Best External Hard Drive for Mac, MacBook Pro and Air

If you’re shopping for a portable hard drive, you probably have two things in mind: storage space and speed. Here’s what you need to know about portables, along with our top-rated MacBook-Compatible drives. (We’ve tested SSDs and platter-based drives alike.)

Best of all, this guide is free and blazingly simple.

This article will guide you through the steps involved in choosing external hard drives for Mac.  We will look at the different types of drives that are suitable for Mac and then review some of the best options currently available.

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There are several reasons why you would need to choose between a hard drive and SSD. First, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Second, it is impossible to cover everything in this article.

And last, if you are not going to buy a hard drive yet, then it is important for you to understand exactly what each of them can do for you before making a decision.

We tested two dozen drives to confirm that they work with macOS without any hassles. We made sure the drives are formatted correctly, they’re compatible, and that all of the data is easily accessible.

We also checked to see how long it takes to import photos and videos from a camera card or memory stick—the time will vary depending on a number of factors, but we wanted to know each drive’s general performance.

External hard drives for Mac are typically used to back up a laptop or desktop computer. Also known as portable hard drives, network drives, or USB storage devices. Hard drive prices make them a cheap way to add storage space to your computer. You can also use a Mac external hard drive for transferring files between different computers.

How to Choose a New Hard Drive or SSD: A blog about the differences and reasons to buy both types of drives. Is a Hard Drive or Solid State Drive Better for You?  Blog about how to choose between the two.

Even with the latest MacBook Pro from 2016, it doesn’t come with a particularly large SSD of storage. Frequent travellers will soon find their 128GB or 256GB hard drives reaching capacity and – lacking space to install anything new – may not know what to do… unless they can plug in an external hard drive!

Storage technology unarguably makes it easier to work with files. However, some storage technologies are far more reliable than others. The best external hard drives for Mac can act both as a primary and secondary/backup storage device.

With some of these external hard disk drives, you can also use the USB 3.0/USB 2.0 or Thunderbolt connection to transfer files between your computers and devices like USB thumb drives and flash cards, which are usually slower in speed. There are several options available depending on the type of connection you need.

Since SSDs come at a premium, many MacBook users opt for large external hard drives to store their files—whether that’s iTunes or bootable clone backups. When building a new macOS system from scratch, there’s little point in going with the default HDD that ships inside the box. 

Fortunately, you can add up to 5TB of additional storage space by installing an external drive on your Mac. Whether you want the fastest performance or the largest capacity, we’ve rounded up the best external hard drives for Macs in this year’s updated buying guide.

Hey, who remembers their first hard drive? I do; mine was 120MB and cost nearly $300. Today that’s laughable, but we’re here to help you find the the best external HDD for your iMac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air

You can activate Time Machine and back your Mac up to any external drive, whereas Retina MacBook Pro and iMac users can make use of Apple’s Fusion Drive.

External hard drives are an essential part of anyone’s computing setup. In this article you’ll find the best external hard drives for your Mac, from portable drives to professional models. And we’ve also got tips on how to buy the right model for your needs.

Internal storage isn’t unlimited, so it’s best to use an external drive to back up files. The migration is fast with Thunderbolt speeds—because I/O is much faster than the internal hard drive, that’s pretty important. The new drives are all compact and lightweight.

Prices range from $60 to $180 for portable drives (we recommend 1TB or larger). The new options are all optimized for MacBook (but also work with PC). Now I need one in my life!

External hard drives for Mac look different from a typical mechanical drive or solid-state drive (SSD) you might find inside a desktop computer. 

You can connect them via USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, or even an Ethernet port. This makes them really versatile and useful for all sorts of data storage needs, including serving as an extension to your internal storage space.

Whether you’re a Mac user or PC, this hard drive buying guide for Mac and PC will help you select the best external hard disk drive and SSD to suit your needs.

Here, I will walk you through some of the best external hard drives for Mac. My top 3 contenders are 1)  Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Portable Drive .  2)  LaCie Porsche Design 4TB  USB-C . 3) Samsung T5 Portable SSD (2 TB)

Seagate Backup Plus Slim (2 TB)

Best Value External HDD for Mac

Seagate Backup Plus Slim best external drive Mac

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The Seagate Backup Plus Slim is small and slim, and it comes in a very attractive box. If you bought one of the original 500GB models, then this is going to feel like a good deal. But if you bought your drive separately through Apple, then you know that Apple charges $54.00 extra for the capacity — and $300 more if it has an optical drive — for the same drive as what you paid for in the store. 

This is the best option for most people who are looking for a fast and reliable external hard drive for their Mac 

You can set automatic backups daily, weekly, or monthly and choose to do a full system backup or an incremental backup of your files. It’s also super easy to carry around and comes with the Seagate Dashboard software that’s easy to use while providing plenty of extra backup features. Unfortunately it doesn’t include USB-C for Macbook users. 

It is an ultra-compact external hard drive with a metal enclosure, and a USB 3.0 interface port for speedy data transfer. Weighing less than two ounces, the slim design makes it the perfect portable storage solution. Back up your precious memories quickly and easily with this hassle-free drive. Durable. Water resistant. Included backup software is easy to use. It comes with a Spacious storage capacity of 2TB.

This  external hard drive for most people because it costs less than $100, is just about the size of a smartphone, and has a one-year limited warranty. It’s an easy way to always have copies of your important files on hand in case of emergency.

The software works well and is very simple to set up and use. And with USB 3.0 speeds, you’ll be able to quickly transfer large files like movies or TV shows over to your computer.

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim gives you 2 TB of storage for your photos, videos, movies, music and documents. Instantly add more space to your PC and take large files with you when you travel. Auto backup software makes it easy to back up all the files on your PC. Drag-and-drop file saving makes backing up your content a snap. Large capacity your hard drive is smaller than a pack of gum. Ultra-fast data transfer with USB 3.0 connectivity makes it easy to save files quickly, even if you have a large library of content.

Samsung T5 SSD (2 TB) USB-C

The Best External SSD for Mac (Fastest)

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The T5 Portable SSD is the best choice for everyday users looking to upgrade their portable computer or device. It comes with a 2TB storage capacity, which is well above the typical capacity of 128GB most notebooks and hybrid drives used in professional photography, gaming, and video production.

 It has undergone a rigorous test process over 513 erase/write cycles, making it far more reliable than typical mechanical hard drives. The combination of things that make this drive the best include a destroyer writer for both sector and file fragmentation prevention, excellent error reporting, high read speeds on the write side and high read speeds on the read side, plus hardware encryption for file encryption

The Samsung T5 solid-state drive (SSD) makes for an exciting new addition to your creative arsenal.  It boasts a compact build, fits in the palm of your hand, and delivers reliable read and write speeds of 540 MB/s—great for photographers and videographers transferring large files.  Perfect for storing high-resolution images and video, you can rest assured knowing your data is safe, thanks to AES 256-bit hardware encryption.

There’s no other portable external drive like the ultra-fast Samsung T5. Attach it to any computer with a USB-C port (MacBook or otherwise), and off you go. Three sizes available: 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB.

From photo and video editors to musicians looking to transfer large files, this state of the art USB 3.1 portable SSD drive is perfect for creatives on the go. Available in vibrant colors to mix, match and personalize your photos and videos, or packaged in a sleek black for those who prefer a more minimal aesthetic.

The super-fast, ultra-compact, ultra-portable Samsung T5 SSD offers a range of innovations to suit the demanding needs of creative professionals such as photographers, designers and videographers. With 540MB/s read speeds and a 5-year limited warranty, this compact 1TB drive is the ideal partner for today’s fast growing 4K workspaces. The preinstalled software allows you to accelerate editing speed with the free command line tool ‘RAPID’ which can be used for up to 12 hours on 120GB of storage.

Seagate Desktop 8TB USB 3.0 

Best Largest high capacity External drive for Mac

Seagate Desktop 8TB high capacity external drive for macbook and mac

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The Seagate Desktop Drive offers 8TB of enormous desktop storage in the most trusted name in hard drives. This is enough space to store thousands of photos, videos, and songs. Enjoy easy plug-and-play setup—no software required. With cutting-edge 2TB technology, you can afford to store even more on your drive.

This external has plenty of room to store even the largest digital media libraries, and is ideal for any individual. Plug it into your PC or Mac computer for automatic recognition—no software or drivers required. Compatible with Mac and PC products, so there is no need to reformat. The plug-and-play functionality allows you to start saving right away!

Seagate 8TB external drive is the perfect hard drive for your desktop computer. For those who need a lot of space, this desktop drive provides loads of storage for televisions shows, movies and music files.

Need MacBook for professional editing or College projects? Check the Best MacBook guide to know which are the best apple deals in 2021.

Store your entire media collection on the Desktop Drive, so that you can access it from any computer and display images on your home entertainment system or enjoy video. With an 8TB capacity, this time machine compatible external drive provides ample room for large photo and video libraries, music collections, movies, and more.

 Seagate Desktop HDDs are the most trusted, tested, and popular drives available for PCs. Offering a wide range of interfaces to meet nearly every application need.

LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt

Best Hard Drive for new M1 Mac, MacBook Pro and Air

LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt external hdd for new M1 mac and macBook

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LaCie Rugged SSD Pro is the first rugged drive to offer Thunderbolt speeds of up to 130MB/s-that’s nearly twice faster than USB 3.1 . With blistering-fast transfer speeds and drop, dust, and water resistance, you’ll find this drive is the perfect companion to your growing digital library or for backing up footage in the field. And with a one-month complimentary membership to Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps For Mac and PC, you’ll be able to edit your video footage right from the drive!

The LaCie Rugged HDD external drive is designed for creative pros who need portable and rugged storage that’s easily shared with multiple computers. It’s sturdy enough to take anywhere, yet small enough to slip into your bag or pocket. Thunderbolt USB-C port, and read speeds of up to 520MB/s, you can quickly transfer 4K and 6K video projects. 

This compact drive is also drop, dust, and water resistant with its shockproof rubber bumper designed by Peter LaFrance. The LaCie Rugged HDD also works as an interface to access your favorite media files stored on social or cloud storage accounts like Dropbox and Google Drive as well as local workstations or external hard drives over USB-C.

With Thunderbolt speeds of up to 130MB/s, the Rugged external drive is designed for professional video editors and photographers who shoot on the go. You’ll feel confident working in the field knowing that your files are protected by a rugged, dust-, drop-, water – resistant aluminum casing.

Seagate 2TB Portable

Best Cheap budget External HDD for Mac under 100

Seagate 2TB Portable cheap budget external apple mac drive

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Store an entire extra computer’s worth of data in this 2TB Portable External Hard Drive from Seagate. It features USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 compatibility for use with devices that run on either standard, and it offers an interface that enables quick and easy drag-and-drop functionality.

You can Backup your files in a snap, then take them on the go. Affordable and easy to use, Seagate Portable hard drive is perfect for backing up everything from your everyday documents to your favorite pictures and music. For PC or Mac, it’s the simple way to protect all of your stuff. The slim design reduces pocket bulk when carrying in a backpack or briefcase while the password protection feature keeps your data safe and secure.

No software required — simply drag and drop files from your PC or Mac computer to backup in seconds. Keep music, photos and movies close at hand with an external drive that is ready for anything.

With a design inspired by your mobile devices, the Seagate Portable hard drive simplifies backup for consumers who want to protect their entire digital life locally, in the cloud or from social networks.


Fastest Portable External Drive for mac in the market

SAMSUNG X5 lightning fast thunderbolt Portable SSD

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When it comes to performance, the Samsung X5 Portable SSD delivers some of the best around. With its 2,800MB/s read speed and write speeds of up to 1,700MB/s, this device can handle any workload with ease. The X5’s (Dynamic Thermal Guard) technology also helps maintain optimal performance and temperature within the drive.

The X5 utilizes Samsung’s Polaris controller to power an impressive 3,400 mAh battery that supports RAPID technology in order to deliver up to 2,800 MB/sec transfers. It also has a 2 meter shock-resistant hard-shell case, and handles drops of up to 2 meters onto concrete. Its Dynamic Thermal Guard technology ensures the drive always operates at optimal temperatures.

With one of the fastest read speeds in its class, you’re able to work with files faster than ever before.  The Samsung X5 Portable SSD is the perfect choice for professionals who require portable and easy-to-use secure storage.

Equipped with military-grade hardware encryption, and 16 levels of protection from impact (up to 2 meters) and water, the Samsung X5 portable SSD is perfect for keeping your data safe while at the same time portable. Supported by updatable firmware that adds new software features, the Samsung X5 SSD is an investment in your data’s future as well as your current needs.

What is the best external hard drive for mac

After a few years of testing hard drives and SSDs, we’ve figured out a way to identify the best drives for your PC based on what they offer. In this review, we’ll be comparing a few different drives including the 2TB Samsung 850 EVO, the 1TB Seagate Barracuda, and a 1TB Western Digital


Unlike Solid State Disks or Flash drives (SSDs and Flash drives) External Hard Drives are made of traditional hard drives that are located in a case. The advantage of this is that they are more cost effective and faster than Solid State Disks (SSDs).

You can also store more data on them compared to SSDs due to the larger capacity hard drives (8, 16 or 32 TB) have compared to SSDs. The disadvantage of external hard drives is their high failure rate compared to SSDs.

What to look for in a external hard drive for your Mac?

With the staggering amount of data that gets generated on a daily basis, it’s important to have a good backup plan. External hard drives are a great way to keep your data safe in case something goes wrong with your Mac. But buying the right one can be confusing. The features and specifications listed by manufacturers can be difficult to understand. Here’s what you should look for when buying an external hard drive for your Mac:

When searching for a reliable external hard drive for your Mac, you want to make sure that it’s compatible with OS Catalina and later, has fast transfer speeds, and is easy to use. Depending on the size of your hard drive, you might also find that a portable hard drive is more compact and convenient for travel. There are many options available on the market today.

The first step to look for in an external hard drive is compatibility with your Mac. If you’re looking for something specifically for Mac users, then you should look for the brand name Seagate. Seagate makes drives that are specifically designed for use with Apple computers. However, if you’re looking at an external hard drive from a lesser-known company or brand, be wary of its compatibility with your computer. You can always check out the company website or do some research online to see how other people have had luck using that specific product on their Mac computers.

Another important thing to consider when looking at external hard drives is its size and speed. Bigger isn’t necessarily better because it would probably be harder to store and carry around. If you’re going to be using the drive often in different locations, then it’s better to get one that’s small enough to fit in your pocket.

There are some things you should keep in mind specifically for the Mac.

First, you need to make sure you have the right connection. Most Macs come with an “Apple” USB-C port, which can also be used with USB-A accessories (such as an external hard drive). If you want to use Thunderbolt instead of USB-C, then it’s important to check what kind of Thunderbolt cable comes with your Mac and look for a hard drive that is compatible with that cable. This is especially important if you have multiple devices that use Thunderbolt and want to consolidate them into one hard drive.

If you’re planning on buying a hard drive just to back up your computer, it’s important to consider the size limit your backup software has. Some allow up to 5 TB or more, while others are limited to 2 TB or even less. If you have a large amount of data and your backup software has a small limit, then this could prevent you from using the backup as effectively as possible (you might not be able to fit everything on it).

If you’re on a budget, here are some things to look for when choosing an external hard drive:

Size – Do you need more than 1TB of storage? If so, consider investing in more than one drive. You can use a single drive for your primary computer and back up your Mac to the second one.

With USB 3.0 technology, transferring files from one computer to another is quick and easy. Just plug the drive into your Mac and drag-and-drop files onto it. Don’t forget to label it so you know what’s on there!

Speed – Do you need an external hard drive that can transfer data at blazing speeds? Look for USB 3.0 compatibility and make sure the Mac system requirements match up with the hard drives’ capabilities.

Bottom Line

Protect your investment and be able to take files with you wherever you go. External hard drives are the best way to ensure your data never goes missing or is damaged.

With its latest Macbook Air and Pro models, Apple has officially ditched the magnetic disc in favor of a removable SSD. But if you choose to upgrade your laptop’s storage with an external hard drive, which one should you pick? Whether you’re looking for space or speed, we’ve rounded up the best external hard drives for Macintosh and organized them by interface type.

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