Best Toshiba External Drives

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

11 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
259 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Toshiba external drives

Last Updated November 2019

If you’ve been using a desktop computer or laptop for more than a few years, there’s a decent chance you’re running out of room for file storage. Files add up quickly, especially now that everyone carries cameras around with them. Whether you’ve got a ton of photos, music files, movies, or documents, sooner or later you’re going to need to start offloading content to free up local space, and one of the best ways to do that is with a Toshiba external drive. 

In fact, Toshiba’s drive hardware is so respected that it’s often used by other manufacturers; if you’ve got a Dell, HP, or Lenovo computer, there’s a decent chance the drive inside was made by Toshiba. Its consumer-friendly external drives are just as reliable, and they often offer better price-per-gigabyte values than better-known brands like Western Digital or Seagate.

If you’re on the hunt for an external drive, and you need to find one that’s the perfect mix of capacity, speed, and cost, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything you need to know to find your ideal Toshiba external drive, as well as a few of our favorites.

Most external drives include backup software, but in general, we don’t recommend using it. Both Windows and MacOS have built-in backup applications that are easier to use and more reliable. When it’s time to back up your data, explore your computer’s built-in backup tools, and use the included applications to interact with your Toshiba external drive.

Key considerations

Toshiba has dozens of different external drives. If you’re not sure where to start, answer these questions to help narrow down your search.

How much file storage space do you need?

The most important thing to know before you start shopping for an external drive is how much space you need. Toshiba external drives come in all different capacities, and price points are generally driven by how much file storage is offered on a given model. Our best advice: conduct an inventory of the content you want to back up, and measure how much space it will require; then buy a Toshiba external drive with at least twice that much space. For most users, a one- or two-terabyte (TB) drive is more than enough room.

Do you need a portable external drive, or will it mostly stay put?

External drives come in two form factors: portable drives that are typically powered by USB and desktop drives that include an AC adapter for plugging into an outlet. If you plan on keeping your drive in one location, a desktop drive typically includes more file storage. If you plan on traveling anywhere with your drive, limit your search to portable USB-powered models.

Keeps copies in the cloud

All of Toshiba’s Canvio drives offer outstanding performance and plenty of storage, but the Canvio for desktop has a unique trick up its sleeve: it can also back up your data to the cloud. Yes, it’s got 4 TB of space, which is probably way more than you need. Yes, it’s in a beautiful, glossy chassis and has incredible aesthetics. But the killer feature here is that it includes Backup Now EZ, a service that lets you keep both local copies of your files as well as duplicates in the cloud. If you need the speed of local access with the peace of mind of cloud backup, this is the drive to get.

Do you want to prioritize storage space or speed?

When it comes to external drives, you’ll need to strike a balance between capacity and file transfer speeds. External hard drives use traditional platter-based drives to store data; they’re physically larger and generally available in higher capacities. External solid-state drives are smaller and come in smaller capacities, but they’re much faster when it comes to transferring files. The bottom line: if you need to prioritize space, get a Toshiba external hard drive; if you need to prioritize speed, get a Toshiba external solid-state drive.

If you buy a Toshiba external drive that’s powered by USB, don’t forget that it requires two available USB ports to use (one for data and one for power). That may not be a big deal to you, but if you’re running out of spare ports on your laptop, you may want to figure out how to free up ports ahead of time.

Features

Once you’ve got a sense of how much space you need and what kind of external drive you want to buy, think about your connectivity needs and personal tastes. Keep these features top of mind while shopping.

USB 3.0 or USB-C connectivity: All Toshiba external drives connect to your computer or game console using USB ports, but there are three different USB standards, so it’s important to pick the right one for the fastest transfers. USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 use the standard, rectangular port you’ve seen everywhere, but USB 3.0 versions use blue plastic and can transfer data much, much faster than USB 2.0. (All USB 3.0 ports are backwards-compatible with USB 2.0 devices.) If your computer uses the newer USB-C form factor, which is smaller and more powerful, get a Toshiba external drive with USB-C connectivity to take advantage of the super fast transfer speeds.
 

Color: Who says external drives can’t be fashion accessories? Toshiba has several models that are available in multiple colors, so you can pick the one that best matches your taste or your desktop’s décor. The color of your drive has no impact on storage or performance, but it goes a long way toward breaking up the monotony of electronics that are all plain black boxes.

EXPERT TIP

Some of Toshiba’s pricier external drives include extended warranties (up to three years), which can make the extra cost worth it, especially if you’re prone to dropping things. Our best advice: if you’ll be storing critical data on your drive, get a model with at least a two-year warranty.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you’re buying a Toshiba external drive to use with a gaming console, get a solid-state drive. Gaming consoles work well with all of Toshiba’s external drives, but to make sure everything goes smoothly, it’s a good idea to stick with a solid-state model because they’re so much faster.


Staff  | BestReviews

Toshiba external drive prices

Inexpensive: Basic Toshiba external drives cost around $50. In this price range, you get mostly hard drives and fewer solid-state models. Capacities are usually lower in this price range, but it’s still easy to get around 1 TB of storage. If you just need a spare drive for casual use, or you don’t have that many files to back up, you can find a great option for around this price.

Mid-range: Toshiba external drives that cost around $100 offer SSD storage and higher capacities. The drives in this price range generally offer the best values because you can get a fast drive with a healthy amount of space. If you’re looking for a portable model, or if you’re buying an external drive for use with a video game console, plan on spending around $100.

Expensive: Toshiba offers some external drives in the $150 to $200 range, but we recommend avoiding them. Models at the top price points include large capacities but simply can’t offer the price-per-gigabyte value that some of their more affordable models can. Our best advice: if you need a ton of file storage, get two smaller Toshiba external drives instead of one giant one. You’ll save a lot of money in the process.

The perfect solution for casual users

We love the Canvio Slim II because it’s a near-perfect balance of storage space, portability, and price. It’s got up to 1 TB of space; it supports USB 3.0 speeds; and it’s under $100. Grab this one if you need a drive big enough for daily use that you can take with you anywhere.

Tips

  • Decide on a file storage format. Do this before you start using your Toshiba external drive. External drives can be formatted in a couple of different ways, and the choice you make will affect what you can and can’t do. If you need to use your external drive with both Windows and Mac machines, make sure it uses the FAT32 file system as a format. Just keep in mind that with FAT32, individual files must be smaller than 4 GB. If you have any single files that are larger than 4 GB, use the NTFS file system, which can handle larger files without a problem. (And if you need the best of both worlds, Toshiba does offer NTFS drivers for MacOS.)
  • Get more space than you think you need. File storage always fills up faster than you think, and your needs grow every day, especially if you take a lot of photos that you want to back up. Make sure you buy enough space so you won’t run out quickly. Having extra space is a lot better than running out. 
  • Back up your data regularly. Computers have never been more reliable than they are today, but they can still fail. Don’t get caught off guard and risk losing access to your critical data. Create a backup schedule and stick to it by making regular copies of your data on your Toshiba external drive. In general, we recommend backing up your computer at least once a month.
  • Never disconnect your Toshiba external drive when it’s in use. External drives are pretty reliable, but they all share one big weakness: they’re vulnerable to data corruption if you unplug them during a file transfer.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for the biggest portable external drive around, we recommend the WD 10 TB Elements Desktop Hard Drive. It’s got a massive 10 TB of storage — more than enough for even the biggest digital hoarders — and at about the size of a small textbook, it’ll easily fit in your backpack or purse. When it comes to cost per gigabyte, there aren’t any better deals out there. If you want a giant external drive, but you don’t need a full 10 TB, check out Seagate’s Desktop 8 TB External Hard Drive. It’s capacious, it’s plug-n-play, and it’s Mac-compatible, but the real standout feature is the glossy black enclosure, which is gorgeous enough to fit in with any desktop décor.

Whenever you’ve got files moving back and forth, make sure your drive is in a stable location and there’s no risk of a cable getting unplugged. If your data ever becomes corrupted, you may not be able to recover it.

FAQ

Q. Why are hard drive speeds important?
A. If you’re buying a portable drive that’s a hard drive (and not a solid-state drive), it has spinning platters inside. How quickly they spin is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm), and the faster they spin, the more quickly they can transfer data (just keep in mind that faster drives tend to wear out and fail more quickly than slower ones). External hard drives come in two speeds: 7200 rpm and 5400 rpm. If you’re looking for quick access to your data, go with a 7200 rpm model. If you’re prefer to prioritize longevity, or you don’t need quick transfer speeds, you can save some money by getting a 5400 rpm drive.


Q. How long do external drives last?
A.
It depends on how often you use them. Because they don’t have moving parts, solid-state drives last longer than hard drives, but even solid-state drives fail after extended use. In general, expect an external hard drive to last at least three years with moderate use; a solid-state drive should last at least five years under the same circumstances.


Q. Can I use a Toshiba external drive to transfer files between a Windows machine and a Mac?
A.
Yes, as long as the drive is properly formatted. By default, most external drives use the FAT32 file system, which works with both Windows and MacOS.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Jaime
    Jaime
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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