Well protected from drops. Great for travel. Fits in the palm of an average male hand. No reformatting needed to work on a Mac. Storage space for the detachable cable. Xbox and PlayStation compatible.
No backup program, so you’ll need to drag and drop your files one by one.
Compact, thin, and lightweight. Fast operation if you’re using USB 3.0 connection. Quiet. Sturdy construction. Easy to set up and use. Works well with Mac, Windows, Linux, and Ubuntu.
Doesn’t automatically back up files—backups are drag-and-drop only.
Well-priced for 1 TB of space. Durable build. Operates quietly when transferring data and doesn’t get hot during long sessions. Reasonable transfer speeds. Light, small form factor. Smooth drag-and-drop operation.
Included cables aren’t very high-quality; you may want to replace them.
Well-sized for travel. Backup software download for Windows and Mac installed on the device. Sturdy construction can withstand the abuse of baggage personnel during air travel. Fast data transfers.
Some customers found the backup software buggy.
Connects via USB 3.0 and included USB-C adapter for newer Macs and other laptops. Attractive, unusual fabric exterior. Comes preformatted in FAT32 to work with Windows or MacOS. Bus-powered, very portable.
Uses USB-C adapter rather than cable. Should be reformatted for best Mac performance.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Computers are expensive pieces of machinery, and no one wants to see any components in their computer break down. But if a breakdown does happen, you’ll quickly realize that although a computer is expensive to replace, lost data is far more valuable.
You might have little control over whether a computer crash occurs, but you can take steps to avoid losing data in a crash. With an external hard drive, you can create backup copies of your data on a regular basis to ensure you always have an up-to-date copy of your data separate from the computer.
External hard drives are available in one of two technologies and offer a choice of multiple storage capacities. This means you should be able to find an external hard drive that fits your budget and performance requirements, even if your budget is at $100 or less. In this guide, we explore the external hard drives you can buy on a budget.
As mentioned, external hard drives utilize one of two possible technologies: HDD (hard disk drive) and SSD (solid state drive) technology. When shopping, note which type is offered so you are sure to get what you need.
HDD technology is an older technology that uses spinning platters to store data. A read/write head inside the HDD hardware stores the data on the platters.
Due to its older technology, external HDD costs less per GB of storage than SSD.
Because of the moving parts in an HDD, data transfer speeds range from about 150 MBps to 250 MBps. Notably, an average SSD delivers about 10 times the data transfer speed of an average HDD. This speed difference is noticeable for consumers with high-end computing needs.
SSD technology has no moving parts, as it uses individual integrated circuits to store data. This makes it more reliable than the spinning platters of an HDD. Data transfer speeds for SSDs may be between 0.5 GBps and 3 GBps, far faster than HDD speed. Should you drop an SSD, there is far less chance of breakage than there would be with an HDD, too.
SSD technology costs more than HDD technology, which translates to far fewer SSD offerings in the sub-$100 price range.
Here are some of the most important features you’ll find in an inexpensive external hard drive.
An external hard drive connects to a computer through a USB port. The fastest drives use USB-C (the physical connector) or USB 3.1 (a data speed standard of 10 gigabytes per second) technologies, which are backward-compatible with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. Some older external hard drives may make use of USB 2.0 only, which could limit your transfer speed options.
Some external hard drives run via power through a USB cable; others require a separate power adapter. Large-capacity HDDs need extra power to spin the platters, so power adapters are more often needed with these items. Smaller-capacity external hard drives in the sub-$100 price range rarely need a power adapter, as they can pull enough power over the USB cable.
External hard drive cases are available in a variety of colors, but black is the most common. Some people choose different colors to help them sort their files more efficiently.
With a $100 maximum budget for your external hard drive, you may not receive all of the features you want, but the majority of units in this price range deliver a nice level of performance and durability.
For $15 to $40, you can find an HDD external hard drive with a storage amount of 500 GB or less. Finding any SSD external hard drives in this price point is unlikely.
In the mid-range price zone of $40 to $70, you'll have both SSD and HDD external drives to choose from. The HDD size will be up to 2 TB at this price range, while the SSD size will be up to 250 GB.
In the $70 to $100 price range, you should find SSD external drives in sizes up to 1 TB and HDD external drives in sizes up to 5 TB.
For those who have a budget of more than $100, you can find large external drives of 4 TB or more for SSD and 12 TB or more for HDD. Extremely large drives can cost $500 or more.
Cheaper external hard drives may not have the legacy USB ports required to connect to older computers.
A. A cheaper external drive may have slight problems with speed as compared to expensive hard drives, but the majority of consumers are unlikely to notice the difference. External hard drives perform slightly slower than internal hard drives too, regardless of price.
A. All hard drives could fail at some point. The majority of drives last at least three to five years, and SSD drives may last 10 years or more with proper care. A cheap hard drive may not last quite as long as an expensive hard drive, but the difference is negligible.
A. A GB, or gigabyte, is roughly equal to 1,000 MB (megabytes). A TB, or terabyte, is roughly equal to 1,000 GB. If you are comparing a hard drive with 4 TB to a drive with 500 GB, the 4 TB hard drive will have about eight times more storage space than the 500 GB drive.
A. Quite a few of them may offer a 12-month warranty. However, the warranty will have significant limitations. If you drop the hard drive, it may void your warranty. Additionally, a warranty only protects you from failure of the hard drive itself. It will not help you recover your data or reimburse you for lost data.