Unless you buy a high-end model, most new computers don’t have a lot of internal storage – usually 256 GB or 512 GB. Game consoles like PS4 and Xbox One only contain drives up to 1 TB (about 1,000 GB), which fill up fairly quickly if you’re not disciplined to remove games if you buy more. This is where an external drive comes into play.
Thanks to faster USB 3.0 (and 3.1 / 3.2) and USB-C Interfaces, most people can get along with a standard hard disk that uses “old” hard disk technology (mechanical disks and a movable read / write head for access to data). They’ve become more affordable, even mega-capacity models weigh 5 TB, but cost a little over $ 100. A solid-state drive has no moving parts and reads up to four times faster, but costs a lot more per GB.
Most drives here work across platforms – regardless of whether you have a Windows PC, Mac, PlayStation 4 or Xbox – as long as the drives are formatted for this platform. But often they are said to be ready to use with a particular platform and sometimes come with platform-specific backup software. Unless otherwise stated, all PC drives mentioned here are compatible with Windows, but can be formatted for Macs. Many of them contain cables or adapters for USB-C and USB-A ports. But if not, you can get your own Dongles for around $ 10.
And remember: a single backup won’t cut it. Ideally, you need redundant backups outside the site or in the cloud for key data (e.g. family photos) in the event of theft or fire. And make sure you encrypt your data too
With these reservations in mind, you will find our current top tips for hard drives and SSDs below. These (or almost identical models with less storage capacity) were used by CNET editors or tested anecdotally
David Carnoy / CNET
If you want to save $ 20 to $ 30 on a 1TB mini SSD, the price of the external RavPower mini SSD is below some of the brand competitions of SanDisk, Western Digital, Samsung, and others. Amazon got it for $ 140 with a $ 20 coupon. It delivers data transfer speeds of up to 540 MB per second.
For $ 120, you don’t have to worry about managing space on your PS4 (you can play games straight from the drive without delay). The 2 TB version of the Seagate Game Drive costs around $ 40 less. You can also dispense the extra dough and get 4 TB.
Note that Seagate creates an SSD game drive for Xbox, but not for PS4. It costs $ 200 for 1 TB.
If you’re looking for a high-capacity drive for your Xbox One, the WD Black P10 5 TB offers a good value of around $ 130 (the 3 TB version costs $ 110). It also includes digital code that will give you Microsoft Game Pass Ultimate for two months. This is a nice advantage, especially if you are already a member. If you don’t need the two-month Game Pass Ultimate, you can save $ 10 on the standard version of the drive, which also works with PCs and the PS4. The drive can deliver speeds of up to 130 MB per second.
The Seagate Backplus Slim 2 TB is one of the more compact non-SSD drives and is a good value at $ 60. It is available in several color options and is also available in 1 TB ($ 52) and 4 TB ($ 100) and 5 TB ($ 115) versions. However, the higher capacity drives are thicker.
This drive is about as future-proof – and downward compatible – as it comes. You pay a certain premium over the standard WD drive, but this newer model has a USB-C connection, which means it offers the latest and greatest connectivity for Macs and PCs. No USB-C on your system? No problem: Western Digital also uses a USB-A to USB-C adapter, so it works with almost any computer right away.
The WD My Book desktop drive is available in a configuration up to 14 TB, but 8 TB is the best value at around $ 150.
After Seagate acquired LaCie a few years ago, LaCie became the company’s premium brand. This 5TB model can be found on many video editing desks (including many at CNET). It uses a USB-C interface, is compatible with Mac and Windows PCs and is water and shock resistant. A 4 TB Thunderbolt with USB-C version is available for Macs equipped with Thunderbolt for around $ 200.
Western Digital, which owns SanDisk, sells its WD My Passport SSD and this external portable SanDisk SSD at essentially the same price (around $ 170 for the 1 TB version). I like the design of this model a little better and it is technically robust with protection class IP55, which means that it can withstand a sustained water jet. It is also shockproof. It has a USB-C interface with transfer speeds of up to 550 MB per second. The price of the 2 TB model rises to $ 300.