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Expand your PC’s storage the easy way with these external hard drives

best external hard drives samsung t  tb ssd
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Whether it’s for backing up your entire computer or giving yourself some extra file space to work with, everyone needs an external hard drive. But with so many models on the market to choose from, which ones are worth getting?

There are many factors to consider here, but the primary ones are storage space, speed, portability, and reliability. With that many factors, it’s impossible to definitively call one external drive the “best,” but it is possible to find five drives that, collectively, will fit the needs of anyone. Below are the favorite USB 3.0-compatible drives you can buy right now.

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The fastest, lightest external that money can buy – Samsung T3 ($750)

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Digital Trends

It’s hard to believe this little drive, which easily fits in the palm of your hand, fits 2TB of data. But it does, and also offers the fastest transfer speeds we’ve seen in an external drive. The Samsung T3 is tiny, fast, and extremely expensive — the 2TB version costs $750. Still, this is the best external hard drive money can buy, and if price is no object, you should get it. This is particularly true if you work with a a good deal of video (or other large files) and want to edit directly on the external drive. Read our full review here.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Light, but not on storage – Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim Portable ($70+)

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Digital Trends

If you’re looking for something portable that’s also reasonably priced, this mechanical Seagate drive will fit the bill. Not only does the drive weigh a paltry 4.8 ounces and measure a mere 9.65 millimeters thick, but it touts an affordable price tag ($100 for 2TB, or $70 for 1TB). The speeds aren’t going to rival that of a solid state drive, but our benchmarks show it can compete with any mechanical external on the market despite its extremely portable footprint. The case is currently available in either silver or gold and is primarily made of plastic, with an aluminum top that features dimples for an added touch of class.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Affordable and portable – Western Digital My Passport Ultra ($50+)

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Western Digital

This Western Digital Drive isn’t the lightest on the market, but it does come with a three-year warranty, WD’s reputation for reliability, and a 4.5-star rating on Amazon. And it’s available at a low price point — the 3TB costs $125, and the 500GB model costs a mere $50. The drive also doesn’t require external power and showcases a sleek build, which is likely why it’s the first choice for many. Plus, it comes in four different colors, with an optional rubber grip that comes in five. 

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Lots of space at a low price point – Seagate Expansion 5TB ($130)

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Seagate

If total storage space is more important to you than portability or speed, desktop external drives are an extremely affordable option. Sure, they require an external power supply, but they also give you a lot of storage for very little money. This Seagate drive, for example, provides you with 5TB of storage and a three-year warranty for only $130. Moreover, all that storage comes in a textured black case that will look great on your desk.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

All the storage in the world – Western Digital 16TB My Book Duo ($219+)

Western Digital 16TB My Book Duo Thumb
Western Digital

If 5TB isn’t enough for you, Western Digital has you covered. This massive enclosure comes with up to 16TB of storage for $600, or 4TB of storage for $220. You can configure the two drives inside this enclosure as a RAID, for file redundancy, or take advantage of every byte of storage for unique files. Either way, you get a lot of storage space and a two-year warranty from a reliable brand. The case is also user-serviceable, meaning you can replace broken drives yourself and use the enclosure long after the drives break down.

Buy one now from:

Amazon