If you have a desktop PC, then you should have an external hard drive. Not only would it provide additional space for backing up your vital data, but it also allows you to conveniently carry your files around since your desktop PC isn’t portable.
Best External Hard Drives for Desktop PCs: Our Top 7 Picks
With the market flooded with external hard drives by different brands and with varying specs, choosing the right one for your desktop PC can be quite challenging.
But this deep dive review will get you on track to make the right choice, as we look at the best external hard drives — carefully handpicked based on their suitability for desktop PCs, durability, brand trust, buyer reviews, and price-friendliness.
There we go!
1. Seagate Expansion Portable 4TB External Hard Drive Desktop HDD (STEA4000400)
Seagate is known for producing quality computer hardware, and the STEA4000400 Portable 4TB External Hard Drive is no exception. There are a lot of reasons why it’s it made it to our list of the best external hard drives for desktop PCs, which we’ll walk you through now.
The first of these reasons is the ease of use you enjoy with this device. You can store and retrieve files on the go as easily as dragging and dropping them right onto the drive, making the process simple and fast even for computer novices, and the ‘plug and play’ setup ensures it’s ready for use right out of the box—all you have to do is plug it into a USB port with the provided 18-inch USB 3.0 cable. It really is a breeze!
With 4 terabytes of storage, you’ll enjoy plenty of space to tuck your cherished files away and see the difference in performance once they’re no longer weighing down your computer’s internal memory. We know it’ll thank you for the breathing room!
As well as the safety of your files, Seagate cares about your satisfaction and offer a year’s warranty for the STEA4000400 to ensure you only get optimal performance from your buy, guaranteed.
With such excellent ease of use and guaranteed quality, you might expect portability to take a hit, but we’re happy to report that the STEA4000400 is very compact and perfect for on the go. It can be tucked away in your bag and is so light you won’t even know it’s there.
- A large amount of free space to store data in.
- Easy to use.
- Plug and play usability.
- Long USB 3.0 cable.
- Compact design.
- One year warranty.
- A few users have reported these drives arriving dead (although you’re protected by Seagate’s warranty in this event.)
- Could be more durable.
2. Toshiba HDTB420XK3AA Canvio Basics 2TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0
The Canvio Basics Portable External Hard Drive by Toshiba comes in several variants, but we will be focusing on the 2TB version here, as it offers an impressive level of storage at a very affordable price.
People generally recommend external hard drives based on their previous experiences, and past users of this hard drive report generally positive ones, although we have noticed that users are generally underwhelmed by the basic design. In our opinion, there are a few Toshiba options that look better if you’re seeking something more stylish.
In terms of the design itself, this hard drive comes in several colors including black, red, and white. The housing is plastic, complete with a glossy finish on the top, and we must admit that the slim nature does make the drive look sleek from a distance. It is fitted with a blue LED light that comes on when the device is plugged in and flickers during data transfer.
The cable isn’t as long as those supplied with some of our other picks, but still transfers data well—the drive just needs to sit a little closer to your machine. The Canvio Basics Portable External Hard Drive works as a plug and play device on Windows, but the out-of-the-box formatting makes it read-only on Mac. If you’re a Mac user, all is not lost—reformatting the drive for use is a quick and easy process.
Data transfer speed on this drive is decent, but not as fast as many of the latest versions offer. A 10GB transfer takes around 2 minutes, but the buzzing some users report hearing during use in some competitor drives is almost non-existent in the Canvio, as long as the drive is seated properly.
Despite a few small shortcomings, we found this drive to be efficient for the price and deliver all the practical features you’d expect from an external hard drive. It offers decent performance and a reasonably sleek design, even though there are more attractive Toshiba drives out there.
- Amazing price to storage ratio.
- Smart sleek design.
- Operates free of the buzzing sound reported by users of some competitors.
- Lacks rubber feet.
- The USB cable is short.
3. Samsung T5 Portable SSD – 2TB – USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PA2T0B/AM)
Samsung is one of the giants of the technology sector, and for good reasons. Among their innovative range of products loved by consumers is the T5 portable hard drive, which is renowned for being light, attractive, silent, and almost indestructible.
The speed of data transfer of the T5 hard drive by Samsung is out of this world at an incredible 10GBps—a huge upgrade to that offered by Samsung’s previous T1 and T3 models that was made possible by the installation of the USB 3.1 Gen 2 on the later version.
As a result, the T5 is almost 20% faster than the T3 variant of the hard drive, and even exceeds this when performing some tasks. As if superior performance wasn’t enough, the T5 boasts a sleek design, featuring a metal cover and being compact enough to fit in your hand. It also comes in a range of colors to suit your style—choose from black, gray, pink, or white.
The T5 is available in 1TB and 2TB versions, but we’ve found that whichever one you choose is sure to be a perfect solution to your system memory issues and offers a secure home for your data that can even be password protected for additional peace of mind. For extra reassurance that your files are as safe as possible, Samsung have designed the drive to be shock resistant, making it impressively durable.
Samsung are so confident the T5 is built to last that it comes with a 3-year warranty, which is amazing for a hard drive. The T5 can work on any machine running Windows 7 upwards, Mac OS 10 and up, and Android 4.4 or higher. This impressive level of compatibility is one of the biggest selling points of this device and ensures maximum versatility.
- Compatible with several devices.
- Compact design.
- Durable hard drive.
- 3-year warranty.
- Different color options.
- Storage space may be too small for some users.
- May have a little difficulty working with Mac desktops.
4. Toshiba Canvio Advance 2TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0
If you are looking for a reliable external hard drive, the Canvio Advance by Toshiba might just be the drive for you. We’ve already told you about the Canvio Basic, and the Advance is every bit as efficient in performance.
Like the Basic offering, the Advance promises a very respectable storage capacity that allows you to keep and quickly access all your important files with ease.
Edging out the Basic, the Advance has a very compact design that comes in at just 2.5 inches, which makes it easy to carry around—an especially important feature given that you can use the drive with a whole range of devices. Its durable design promises the utmost physical protection for your files, and the included security software adds a layer of digital protection that’s hard to beat. There is also an LED light that indicates connectivity and data transfer activity, and at 45 centimeters long, the included USB cable offers a great reach range while in use.
Toshiba know their drive is of exceptionally high quality, and to prove it, they’ve included a 2-year warranty to cover manufacture issues with the operation or build quality.
While the drive is compatible with Windows, you need to take one or two minutes to format it to work with Mac, just like other picks.
In terms of data transfer, you can copy 23GB of data in just 271 seconds, which we found pretty impressive for the price.
- Attractive design that’s an upgrade from the Basic.
- Compact in size.
- Fast data copy and write speeds.
- Equipped with data safety software.
- Not the fastest device in its price range.
- Doesn’t come with a travel pouch like some alternatives.
5. WD 4TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive – USB 3.0 – WDBU6Y0040BBK
This 4TB Elements Portable External Drive from WD is not just sleekly designed, but impressively high capacity and very affordable. The 2TB version of this drive is even cheaper than the model listed here, so is a great option if you don’t need so much space.
It comes with a two-year warranty and a 30-day trial of SmartWare, which allows continuous backup of your files. You can upgrade to the Pro version of this software by paying a little extra, which allows you to ‘set and forget’ those key system backups you might not always remember to work into your busy schedule.
The Elements Portable External Drive by WD is similar in design to the Seagate Hard Drive discussed above, and is a sleek and incredibly portable storage solution you can use on a range of devices, including games consoles. What’s more, the drive’s USB 3.0 capability makes for decently fast data transfers that are perfect for use as either a backup device or expanding your storage.
Admittedly, there some areas where higher-end picks could have the edge, including faster spins (7,200rpm compared to this drive’s 5,400) and encrypted storage, but if you’re looking for storage for your favorite games and movies rather than sensitive data, this is still a solid choice.
The USB cable included with the device is a little restrictive at a foot long, but is just as efficient as any on this list, and the drive itself works perfectly on Windows. Mac users will need to format prior to use and are advised to check the provided instruction manual for guidance.
- Compact and sleek design.
- Offers large amounts of storage space at an affordable cost.
- Simple design that works on computers and game consoles.
- Short USB cable.
- No security features.
- You need to pay for the Pro version of the included software to fully enjoy this drive’s functionality.
6. Seagate Portable 4TB External Hard Drive HDD
The Portable 4TB External Hard Drive by Seagate is the second portable external drive from Seagate on our list, which just goes to show that Seagate is committed to constantly producing high-quality data storage devices.
This drive comes in a color range of black, silver, and blue, and is compatible with computers running from Windows 7 upwards, and Mac 10.12.4 and above. The included setup manual and a USB 3.0 cable ensure your first use and your hundredth use are equally easy.
The device also comes fitted with an LED light that allows you to monitor your drive’s activity, illuminating when it is connected and flickering during data transfer. Just like most devices of its price range, it spins at 5,400rpm, which means reading and writing happens at average speed.
If you’d rather have an affordable and still very usable drive than an option with an impressive array of bells and whistles (and the price tag to match), this might just be the pick for you.
- Cool design.
- Faster than its predecessor.
- Comes with a setup manual.
- A bit noisy when in use.
- The casing isn’t as durable as other alternatives of a similar price.
7. Transcend 1TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 StoreJet 25H3B SJ25H3B Rugged External Hard Drive
Just like the name implies, this 1TB external hard drive from Transcend is really rugged, offering 4TB of storage that’s sure to solve performance woes packed into a very durable and sturdy casing that’s available in either purple or blue.
The drive comes with a three-stage shock protection system that shields your device from impact, and for digital safety of your data to rival the physical safety offered by this pick, it’s fitted with an auto-backup button that can be activated with a single touch.
Using this drive, you’ll have no issues with data security, thanks to the included Elite data management software designed to help you recover your data in the event of any losses.
The transfer speed of this device is amazing, and it owes this to the integrated USB 3.1 port. Using the port, it is able to transfer up to 5GBps, making it an impressive performer for its price point.
- Available in two color options.
- Rugged and sturdy design.
- One-touch auto-backup button.
- High-speed data transfer.
- Some users report that the drive may fail.
- No warranty.