The 5 Reasons to Buy an External Hard Drive Today (and Which are Best)

External hard drives have become an essential accessory for anyone who works with large amounts of data – from gamers and media creators to business professionals. With their vast capacities, fast speeds, extensive compatibility, durability, and portability, external drives make expanding your storage and backing up critical data easier than ever.

This comprehensive guide will provide expert insight on five compelling reasons you should invest in an external drive today. We’ll also showcase four of the top-rated options across different categories to simplify your buying decision. Let’s get started!

What Are External Hard Drives and Why Are They Useful?

An external hard drive is essentially any HDD (hard disk drive) or SSD (solid state drive) connected to a computer externally rather than built into the machine itself. They draw power from the USB cable or an AC adapter and offer plug-and-play functionality across operating systems.

Compared to internal drives, external models excel in:

Portability: Their compact sizes and lack of external power cables make external drives extremely easy to transport securely.

Expandable Storage: They provide vast capacities – from gigabytes to terabytes – to augment limited internal PC, laptop, game console and mobile device storage.

Accessibility: Data stored on them can be accessed from any compatible device with a USB port for maximum convenience.

Durability: Quality external drives feature rugged designs and shock/drop/water-resistant casings to handle travel and adverse environments.

Cross-Platform Compatibility: External drives work seamlessly with Windows PCs, Macs, iPads, Chromebooks, Android devices, gaming consoles, media players and more.

With those key advantages covered, let’s explore five great reasons to invest in an external drive this year.

5 Compelling Reasons to Buy an External HDD/SSD

1. Enjoy Virtually Limitless Storage Capacity

The ever-growing file sizes of high-res photos and 4K/8K videos, not to mention massive games and applications, make large capacities a prime reason to upgrade with external storage.

For example:

  • A single 4K 3-minute video can occupy 18GB of space.
  • Raw high MP photos eat anywhere from 20-100MB per image.
  • The latest AAA blockbuster games demand anywhere from 30-300GB of real estate or more!

With capacities ranging from 120GB portable SSDs to massive 14TB+ desktop HDDs available, external drives are built to handle all of that media and software with plenty of room left over.

2. blazing Transfer Speeds With USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 And Thunderbolt

Another great reason to invest in an external HDD/SSD is to harness interface technologies like USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and Thunderbolt 3/4 for lightning fast transfer speeds. This supercharges everything from game/application loading and 4K video editing to file transfers and system backups.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s possible:

  • USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 – Up to 20Gbps
  • Thunderbolt 3 – Up to 40Gbps
  • Thunderbolt 4 – Up to 40Gbps

So if you handle large chunks of data regularly, an advanced high-performance external SSD will slash your transfer/task times drastically thanks to cutting-edge connectivity.

3. Robust Compatibility Across All Your Devices

Unlike internal drives, external storage delivers seamless plug-and-play compatibility across Windows, macOS, iPadOS/iOS, Android, gaming consoles, media players, cameras, and more.

For example, an external SSD sporting both USB Type-C and Type-A adapters can effortlessly slot into everything from Windows laptops to PS5 and Nintendo Switch consoles to Android smartphones and tablets.

HDDs and SSDs formatted for specific operating systems are also easily repurposed to work across any platform via OS tools like Disk Management on Windows and Disk Utility on macOS.

This versatility makes quality external drives ideal for accessing and managing your data from virtually any device whenever required.

4. Supreme Portability To Access Your Files Anywhere

The compact, lightweight designs of external SSDs and even HDDs mean you can slip them into laptop bags and backpacks easily. This makes accessing terabytes of data on business trips or vacations equally convenient.

Rigid protective casings on premium options also ensure they survive bangs and drops while out and about – something internal drives can never match. Wireless SSDs with built-in Wi-Fi take matters further by eliminating cables entirely for true grab n’ go portability.

So if you value access to your files wherever you wander, external drives are perfect travel companions.

5. Robust Durability For Demanding Environments

While internal HDDs and SSDs tucked away inside desktop cases and laptop chassis are shielded from external abuse, standalone external models need protection. Quality heavy-duty external drives leverage rugged casings, shock/vibration-resistance, dust/water/crush resistance, and even government-grade hardware encryption to maintain the integrity of precious data.

If you’re prone to dropping devices, take them outdoors often, travel regularly, or simply want to safeguard irreplaceable data from corruption or thieves, look for external storage with robust durability.

With those compelling reasons covered, let’s move onto some top external HDD and SSD recommendations across budget, performance and durability needs.

The Best External Hard Drive Models To Buy Today

Here are four top-rated external storage drives that cover affordable SSD mobility, high-performance gaming, executive-class security, and wireless convenience.

1. Best Budget-Friendly External SSD: Crucial X8 Portable

The Crucial X8 Portable SSD delivers speedy performance, ironclad data protection, and USB compatibility across platforms at very reasonable prices. Here’s a closer look at the specs:


  • Capacities: 1TB and 2TB
  • Sequential Read Speeds: Up to 1050MB/s
  • Interface: USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C + Type-A cables included
  • Compatible With: Windows, macOS, iPad Pro, Chromebook, Android devices, Sony PS4/PS5, Xbox One/Series X|S
  • Included Tools: Backup and encryption software
  • Design: Slim unibody anodized aluminum available in black or red
  • Size: 3.5 x 1.7 x 0.4in / 115 x 44 x 10mm
  • Weight: 1.76oz / 50 grams
  • Other Features: Crash and drop-resistant up to 7.5 ft/2m, IP55 water/dust resistant

Attaining speeds upwards of 1000MB/s over USB 3.2 Gen2, the Crucial X8 makes short work of transferring even very large videos, photos, games, and files. Its ruggedness provides peace of mind when you’re out capturing content and gaming on the go. Topped off by affordable pricing, the X8 is a superb mainstream external SSD choice.

2. Best High-Performance External SSD For Gaming: WD_BLACK P50

Designed specifically to expand game console and gaming laptop storage for enhanced gameplay, the WD_BLACK P50 SSD leverages the cutting-edge SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps interface1 and sequential read speeds hitting 2000MB/s2 to slash game level loading times by up to 50%3 versus standard external HDDs. Here’s an overview:


  • Capacities: 500GB to 4TB
  • Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 2×2
  • Sequential Read Speeds: Up to 2000MB/s
  • Compatibility: Windows, macOS, Sony PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/Series X|S
  • Design: Sleek, sturdy aluminum housing with detachable stand
  • Size: 4.65 x 2.44 x 0.55in / 118.0 x 62.0 x 14.0mm
  • Weight: 4.1oz / 116g
  • Other Features: Shock/vibration-resistant for portability

With its exceptional performance and streamlined look, the WD_BLACK P50 gives gamers speeds that rival many internal SSDs over a convenient SuperSpeed USB interface. And varying capacities up to a massive 4TB provide flexibility for managing gigantic game libraries with space left over. If you’re looking to supercharge your gaming storage, the P50 is a top choice.

3. Most Secure External HDD: Apricorn Aegis Padlock DT

If robust protection for sensitive data is paramount alongside external storage flexibility, few drives rival the Apricorn Aegis Padlock DT. This Fort Knox-inspired design boasts 256-bit AES hardware encryption, software-free functionality, and a keypad to unlock the drive manually.


  • Capacity: 4TB
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • HDD Speed: Up to 5Gbps with 7200RPM drive
  • Compatibility: Windows and macOS
  • Design: Heavy-duty metal enclosure and keypad lock
  • Size: 7.2 x 3.4 x 1.5in / 183 x 87 x 38mm
  • Weight: 1.1lbs / 498g
  • Other Features: Water/dust/shock-resistant; Includes backup and encryption software

With unauthorized data breaches running rampant, the Aegis Padlock DT’s extreme security protocols keep offline backups well out of reach from digital and physical threats alike. It offers complete data control and peace of mind. And the ample 4TB capacity has plenty of room for critical data and multimedia archives. If bulletproof protection is essential, this rugged HDD is purpose-built for that job.

4. Best Wireless External SSD: SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE 2TB

The SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE unlocks cable-free convenience alongside enhanced durability for mobile media editing suitable for stick locations and on-set productivity. Let‘s dive in!


  • Capacity: 2TB
  • Interface: Wi-Fi, USB 3.2 Gen 2 up to 10Gbps
  • Storage: NVMe SSD for speeds topping 1000MB/s
  • Compatibility: Windows and macOS plus iPad/iPhone
  • Design: Shock/dust/water-resistant (IP67) aluminum housing
  • Size: 5.1 x 3.4 x 1.4in / 129.3 x 85.1 x 34.3mm
  • Weight: 1lb / 453g
  • Other Features: All-day built-in battery for cable-free editing/transfers

Creative professionals that need to quickly back up high MP photos and high-bitrate 4K video clips on location will love the portable durability, Wi-Fi flexibility, and SSD performance the G-DRIVE provides. And the integrated battery enables wire-free operation for hours before recharging.

Summing Things Up – Why You Need An External Drive

As you can see from their compelling benefits, buying an external hard drive or SSD rivals upgrading internal storage in many regards while bringing unique advantages. With massive capacities, blazing speeds from advanced interfaces, universal compatibility, supreme portability, and resilient protection, external models check all the boxes for every use case.

The options on hand offer flexible solutions spanning affordable USB 3.2 Gen 2 portable SSDs to speed demons for hardcore gaming and creative editing needs – all easily upgradeable anytime your needs evolve.

So hopefully the reasons for adding external storage to your arsenal – not to mention which options best align with your priorities – are crystal clear now. Whatever you create and archive will be safe, secure, and ready for action whenever needed! Time to pick up the perfect model to take your productivity and peace of mind to the next level.

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