6 Best External Hard Drive For Mac

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Man holding a box of Samsung external hard drive

A lot of people have been looking for the best external hard drive for Mac. I’m not surprised, considering that Apple shipped close to four million Macs in the first quarter of 2019 alone.

Of course, you’d want the best external hard drive for Mac, especially if you want to avoid heartbreaks. I had a friend who lost all her wedding day photos because of an unreliable storage drive.

The need for the best external hard drive for Mac becomes even more urgent if you use your computer for work. The best external hard drive for Mac can hold all your backup files.

So if you are in search of the best external hard drive for Mac, there are some things to keep in mind.

​Comparison Table

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Best External Hard Drive for Mac: What Are the Things That You Should Consider?

hard drive

image source: pixabay.com

When buying the best external hard drive for Mac, most people will just get either the most affordable product or the one that gives them the capacity they want.

However, considering that these devices will hold crucial files, you should probably give it more thought.

Deciding on solid-state drives or hard disk drives


You can choose between a conventional hard disk drive or a solid-state drive. An SSD makes use of flash storage and doesn’t have any moving parts.

An HDD, on the other hand, uses magnetic tape and several mechanical parts that write or read information from it.

SSDs are much smaller and quieter than HDDs because they don’t have all of the different parts. What’s more, they’re faster than HDDs. As such, your files and apps will load faster with an SSD.

However, an HDD is more affordable than an SSD. You can get an HDD for a fraction of the price of an SSD with the same storage capacity.

You can use an HDD for mass storage and backups. For everything else, you will appreciate the speed and durability of an SSD. If you need a little bit of both, you can choose a hybrid drive. Those are HDD drives with an SSD memory block included in the same device.

Failure rate


If you want to get the most reliable external hard drive for Mac, you should know about its failure rate. It is said that one out of 12 hard drives will fail after you use it for two years.

You can find the latest information on failure rates from BackBlaze.

Speed vs. capacity


Strike a balance between the drive’s spindle speed and its storage size. For speediest performance, especially when you create videos or music on your Mac, you want something fast, such as 10,000 revolutions per minute.

However, faster spindle speeds are only available from hard drives with lower capacities.

Other considerations


When looking for the best external hard drive for Mac, some things can help you decide in favor of one over another. For instance, get one that has a USB 3.0 Type-C port or a Thunderbolt. Using these standards can boost transfer speed from your Mac to your external hard drive.

USB-C cables offer transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps, which is double that of previous USB cables.

You’d also want something portable but has the capacity you need. But if you have a lot of files, photos, and movies on your Mac, you might want to consider getting desktop drives. They are quite bulky and definitely won’t fit in your bag, but they have higher terabyte counts.

In sum, the best external hard drive for Mac is one that balances capacity, portability, and price, along with fast transfer speeds.

How Much Storage Do You Need?

focus photo of connected external hardrive

image source:​ Pixabay

When it comes to the best external hard drives for Mac, bigger is not necessarily better. And it’s not going to be cheap.

So you should first decide how much storage you’re going to need. Look into what kind of files you’re going to store.

If you work with images or if you want to store your entire music library in an external drive, you can probably get away with one that has a small capacity.

One terabyte holds approximately 17,000 hours of music or 500 hours of movies. At this capacity, you will also have space for 310,000 photos.

You’ll need more capacity if you are in the habit of keeping old backups of your files or if you want to future-proof your storage.

One terabyte can accommodate only 25 hours of 4K ultra-high-definition videos at 4,096 pixels by 2,160 pixels.

Can You Use the Same External Hard Drive for Mac and Windows?

The short answer is yes. However, you should know that Macs and PCs do not use the same file systems. Even so, you don’t really need a special external hard drive for Mac.

Most products out there are formatted with the Windows FAT32 file system. Macs are compatible with this file system and can read off or write on FAT32 drives.

However, if you have a drive that is formatted in the Apple File System, you’ll need to use an app or utility to be able to read off the disk when using a PC.

How We Chose

To come up with our recommendations for the best external hard drive, we scoured dozens of listings on Amazon. We only included the highly-rated products here.

Further, we checked out the recommendations of credible technology blogs and websites such as TechRadar and MacWorld. For every recommendation, we considered the capacity and speed of each product, as well as the type of port it used and other features.

We also included a mix of both HDD and SSD external drives to help you find the perfect product for your needs.

The Best External Hard Drive for Mac: Our 6 Recommendations

black toshiba external hard drive

​Image Source: Pixabay

If you want to buy the best external hard drive for Mac, these are the products worth considering.

Western Digital My Passport for Mac

The Western Digital (WD) My Passport for Mac is compatible with both Mac and Time Machine. It works with your Mac right out of the box, and you no longer need to reformat it.

You can protect it with a password and encrypt the hardware. This WD hard drive measures 4.3 inches by 3.2 inches by 0.9 inches and weighs only 8.6 ounces, making it very portable.

This version comes in four capacities, starting from 1 terabyte to 4 terabytes. You can also choose between the standard or metal enclosure, in either black or silver.

This portable storage is compatible with USB-A but is USB-C ready. What’s more, you get access to Western Digital’s suite of social media, security, and cloud storage software.

  • Reviews and ratings

​Verified buyers love how easy it is to set up and how well it works. Others like that it gets its power from the USB port, which means you don’t have to contend with another cable for the power supply. Others like how compact and lightweight it is.

However, some reviewers warn interested buyers that while it does accept a USB-C cable, it doesn’t have the same transfer speed. Others complain that this product is not plug-and-play and that you have to install some applications first. According to them, these required applications are poorly designed and difficult to use.

PROS

  • Works excellently

  • Compatible with Mac and Time Machine without reformatting

  • Can be encrypted so your files are safe

CONS

  • USB-C ready hard drive but isn’t as fast as other devices with a true USB-C port

  • Not purely plug-and-play

  • Companion software is poorly designed

Seagate Backup Plus Slim

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim comes with a metal enclosure in four available colors: black, blue, red, and silver. You can also choose from four different capacities ranging from 1 terabyte to 5 terabytes.

This product measures 4.5 inches by 3 inches by 0.5 inches and weighs only 4.8 ounces.

This external hard drive works readily with Mac. Meanwhile, you will need to reformat it for use with Time Machine. It’s also plug-and-play with a USB 3.0 cable.

The manufacturer offers a two-year limited warranty on this product.

  • Reviews and ratings

​Verified reviewers like the fact that this product includes a serial advanced technology attachment. If the USB port malfunctions, you can open the enclosure and connect the drive to your computers via a SATA port. This feature allows you to access the files you have on the Seagate storage even with a damaged USB port.


Other buyers attest to how reliable this product is.

Some reviewers, however, warn that this external hard drive may be prone to bad sectors. These permanently damaged sectors can result in corrupted or lost files.

PROS

  • Plug and play

  • Easy to use

  • Works with Mac out of the box

CONS

  • Might develop bad sectors easily

  • Needs to be reformatted for Time Machine

Seagate Backup Plus Hub for Mac

If you’re looking for something with a large capacity, then get the Seagate Backup Plus Hub for Mac. This product offers storage capacities ranging from 4 terabytes to 10 terabytes.

This product measures 4.7 inches by 1.6 inches by 7.8 inches. It weighs 37.4 ounces.

You can get all the storage space you need for your photos, movies, music, and other file types. The hub can also charge your mobile devices.

It has two USB 3.0 ports that allow you to transfer files from other devices quickly. And if you need to access this hard drive from a PC, you can install the HFS+ driver to do just that.

Aside from being compatible with PCs and Macs, you can also use this hub for Time Machine. All of that compatibility allows you to use this device as your central storage for files from different computers and gadgets.

Seagate offers you a two-year limited warranty on this product. You also get access to Seagate Dashboard, a software that helps you manage all your backups.

  • Reviews and ratings

​Verified buyers confirm that this is a great external hard drive to use for Time Machine and it was easy to install on a Mac.

Others say that this device provides you with a more affordable way to back up your files. Some people like how it expands the Macbook’s single USB port to three, so they no longer have to unplug the external HDD before they can print. This feature also allows you to transfer files between two external drives.

However, some people comment that this external hard drive is not suitable for writing big files or if you plan to use it with other disks in an array. Others complain that this disk drive is rather slow.

PROS

  • Can be used with any device

  • Comes with a two-year warranty

  • Two USB 3.0 ports

CONS

  • Performance can be a bit slow especially when writing big files

  • Only ideal for storage and backups

Samsung Portable SSD T5

The Samsung Portable SSD T5 is for those who are looking for a trendy and eyecatching external hard disk. It comes in four different colors: blue, gold, red, and black. You can also choose capacities from 250 gigabytes to 2 terabytes.

It measures 2.3 inches by 0.4 inches by 3 inches. And it can easily fit in your bag or pocket.

But more than just looking great, this portable SSD boasts of rapid transfer speeds. The manufacturer claims that it is up to 4.9 times as fast as an external hard disk drive.

The secret is that this product uses V-NAND flash memory and the second generation USB 3.1 interface. V-NAND technology allows Samsung to offer you faster, yet affordable memory and storage.

If you work with large files such as 4K videos or architectural 3D renderings, then you should consider the Samsung T5. Transfer speeds reach up to 540 megabytes per second.

It’s also more reliable because it has no moving parts. This Samsung SSD is shock-resistant: you can drop it from heights of up to 8.2 feet, and it will be okay.

You can enable password protection to keep the SSD safe from prying eyes, too.

 

You also have access to Samsung’s management software, allowing you to manage all your files from both Mac and PC easily.

  • Reviews and ratings

​Verified buyers love just how small and lightweight this external hard drive is. They also like its fast data transfers.

However, there are complaints about how the device stopped working after a short period of use. There are also doubts about the materials that Samsung used for this device.

For instance, a reviewer pointed out that the USB connector is made with cheap easy-to-bend metal.

PROS

  • Eye-catching design with a good selection of colors

  • Uses V-NAND flash memory

  • Has a speedy USB 3.1 port

CONS

  • Material and build quality can be better

  • Reports of the hard drive breaking down after a short while of use

Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable Hard Drive

The Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable Hard Drive has a sleek and understated design. It’s a plug-and-play device that provides simple add-on storage.

This external hard drive uses USB 3.0 technology. With dimensions of 4.3 inches by 3.1 inches by 0.6 inches, and weighing only 5.3 ounces, you can take it anywhere.

  • Reviews and ratings

​People like how fast this product performs, especially when compared to older external HDDs.

However, some reviewers comment that the plastic enclosure looks cheap. Others say that it may need to be reformatted if you are using an older Mac.

PROS

  • Beautifully designed

  • Fast transfer speeds

  • No moving parts

CONS

  • The USB connector is made with low-quality metal

  • Build quality may be better

  • May not be as durable as you would like

G-Technology G-DRIVE USB-C

If you’re looking for a storage solution that can handle huge 4K videos and other similar space-eating files, get the G-Technology G-DRIVE USB-C.

This product has an all-aluminum enclosure that ensures durability. It also comes with a USB-C connector, along with a USB 3.1 interface for fast data transfers.

It’s a plug-and-play device that is compatible with Apple Time Machine right out of the box. Plus, the manufacturer offers a three-year warranty on this product.

  • Reviews and ratings

​Verified reviewers like how easy it is to set up with their Macs. Others say that it works quietly and fast.

However, there are a few complaints about this product not lasting a long time. Some reviews say that their G-DRIVE failed after only a few months.

PROS

  • Solid aluminum enclosure

  • Maximum compatibility with both USB-A and USB-C ports

  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac

CONS

  • Disconnects your Bluetooth connection

  • Performance is sometimes slow

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Buy Only the Best External Hard Drive for Mac

The best external hard drive for Mac gives you easy and stress-free add-on storage. It keeps your files safe, and it minimizes slowdowns when you work.

Have you decided on which of these products to buy? Which product, do you think, is the best external hard drive for Mac? Tell us in the comments!

featured image source: Pexels

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Alvin Dy

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