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Most Reliable External Hard Drives in 2021: 10 Best Options [Rated by Experts]

Are you looking for expandable options of storage for computers that have limited memory? Does being small and lightweight addition to your advantage? Here we have listed the 10 most reliable hard disk drives.

Hard disk drives make themselves an easy option to be placed in a laptop bag for travel purposes. The most reliable external hard drive provides a great way to add a huge amount of storage to your PC. And without having to fumble around with the wires.

Unless you’re choosing one from the very high models, most of the new computers do not come with much storage space. A good solution is finding an external hard drive that suits you the best. Some of them are secured with passwords while others have backup software installed within.

Even if you have room for storage, an external hard disk drive opens up a lot more options to you than an internal drive. Apart from being easy to be attached and removed, it also is portable which means you can always have it along while on the go. You can have all of your data piled up in one space, without having to clutter your PC.

Most Reliable External Hard Drives Review

Hard DriveBrand Digital Storage Capacity Hardware InterfaceDimensions (Inches)
G-Drive Mobile SSDG -Technology1 TBUSB 3.0 Type A, USB 3.0 Type C3.74 x 1.97 x 0.57
ADATA SD700ADATA256 GBUSB 3.03.3 x 3.3 x 0.6
T5 Portable SSDSAMSUNG1 TBUSB 3.00.41 x 2.91 x 2.26
SanDisk Extreme PortableSanDisk1 TBUSB 3.1 Type C3.79 x 1.95 x 0.35
Samsung X5 Portable SSDSAMSUNG1 TBThunderbolt4.7 x 0.8 x 2.4
LaCie Rugged MiniLaCie1 TBUSB 3.03.39 x 0.75 x 5.31
Western Digital Black P10Western Digital2 TBUSB 3.04.65 x 3.46 x 0.5
WD My Book DUOWestern Digital4 TBUSB 3.0‎6.3 x 3.94 x 7.09
Western Digital Elements 10 TB DesktopWestern Digital10 TBUSB 3.05.31 x 1.89 x 6.53
Silicon Power Rugged Armor A60 Military -GradeSilicon Power 1 TBUSB 3.05.5 x 0.9 x 3.4

1. G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD - most reliable external hard drive
  • Color : Black
  • Read Speed : 560MB/s

This one has all that you need in a potential powerhouse hard drive. As simple as the exterior looks, it has all the needed protection tucked inside. Being portable, it allows you to have a whole 2TB of content with you while on the go. Not only does it have a class of its own when it comes to protection but is also one of the fastest external hard drives tested.

The sequential read speed of this hard drive is 562.8MB/s while the write speed is a good 515.6MB/s. As for the random speeds, it is 177.9MB/s for reading and 170.5MB/s for write. The sequential performance is good but the random performance gives it all the worth. This means that the drive can read and write pretty quickly.

As for the water and dust protection, the G-technology G-Drive Mobile SSD is rated IP67 for water and dust protection. The ‘6’ for dust protection means that the drive is completely secure from harmful dust contact. The ‘7’ is for water protection ensures that the drive is safe even if it is submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. No wonder it is one of the most reliable external hard drives.

Pros Cons
Is one rough and tough external hard drive that is dust and water-resistantExtremely expensive as compared to others on the list
Extremely fast owing to the exceptional read and write speeds
Provides storage capacity up to 2TB

2. ADATA SD700 256GB

ADATA SD700 256GB
  • Color : IP68 Black
  • Read Speed : 440MB/s

Most of the drives offer reliability and durability only, whereas this one offers way more than just substantial protection. With a rubber bumper, it gives off a little wild of a vibe, especially when in the yellow model. But what tops all of it is the IP68 rating for water and dust protection.

Not only that, but it also has shock resistance that saves it from all the bad drops. Using 3D NAND technology to pack space allows easy pocket entry and removal.

As for the storage capacity, it is 1TB which may not be as ideal when talking about the assortment of heavy multimedia. But despite that, it provides amazing speed all thanks to its solid-state nature. Both the read and write speeds are 440MB/s, which is about four times faster than the normal hard drives.

ADATA SD700 offers USB 3.1 connectivity, maximizing speed throughout while also providing power over the same cable. You get a three-year warranty on purchase, which means you’re pretty much looked after. But the way ADATA has the external hard drive built, you may never need the warranty card in the first place.

ProsCons
As to being pocket-sized, it is easily portable and can be carried aroundExtremely expensive as compared to others on the list
Offers amazing SSD speed, that is way higher than usual hard drives Has a comparatively lower storage capacity
Offers military-grade protection and also has a shock-resistant cover

3. T5 Portable SSD

T5 Portable SSD - most reliable external hard drive
  • Color : Black
  • Read Speed : 540MB/s

This is one portable and reliable external hard drive by Samsung that is also beautiful. Coming in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB, there are a variety of colors therein. The first two models come in a pale blue while the latter two are in jet black.

Both have the all-metal shroud that is hard but lightweight. Measuring 74mm by 57.3mm, it weighs a total of 51 grams, making it lighter than a business card.

The read speed that T5 has to offer is 562.4MB/s while the write speed is 520MB/s. An excess of dust and water can make an effect on the drive. Apart from that, it is safe from all kinds of shocks and falls, thanks to the solid-state interior and metal casing on the outer. When you plug in the drive at first, you’ll be asked to install Samsung’s management software and later set a password.

While the drive is not unlocked, all your data is stored and safe with the AES-256. Just because Samsung manufactures a whole lot of products, it has all the guarantees you need before buying a reliable external hard drive from here.

ProsCons
As to being compatible with a number of devices, it has huge customer fanbase Outdated aesthetics giving it a lower place in case you are looking for a more modern external hard drive
Extremely fast owing to the exceptional read and write speedsExtremely expensive
Offers a compact and sophisticated design, suited to fit in the professional environmentOffers no water protection

4. SanDisk Extreme Portable

SanDisk Extreme Portable
  • Color : Black
  • Read Speed : 550MB/s

Compact, pocket-sized, and with a soft rubber finish, the SanDisk Extreme Portable is well made to suit you in all situations. The body of the drive prevents it from slipping on surfaces. But not to forget, the IP55 rated dust and water protection, provides all that is needed.

Even though it cannot handle complete submission into the water, it can yet survive powerful water jets up to half an inch from any direction.

In addition to the soft-rubber version, it also shows off an Aluminium version. Although much more expensive, it makes use of an NVMe SSD inside, that allows transferring data over USB 3.1 Generation 2. This one has sequential read speeds of up to 1050 MB/s.

Password protection is also ensured. The Secure Access software that tags along, allows you to encrypt data with AES-128. This is enough to keep all your files safe. As for the read and write speeds of SanDisk Portable, they are above 500MB/s while the random is 160MB/s on the 250GB model.

ProsCons
Is lightweight and so increases chances of portabilityThe Encryption Software is dated and will have to be renewed after that
Extremely fast owing to the exceptional read and write speeds

5. Samsung X5 Portable SSD

Samsung X5 Portable SSD - most reliable external hard drive
  • Color : Gray / Red
  • Read Speed : 2800MB/s

Although providing the best of the best, the price tag of this one complies as well. It is protected with the same AES-256 encryption that protects almost all other products by Samsung, assuring your files to be safe. You’ll be asked to install Samsung’s software and set a password the moment you set up the drive. Here you can lock down the drive and customize updates accordingly.

Coming in the 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities, the latter has a model clocking in at more than $800. The NVMe SSD inside can deliver sequential writes of 2300MB/s and sequential reads of up to 2800MB/s. This leaves behind no comparison with the rest and is easily the most reliable external hard drive.

Using a Thunderbolt 3 connection, it offers four times the bandwidth of USB 3.1. All this is needed for the ultra-fast transfer rates within. Any of the modern Macs have at least one Thunderbolt 3 port and so Apple users to are covered here.

Drawing attention from sports cars regarding the design and colors, Samsung made sure to outdo itself. There is a magnesium alloy frame and a heats sink that will help protect the drive from a two-meter fall.

Pros Cons
A built-in heat sink provides safety from all sorts of falls and dentsCan only be used for the Thunderbolt 3 port
Tags along with a magnesium alloy frame that further adds to its safetyVery expensive, to the extent that it is way out of the league for many

6. LaCie Rugged Mini

LaCie Rugged Mini
  • Color : Orange
  • Read Speed : 130MB/s

Known for making high-quality and creator-focused hard drives, the Rugged series from LaCie features some attractive drives. Primarily in silver but tagging along with an orange shock absorber, it allows data to be there with you when on the go.

Although drives as such are very expensive, protection is provided fairly cheap in this one. Rain resistance, pressure protection, and drop protection up to four feet is assured.

Not to forget, there is a two-year limited warranty as well. These are mostly there to protect against manufacturing errors. But in the case of the Rugged Mini, data losses are protected too. As long as you are inside the warranty window, you’re allowed one in-lab data recovery attempt. When talking of performance, this one isn’t as great as should be and disconnects easily.

The sequential read speed is noted to be 133.9MB/s while the random write speed is 1.08MB/s. The random read speed is 27.89MB/s and the random write speed is 0.88MB/s. This shows that the Rugged Mini is definitely better with reads than writes.

ProsCons
Has a huge capacity of 4 TB, which is one of the highest on the listComparatively slower when it comes to the transferring speeds, as compared to the rest
This one is shock resistant, able to withstand all sorts of falls easily Disconnects easily and you will have to reconnect time and again

7. Western Digital Black P10

Western Digital Black P10 - most reliable external hard drive
  • Color : Black
  • Read Speed : 140MB/s

This is one of the most reliable external hard drives out there when it comes to gaming. Promising to secure the habit efficiently, it offers reliable performance with an appearance well suited to the battlefield as well. The rugged exterior tagging along all the industrial screws is fit enough to be carried alongside on the go without a second thought.

The read speed is up to 130MB/s which although does not come close to a solid-state drive’s capability, yet ensures that you face no hindrances while gaming. In a standard 2.5 inch enclosure, you can get this one as low as 2TB. But not to forget, it can stretch up to 5TB if you tend to have a bigger taste in gaming.

ProsCons
Has a bold, rugged design that is quite out of the box and you will enjoy having something unique Very expensive
As compared to others on the list, this one does not provide as fast performance

8. WD My Book Duo 4TB

WD My Book Duo 4TB
  • Color : Black
  • Read Speed : 360MB/s

In case you want one reliable hard drive with the greatest possible storage capacity, then this is the one for you. Offering a whole lot of 4TB of storage, you can however also get up to 20TB in other versions. As unbelievable as this is, it makes its name on the list of the most reliable external hard drives.

Since you have an ample amount of storage on hand, you may want to sacrifice some of it and set the drives up in a RAID array. This helps you in having file backups, just in case one of your drives fails. Not to forget, it also comes with a two-year warranty and like many others, has 256-AES hardware encryption and automatic backup software.

This is the USB 3.0 drive that has many of the features of a NAS device. If you ever happen to have a router attached to it, you can then use it as a network-attached storage device all on its own.

Pros Cons
Offers RAID support, preventing you from any sort of data loss and also in keeping your files safeSome customers reported to it having stopped midway, without any evident reason
Tags along with a huge storage capacity all to your advantage

9. Western Digital Elements 10TB Desktop

Western Digital Elements 10TB Desktop
  • Color : Black
  • Read Speed : 160MB/s

A 2TB hard drive is perfect but when it comes to your storage needs. This is especially when you add a 4K video into your folders. Here Western Digital’s Elements drive comes to the rescue. Bulky in size, it weighs a little over two pounds just like a box of meat.

The 10TB model offers a substantial amount of storage all to your needs and costs just a little over $160. A special technology integrated inside allows faster dissipation of heat. When you flip it to the front, you find a lone LED light. You shall also find the USB 3.0 interface and the 12DV power port. Although it also does work with USB 2.0 devices, they are not just as fast.

Pros Cons
Easy to understand and operate for manyIt is very, very bulky much suited to the substantial amount of storage that it has to offer
Offers tons of space, way higher than all those mentioned on the listNeeds external power to function

10. Silicon Power 1TB Rugged Armor A60 Military-Grade

external hard drive
  • Color : Black and Yellow
  • Read Speed : 5GB/s

Silicon Power’s Armor A60 external hard drive comes in the 1, 2, and 5TB versions respectively. Offering drop-proof and water-resistant technology, it easily makes its name to be one of the most reliable external hard drives. The drop it can afford to sustain is up to 4 feet which is huge, all thanks to its shockproof design and IPX4 water-resistant protection.

For those who are into adventures and enjoy photography, this is the best option due to its high-performing abilities. Tagging along with a bumper on the sides, the casing is textured as well as scratch and slip-proof. Due to the presence of the USB 3.0, it reads and writes at amazing speeds. Not to forget, it is also compatible with both MAC and PC devices, all due to the FAT32 file system.

Pros Cons
Lies in an affordable range of price, unlike the majority of the external hard drives out there Offers the USB A-to-A cable only
Is both water and drop-proof, easing movement Cable clips are reported to fall off easily by some of the customers

Buying Guide : Factors to Consider for the Most Reliable External Hard Drive

While cloud storage is convenient, it is not guaranteed to being available forever. Just to ensure that all your information is safe and secure, why not create a backup in the form of an external hard drive. With tons of options being available, you need to go for one suiting you the best. Here is how you can decide that.

Storage Capacity

This arguably is the most important specification to consider when buying an external drive. High speed is of no use of the drive is not big enough to carry all your information. But you also do not want to pay big bucks for one you will never be able to use completely. Hence it is necessary that you know well of your requirement, before choosing one.

If you want one just for the transferring of files from one device to another, then a mid-range flash drive may be an ideal option. The largest of them can stretch up to 2TB of storage space but again they are unnecessarily big. You can instead save and buy a 64GB drive that is enough for your usage.

Transfer Speed

This is what comes to effect when transferring files back and forth, and you do not have to wait for ages for the transfer to complete. In general, Solid State Drives (SSDs) can process faster than the Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). In terms of connectors, there are several options that can be brought to consideration. A USB 2.0 is one standard way, providing speed up to 5Gbps.

Some older devices make use of connectors like Firewire and eSATA but due to reduced relevance, they are not advised. In case your device does not have a USB-C port, go for the USB 3.1/3.2 Gen 2 support and you’re good to go.

SSD vs. HDD

External hard drives come in two flavors – HDDs and SSDs. The HDDs use magnetic disks to store data and due to them being spinning, you can hear them as well. SSDs whereas use small gate transistors in cells that switch on and off on electric pulses.

When in comparison, SSDs are faster than HDDs but are very expensive. The latter although cheap are very slow and also prone to being damaged easily. It is thus recommended to always go for the SSDs when choosing a reliable external hard drive.

Security

Encryption is a good idea in case the data on your external drive is sensitive in any way. Many drives have software encryption solutions and those who take their data security more seriously, should go for them. Some of them also ship with strong casings so as to prevent from any sort of physical tampering. Other than that you can also opt for a physical security system like the pin-code one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are external hard drives good when it comes to backing up data?

When it comes to long term backup, Hard disk drives including all the external options are the best solution to your problems. But it is not be noted here that the higher the price tag, the better and faster services you are provided with.

Should I go for an external hard drive or a USB flash drive instead?

In case you are looking for faster transfer speeds and larger amounts of storage, an external hard drive is the best option. You will of course not be bringing the larger form factor and higher cost into consideration here. When it comes to being portable and carrying smaller amounts of data, a USB flash drive is preferred.

What is the difference between a USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB Type –C port external drives?

The standard of the USB depends on what you’re willing to connect to it. The USB 3.0 for example is ten times higher than the USB 2.0. Letters following the USB indicate the physical type of the connection. USB-A for instance is the standard rectangle shaped whereas USB-C is the flat oval, lesser commonly used.

How much space do I need for an external hard drive?

Most of the hard drives begin at 500GB and go up to 8TB, sometimes even more. When looking for the most reliable external hard drive, you need to keep in mind the amount of files you’ll be wanting it to carry and then make the decision accordingly.

It is however better to buy a bigger one than you need at that moment because you never know what use will you have to make of it in the future.

Conclusion

While there is a lot to keep in mind when looking for the most reliable external hard drive, the decision can yet be made easier if you narrow down your selection. Once again, it all is dependent upon your requirements and will to spend, to help you reach the one best suited for you. In case you want a faster performance but are not willing to spend a lot, then an SSD is the best suited for you.

In all cases, it is suggested to go for the hard drive that supports USB 3.0. Reliability is more important when it comes to the hard drives. All the options provided above will help you cope up for years, even in the harshest of conditions. It is often suggested to buy a hard drive from a reputable brand because smaller companies at times fail to deliver.

Rest assured, more or less there is the most reliable external hard drive for you out there. But all you need to do is look around well and do all the possible research needed to prevent any sort of issues with the features later on. Happy shopping!

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