External hard drives to store and secure your files

Make running out of virtual storage space a thing of the past.

Whether you’re running out of space on your computer, want a separate place to back everything up, or need to transfer large files from one place to another, you’re probably going to find that an external hard drive is going to make your life much, much easier. Below are some high-quality options you can rely on.

Grab-and-go: WD 3 TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive

All The Size Options

Sleek and compact with plenty of storage capacity. Amazon

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This PC-compatible hard drive carries a whacking 5TB, or enough to store around 750 full-length films. That means there’s plenty of space for presentations and video clips if you’re trotting from meeting to meeting. A note: It’s worth making sure your hard drive will be compatible with the computer that you want to use it with. Many claim to be “plug and play” but come pre-formatted for use with a PC and need to be re-formatted for a Mac, as is the case with this option.

Huge capacity: Seagate Expansion Desktop 6 TB External Hard Drive HDD

True Upgrade

This mains-powered option expands the potential of your existing technology. Amazon

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While some external hard drives are designed to be portable, others—often with larger capacity—are desktop drives that can be used to boost the storage capacity of your desktop computer, record programmes on a smart TV, or to store games from your gaming console. This Seagate version, with a monstrous 6TB capacity is one such drive. Because of it’s size, it needs an external power source (the cable comes provided) rather than getting power from the USB cable which is used to connect it to the PC/TV/console for data transfer, so it really needs to have a permanent home and access to a plug.

Great value: Toshiba HDTB420EK3AA Canvio Basics 2TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0

For Those On A Budget

Relatively inexpensive storage in an ultra-compact and highly portable format. Amazon

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Most modern external hard drives will use USB 3.0 as the means of transferring information between the external hard drive and the host, but will also be compatible with USB 2.0. If you have a USB 3.0 port on your computer, you’ll get much faster transfer speeds. The maximum USB 2.0 transfer speed is 480 megabits per second (MBPS) while maximum USB 3.0 transfer speed is 4,800 MBPS. This ultra compact portable external hard drive from Toshiba uses USB 3.0, which means that to transfer the 2TB of data it can hold (around 400,000 songs) could take as little as half an hour—and prices are appealingly entry level too.