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Best external hard drive deals for December 2021

Running out of space to store all your digital goodies? Many of us remember the days when a gigabyte was considered a lot of data (and a terabyte was almost unheard of), but today, digital storage space is less expensive. You can even get external SSDs that can fit in your pocket now. Whatever you’re looking for, however — be it a portable SSD, a duty-grade network-attached HDD setup, or something in-between — this roundup of the best external hard drive has you covered. If you see something you like, grab it quickly.

Today’s best external hard drive deals

Need a tough, portable SSD for less than 100 bones? This one offers high-speed storage on the go with a hard, shock-proof shell, speeds of up to 1,050MBps, and a modern USB-C port. more
If you need some more storage space than most portable HDDs can provide, this 4TB Seagate One Touch punches well above its weight in the storage department. more
With a rugged housing surrounding a 1TB HDD, the LaCie mini portable hard drive lets you take your digital treasures anywhere without worry. more
Store a small truckload of files with this 4TB hard drive, perfect for working professionals with an archive's worth of documents or the small-time indie multimedia users with a number of videos. more
This SSD puts 480GB of storage in the palm of your hands and is the most affordable option in its category. more
The Western Digital Easystore portable external hard drive is a powerful upgrade to any storage, and with 4TB to back you up, it's a great add-on to your computer that you can take on the go. more
Store all your photos, videos, and important files with the Seagate One Touch external hard drive. This one has 2TB for everything you need, quadrupling what most laptops can afford to store. more
If you want a reliable hard drive option, the WD Easystore 8TB is a great and heavy-duty option if you've got more documents and files than you know what to do with. more
Can't get rid of your favorite games from the past few years? The Seagate 4TB game drive lets you store all your files and saves, with enough room to let you make new memories with new games. more
This downsized and super-portable solid state drive doesn't just offer high-speed data transfers thanks to its USB-C connectivity, it's also one of the most pocket-friendly SSDs on the market. more
With on-page coupon
A duty-grade NAS bay with 8TB of storage included. The hard drives are NAS-grade and pre-configured for RAID setup, and the TeraStation supports the most common cloud backup services and protocols. more
The SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD enables you to write fast in a high-capacity portable drive that's ideal for producing amazing content or capturing incredible images. more
If you've got enough files to overload nearly 10 laptops, the 8TB Seagate HDD is enough to keep your documents safe and backed up, so you never have to worry about data loss. more
Nevr worry about misplacing your files again when you back them all up in the Toshiba Canvio Flex 4TB portable external HDD. Has both USB-C and USB-A 3.0 for fast transfer speeds. more
Give your Xbox the best storage upgrade available with the officially licensed Seagate Game Drive, offering an immense 4TB of capacity for all your games, DLC, and more. more
The WD 1TB My Passport Ultra Silver Portable External Hard Drive HDD has an innovative style with refined metal cover and password protection with 256-bit AES hardware encryption. more
The WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra is a great plus-sized network-attached storage option that comes with ample built-in space (meaning you don't have to buy any drives separately). more
WD's hard drives have always been known for their durability, and their 2TB Game Drive is no different. This hard drive can pack upwards of 20 games and saves with room left to spare. more
Other sizes also on sale
Back up all your important files and access them anywhere with the Buffalo LinkStation NAS enclosure. It even comes with a 4TB hard drive pre-installed so it's ready to go out of the box. more
Beef up your storage space so you can save as much as you need. This 8TB hard drive is compatible with PC, Xbox, and PS4. more
When your PC's storage isn't enough, this portable 500GB My Passport Ultra external hard drive by Western Digital is a must-have. more
If you aren't in the market for a pricey external hard drive, this 1TB Easystore from Western Digital is a great budget-friendly choice for that small boost in storage without breaking the bank. more
Your Mac not packed with enough space? Take the WD My Passport 4TB hard drive out for a spin, designed specifically for Apple computers, and store as many files as you could ever need. more
With a 500GB capacity, the Samsung T7 is a rugged pocket-sized external SSD that gives you some extra space for just about anything you need to store. more
External hard drives aren't just for PCs. Modern gaming consoles like the PS4 can also use them, and this 2TB Western Digital portable HDD is perfect for expanding your PlayStation's storage. more
For basic desktop storage needs, this smaller version of the popular Western Digital Elements external drive is a steal at this price. It's slim and easily portable, too. more
With the high performance of WD Black, this hard drive will make sure none of your media stutters and will give you the best chance at preventing data corruption. more
Need to store enough files to start your own archive? The Seagate Backup Plus Hub 10TB hard drive is immense and can work on both PC and Mac platforms for universal usability. more
If you need a well-rounded hard drive that balances price and storage, the WD Easystore 5TB hard drive is definitely what you need, usable with both PCs and Macs alike. more
The Western Digital My Cloud is one of the top network-attached storage solutions, and it comes with 4TB of space ready to load up. Other sizes are also on sale. more

How to choose an external hard drive

The first two steps of choosing an external hard drive are setting your budget and determining what size you need. As cheap as storage is per gigabyte nowadays, the classic trade-off of hard drive size versus portability still holds; basically, is your primary consideration storage space or physical size? If your external hard drive is for home and office use at a single workstation and will more or less sit in one place, then storage space is more valuable than mobility. If, on the other hand, you’re frequently ferrying data around from one PC to the next, then a portable hard drive might be a better choice, even if you’re sacrificing some storage space for a smaller footprint.

What exactly you are using your hard drive for will also factor into your purchase decision. If your external HDD or SSD is just for file storage, then this is rather simple, but if you’re going to be regularly reading and writing to your external storage (for example, doing video editing right from the drive itself rather than from your computer’s system drive), you’ll want to be sure you get something that has good read and write speeds and that uses up-to-date connectivity standards such as USB 3.0. For more details about external hard drive designs and features to look for when making your purchase decision, read on.

HDD vs. SSD

Storage drives mostly fall into two main categories: traditional hard drives, or HDDs, and solid-state drives, or SSDs. Most hard drives, until recently, were mechanical HDDs. These have moving disks (called platters) inside, where the data itself is written and read. These traditional hard drives have largely fallen out of favor for use as system drives, but their larger capacities and much cheaper per-gigabyte cost means they are still a very popular choice for external storage use.

In recent years we have witnessed the solid-state drive revolution. These drives are basically a type of flash memory, where data is written onto chips rather than magnetic platters — that means no moving parts, which in turn means faster read/write speeds as well as (in theory) increased long-term reliability. However, these drives are typically smaller and considerably more expensive per gigabyte than HDDs; the trade-off is that they are what you’ll typically find when looking for portable external hard drives that are small enough to carry around in your pocket.

There are also hybrid hard drives, sometimes called SSHDs. These hybrid drives are essentially HDDs that feature built-in flash storage (usually a fairly small amount) where your most-used files are stored and read, combining much of the responsiveness of SSDs with the larger storage capacity of HDDs. These could be worth the price if you need the boosted storage of an HDD but expect to actively read and write to the external drive a lot.

Are all external hard drives SSDs?

Pretty much any hard drive can be used as an external drive with an appropriate hard drive enclosure, and these are available as both SSDs and HDDs. Although SSDs are quickly replacing HDDs for use as internal system drives (the hard drive inside your PC where your operating system and other software are installed), HDDs still remain hugely popular for external use since they are much, much cheaper per gigabyte and thus give you a lot more storage capacity for your dollar.

Are external hard drives reliable?

An external hard drive is simply any HDD or SSD — just like the ones found in laptops and desktop PCs — that’s inside an external enclosure. This enclosure features some means of connecting the hard drive to your computer or another device, usually a USB port, and may also (depending on its size) have some sort of power adapter. What that means is that an external hard drive will be about as reliable as any internal hard drive so long as it comes from a reputable manufacturer. Stick with proven makers like Western Digital, Seagate, SanDisk, Samsung, and Kingston, and your data should be in safe waters.

Are external hard drives fast?

A very important thing to consider is read and write speeds (the speeds at which data is downloaded from and uploaded to the hard drive), but this is less of a potential pitfall than it was in the past. Even traditional rotary hard drives (HDDs) offer pretty solid read/write speeds today, with 7,200rpm being the standard. Be sure to double-check this and avoid any that use the older 5,400rpm standard, although these are less common now. Solid-state drives naturally offer the best read/write speeds, but, as explained above, offer the least value per gigabyte.

Also, don’t overlook connection speeds. The fastest read/write speeds will be bottlenecked when transferring data over a connection that uses an older standard like USB 2.0. Make sure your external hard drive uses at least USB 3.0 (which is about ten times faster than USB 2.0 by comparison).

Do external hard drives need power?

Hard drives are electronic devices that need power from some external source, but that’s not to say that all external hard drives need to be plugged into a wall. Most can typically draw enough power over the same USB connection that they use for transferring data, but larger HDDs may require an external AC adapter that will come with the hard drive. This isn’t a huge problem for most but it is something to be aware of if power outlets are prime real estate where you’re going to be setting up your drive.

Looking for more great stuff? Find tech discounts and much more on our curated deals page.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

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