The best external hard drives for every task

From simple backups to media hubs.

External hard drives are the easiest solution available for expanding a computer’s storage capacity and for keeping backups of our most important files within reach. These days there are many options available, each tailored to your specific needs—from drives that excel at high capacity file backup, to slim and rugged designs meant for resisting the elements, to drives designed to access files quickly for video and audio editors. If you use a computer, there’s an external drive out there made just to make your life easier, and we selected some of the best.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite external hard drives currently available.

Safe storage: WD 4TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive

Peace Of Mind

The best for quiet background backups. Amazon

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The WD Elements series hard drives are ideal for use as full system backups or file backups because of their high capacity and reliability. They come in five varieties from one terabyte up to five terabytes and allow for quick data transfer thanks to their USB 3.0 compatibility. Keep one connected to your computer at all times and enable automatic backups to the drive, and you’ll never have to fear a system crash or a failed internal drive again.

Best for films: Toshiba Canvio Basics 2TB Portable External Hard Drive

Stock Up On Media

For playing back your collection of movies, videos, and music. Amazon

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Everyone needs a place to store their movie and music collection, and the Toshiba Canvio series of external hard drives offer high-speed file access in a number of different storage capacities—perfect for keeping your large files at the ready. They’re formatted for Windows out of the box with an easy option to reformat for Mac, interface with your computer via USB 3.0 and 2.0, and are ideal for hooking up to a smart TV or other playback devices to make movie night special.

Best for travel: LaCie Rugged Mini 2TB External Hard Drive

Super Durable

Water-resistant for on-the-go file access. Amazon

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This orange bumper-framed hard drive from LaCie is one of the best options for on-the-go file storage currently available. Designed specifically to endure shocks, crushing, drops, dust, and water, the stylish Rugged Mini offers protection from the elements in capacities from one to eight terabytes and boasts transfer speeds of up to 130 megabytes per second. If you’re taking your files on the go and you care about preserving your valuable files, this drive will go above and beyond to do just that.

Best for professionals: Glyph Studio 3TB External Hard Drive

Audio And Video Pros Rejoice

Quality, speed, and reliability for creatives. Amazon

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For creatives who work in speed-demanding environments like video and audio studios, the Glyph Studio S3000 hard drive offers production-grade, reliability that can’t be beaten. The aluminum chassis houses a 7200-rpm drive and temperature-sensitive fans to keep all your data on tap when you need it and to keep your workflow uninterrupted. The drive plugs directly into any regular outlet with the included IEC cable and connects to your computer using your pick of super fast USB 3.0 or Firewire 800.