These are the best cheap external hard drive deals for December 2020

If you need massive amounts of local digital data storage, today’s hard drives are bigger and cheaper than ever. If you’re looking for some additional physical storage for your precious data, then you don’t have to look too far to find a good cheap external hard drive that will meet your needs without draining your bank account.

Below, we’ve rounded up a wide selection of the best cheap external hard drive deals available from various online retailers right now. Whether you’re after a portable SSD for taking on the go or a desktop HDD for backing up terabytes’ worth of data, these external hard drive deals have something to meet almost any storage need:

Today’s best external hard drive deals

Expires soon

WD 1TB My Passport External SSD

$140 $230
This portable SSD offers a high-speed storage that you can password-protect, a hard shell that can survive 6-feet drops, and a modern Type-C port.
Expires soon

Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Portable External Hard Drive

$117 $130
If you need some more storage space than most portable HDDs can provide, this 4TB Seagate Backup Plus punches well above its weight in the storage department.
Expires soon

LaCie Rugged Mini 1TB Portable External Hard Drive

$70 $80
With a rugged housing surrounding a 1TB HDD, the LaCie mini portable hard drive lets you take your digital treasures anywhere without worry.
Expires soon

Western Digital Elements 4TB External Hard Drive

$90 $100
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.
Expires soon

PNY Elite 480GB USB 3.0 Portable SSD

$58 $150
This SSD puts 480GB of storage in the palm of your hands and is the most affordable option in its category.
Expires soon

WD Easystore 14TB Desktop Hard Drive

$260 $310
With 14TB capacity, keep important files and other media safe in this WD hard drive. You can also share the this with family or colleagues to free up space in your respective PCs.
Expires soon

Western Digital Easystore 4TB External Portable Hard Drive

$90 $150
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.
Expires soon

Western Digital Elements 12TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive

$220 $250
The WD Elements hard drive with 12TB of storage capacity is an excellent option for all your file needs, packing an immense amount of space in one small package.
Expires soon

Western Digital Easystore 8TB External Hard Drive

$140 $180
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.
Expires soon

Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro 3TB Portable External HDD

$170 $250
Wireless technology has even come to external hard drives, and the My Passport Wireless Pro takes portability to another level owing to its innovative design that's perfect for when you're on the go.
Expires soon

RAVPower Portable External SSD Pro, 512GB

$73 $88
This downsized and super-portable solid state drive doesn't offer an insane amount of storage, but it could just be the smallest external SSD on the market.
Expires soon

Samsung T7 Portable 2TB SSD

$280 $370
With a 2TB capacity, the Samsung T7 is a rugged and portable external SSD that gives you tons of space for just about anything you need to store.
Expires soon

Western Digital Easystore 1TB External Hard Drive

$48 $85
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.
Expires soon

Western Digital My Passport Ultra 2TB External Hard Drive

$60 $80
When your PC's storage isn't enough, this portable 2TB My Passport Ultra external hard drive by Western Digital is a must-have.
Expires soon

Western Digital My Passport 5TB External Hard Drive

$110 $150
The WD My Passport is a reliable hard drive in any situation, and with 5TB of storage, you can comfortably store all your important files without any problems.
Expires soon

Seagate Game Drive 4TB External Hard Drive for PS4

$102 $150
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.
Expires soon

WD Black 500GB P50 Game Drive Portable External SSD

$118 $180
This is a high-performance sturdy SSD that comes with a shock-resistant exterior and 500GB of storage which should be enough for plenty of console games.
Expires soon

Seagate Expansion 2TB External Hard Drive

$57 $72
If your computer's a bit lacking in the storage department, the 2TB Seagate Expansion drive is the perfect solution, capable of adding a large amount of space for the heavy-duty user.
Expires soon

G-Technology G-DRIVE 10TB External Hard Drive

$320 $350
If you want an enormous amount of space in one compact package, the G-Technology 10TB G-DRIVE external hard drive is great at saving files, space, and — with this discount — cash too.
Expires soon

SAMSUNG T7 Touch Portable 1TB SSD

$160 $230
Samsung T7 is the premium SSD to beat with a built-in fingerprint sensor that lets you secure your data, industry-leading transfer speeds, and a shock-resistant exterior.
Expires soon

G-Technology G-DRIVE Mobile 4TB External Hard Drive

$140 $150
The G-Technology G-DRIVE Mobile hard drive is a great add-on to any desktop, compatible with both Macs and Windows, with this one having 4TB of space for all your important files.
Expires soon

WD Black 2TB P10 Game Drive Portable External Gaming Hard Drive

$65 $90
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.
Expires soon

Seagate Game Drive 2TB External Hard Drive for PS4

$70 $110
Why delete old games when you could store them for a lifetime? With the Seagate 2TB Game Drive, you can hold onto your games and saves and revive them just in time for the PS5.
+ $5 Off w/ Promo Code: 42BKFCYM33
Expires soon

Seagate External Hard Drive 8TB HDD Expansion

$125 $162
Beef up your storage space so you can save as much files as you need. This 8TB hard drive is compatible with the PC, Xbox, and PS4.
Expires soon

WD Black 5TB P10 External Hard Drive for PS4/Xbox One/PC/Mac USB 3.2

$120 $150
With the high performance of WD Black this hard drive will make sure none of your media stutters and gives the best chance at preventing corruption.
Expires soon

Seagate 8TB Game Drive Hub for Xbox

$159 $220
Give your Xbox the best storage upgrade available with the officially licensed Seagate Game Drive, offering an immense 8TB of capacity for all your games, DLC, and more.
Expires soon

G-Technology G-DRIVE 4TB External Hard Drive

$140 $180
If you aren't sure about the efficacy of WD or Seagate, G-Technology's got you covered, with their G-DRIVE external hard drive offering 4TB of space that you can use to backup your files.
Expires soon

Seagate 10TB Expansion Desktop USB 3.0 External Hard Drive

$165 $255
Worry less about your computer slowing down due to your collection of files with this Seagate External Hard Drive. It offers up to 10TB of storage to and boasts fast data transfer speeds.
Expires soon

Seagate Expansion Desktop 8TB External Hard Drive

$125 $162
When native storage isn't enough, add the Seagate Expansion Desktop external hard drive to your PC build for a massive boost in storage capacity, with this one offering a whopping 8TB of space.
Expires soon

Western Digital Elements 8TB Desktop External Hard Drive

$145 $180
If your desktop's built-in storage doesn't have enough space to satisfy your needs, this WD Elements hard drive has 8TB of space for over eight times the amount of files a regular laptop can hold.

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 in 2020, 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 SSD?

Pretty much any hard drive can be used as an external drive with an appropriate 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.

Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

Editors' Recommendations