Best WD External Hard Drives

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

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

10 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
189 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Why trust BestReviews?
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best WD external hard drives

Last Updated September 2019

Your photos, videos, games, documents, and other data are extremely important, so why would you risk losing it all to a hardware malfunction, theft, or a simple accident? An external hard drive is an excellent way to keep your priceless data safe, and Western Digital (WD) has been in the business of making top-tier external storage devices since 2006.

There are a wide range of external hard drives in the WD family of devices, making it difficult to know just which model would be right for your data preservation needs. The list of major considerations for buying a new WD external hard drive includes portability, data security, and most importantly, storage capacity.

For your convenience, our preferred WD external hard drives are listed here, and we can’t recommend them highly enough. We’ve diligently researched a number of external hard drives from Western Digital, so we know exactly how to find the best ones for storing your most valuable data.

Unless you set up a program to automatically copy your data to your external hard drive, you will have to manually backup your data as needed.

Key considerations

Capacity

This is an easy one: bigger is always better! Although the average person may never fill an entire 20TB hard drive, if you find a WD external drive with a larger storage capacity that’s within in your budget, go for it.

Generally speaking, the family of WD external drives range from 2TB to a whopping 20TB, and it’s a good idea to buy a device that has the capacity to store more digital content than you think you may need. Better safe than being forced to buy another hard drive later!

Portability

If you plan on traveling with your WD external hard drive, it’s a good idea to consider lightweight, smaller, and more rugged devices. Not only do portable external hard drives take up less space in your bag, they are simple plug-and-play devices that take moments to unpack, set up, and store once more.

On the other hand, while these compact external hard drives are easy to carry, they rarely have the capacity of an external hard drive made for your desktop computer. You wouldn’t want to lug around one of WD’s heftier desktop external hard drives unless you had to, but they make up for their bulk by featuring sizable storage capacities of up to 20TB. 

Data protection

In theory, copying your most important digital content onto an external hard drive is an excellent way to preserve valuable data, but the best models go the extra distance to safeguard your data against physical and human threats alike.

Keep an eye out for external hard drives that claim to shield data from drops, shocks, heat, moisture, vibration, sudden movements, and other physical threats. The ability to set a password on your hard drive will go a long way to keep out thieves and hackers as well.

Sturdy storage

My Book is a sturdy desktop external hard drive that is available in the following storage capacities: 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB. Fully compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems, the My Book is ready to be password-protected alongside its built-in ultra-secure 256-bit AES hardware encryption tool. What’s more, it includes a three-year limited warranty. 

WD external hard drive features

It may not take too long to find a few external hard drives with the storage capacity, level of data protection, and portability you need, but you’ll want to think about each device’s unique features and selling points as well. While there may be a few WD external hard drives that seem like they’d be a good fit at first glance, choosing the best one for you may come down to something as simple as locating a specific model with a connection port compatible with your device.

Connectivity

Of course, you’ll want to ensure that the device that you are considering shares the same connection types as your computer. These connection types may include USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, Thunderbolt, Wi-Fi, or any combination thereof.

Operating system compatibility

WD’s family of external hard drives are compatible with various versions of Windows right out of the box, but you may have to reformat the device if you want to use it with other operating systems, such as macOS. 

Color

Why settle for the default when you can get a device in your favorite color instead? Some of WD’s external hard drives are available in a range of designer colors, including yellow, red, blue, and orange.    

EXPERT TIP

Since video game downloads can be fairly large, we recommend buying at least a 2TB external hard drive for storing game data for your home console.


Staff  | BestReviews

WD external hard drive prices

Since WD external hard drives are premium data storage devices, you should expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $800 for one.

WD external hard drives that cost between $50 and $100 include 1TB to 4TB on average, but be warned that the overall price will continue to rise with each additional TB of memory. The highest-capacity external hard drives with 16TB or more will be priced over $500.

Lightweight and portable

This slim plug-and-play external hard drive is available in your preferred combination of storage capacities, from 1TB to 4TB, and several bold colors, including yellow, red, orange, and blue. My Passport relies on the commonly used USB 3.0 connection. It’s a lightweight and highly portable option for storing invaluable data on the go.

Tips

  • Organize large amounts of data before you copy it onto an external hard drive so you can easily locate whatever you need, whenever you need it.
  • External hard drives aren’t just for PCs and Macs. Connect one to a video game console to instantly give yourself terabytes of additional storage space for your favorite games.
  • Completely erasing a WD external disk drive’s contents while using a Windows device is as easy as navigating to Start, searching for “Disk Management,” right-clicking on the drive you want to erase within the Disk Management window, and clicking on Delete Volume.
DID YOU KNOW?

You can name your external hard drive by navigating to the My PC window, right-clicking your device, and clicking Rename. Type in your desired name and press Enter to save it.

Other products we considered

Optimized for Windows 10, My Passport Ultra is a USB-C-ready external hard drive that includes a USB 3.0 adapter, simple-to-implement password protection, and 256-bit hardware encryption features. It has up to 4TB of memory and is available in your choice of silver or blue.

While it’s strange that the 3TB version of My Passport X is only compatible with the Xbox One, yet its 2TB variant works perfectly with both the Xbox One and Xbox 360, this lightweight external hard drive is an excellent way to store a ton of game data on your favorite Xbox console.  

Even if your external drive is password-protected, never leave it unprotected in public. It’s better to be safe than hacked!

FAQ

Q. Which operating systems are WD external hard drives compatible with? 
A.
WD external hard drives are fully compatible with the following operating systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and macOS. Unix and Linux operating systems are not supported by Western Digital.

Q. What should I do if I cannot access the data on an external hard drive from my computer?
A.
Device issues happen to the best of us, and if your computer isn’t recognizing or allowing you to access the data on your external hard drive, try the following solutions:

  • Connect the external hard drive to another computer.
  • Connect the device to an alternate USB port. The USB port you are using may be malfunctioning.
  • Check to see if your computer’s hardware drivers need to be updated.
  • Check your data cable for physical problems. Cables may warp, bend, and disconnect from their connectors over time, so try an alternate connection method if you can.


Q. How to I safely disconnect my external hard drive from my computer?
A.
You may have heard that yanking the connection cable from your computer without ejecting the external hard drive could corrupt or delete your saved data, and it’s absolutely true!

Simply locate your external hard drive from under the This PC window, right-click on its name, and select Eject. Once you have ejected the device, it will be safe to remove its connection cable from your computer.

The team that worked on this review
  • Arnold
    Arnold
    Writer
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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