Find a great one for ...
Your memories. Your listening pleasure.
And all your hard work sitting on your MacBook Pro, Air or iMac.
You won't care if it's your work documents. Or legal documents. Or your video of grandma holding her first grandchild.
You'll want to keep copies. And have a backup so that you don't risk losing them forever.
And that's where having the best external hard drive for your Mac to back up to.
And you using this drive to keep copies of your crucial files fits in.
When You Want to Know Now
I know, some you will want to cut straight to the chase. And know what's the best external hard drive for Mac in this review.
If you're happy to take some more time and see the complete list just scroll on past.
*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. And at no extra cost to you this site earns a commissions through image links, Amazon button and text links should you buy.
Your Best External Hard Drive For Mac is ...
WD Elements Portable Hard Drive
You want to find out why? Please read on …
You'll be curious to know how we got to the five best external hard drives for Mac for this review.
You our readers said that:-
- Reliability was important to you. You'll find only those driveswith solid reputations and happy users made the grade.
- Best Brand Names. It's not a guarantee. But the top brands got to be the best by producing the finest products they could.
- Storage Capacity in Relation to Price. You said this was important as who wants to pay over the odds for mediocre. Not when you're protecting your files. That's when paying a few dollars extra is worth it to you.
- Speed and Connectivity. Yes you want your external drive to perform. Why would you want to wait forever for your Mac's back up? And most important of all you want your drive to connect to Mac. As that's what you need. And if you want, you can share all the external drives featured in this review between a Mac and a Windows PC.
- Good Looks and Easy to Carry Around. Well you're a Mac user. And you bought your Mac because it looked good. Even if you don't say it out loud. You want something that looks good and works great. Just like your Mac does. And is easy to take with you when you need.
You'll find reviewed three types of external hard drives.
They're here because they covered the three main types of external drive.
What's the Best External Hard Drives for Mac in 2020
You're free to Click the images to check the latest prices on Amazon
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Toshiba Canvio Advance
LaCie Rugged Mini
In the quick reviews below you'll find out what you need to watch for. And what you need to know about each drive.
Later on in this article you've a six step guide.
The guide will walk you through the key things to think about. And know before you buy an external hard drive for your Mac.
For now you can read on and explore the special five.
Number One : WD Elements Portable Hard Drive
Your top pick for the best external hard drive for Mac is from Western Digital. And it's also the best affordable portable.
You'll want the WD Elements portable when you need the best backup drive for your Mac. And when you're price sensitive.
You'll find the 2TB WD Elements hits the spot
When you buy this Elements portable hard drive you'll get a solid and reliable work horse. One that will keep all those documents, photos and movies of yours safe.
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WD Elements Portable Hard Drive
WD Elements Pros
- You'll find in the WD Elements a popular top selling drive.
- And you'll like it too because the WD Elements has a competitive price for the number of TB you get.
- And because the WD Elements if affordable, its the best backup drive for Mac. Fantastic when you have a lot of files to save.
- Western Digital is a top brand name. You get the security of a well made, reliable external drive. And two year's warranty.
- With little effort you can set up your WD Elements hard drive on your Mac.
- What's not to like?
WD Elements Cons
- Plain looking. What you see is what you get.
- Your WD Elements drive is NTFS preformatted. And you'll need to reformat to fully use on your Mac. A five minute job.
- You'll find here a basic drive. There aren't many extras on this drive.
WD Elements Summary
Flexible, because if you want you can partition up a larger TB drive. And have separate sections for backing up and storing your files.
You can use it on your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or iMac. And should you want share with a Windows PC. You'll find this drive a really fantastic drive to have around.
And with a great price tag you can understand its choice as the best external hard drive for Mac.
And with the price being so reasonable you'll think of getting two.
It always pays to have more than one back up of your photos and videos just in case.
WD Elements Features
Your Elements Portable Hard Drive is a basic drive. This means that you'll find no bundled backup software. Or password protection. Or encryption on the WD Elements drive itself.
But for you as a Mac owner you're covered. As your Mac's operating system comes ready with Disk Utility and Time Machine. You'll use those two pieces of software to set up your WD Elements portable on your Mac. And have it backing up your documents in no time.
You can even set up encryption for your files with Mac OS. If you're particularly sensitive about your information.
WD Elements Reliability
Your Western Digital Elements hard drive has been around on the market since 2013. And the Elements Portable has many happy users.
Feel free to click through to Amazon on the link above and check out the user reviews.
And of course there is the beauty of buying through Amazon. Because should you be extremely unlucky and receive a dead on arrival unit. Amazon takes care of the replacement.
YouTube Video Covering the WD Elements
I thought you might enjoy this YouTube video covering the WD Elements.
Video Credit: Western Digital
Elements Storage Capacity
You'll see the drive itself sports several capacities. If 2TB is too large for you and your Mac's files then you can go smaller with the 1TB offering.
If 1 TB is too small then fill your boots with their 3TB, 4TB or 5TB.
Speed of the Western Digital Portable
Your Elements hard drive is a laptop type drive. You'll find up to 105 Mb/s data transfer speed.
When you choose the Elements portable it'll be a solid performer.
One you'll find fine for storing your every day files and your backups.
But if you're video editing. Or doing other high performance software jobs then the Elements portable is not for you.
Consider buying a Thunderbolt drive. Or check out the Samsung SSD T5 below when its performance you need.
WD Elements Connecting To Your Mac
Your Western Digital Elements plugs into your Mac using USB 3.0. USB 3.0 does support USB 2.0 backwards compatibility if you've an older Mac.
If you've a Mac with Thunderbolt USB C ports. Or even a Mac with a USB 3.1 port.
You can use your WD Elements Portable. But you'll need a USB 3.0 to USB 3.1. Or Thunderbolt USB C adaptor cable for your Mac.
So remember to buy one when you buy your WD Elements Portable.
When you plug your Elements drive into your Mac with USB C Thunderbolt ports. Your Mac will see it's a USB 3.0 drive. And will use it at USB 3.0 speed. Perfectly fine when you're using this drive for backups or storing your files.
How Your WD Elements Portable is Powered
You'll find your Elements Portable drive conveniently powered by your Macs USB port. Through its USB cable. This means that there is no need for you to worry about a power adaptor.
The First Time Using Your WD Elements Portable
When you plug in your new, unboxed Elements Portable your Mac will see your drive.
But because it comes NTFS formatted out of the box. You'll need to reformat your WD Elements external drive.
Format your Elements drive to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system for your Mac. Or to ExFAT if you're planning on sharing your Elements drive between a Mac and a Windows PC.
Something that only takes minutes. And then you're ready to use your Elements Portable hard drive with Time Machine to backup.
WD Elements Looks and Handy Size
You'll find the Elements Portable drive is only available in Black. Plain matt black.
You'll notice that its looks are not designed to excite.
But black is so practical and efficient.
You'll buy your WD Elements Portable because of its price point, storage capacity. And its physical size.
The drive itself is beautifully sized at 4.4 by 3.2 by 0.82 inches and weighs in at 5.28 ounces.
You can pop it in your briefcase or hold all. And even if you're not carrying it around it won't take up much desk space or cupboard space to store.
Elements Portable Warranty
Western Digital offers 2 years limited warranty on your WD Elements hard drive. This level of warranty is pretty reasonable. And in-line with other manufacturers.
It shows Western Digital has confidence in the reliability of there Elements drive.
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Number Two: Toshiba Canvio Advance Portable Hard Drive
The Toshiba Canvio Advance included in our list for good reasons.
You'll find in the Toshiba Canvio Advance the best portable drive for your Mac.
You've a drive that comes in fun colors. A level of shock protection built into the drive - - perfect when your porting it with you.
Your Toshiba Canvio Advance boasts a 4TB capacity drive in a nice portable with your Mac size.
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Toshiba Canvio Advance Portable Hard Drive
Toshiba Canvio Advance Pros
- You'll find fun colors you can match with your other Mac accessories.
- The best portable for Mac in a compact, carry with you, lightweight package.
- You get a level of vibration and knock protection by design with this drive. Perfect if you feel you're the clumsy sort.
- You'll find the Toshiba Canvio Advance has a reasonable range of storage capacities.
Toshiba Canvio Advance Cons
- You should be wary of using the USB 2.0 compatibility feature on older USB 2.0 only Macs. As they may not have the power in there USB ports to use this drive.
- You buy the Canvio Advance with NTFS formatting. You'll need to reformat to set up your Toshiba Canvio Advance on your Mac.
Toshiba Canvio Advance Summary
You'll find the Canvio Advance is a great choice if you're a Mac user who wants safe reliable performance. You'll get a good range of storage capacities. And relatively fast transfer speeds.
It'll more than meet your expectations for a portable hard drive at its price.
Canvio Advance Features
On the outside you'll find it simple yet sophisticated in design.
On the inside you'll find features to help look after your Canvio Advance. Offering protection from many of the days knocks and bumps.
An advantage for a drive you plan to take with you.
Even through this extra protection is all great. Remember your Canvio Advance is not a ruggedized drive.
The drive inside the bright packaging is a laptop type mechanical hard drive. And so be mindful about dropping it one time too many.
Canvio Advance Customer Views
You'll like that the Canvio Advance has proven itself in the field.
And has many very happy Mac users. You can take a look at the reviews on Amazon by clicking on the picture link above.
Toshiba Canvio Storage Capacity
Your popular Canvio Advance comes in several capacities 1TB and 2TB. And in early 2019 the 4TB size replaced the 3TB drive.
Just choose the capacity you want.
YouTube Video Showing You The Canvio Advance in Action
Have a look at this video I found showing you the Toshiba Canvio Advance in action.
Video Credit: Toshiba TAEC
Toshiba Canvio Advance Looks
You'll find fun colors in a 'piano finish' high gloss case.
You've the colors Red, Blue, White.
And the more usual Black.
So if you want to match your Toshiba Canvio Advance with your Mac's other accessories, you can.
You may find that your Canvio Advance's high gloss finish gets annoying.
As it is a bit of a finger print magnet.
Carrying About Your Canvio Advance
Your Advance makes it as the best portable drive you can put on your Mac. You'll fit it easily into a small bag. Or in the back pocket of your jeans.
With sizes and weights of;
1TB and 2TB - 4.3 by 3.1 by 0.55 inches
4TB - 4.3 by 3.1 by 0.77 inches
And is as lightweight as the other portables in its class at;
1TB and 2TB - 5.28 ounces
4TB - 7.4 ounces
You'll find an attractive design that makes it a worthy accessory to flaunt beside your Mac.
The Speed of the Toshiba Canvio Advance
Even with its smaller physical size, its data transfer rate is good – at around 136 Mb/s with its USB 3.0 interface.
And with 4TB of storage for your Mac, then the Canvio Advance may well be just what you want.
Plugging in Your Mac into Your Canvio Advance
You've a USB 3.0 drive that uses the USB port of your Mac for power.
There is no extra power adaptor to carry about. A nice benefit on a portable.
Like the WD Elements Portable. You can use your Canvio Advance on your a Mac with Thunderbolt ports.
But you'll need a USB 3.0 to USB C / Thunderbolt adaptor cable to connect it up. Easy enough to buy from Amazon.
Your Canvio Advance is NTFS out of the Box
The Toshiba Canvio Advance is typical of external drives on the market. Your Canvio Advance will need to be reformatted for your Mac.
You'll need to format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system to drag and drop. Or copy and paste your documents. Or to ExFAT if you'd like to share this drive with a Windows PC.
Format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system. Then use your Canvio Advance with Time Machine for backups.
Canvio Advance Warranty
Your Toshiba Canvio Advance is sold with a 2 year limited warranty.
Which you'll find is competitive for a basic portable external drive in the market.
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Number Three : Seagate Expansion 2TB Portable Hard Drive
You'll find the Seagate Expansion 2TB is a basic external hard drive that comes in at an affordable price.
It's a great choice if your external storage needs are straight forward. And you want a portable drive that won't cost you too much money.
It's one of the best portable external hard drives. Because when you buy this Seagate Expansion you'll find it performs pretty well too.
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Seagate Expansion Portable Hard Drive
Seagate Expansion Pros
- Competitively priced
- Nice range of storage capacities at 1TB, 2TB, 3TB 4TB and 5TB
- You can share your Seagate Expansion between a Mac and PC if you wish by formatting to ExFAT
Seagate Expansion Cons
- Like most of the drives on the market it comes NTFS formatted. You'll need to reformat for your Mac.
- 1 year warranty only
Seagate Expansion Summary
Looking for a basic portable external hard drive? Then you'll find the Seagate Expansion up there as another great choice!
You'll discover there are hundreds of happy users out in the market place.
The Seagate Expansion was only pushed into third place by the length of its warranty. 1 year's warranty is short. Compared to the two years you'll see offered on the WD Elements and Toshiba Canvio Advance drives.
And should you decide to go for one. You'll find that it more than meets your needs for an entry level drive at an affordable price.
Seagate Expansion Features
You'll see that your Seagate Expansion drive comes only in black. Though it does have a stylish enough checked pattern on the top casing.And inside you'll be assured that the Seagate Expansion is functional and durable.
Seagate Expansion Reliability
What's the user feedback?
That the Expansion drive has proven itself to be reliable with its users. You can check on this by using the Amazon links above or below.
Click to through and check the latest feedback at the end of the Amazon sales page.
The Portable Storage Capacity of the Seagate Expansion
You'll find that your Seagate Expansion comes in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB and 5TB sizes. Giving you a wide range of choice in hard drive capacity.
Speed of the Seagate Expansion
Your Seagate Expansion drive performs well for a portable external hard drive. With a writing speed of 120 Mb/s and a read speed of 130 Mb/s making it one of the faster portable external drives in its class.
Connecting Your Seagate Expansion to Your Mac
You'll find that the Seagate Expansion Portable is a USB 3.0 drive. In this it's like both the WD Elements and the Toshiba Canvio.
And like those external drives your Mac's USB port powers your Seagate Expansion. So no need for an extra power adaptor.
This means that you can plug the Seagate Expansion in as you would a USB stick. And if it's your first time using your Seagate Portable Expansion on your Mac. You simply reformat to Mac OS Extended Journaled file system. Or ExFAT to share between your Mac and Windows PC.
Unsure how to do this? No fear. Take a look at the article here.
Like both the WD Elements Portable and the Toshiba Canvio you'll find the USB cable in the box has a USB A plug on the end. For your Mac with USB C ports you'll need an adaptor. Easily bought from Amazon.
Seagate Expansion Portable Looks and Portability
With a small neat design in a 4.9 by 3.2 by 0.6 inch case it's for sure portable. And you can take with you in your jacket pocket or purse.
At 6 ounces for the 2TB drive, it’s a little heavier than the WD Elements and the Toshiba Canvio Advance.
The Seagate Portable External Hard Drive's Warranty
You've 1 year limited warranty on the Seagate Expansion Portable. This is less than the two years offered on the WD Elements and the Toshiba Canvio Advance. It's a little disappointing and pushes this drive into third place.
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Number Four : Samsung T5 Portable SSD
And now you take a step. Not just a step, you're taking a long stride up.
Up from the basic drives that made the top 3 places in the best drive list. To now look at the best solid state external hard drive for your Mac.
What is a Solid State Drive (SSD)?
You'll find they're different to external hard drives. Because inside they have no moving parts. They store your files electronically. You'll find no fan's to cool the drive. And so they're silent as they work. You'll also find SSD's are more resistant to life's knocks and bumps.
And the best plus point is they're lightning fast.
But you've a price tag that goes along with all this. You'll pay more per GB of storage …
But they give you oh so much more.
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Samsung T5 Solid State Drive
Samsung T5 Pros
- Good looking, reliable and easy to use. Why wouldn't you want one?
- You'll find in your Samsung T5 the best external SSD hard drive for Mac. Because its lightening fast drive speeds will make your video editing, photo editing. And even your backup's super quick
- Keep an eye out, occasional deals could mean you get this baby at a bargain price
Samsung T5 Cons
- Users have had issues with the provided Samsung T5's Mac software. This software is optional to install from your T5 drive
Samsung T5 Summary
You have in the Samsung T5 a beautiful drive in many ways. With handsome good looks and striking performance. Your Samsung T5 is one of the best portable SSD drives for your Mac.
Particularly if you're a professional and you need a fast drive. You'll find lots to delight you. When you need to keep your documents safe and want a drive to keep up with your Mac the T5 could just be it.
Samsung T5 Features
Your T5 Looks and Storage
You've a real beauty. With an Aluminum metallic case and great colors
Royal blue for 250 GB and 500 GB storage sizes
Red or Gold for the 500 GB and 1TB versions
And metallic Black for the 1 TB and 2 TB storage options.
Plenty of storage choice. So match with your Mac's accessories or your mood.
When you're into video editing, Photoshopping large photographs. Or movie and audio editing then you'll love this drive's speed.
And you won't care about the price.
Samsung T5 Reliability
You'll find your Samsung T5 has exceptional reliability with many very happy users. You can read what those users say by clicking on the picture link to Amazon above. There you'll see the quality of this drive just shines through.
Samsung claims the T5 is able to take a drop of up to six feet.
Which is reassuring. Though you wouldn't want to drop a drive this pricey for fun to test that claim out.
YouTube Video on the Samsung T5
Why not take a look at this quick 48 second video introducing the Samsung T5.
Video Credit: Samsung
T5 External SSD Speed
You've a USB 3.1 Gen 2 SSD drive in the T5.
Perfect for your latest MacBook with USB C ports. You'll find your T5's headline speed is advertised at 540 Mb/s. In testing 484 Mb/s write speed and 511 Mb/s read speed was seen on Mac.
You don't have Thunderbolt 3 performance but then it's not a Thunderbolt 3 drive.
Connecting Your Samsung T5 to Your Mac
The T5 comes with two USB cables. One is a USB C to USB C cable. And there is a second cable that is USB C to USB A.
This is the USB cable to use with your Mac with USB 3.0 ports.
There is USB 2.0 backwards compatibility but beware.
Your Mac with a USB 2.0 port is unlikely to be able to power this drive. So think about using an independent to your Mac powered USB hub.
Plus your older Macs will be able send your files out to the T5 only as fast as your Mac is able to go.
But you'll get other benefits such as reliability and drop shock resistance.
And a new lease of life for your older Mac.
Using Your Samsung T5 on Mac
Your T5 drive comes preformatted in ExFAT.
This means you can drag and drop files. Or copy and paste files from your Mac to your T5 straight out of the box.
Plus an ExFAT drive is shareable between a Mac and Windows PCs.
But to use your T5 with Time Machine, you'll need to reformat your T5 on your Mac. You'll need format to Mac OS (Journaled) file system.
Reformatting only takes a few minutes.
You don't know how to do that?
Samsung T5 Supplied Software
The Samsung T5 comes with software designed to make it easier to use on a Mac. This software runs on Mac OS X 10.9 and above.
But you should beware. Mac users have reported issues using this software.
And Macs are sensitive to installed third party kernel software.
And this software is tricky to uninstall if you find it causes issues for you. You're best sticking with the software provided on your Mac.
You can use your Samsung T5 perfectly well without it.
Use Disk Utility for encryption and password protection. Or Time Machine to encrypt your backup.
Can You Take your Samsung T5 with you?
If you want to take this little baby about with you then it couldn't be more convenient. With dimensions of 0.4 by 2.3 by 3 inches.
And the T5 weighs 1.6 ounces. This size means your T5 gives your credit card a run for its money.
It's easily slipped into your purse or your inside breast pocket.
The Samsung T5's Warranty
Three years limited warranty is the warranty you would expect. And shows confidence that your T5 will perform and give you many happy years of use.
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Number Five : LaCie Rugged Mini External Portable Hard Drive
And now you've come to the best rugged external hard drive for Mac.
You'll find the LaCie Rugged Mini Portable external hard drive not only has a sporty look.
It has some great rugged features.
LaCie was originally a French owned company. They specialized in drives that performed out in the rough. Mac creatives loved their rugged drives.
LaCie is now wholly owned by Seagate Technologies.
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nd SSD drive options.
LaCie Rugged Mini Portable Hard Drive
LaCie Rugged Mini Pros
- You'll find in the LaCie Mini a practical and tough go along with you drive.
- You'll have a compact drive that is rain resistant. Can withstand accidental drops of up to 4 feet. And LaCie claim's its drive's casing will take up to a 1 ton car driving over it. Impressive.
- You can format your LaCie to use on your Mac. Or format so that you can share your drive between both your Mac and Windows PC
LaCie Rugged Mini Cons
- Some of you may find the in your face orange casing not the most attractive.
- Your LaCie Rugged Mini ships with a USB cable with a type A plug at the end you plug into your Mac. Buy yourself a USB type A to USB C adaptor for your Mac with USB type C ports
- Since the take over of LaCie by Seagate, there are reports of a higher level of drive failures
LaCie Rugged Mini Summary
LaCie's success started with photographers and film makers. Because they needed an external hard drive they could take with them. One that would perform wherever they needed to film.
And if you're like those photographers and movie makers. And need a take with you anywhere drive it's worth a look at the LaCie Mini.
LaCie Rugged Mini Features
Yes, your LaCie Mini is rain resistant. And will withstand some drops and falls. And yes, you should be fine if your great aunt accidentally sits on the drive.
All this makes the Rugged Mini Portable drive great in places where unplanned for stuff happens.
The casing is what makes the LaCie Mini rugged and resistant to the elements.
But underneath its tough outer cover this drive still has moving parts.
You'll find under that orange outside a USB 3.0 drive. One that takes its power from your Mac's USB port. So there is no separate power adaptor to carry around with you.
LaCie Mini Storage Capacity
Your rugged mini portable hard drive comes in 1TB, 2TB 4TB and 5TB drive sizes.
Perfect when you need a lot of storage capacity out in the field.
LaCie Rugged Mini Speed
With a read speed of 108 Mb/s and a Write speed of 117 Mb/s it's not the fastest of USB 3.0 drives.
What you're really buying is its put up with the rough environment features.
Connecting Your LaCie Rugged Mini to Your Mac
Your LaCie Mini is a USB 3.0 drive and in its box you'll find a USB cable. That cable has a type A plug at the end you plug into your Mac. This means that for your newer Mac with USB C ports you'll need an adaptor plug.
You open the Rugged Mini's casing to expose its USB 3.0 port. And plug your cable in. This does of course mean that while you are using the drive it is open to the elements.
LaCie Rugged Mini Reliability
You'll find the LaCie Rugged Mini proven out in the rough.
But you can always see for yourself what the users on Amazon think?
You can use the links to Amazon above or below this section. There you can have a look.
Scroll down to the bottom of the sales page and choose the recent reviews.
LaCie Rugged Mini Looks and Size
You've the orange ruggedized casing made to take life's drops and falls. Ok so you may think its not be the prettiest of hard drives.
But that's not why you'd want this drive.
You'll find its small size convenient to take with you at 0.75 x 3.4 x 5.31 inches for the 1TB and 2TB drives.
And 0.88 x 3.39 x 5.31 inches for the 4TB and 5TB drives.
And its weight?
0.66 lbs. for the 1TB and 2TB drives.
And 0.881 lbs. for the 4TB and 5TB drives.
You'll love to carry it with you.
Rugged Mini Warranty
When you buy your LaCie's Rugged Mini it has 2 years limited warranty on the drive. You'll find this is reasonable in the market for external hard drives.
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Wrapping Up. The Final Verdict
Your choice in what's the best external hard drive for your Mac depends on several things. From your budget, through to your need for storage capacity. The features you need and of course you want it to work on your Mac.
The WD Elements Portable hard drive won this contest of what's the best external hard drive for Mac.
It won because of its price performance, range of capacities. And because it more than performs as a use every day hard drive.
But really in a way you'll find that all the external hard drives in this review are winners.
And depending on what's important to you, good looks, range of colors, performance or sheer toughness. Then your pick of the bunch may differ.
And if you're still not sure how to go about choosing one. Then you've a treat.
Read on and learn the six steps to choosing the right external hard drive for you.
6 Steps to Choosing an External Drive. That Special Companion for Your Mac
I am guessing you love your Mac, what ever flavor it is, iMac to Macbook to Macbook Air and why not?
They are lovely machines, designed to be easy to use, and get along with but they are not particularly expandable.
Your Macs attractive design,
Thinner, smaller, lighter enclosures. Is exactly what you wanted. And what about the software programs you have on it.
Well they are not growing smaller neither will there be less of them over time.
The best selfies, HD video's, the wish to have documents with embedded pictures and video's not to mention most documentation is being provided on-line and you need to store your own copy … course you do.
Macs are designed to be … well a Mac
so you won't want to open up the back (you can't on some Macs) and dig around in the internals to upgrade the hard drive …
And god forbid the next software upgrade makes your Mac unusable, or the internal disks you have everything so carefully stored on fails … so what do you do?
You need options and alternatives.
Storing your data in the cloud is a good option, assuming you have the network bandwidth to get to it all should you have a failure.
But what if what you have stored is sensitive, pictures, company documents. Would you be concerned about anything up in the cloud should someone break in and get to it?
And there you have it, the argument to get yourself an external hard drive and depending on how crucial your data is then maybe two.
It's unfortunate, that consumer grade hard drives both internal and external have been known to fail, so if you really have got to have it, have it in several places and you won't be left crying or cursing that it's gone.
An external drive that is easy to use, that you can store away when you're not using it, or transport files between locations.
And now there are so many options in the way your little Mac companion drive looks, how handy it is to take with you and how much you can get on it. Now we get to the meat, the how, the process,
The 6 Steps to Choosing Your External Drive
1. What Mac do you have?
This is important because an older Mac may have a USB 2.0 interface. What's that?
The place you plug your external drive into.
The newest Macs will have thunderbolt connections. Wha?
It means that you have a much faster connection interface to your Mac.
A USB 2.0 port compared to a Thunderbolt port is a physically different connection. You may only need an cable adaptor or a compatible cable but it's worth checking.
If you have several Macs types and generations then you may be looking for something able to connect to them all.
What interfaces to they have? make a note.
2. Next, Have a think About your Main Reason for having an External Drive
Is it storage for those mega important files or
for saving games, apps and movies that can be downloaded again easily.
Are they work files? Customer files? Sensitive? Do you need a drive that supports password protection and encryption?
Are you planning to share your drive between a Mac and a PC? Then you need to make sure it is of a large enough capacity to store the files you want to share and you'll need to spend the short time needed to format the drive to ExFAT or have a ExFAT partition where you can interchange files.
Are you out and about on location? Are the sites you visit hard drive unfriendly? Dust, dirt and water can kill of your external drive super quick. Could it get knocked about? Then a ruggedized or a solid state hard drive may be just what you need.
Are your files large and numerous? HD video's, photographs so you need a drive with capacity and one that is quick.
3. Storage Capacity in Relation to Price
It's a universal truth that the larger the storage capacity, the higher the price.
If your external drive will be backing up several Macs then you'll need to tot up the storage capacity of them all and how many days/weeks of backup you want to store.
There is nothing wrong with taking a leaf out of the book of large corporates. They will have hard drives that does Monday's backup and use a different set for Tuesday's backup, alternating days in the week. So that if the worst happens they have options.
Is a 1 TB disk drive or a larger 4 TB+ needed?
If your total backup requirement is 2TB then it is best to get a hard drive that is at least that size for backup. You probably should really have a 3TB or larger hard drive so that you can store your backups and grow into the drive.
Could you consider 2 x 2 TB's spreading the backup file load and have alternating backup drives?
Ok so your armed with that knowledge what now?
Compare your favored hard drives against the storage capacity you have in mind.
4. Connectivity and Speed
External hard drives for Macs usually have USB 3.1 or 3.0 interface with backwards compatibility with USB 2.0 interface for using with older Mac models.
That's how you physically connect. What else?
A number of external hard drives now take their power from the USB port on the Mac itself. This has implications for older Macs.
Macs are very picky about how much power external devices take and not all manufacturers have stuck as strictly to the USB 2.0 specification as Apple Inc. You may find those drives won't power up at all or consistently on your Macs USB 2.0 port so check.
Check that other users haven't experienced that problem.
you many not want a physical connection to the hard drive at all. You may want to perform backups wirelessly and automatically over Wi-Fi. In that case you'll be looking at a network connected device.
You may also want a drive that can be connected to and perhaps shared with your other household devices, such as to your game consoles, iPhones, printer, Windows based machines or even to your router. In that case you'll need to check your drive of choice is compatible with all those devices, get a hard drive that is big enough, partition it up and your good to go.
But if you’re looking at a drive for a professional application, or to connect to multiple devices across Wi-Fi then it pays to look for a drive speed that is up to that.
5. Reliability and Manufacturer Reputation and Warranty
The reliability of hard drives is generally determined by the manufacturer’s reputation for quality products, and on the length of the warranty offered. Why?
Lets face it a manufacturer is not going to offer a long warranty on hard drives that fail often.
Stick with the best manufacturing brands if you can, even if it costs a bit more. You've not been shy to spend on your Mac so it pays to make sure its external hard drive companion is of suitable quality.
For drives aimed at a consumer, the best warranty you'll see in the market place is a three year warranty offered by top manufacturers of the premium solid state drives and mechanical drives. A 2 year warranty is considered pretty good.
6. Handsome Looks and Portability
You have a Mac, you'll want something that looks good beside it right?
It's no accident that the best external hard drives for Macs have attractive designs as manufacturers that cater to the Mac market know well that a buyer of a Mac likes his kit to look good.
As for transporting your hard drive around,
size and weight in relation to disk capacity is important. Check that the dimensions and lightness of the drive suits your purpose.
Desktop external hard drives designed for use in the home are heavier and the technology assumes a stable surface.
Laptop class drives - as many of the portable external hard drives are, are largely aimed at the portable market place due to their smaller internal mechanisms. Some have mechanisms to resist shocks to the drive and drops to a certain extent. If you are looking at taking your hard drive around with you it will pay to get a quality case for it and look for a drive with features that make it more tolerant of what might happen to your drive in a pocket or bag.
Seagate Expansion and LaCie images by curtesy of Seagate Technologies