Reviews You Can Rely On

Best External Hard Drives of 2022

We tested external hard drives from Samsung, Toshiba, LaCie, and more to find the best storage for your files
Best External Hard Drives of 2022
Credit: Amber King

Our Top Picks

By Amber King ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 9, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Our team of tech experts researched over 20 of the best external hard drives available today before purchasing 10 of the best. During our comparative tests, we tested speeds across a Mac and Windows system, with different USB outlets and a host of pressure settings. We manually dragged and dropped files of differing sizes to see which moved quickly and extensively tested durability. The result is a well-researched and tested review with an array of recommendations designed to help you find exactly what you need.

If you're seeking an even more portable digital storage solution, you might be looking for a USB flash drive. To discover the best products, we've employed our head to head testing on a wide variety of electronics — everything from WiFi routers to photo printers to charging stations.


Best Overall External Hard Drive

Samsung Portable SSD T5 500GB

Storage: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB | Weight: 1.75 oz
Speeds are 3X faster than most other drives
Excellent security features
Lightweight and packable
Shock resistant and reliable design
High price per GB

It's hard to gush too much about the Samsung Portable SSD. This lightweight hard drive (1.75 ounces) fits into the palm of your hand, making it an excellent option for travel. It features AES 265-bit encryption with password protection and a metal housing that is drop-resistant up to two meters. Read and write speeds are lightning fast. While the manufacturer claims a speed up to 540 MB/S, we clocked it up to 506 MB/S (Blackmagic Speed Test, MacOS) and 462 MB/S (CrystalMark Test, Windows). The drag and drop speeds average 237 MB/S when averaging timed tests of moving files 2, 6, 10, and 100 GB in size. We found it was three times faster than other external hard drives and comes in an ultra-packable size (with neat colors) that we love.

It's hard to find many drawbacks to the Samsung Portable SSD. The price is a bit high per GB. As you go up in storage, however, the value improves. Aside from that, this is the SSD we recommend for the folks who can afford it.

best overall external hard drive
A look at the small size that really packs a punch when it comes to read/write speeds.
Credit: Amber King


Best Bang for the Buck

Toshiba Canvio Basics 2 TB

Storage: 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB | Weight: 5.90 oz
Light and packable
Seemingly more durable than other options in its price class
Easy plug and play functionality
Average read and write speeds (max clocked at 155MB/s with a PC)
No data recovery service
Reportedly gets slower as time goes on

The Toshiba Canvio Basics 2TB is a standard SSD that offers benchmark reliability, storage, and speed. It's lightweight and portable, and its design seems more durable than other options in this price range, making the value hard to beat. It proved to be reasonably durable, surviving a five-foot drop test on both carpet and concrete. Its read and write times are sufficient for data backup and storage, though not the fastest. If you're in the market for something simple and affordable, this is a great choice.

While the timed speed tests reflect speeds in "optimized conditions," we saw this drive transfer data at a rate of 66 MB/s during our drag and drop tests, with significantly slower times read when moving larger files. For example, when dropping a 2GB file, it read at a rate of 90MB/s, while a 100GB file offered a speed of only 30MB/s. These speeds are about average for this price point. If the drive fails, there are no data recovery services or any included security features. Still, if low cost and simplicity are what you seek, this is the one to pick.

external hard drive - best bang for the buck
Not the fastest or highest performing, but it does the job at a great price.
Credit: amber king


Best Rugged Drive

Adata HD830 2TB

Storage: 2TB, 4TB, 5TB | Weight: 1 lb
Extremely reliable, rugged, and durable construction
Excellent value
Powered through a USB cord, no additional power is needed
Heavy and bulky
Read & write speeds are slower than average

Armored in a protective shell, the Adata HD830 2TB is an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) built to take the biggest of beatings. We immersed it in water for two hours, drove over it with a half-ton truck, and dropped it six feet onto concrete. It came roaring back to life in every case, with all data stored intact and easily accessible. No other external hard drive we tested could take this kind of abuse, making it our favorite rugged hard drive. It comes set up for both Mac and Windows platforms and is compatible with PS4 and Xbox gaming systems. If you want a reliable and armored external hard drive, this is it. Throw it in the sand, accidentally drop it in the water; your data will still be protected.

Though the Adata shines for its durability, it's not flawless. It's not anywhere close to the fastest drive we tested. During our drag and drop tests, it averaged a somewhat slow speed of 64 MB/S. During optimized testing (where we see the highest possible speeds), it exhibited read and write times on macOS of 119 and 116 MB/S, respectively. For Windows, the fastest time recorded was 135 MB/S (read) & 127 MB/S (write) using the USB-A port. Regarding speed, this drive doesn't hold a candle to the top performers. It's also bulky and heavy, but it still stows nicely inside the pocket of any backpack. If you're seeking a seriously durable drive that'll protect your data, this is the one to buy.

external hard drive - best rugged drive
This rugged external hard drive really does stand up to the elements! Here we perform our water test to see how the Adata storage holds up, and if it keeps working. The result? It does!
Credit: Amber King


Best Performance Speed

LaCie Rugged Raid Shuttle 8TB

Storage: 8TB | Weight: 1lb 10.6 oz
Read and write speeds up to 272 MB/S
Rugged design
Great security features & data recovery plan included
Great value despite high start-up cost
Failed water tests, despite IP54 rating (uncovered USB-C port)
Performance rate declines without an additional power source

The LaCie Rugged Raid Shuttle stands out for its rugged design and super-fast processing speeds. This HDD is wrapped in an orange shock-proof package that can withstand drops from 1.2 meters. It even survived being driven over by a Subaru Outback. It has the potential for very fast processing speeds (clocked at 272 MB/S), including a high random read/write speed, which means it can quickly access data even with a large pool of information. That said, during our drag and drop tests, it averaged 81 MB/S, putting it behind the top tier for fast speeds. It features an encrypted security system with different levels of security. Though the price tag may seem quite high, the dollar per GB is quite reasonable and, thus, a great value.

We were excited to test LaCie's durability claims — and it was impressive that we ran over it with a car, and it still worked — but ultimately, we were let down. From the get-go, the USB-C to USB-C cord kept disconnecting the drive when plugged in. Additionally, its water rating didn't live up to LaCie's claims. It's rated to IP54 for water, meaning it should be able to withstand a stream of water from any direction. After we sprayed it with the hose, however, it never worked again, failing our test. This is probably because of the exposed USB-C port, which seems like a fatal design flaw for this 'rugged' and 'water-resistant' drive. Furthermore, data transfer speeds decreased by almost 85% when the drive wasn't plugged into its external power source. Be aware of potential durability issues and false company claims with this product. However, this is a good option if you're seeking a fast and high storage drive (and you don't expect it to be sprayed by water).

external hard drive - best performance speed
A look at all the cords and adaptor plugs this quality drive comes equipped with.
Credit: Amber King


Best Desktop Backup

WD My Book Desktop 3.0 4TB

Storage: 4TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, 14TB | Weight: 1 lb 15.55 oz
Excellent optimal read (210 MB/s) and write speeds (175 MB/s)
Impressive actual speeds (148MB/s read speed, macOS)
Simple to use once set up
Auto backup and software goodies included
Surprisingly durable
Compatible with Mac, PC, Xbox, PS4
Very bulky, not meant to travel
Not water-resistant and scratches easily

If you're seeking a backup for your desktop that'll update automatically, the WD My Book Desktop 3.0 should be on your radar. It features consistent read and write speeds, a performance feature you'll be hard-pressed to find in the external hard drive world. Optimal speeds were measured at 210 MB/s on Windows. Actual speed tests averaged 148 MB/s, the second-fastest in this review. What's more, these speeds stayed pretty consistent across all file sizes and didn't slow down with larger files. Another cool finding is that it has some drop resistance despite its large and seemingly fragile design. We dropped it (cringing the whole time) on both carpeted and hard surfaces from waist height, and it survived. This impressed us because it's not rated to withstand these tests.

This drive is not meant for travel. It's heavy, scratches easily, and requires an additional power source to use, so it's best when it lives attached to a desktop, stationary in your home office. Although we didn't test water resistance (it's not rated to deal with water), we suspect it wouldn't survive because the case has lots of ventilation holes that lead directly to the hard drive inside. However, if you want automatic backups, it's the one we recommend.

external hard drive - best desktop backup
The WD MyBook is a burly storage option that's best for sitting next to your desktop computer.
Credit: amber king


A Gamer-Focused Option

WD_BLACK P10 Game Drive

Storage: 2TB, 4TB, 5TB | Weight: 9.05 oz
Fast performance (up to 237 MB/S read speed)
Compatible with PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox
Cool and stylish "gamer-oriented" exterior that matches system styles
Drop-resistant and durable outer shell
Easy plug and play capabilities
Hums when in use

The WD_Black P10 Game Drive is a favorite among our gamer testers for its compatibility with multiple platforms, and fast read/write speeds. As games get larger in size, the need for additional storage is becoming paramount. This external hard drive features a durable exterior that can survive a six-foot drop onto carpet or concrete. It's the fastest when used with PCs and a Windows platform where we clocked its read and write times at 237 and 128 MB/S, respectively. On our Mac, it only clocked a speed of 121 and 118 MB/S (read and write, respectively). What's more is its random read/write speed is higher than other products, meaning it'll perform seamlessly when running games or movies directly off the drive. We also like its gamer-focused look.

While it does offer exceptional performance, the internal disk emits a soft humming when it's running. Also, during our 'actual drag and drop tests,' the drive's speed decreased to 68 MB/S with slower performance as file size increases. Still, if you're a gamer and need extra storage, this is our top recommendation.

external hard drive - fast read/write speeds with a look designed for gamers! use this...
Fast read/write speeds with a look designed for gamers! Use this while playing your favorite game, right off the drive.
Credit: Amber King


Lightweight and Durable HDD

Silicon Power Armor A60 2TB

Storage: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 5TB | Weight: 8.70 oz
Water-resistant IPX4, scratch-resistant, drop-resistant (3m)
Slim and lightweight profile
Average optimized speeds (up to 184 MB/S)
Compatible with PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox
Actual test speeds are lower than other drives tested
The cord gets lost easily

If you're seeking a lightweight yet durable Hard Disk Drive (HDD), the Silicon Power Armor A60 2TB drive is a good choice. Most HDDs are bulky and heavy, but this one slides easily into a small pocket or purse. It features an average read and write speed and works with multiple systems. The durable exterior is wrapped in silicon, while the hard drive is suspended inside to make it drop and water-resistant. While you shouldn't immerse this drive in water, it will probably survive if you accidentally spill a glass of water on it. We dropped it from six feet on both carpet and concrete, and it still performed flawlessly. If a durable, lightweight HDD is what you seek, you should check out this lightweight contender.

Unfortunately, while the optimized tests on both Mac and Windows show read and write speeds to be about average, this drive was one of the slowest in our actual drag and drop tests. When dropping files of different sizes (2, 6, 10, 100 GB) on a macOS disk to the drive, it averaged about 62 MB/S (lowest of all drives tested). The speeds decreased with larger file sizes, slowing to a snail's pace of 32.6 MB/S while moving a 100 GB file. In addition, the cord that comes with the drive is poorly anchored to the drive and is quite easy to lose. This is a functional and durable drive that offers decent performance.

external hard drive - rugged, compact, and ready for travel. this is an excellent...
Rugged, compact, and ready for travel. This is an excellent high-value choice for storage.
Credit: amber king


Slim and Stylish

Maxone Ultra Slim

Storage: 250GB, 320 GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB | Weight: 6.05 oz
Slim profile
Stylish colors
Low cost
Slower speeds

We tested the Maxone Ultra Slim and really enjoyed its slim and stylish look. With several storage options, this is a good option for any person on a budget. It is straightforward to use with plug-and-play functionality. Store videos, play games, or backup your hard drive with this classic-looking drive. The manufacturer claims a speed of 5 Gbit/s (or 625 MB/S) with its USB 3.0 cord. It also features a durable aluminum construction that we appreciate.

While we like the look, its speed during drag and drop tests was much lower than the competition. While the claim for the manufacturer calls for a high speed of 625 MB/s, the actual test run showed a speed closer to 70 MB/s when averaged across four different-sized files. The read and write speed is the same, averaging 114 MB/s. This is a good option to consider for those looking for a sleek and slim, high-value contender, despite the slower than most speeds.

external hard drive - slim, sleek, and stylish. this alumnium bodied drive will fit into...
Slim, sleek, and stylish. This alumnium bodied drive will fit into the slimmest of pockets and doesn't take up a lot of room.
Credit: amber king


Lightweight and Simple SSD

Seagate STGX2000400 Portable 2 TB

Storage: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, 14TB, 16TB | Weight: 5.40 oz
Lightweight and slim profile
Easy plug and play capabilities
Great value
Compatible for XBox and PS4
Seemingly cheap construction
Slower read/write speeds

The Seagate Portable 2TB is another low-priced and lightweight SSD with easy plug-and-play capabilities. There are many storage options, and it's pretty inexpensive. It doesn't boast any fancy features or come with any additional software. Simply plug it in, and start uploading your games, pictures, or files. You're in luck if you're a gamer because it's compatible with both Xbox and PS4. Many online users verify that you can play the hard drive right into your system. Overall, we appreciate this drive's high value and versatility across all platforms.

The lower price reflects its slower read and write speeds on both Mac and PC platforms. We clocked its max read and write speed at 160 and 124 MB/s, respectively (PC, Windows, USB-A port) in optimized conditions, but the speeds decreased significantly during real-world file transfers. It tied for last place, moving along at just 62 MB/s. Speeds also declined significantly with file size. File sizes ranging from 2 to 10 GB averaged around 70 MB/s, while a 100GB drop took almost 45 minutes, with a measly speed of 40 MB/S. Overall, we don't believe the speed claims that Seagate advertises. If you don't need speed, however, this high-value contender might do the trick.

external hard drive - the seagate portable hd is another simple hard drive that lacks...
The Seagate Portable HD is another simple hard drive that lacks luster when it comes to speed and features.
Credit: amber king


Good Security Features

Buffalo Mini Station Extreme NFC 2TB

Storage: 1TB, 2TB | Weight: 9.05 oz
AES Software Encryption and password key entry required
Buffalo data recovery services
Compatible with many platforms, but Windows is the best
Lacks some features with Mac platforms
Poor shock resistance, despite "MIL-SPEC Shock Protection"

We were intrigued by the security features and seemingly durable design of the Buffalo Mini Station Extreme NFC 2TB. It boasts 256-bit AES Full Data Encryption with passcard/password access and is one of the most secure drives we've tested so far. The rugged design intrigued us with its claimed IPX3 water and IP5X dust resistance. We clocked read and write speeds at 135 and 128 MB/s, respectively, during optimal conditions. Our actual drag and drop speed tests averaged 77 MB/s, performing near the middle of the pack for all hard drives tested. At first glance, and with just a few days' use, we were sure this would be an award winner. The construction seems solid, while the security is impressive.

During our first durability test, however, this external hard drive stopped operating. This test was a waist-high drop onto a carpeted surface, after which we tested it on a computer to see if it still worked. It did not. Every other drive passed this test. This is rather concerning, especially with its alleged mil-spec shock protection. We didn't find any other issues like this online, so this defect may lay with this specific hard drive. However, it is still a disappointment and an experience worth mentioning. Another caveat is that setting it up takes research. Initially, when reformatting for use with a Mac, many of the security features didn't appear. We had to actually set up security on the PC platform, which then transferred when using the Mac. Had it survived our drop tests, this external drive would easily be an award winner for its durable design and excellent security features.

external hard drive - sleek and snazzy, we really love this drive! however, it didn't fare...
Sleek and snazzy, we really love this drive! However, it didn't fare very well in our drop tests.
Credit: amber king

Why You Should Trust Us

This review is brought to you by experienced gear tester Amber King and software engineer Edward Kemper. Amber takes many photos and has been using external drives to store photos and videos for many years. Eddie is a software engineer that's been at it for over six years. He currently works for Story Blocks and provided consultation for the testing procedures in this review.

To start our testing process, we researched more than 20 different drives. We chose ten highly rated hard disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD) that offer outstanding performance and high popularity. We then purchased each one and began our comprehensive testing regiment. We tested read and write speeds using both sequential and random tests. We did this on PC and Mac computers, using all USB ports on each. Reported optimal speeds are averaged using three different GB loads. We also performed "actual" speed tests where we dropped files of four different sizes, 2 GB, 6GB, 10GB, and 100GB. Averaging these results, we learn how different "optimal" speeds can be from "actual" speeds. This really defines performance differences. For any 'rugged' drive that claimed water, dust, pressure, or drop ratings, we actually tested it to see if they'd hold up. Yes, we even drove over two of them with a car! Finally, we weighed and measured each, so you have the info you need if you're shopping for a travel drive.

We performed a variety of speed tests for our monumental external...
We performed a variety of speed tests for our monumental external hard drive review.

Analysis and Test Results

This review features a group of Solid State Drives (SSD) and Hard Disk Drives (HDD). We chose this selection to reflect the best options on the market. After all the hands-on testing, we rated each based on five important metrics; drive speed (including optimal and actual read and write speeds), weight and profile, ease of use, durability, and features. Using these metrics, we provide our recommendations to help you find the best option for your needs.

a look at some of our fleet for this testing period.
A look at some of our fleet for this testing period.
Credit: Amber King

Drive Speed

Backing up data or playing files right from your external drive should be fast and efficient. To test this, we measured two different things: optimal speed and actual speed. The optimal speeds were measured using BlackMagic and CrystalMark speed tests for macOS and Windows systems, respectively. The actual speeds are based on manually timed drag and drop tests with five different file sizes. This gave us pertinent information to help us understand the real-world performance of each drive. Overall, the fastest SSD was Samsung SSD T5 500GB, while the WD My Book Desktop 3.0 is the fastest and most consistent HDD.

Based on the tests we performed, it appears that all manufacturers exaggerate read and write speeds. No product achieved actual speeds that were as high as the manufacturer claimed. It's also important to note that read and write speeds are affected by several variables such as the type of USB port, cord, platform function, computer type, background programs running, and more. For that reason, only use the speeds of these drives as a comparative reference. It's likely that if you test these speeds at home, they will be different, but the same comparative relationships should hold.

external hard drive - we used the blackmagic disk speed test with 1 gb, 3gb, and 5gb loads...
We used the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test with 1 GB, 3GB, and 5GB loads to test the speed of each drive with a macOS platform. We also tested speeds on a Windows platform using the Crystal Mark speed disk test.
Credit: Amber King

Optimal Speeds

This test shows us how fast a drive can perform when only drive performance is isolated, and system functionality is limited. To test Mac systems, we used the BlackMagic Speed Test. For Windows PCs, we used the CrystalMark Test. With this CrystalMark test, we gathered data from both sequential and random tests, as well as speed information on USB-C and USB-A ports. Sequential tests show how well a drive reads a file from point A to point B, while random tests show how well it can access random data points in a large database.

these speeds are the result of averages using 8gb, 1gb, and 64mb...
These speeds are the result of averages using 8GB, 1GB, and 64MB pressures.
Credit: Amber King

Credit: Amber King

The sequential test should be more important than the random test unless you will be working off your hard drive directly. This tells us how fast the drive can read and write a large chunk of data and how fast it might transfer from one place to another. The speeds are also much faster than random tests. The Samsung Portable crushed the competition in all tests, showing a high read speed of 462 MB/S with some variation in write speeds based on the USB port used. The LaCie Rugged Raid proved to have a very fast optimal speed as well.

this test uses 1gb, 3gb, and 5gb pressures.
This test uses 1GB, 3GB, and 5GB pressures.
Credit: Amber King

The random tests tell us how fast it can access random data that lacks a sequential pattern. Basically, it dives into a database of information to find a file, read, and write it. Once again, the Samsung Portable drive achieved the best random speed results, making it a great external drive to work from directly.

Actual Speed Tests

While the BlackMagic and CrystalMark tests gave us great data to see how these drives would perform in optimal conditions, perhaps the more important test was the 'actual speed test.' For this test, we built four different file sizes of 2GB, 5GB, 10GB, and 100GB. We then manually timed each drive to see how long it took to drag and transfer the file from our Mac desktop to the external hard drive. Afterward, we calculated the MB/s and averaged all the different file sizes. Most external drives showed a significant decrease in speed as file size increased. The only drives that stayed relatively consistent across files sizes were the WD Easy Store and LaCie Rugged Disk.

external hard drive - here we time how long it takes to transfer files of three different...
Here we time how long it takes to transfer files of three different sizes.

Of all the drives, the Samsung Portable T5 offers the fastest actual speed (237MB/s), followed by the WD Easy Store Desktop (148 MB/s). The LaCie Rugged Drive provides the fastest actual speeds of the rugged drives at 81 MB/s. The average speed amongst all competitors sat around 96 MB/s. Know that when you buy a drive, you can generally expect the actual speed to be around half the claimed speeds.

this graph shows the 'actual times' which prove to be a lot lower...
This graph shows the 'actual times' which prove to be a lot lower than optimized times. We see the Samsung Portable drive continues to crush the competition in the speed tests.
Credit: amber king

Since most of these external drives are built around platforms supported by different PCs, you'll most likely have faster actual times on a Windows platform than a Mac.

Weight and Profile

Weight and portability have grown in importance as jobs have become remote and workers travel more. Some heavier drives are designed to simply sit at your desk while others, like the Samsung Portable T5, fit in the palm of your hand. Solid State Drives provide optimal portability with light, compact designs. Hard Disk Drives are typically bulkier and heavy, but some companies are bucking this characterization, making HDDs more portable for travel. We weighed and measured each drive to get a clear comparison of transport performance.

external hard drive - the samsung portable has lightning-fast speeds and it's ultra-light...
The Samsung Portable has lightning-fast speeds and it's ultra-light and packable.
Credit: Amber King

It's not surprising that the Samsung Portable T5 (1.75oz) crushes in this category. Its dimensions (3x2.25x1/8 inches) fit easily into a pant pocket, purse, or the smallest pockets on a backpack. It's by far the smallest drive with the largest capacity that we've tested. The Seagate Portable 2TB (5.4 oz) and the Toshiba Canvio Basics TB (5.9 oz) are two other lightweight drives. The Toshiba Canvio is a little smaller in size (3x4.25x0.5 inches) than the Seagate Portable (4.5x3x0.5 inches). We also appreciate the super slim profile of the Maxone HD (4.75X3.5X0.5 inches) that slips into the slimmest of pockets. Of the durable HDD drives, the Silicon Power 2TB is the most lightweight (8.70 oz) and rugged drive we've tested. This HDD features a slim profile (5.5x3.25x0.25 inches), similar to the Seagate Portable and Toshiba Canvio Basics.

external hard drive - the silicon power hdd is armored and quite light for its level of...
The Silicon Power HDD is armored and quite light for its level of durability.
Credit: Amber King

Ease of Use

Drives with simple plug-and-play capabilities that didn't need reformatting when changing systems did the best in this metric. Navigating a complex software system can be a royal pain. We noted which drives are the easiest to set up and which took extra research to start using to test this. We also looked at the hardware to see which can get their power from the USB cord versus those that need an additional power source.

external hard drive - the toshiba canvio is one of the many that features easy plug and...
The Toshiba Canvio is one of the many that features easy plug and plug capabilities. All drives will take up a little bit of the advertised storage, so don't be upset when you see a screen like this.
Credit: amber king

The drives that perform the best in this metric are the simplest to use. The ADATA Rugged Drive doesn't need to be reformatted for Mac computers. It plugs into any system and starts working. There's no need to install software like the WD My Book Desktop Drive or Maxone HD, or even punch in a password like the Samsung Portable SSD. Most external hard drives prove to be relatively easy to use. The hard disks formatted for both Mac and Windows include the LaCie Portable storage, Buffalo Mini Station Extreme, and the Samsung Portable T5. All others come formatted for Windows, so they need to be reformatted for macOS (which is pretty easy).

external hard drive - we love that the buffalo ministation has a built-in cord that is...
We love that the Buffalo MiniStation has a built-in cord that is directly attached to the drive. You won't lose this baby!
Credit: Amber King

We also appreciate that the ADATA Rugged Drive doesn't need an additional power source like other HDDs, such as the LaCie Rugged Raid and WD My Book Desktop Drive. All smaller drives were powered right from their USB cords.


This metric inspired surprising glee during testing. For this category, we took claims made by companies about durability or ruggedness and put them to the test.

a look at a few of the rugged external hard drives tested.
A look at a few of the rugged external hard drives tested.
Credit: Amber King

Several drives in this selection claim to have a rating against water, dirt, shock, or pressure. One simple durability test we subjected all hard drives to was a drop test. We started with a hip-height drop, then a shoulder-height drop. We performed both first on the carpet, then on concrete. Between each test, we checked to see if the drive was still working. Luckily, most drives survived, suggesting they could keep your data safe if you accidentally drop one off the table.

this metric is fun to test! here we run over the adata rugged...
This metric is fun to test! Here we run over the ADATA rugged storage because it advertises (right on the package) that it can handle the pressure. Did it stand up? Indeed! This is our favorite durable and rugged drive.
Credit: Amber King

The Adata HD830 2 TB gave an awe-inspiring performance in durability and was easily the most rugged product we tested. We immersed it in water for two hours, drove over it with our Toyota Tacoma pick-up, mashed it in the dirt, and even dropped it from six feet overhead. In all tests, it immediately kept working, with all of our files intact. The LaCie Rugged Raid is another heavy-duty drive, but it didn't do quite as well in our tests. Though it survived being driven over by a Subaru and our drop tests, water ended up being its kryptonite. We suspect that the fatal flaw is an exposed USB-C port that definitely couldn't take the continuous spray of water (from any direction) that LaCie claimed it was rated for.

most drives can handle a little dirt. the lacie prides itself on its...
Most drives can handle a little dirt. The LaCie prides itself on its SUPER DURABLE design. However, after a bit of water and dirt, it unfortunately died.
Credit: Amber King

The Silicon Power Rugged Portable Drive is another we are impressed with. While it's advertised to be super durable, it's only rated to withstand a small spray of water (not continuous), which is akin to accidentally spilling a glass of water over the top of it. It's not pressure-rated like the Adata or LaCie storage. It can, however, take on dusty conditions.

the adata totally survived the full water immersion test. this hdd...
The Adata totally survived the full water immersion test. This HDD is probably the most durable we've ever come across. It stayed there for two hours and started right up after we dried it out for 15 minutes.
Credit: Amber King

All the drives we tested were able to withstand our standing drop tests, except for the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme, despite its tough-looking exterior. Of the drives that aren't advertised as "super-durable," the WD Black seems to be the toughest. The case is shock-resistant, and we suspect it'd hold up to a few drops of water on its surface.

the heavy silicone bumpers on the lacie rugged raid offer excellent...
The heavy silicone bumpers on the LaCie Rugged Raid offer excellent drop protection. If it only had a cover for the USB-C port, we think it'd be invincible. It did, after all, survive being driven over by our Subaru.
Credit: Amber King


We love features. Software that provides excellent security and data recovery equates to better reliability. Drives that come with several cords or adaptors earn higher points in this category. Of the competition, we are most impressed by the LaCie Rugged Raid shuttle because it features several encryption and storage options. It includes specific software and even comes with a one-month free trial of Adobe products.

the buffalo ministation comes fully loaded with exceptional security...
The Buffalo MiniStation comes fully loaded with exceptional security features, two cords (one attached to the drive), and even a data recovery system.
Credit: Amber King

We also love the Buffalo that comes with two different adaptor cords, one of which is actually attached to one of the drives. It features AES 265 automatic data encryption and a great security system that uses a card or password for hard disk access. It stands out as one of the most secure hard drives we tested. Plus, despite its failure in our drop tests, it does have a fairly rugged exterior that seems to be water and dust-resistant. Both the LaCie Rugged Raid and Buffalo Miniworks drives come with data recovery services.

the samsung portable t5 proves to be our favorite external hard...
The Samsung Portable T5 proves to be our favorite external hard drive for its sonic speeds and lightweight design. It's durable and our favorite to recommend to the masses. We hope this review leaves you with the best external hard drive for your needs.
Credit: Amber King


The market is saturated with different types of external hard drives. Luckily, we did all the hard work for you and designed unbiased and objective tests to find which models outperform the others. We recommend putting your money into a high-quality product. We hope this review has been helpful and you're able to find exactly what you're looking for.

Amber King

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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

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