential X8 is the step-up mannequin). Even so, the X6 is about 4x sooner than a non-solid-state drive, with switch speeds of up 540MBps for the 1TB and 2TB variations and as much as 800MBps for the brand new 4TB model, which has one of many lowest costs for a 4TB SSD at round $490.

Comparatively, the 4TB SanDisk Excessive SSD, which has a switch pace score of as much as 1,050MBps, prices $700. So that you’re mainly taking a look at a $240 financial savings when you’re keen to take a little bit of a pace hit (once more, at the very least the 4GB model of the Essential X6 has been bumped as much as 800MBps from 540MBps).

Extra house computing suggestions | Greatest exterior exhausting drive and SSD for 2021: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox


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