Here, we review 11 high-capacity external hard drives, priced between $200 and $800.
On this page, you'll find:
Our rigorous testing tells you which hard drives have the best:
- ease of use
We also found:
- USB 3.0 is the most common high-performance connection
- Several models combine two drives for greater speed and capacity
- Some models have special ports or features
Plugging in a large, fast external hard drive is the easiest way to add massive storage to your computer, especially if you have a laptop. It’s great for storing huge amounts of photos, music and movies and essential for that most essential of tasks, backup.
The largest single drives you can buy are either 3TB (terabytes) or 4TB, depending on the manufacturer, but some models break this storage restriction by combining two drives in one unit – set up as either RAID 0 for better speed, or RAID 1 to provide an instant backup.
We bought and tested 11 of the largest external desktop drives commonly available to see which provides the best combination of performance, capacity and features: see What to Buy for our recommendations.
Brands and models tested
Buffalo DriveStation Duo 6TB
Buffalo DriveStation 4TB
LaCie D2 Quadra v3 3TB
LaCie Minimus 3TB
LaCie Porsche Design 3TB
Seagate Backup Plus Desk 3TB
Verbatim Store 'n' Save #47673 3TB
Western Digital Elements Desktop 3TB
Western Digital My Book Essential 3TB
Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II 6TB
Western Digital My Book Thunderbolt Duo 6TB
How we test
We test drive performance by time multiple transfers of data sets, both large files and small files, to each hard drive using USB 3.0 (except for the Thunderbolt drive). We also compare the ease of use of each drive and any software supplied, taking into account the time to get set up and how easy it is to do common tasks with the software