Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Best thunderbolt hard drive 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated January 1, 2020
Best thunderbolt hard drive of 2018
The “Total” indicates the overall value of the product. Before you spend your money on thunderbolt hard drive, start by familiarizing yourself with the various types. You can make a choice based on the my list as you shop. Welcome to my website! If you plan to buy thunderbolt hard drive and looking for some recommendations, you have come to the right place.
Test Results and Ratings
Why did this thunderbolt hard drive win the first place?
I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. The material is stylish, but it smells for the first couple of days. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing!
Why did this thunderbolt hard drive come in second place?
I really liked it. It is amazing in every aspect. It did even exceed my expectations for a bit, considering the affordable price. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. Seems that the material is good. It has a very beautiful color but I don’t really like the texture.
Why did this thunderbolt hard drive take third place?
I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers.
thunderbolt hard drive Buyer’s Guide
Why storage is so important
When you press that shutter release button, the camera does its thing and a fraction of a second later several million bytes of data needs a new home. It’s easy to regard that mass of data as simply an image file, but with modern digital photography it’s easy to generate thousands of image files consuming terabytes of storage space. Taking a picture or shooting a video is simple but what you do next requires a bit of thought – otherwise you’ll end up with a mass of randomly stored images and a big headache finding what you need in the future.
Ease of finding the photos you need
Once you’ve built up a sizeable archive of files, finding files you need can be a major problem. Fortunately, photo image files can be keyword tagged with appropriately meaningful words that can help you to find target images quickly and easily. You can use DAM (Digital Asset Management) software to build a robust database of tagged images, although even your computer’s operating system may be able to offer a rudimentary image tagging and searching facility. Storing your images in a logical structure of folders, perhaps arranged by date or subject, can also help, although I wouldn’t recommend this instead of tagging.
Hard disk drives
Hard disks are so named because there used to be a flexible or ‘floppy’ disk alternative. An electromagnetic read/write head ‘flies’ on a cushion of air, a tiny fraction of a millimetre above a magnetic disc (called a platter) that spins at up to 10,000 RPM. In principle the faster the platter spins the faster data can be written to it and read from it. The term ‘disk’ – with a ‘k’ – is historic and comes from the term ‘diskette’ or a small disc.
The most common hard drive spin speeds are 5400 and 7200RPM. Other performance factors include the drive’s cache memory and controller circuitry. Some 5400RPM drives can perform as well as, or even better than, some 7200RPM drives. Computer magazines regularly test batches of drives from different manufacturers and these tests can be a good guide to ultimate performance as well as value for money.
You may notice the term ‘green’ being used in the model name or description for a hard drive. This means that the drive has been designed to use less power and to operate at a lower temperature than the manufacturer’s standard drives. There may be a small penalty in performance, but not always. Sometimes ‘green’ drives are audibly quieter, too.
Hard disk drives are available in many capacities and several standard form factor sizes. Laptops generally use 2.inch drives, while desktop PCs traditionally use 3.inch drives (although some compact models use the smaller 2.inch drives). There are also super-small 1.inch drives sometimes used in netbooks. Until a few years ago one-inch drives incorporated into units the same size as a compact flash cards, called Microdrives, were in common use; solid state flash memory cards have now rendered Microdrives obsolete, but larger hard drives continue to improve steadily in performance and overall capacity.
The capacity of a hard drive depends on the density at which data can be written to the drive’s platter and how many platters are contained. In 3.inch sizes capacities commonly available are 500GB, or and terabytes (TB), respectively. A terabyte is a thousand gigabytes, or a million megabytes. 4TB 3.inch drives are now available and we may see even higher capacity drives in the near future.
2TB 2.inch drives are already available, although 250, 500 and 750GB 2.inch drives are the most commonly sold at present. Don’t assume that any 2.inch drive will fit inside your laptop as a replacement, because in order to accommodate extra platters the thickness or height of the drive could be greater than the space available. The most commonly used 2.inch drives are 9.5mm high, but some are as slim as 5mm and others as large as 15mm.
As manufacturers of hard disk drives and flash memory devices have pushed the envelope and reduced costs while steadily increasing capacities, the relevance of optical media has waned. Recordable CDs and DVDs are slow and often unreliable, as well as offering only limited capacity. With 3and 64GB memory cards now commonly available, even recordable Blu-Ray discs, which remain stubbornly expensive, are unattractive for photo storage. Optical media does remain a viable option for creating slide shows and, of course, edited video movies.
Firewire is a serial bus standard that works like a network and can operate as a chain of interconnected devices. Back when USB was just 1megabits per second Firewire was offering 400 megabit speeds, but Firewire never gained the ubiquity of USB. Later we had Firewire 800 (800 megabits/sec) but its adoption was once again far lower than USB 2.0.
SATA and eSATA
Most basic hard disk drives, or bare drives, and other devices like DVD or Blu-Ray drives, connect to their hosts using SATA (Serial ATA). SATA is a high performance data bus designed to work over relatively short cables, connecting fast storage devices like hard disk drives inside a computer’s case. eSATA is a version of SATA; this enables SATA devices to be connected externally while retaining the same level of performance as internal SATA drives. Using eSATA-connected drive docking stations is a convenient way of using multiple bare hard disk drives.
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to backup your data; it’s so important that backup facilities are now built into computer operating systems. There’s also a burgeoning market for independent vendors of backup software, and the best of these will offer solutions that are easier to use than OS-based offerings. This is an important point because you will tend not to use a system that is difficult to use, no matter how effective it might be. You can backup a complete computer system operating system, applications programs and your data files, or just the data files; it’s your choice.
Social media networks
Billions of photos are shot every day – more than at any time in the history of photography, though the number of prints made from photos is lower now than it has been for many years. Instead of printing photos they are being shown on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others, including photo-centric networks like Flickr, Image Bucket, etc. Simplifying the sharing of photos to your preferred networks can save a lot of time. Look out for photo-sharing options in desktop software and, especially, image apps for smartphones and tablets.
Not the fastest drive
An external hard drive you can buy without breaking the bank, Buffalo’s MiniStation Extreme NFC could be your match made in heaven.
With compatibility for both Mac and Windows machines, the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC is very flexible, and comes with a rugged case that’s dust and water resistant, along with a built-in USB 3.0 cable.
Not only is your data kept protected from knocks and drops with the rugged shell, but it’s also got 256-bit AES security features and NFC (Near Field Communication) features as well.
WD backup software is basic
The latest generation of the Western Digital My Passport range of external hard drives has landed, coming in sizes from 1TB to 4TB. It features cloud storage and 256-AES encryption, along with WD’s own backup software.
Best of all, it is a very good performer when it comes to data transfer speeds, beating many of its competitor. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t reach the top speeds of solid state external drives, but for external hard drives based on traditional HDDs, this is the drive to get.
Need two USB 3.0 ports free
If you’re looking for the absolute largest capacity external hard drive, then the WD My Book Duo 16TB is the one to get, offering a huge 16TB of storage space over two hard drives.
If you don’t mind sacrificing some of the ample storage space you can set the drives up in a RAID array, so you have file backups of your files should one of the drives die.
This USB 3.0 drive has many of the features of a fully-fledged NAS device (including a high price), and if you have a router with a USB 3.0 port you could use this as a network attached storage device in its own right.
The device, which comes with two-year warranty, has 256-bit AES hardware encryption, and automatic backup software (WD SmartWare Pro).
Worth noting that the enclosure used is fully serviceable and that WD ships the drive already pre-formatted for Windows users (NTFS).
Free software is Mac-only
If you work with a lot of large files, such as videos, then the OWC ThunderBay Mini is an excellent external storage solution. It supports up to four 2.5-inch drives, and can be bought with SSDs already installed, or as an empty enclosure.
It comes with two Thunderbolt ports for extremely quick read and write speeds, so you can edit files on the OWC ThunderBay Mini’s hard drives as quickly and smoothly as if they were located on your internal hard drives. You can also daisy chain a number of OWC ThunderBay Minis together using Thunderbolt cables for even more storage.
USB-C support still in infancy
The Seagate 8TB Innovrange is worth a mention. It is a normal-size 3.5-inch desktop hard disk drive but doesn’t need an external power supply to run.
Instead, it needs to be powered via a USB Type-C connector without which it won’t work. It does pave the way for customers to move staggering amount of data around without being tethered.
Expensive due to Wi-Fi features
Though our feelings were lukewarm on the My Passport Wireless of yesteryear, the 201“Pro” variant of the HDD restores faith in the Western Digital name. The design, for instance, has been overhauled and no longer resembles the My Passport Ultra nor My Passport for Mac. Instead, there’s now a more premium feel to the My Passport Wireless Pro. It resembles an external DVD drive, but considering the onboard SD card slot (and a dedicated SD transfer button), don’t worry about getting it confused with anything else. For photographers, this is the Wireless Pro’s killer app.
For everyone else, there’s a massive 6,400mAh battery built into the device. This lets the drive be used completely free of wires over 2.4GHz or 5GHz channels. When it’s wired up, however, don’t expect cutting edge connection tech, as the My Passport Wireless Pro uses only USB Type-B to Type-A. Completely absent is the latest and greatest USB-C connection.
Where the My Passport Wireless Pro compromises on affordability, it’s able to benefit in just about every other area. Of course, not everyone needs a wireless hard drive or SD card support, but for those who do, it’s almost essential.
Typically, iStorage hard disks cater best to governments and multinational organizations around the world, for good reason too – they offer tight security like no other drives around.
If someone tries to tamper with your iStorage drive, you can configure it to self-desturct. What’s more, the data is encrypted by the 256-bit AES protocol, with multiple forms of protection in place to ensure the bad guys don’t get in no matter how persistent. When you consider all that extra security, the prices won’t scare you away either.
External hard drives can deliver large amounts of cheap extra storage – these days, you can add 1TB of space to your PC, Mac or laptop for just £50. That’s enough for over 750,000 MP3s or photos, or over 230 DVD-sized movies. Every computer out there, from mega-huge towers to slim Ultrabooks, can connect to at least one hard drive. If you’re lucky enough to have multiple input/output ports, you can hook up many more. Auxiliary storage allows you to back up your system files, in case your primary system goes kaput.
After you’ve slogged through the above criteria, you may have to look for other differentiators to find the drive you want. Colour and design are usually a concern: A drive you’re embarrassed to use won’t be used at all, defeating its purpose. Included software is a concern if you don’t already have a backup plan, as well. Indeed, if you want to automate backups to your external drive, you’d do well to consider a solution such as Seagate’s Backup Plus.
Warranty is also an important factor – hard drives can and will fail on you. If you’re intending to use your external drive extensively, it could be worth paying a bit more and looking for drives with a three or five year warranty. There’s a reason these drives are guaranteed for more than the bog-standard one year warranty.
Hard Drive Specifications and Performance
Storage capacity. HDDs come in all sizes, capping out at 16TB per drive due to physical limitations. On the other hand, SSDs are much smaller and have reached as high as 60TB. Even so, consumer-level SSDs are rarely larger than 1TB as of this writing.
Transfer speeds. The performance of a consumer-level HDD is determined by many factors, but revolutions per minute (RPMs) is an important one. Higher RPMs means faster transferring of data to and from the drive.
You can ignore the drive’s SATA speed. For example, a modern drive might be listed as 3.0GB/s and 7200RPM. That first value is the SATA speed, which describes the theoretical maximum speed of a SATA connection. No HDD can transfer data at that kind of speed. However, a 7200RPM drive will always be faster than a 5400RPM drive.
Too low to display
If data security is your primary concern, you might consider something like the Transcend 1TB StoreJet MHDD. It comes with military-grade shock resistance, an anti-shock rubber case, an internal suspension system that can survive drops, and built-in 256-bit AES encryption.
If speed is of utmost importance and you don’t have that much data to store, then an external SSD might actually be better than an HDD. These are rarer than external HDDs so pickings are slimmer, but good options do exist, such as the Samsung T500GB Portable SSD. Just note that you must use USB 3.to take advantage of its full transfer speed.
Internal Mac Hard Drives
External Hard Drives for Mac
For external drives, you have several connection options, listed in order of increasing data transfer speeds: USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 2, and Thunderbolt (also known as USB Type-C). We recommend USB 3.0 as the absolute lowest you should go.
Read More, including why it’s better than HFS+ and how to use it.
Ways to Read a Mac Formatted Drive in Windows
The Mac drive you are trying to read on Windows may not be broken! Some Mac drives are formatted with HFS+, a file system Windows can’t read unless you use the right tools.
Wrapping It All Up
Sometimes an early death is the fault of the manufacturer, but more often than not, hard drives fail earlier than they should because we don’t take care of them.
View them online from Apple here.
If you want you can upgrade the processor to 1.4GHz, while you can also choose between either 8GB or 16GB of RAM.
While the clock speeds are only slightly higher than those featured in 2016’s 12in MacBooks, they should be faster in practice thanks to more modern Kaby Lake processor architecture. The RAM is faster, too: 1866MHz, up from 1600MHz in 2015.
The energy-efficient chips also help with battery life, adding up to an hour more than their predecessors: hours of web use, or 1hours of movie watching, with 30 days of standby – at least according to Apple.
While this is the lightest and perhaps prettiest MacBook available, it’s also one of the most expensive, and – while the new processors have closed the gap – they remain relatively low-powered for the price.
The other major downside is that it includes just a single USB-C port for both charging and data transfer. USB-C is the new standard of USB that will soon be widespread, but for now there’s an awkward transition phase during which you’ll need adapters (and they don’t come cheap) in order to use some accessories and peripherals.
While it is an utter joy to look at, and nice to use, we still feel it costs too much for too little.
Read our review of the 20112in MacBook or, if you’d like to compare it to the previous model, our review of 2016’s 12in MacBook.
Specify Your Needs
Answering these questions will help you gauge what the best storage device option will be for you right now.
The vast majority of portable hard drives are 2.5-inch mechanisms, but not all portable hard drives are the same size. Some models come housed in low-profile enclosures, while others are wrapped in shock-absorbing material within ruggedized cases. Such design decisions affect the drive’s overall weight, but they also influence how well the drive can survive misadventure. If you’re a frequent traveler who grudges every ounce that goes into your laptop bag, you’ll need to work out for yourself the right balance between data security and tolerable shoulder load.
Some manufacturers, including Seagate and Western Digital, offer accessory cases for their drives that can add shock protection. We especially like the Nomad hard-shell case for Western Digital’s Passport drives. The amply padded, 6.25-ounce polycarbonate case has an opening for a USB cable, so you don’t have to remove the drive to use it.
Also you can opt for a product that comes with layers of physical protection, such as the Silicon Power Rugged Portable External Hard Drive. These drives are generally great for people working in rough environments.
Make sure also that your external hard drive comes with hardware-based encryption, which is more dependable than software-based encryption. This is especially important if you want to purchase a portable mobile drive to carry around, but it’s also important if you’re storing highly sensitive information. Carrying your private files around makes them more prone to loss and theft, so go the extra step and make encryption a concern.
How to use your Windows PC as a Wi-Fi Hotspot
Unlike conventional hard drives where you plug in the external hard drive directly to your computer, with NAS drive, you can not do this. You must access files on the drive on the network. This means the NAS drive has to be plugged to a router via ethernet cable and then your computer connected to the same network either via cable or WiFi. Non-savvy users will miss the plug-and-play functionality they are used to with conventional external hard drives.
However, NAS drive comes with a lot of flexibility and convenience on how you can access your data. Because the data is accessed via the network, a NAS drive allows you access your files from multiple devices such as smartphone, laptop, tablet, smart tv at the same time.
Cloud syncing and Backup software
The cloud has changed the way we work and play. The photos you post on Facebook or Instagram all live somewhere in the cloud which gives you the convenience of accessing them from anywhere at anytime. But if you want to store more sensitive personal data where public clouds such as Facebook or Google are not an option, then you wish to sync your data on private cloud providers such as Dropbox or even your own server.
Some drives come with additional software that enable you sync your data directly to the cloud. Some high-end drives from Western Digital and Seagate for instance come with backup or syncing software.
This insures your personal data against theft or cases where your drive gets damaged. If might be super expensive to backup your data to the cloud especially for us users in Africa. So for me personally, this option is not priority when buying an external hard drive.
Around 500GB is a good sweet-spot for external storage, though you can buy smaller capacities, as well as larger ones at 1TB or greater.
The right connections
The connection between the external hard drive and your Mac is also important. At a minimum, you want USB 3.0, which provides decent speeds. You’ll need to make sure your Mac has a USB 3.0 port – many will, but some will need an adaptor. USB 3.0 is backwards compatible, so if you have older USB ports, it will still work, but you won’t get quite as fast data transfer speeds.
Newer devices, such as the new iMac and MacBook Pro, come with Thunderbolt ports. This is an excellent connection that provides very fast data transfer speeds, though these may cost a little more.
You may also want to consider the default file format of the drive. If it comes formatted as HFS+, you might want to reformat it as Apple File System (APFS), which offers better security, and has been built to be optimised for flash and solid state drive storage.
If you’re using the drive with a Mac and a Windows PC, then consider one with the exFAT file system, which can be read by both operating systems. However, these are just considerations for an easier life: you’ll be able to reformat the drives to your desired file system anyway.
So what are the best external hard drive and SSDs for Mac and PC in 2018? Read on for our pick of the fastest, most portable, safest options out there.
If you want to make use of your Mac’s Thunderbolt port, then this is a great option, as it provides twice the speeds of standard USB 3.0 drives. It’s also not especially expensive compared to other Thunderbolt drives. This is mainly down to the fact that it’s a traditional hard drive, not an SSD, which means it’s not quite as fast as it could be – though it will still give you an upgrade to your transfer speeds.
If you’re in a hurry, these are the most important things to consider when choosing a new laptop. For a lot more detail, see the sections below.
12.5 to 14-inch screens offer the best balance between usability and portability. Larger screens are fine if you don’t travel much and smaller models are great for kids.
SSD Storage instead of a hard drive.
8+ hours of battery life is ideal if you plan to take your laptop anywhere at all.
Consider a 2-in-if you want to use your laptop as a tablet. If not, a standard clamshell notebook may be a better choice.
Chromebooks are good for kids. Windows laptops and MacBooks both offer plenty of functionality; which platform you prefer is a matter of personal taste.
Found on inexpensive Chromebooks such as the Samsung Chromebook 3. Google’s OS is simple and secure, but more limited than Windows or macOS. The user interface looks a lot like Windows with an application menu, a desktop and the ability to drag windows around, but the main app you use is the Chrome browser. The downside is that many of the “web apps” you use don’t work particularly well offline. However, that’s changing as a several Chromebooks, including the high-end, Google PixelBook, can now run Android apps.
If you need a device to surf the Web and check email, navigate social networks and chat online, Chromebooks are highly portable and tend to offer good battery life at low prices. They are also extremely popular with schools and parents, because they are hard for kids to infect with malware and more functional than most tablets. If you need a Chromebook, look for one with at least 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. A 1920 x 1080 resolution is preferable but uncommon. Pay extra to get a 2-in-if you plan to use Android apps.
Choose the Right Size
1to 1inches: Provides the best balance of portability and usability, particularly if you get a laptop that weighs under pounds.
1inches: The most popular size, 15-inch laptops usually weigh 4.to 6.pounds. Consider this size if you want a larger screen and you’re not planning to carry your notebook around often.
1to 1inches: If your laptop stays on your desk all day every day, a 17- or 18-inch system could provide you with the kind of processing power you need to play high-end games or do workstation-level productivity.
Here are the main components to keep an eye on.
CPU: The “brains” of your computer, the processor has a huge influence on performance, but depending on what you want to do, even the least-expensive model may be good enough. Here’s a rundown.
Intel Core i5: If you’re looking for a mainstream laptop with the best combination of price and performance, get one with an Intel Core iCPU. Models that end in U (ex: Core i5-7200U) are the most common. Those with the a Y in the name are low power and have worse performance while models with an HQ use more wattage and appear in thicker gaming and workstation systems. Intel’s new 8th Generation, “Kaby Lake Refresh” CPUs have model numbers that begin with (ex: Core i5-8250U) and double the number of cores from two to four, which dramatically improves performance.
Intel Core i7: A step up from Core i5, which Models with numbers that end in HQ or K use higher wattage and have four cores, allowing for even faster gaming and productivity. There are also Core iY series chips that have lower power and performance. Keep an eye out for CPUs that have a in the model number (ex: Core i7-8250U) because they are part of Intel’s latest, 8th Generation Core Series, and offer better performance. However, 8th Gen processors are only available in the U series right now.
Intel Core i3: Performance is just a step below Core iand so is the price. If you can possibly step up to a Core i5, we recommend it.
AMD A, FX or E Series: Found on low-cost laptops, AMD’s processors — the company calls them APUs rather than CPUs — provide decent performance for the money that’s good enough for web surfing, media viewing and productivity.
Intel Core m / Core i/ i”Y Series” — Low-power and low heat allow systems with these processors to go fanless. Performance is better than Celeron, but a notch below regular Core iU series.
Don’t Skimp on Battery Life
If you’re buying large, bulky notebook that you’ll use only on a desk near an outlet, you don’t have to worry about battery life. However, if you plan to use the laptop on your lap, even if it’s at home and or work, you’ll want at least hours of endurance, with 8+ hours being ideal. To determine a notebook’s expected battery life, don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it. Instead, read third-party results from objective sources, such as our reviews.
Other external storage options that can suit PS4
Note that this hard drive is actually cheaper than its internal equivalent. It’s a bit slower overall than the Seagate, its software isn’t as streamlined, and a 4TB My Book is only a little less expensive than the 5TB version of our pick, but this My Book is still a good option for backup or storage. At least one USB cable will be included, and you may find additional Y-cables that allow you to piggyback more power from a neighbouring USB port. If total storage space is more important to you than portability or speed, desktop external drives are an extremely affordable option. Like the PlayStation 3, the PlayStation can access a number of video applications, including Netflix, NHL GameCenter and Hulu Plus.
How big an external hard drive can be
Sure, they require an external power supply, but they also give you a lot of storage for very little money. However, you also have access to a number of others, including the WWE Network and Crunchyroll. But if you go into Settings > Notifications, you can simply uncheck the “When friends join a party” box, so you never have to deal with it again. There are other RAID levels for speed, capacity, and other factors like software vs. hardware RAID. There are only three 8TB external hard disk drives in the UK and this one is not only the cheaper but also, arguably, the better performance wise.
If you go into Messages, push the “Options” button on your PSLess common, but ostensibly speedier, is the FireWire port, in both 400Mbps and 800Mbps formats. Others will probably settle for far cheaper but less elegant options like the WD My Book above. Desktop drives are generally cheaper per terabyte than smaller portable models, and the larger platters and required AC power supplies translate into faster speeds and more capacity than portables. Ideally the software should be open-source to reduce the chance of it being compromised by deliberate back doors introduced by the developer.
Optimizing USB 3.0 on PSfor external data transfer
For example, in Tomb Raider: Complete Edition, when you light up a torch, it turns bright red. You’ll see “Privacy Settings” pop up. FireWire 400 and 800 are signal-compatible (they can use the same wires), but they have different FW400 or FW800 connectors on the ends of those cables. On the other hand, if you use a laptop computer and frequently move around between different locations, you should consider a portable external drive rather than a desktop drive. Unfortunately since the demise of TrueCrypt there is no cross-platform data encryption software that fits this requirement.
Who this is for
When was the last time you backed up all your important photos and documents? Everyone should back up their data, and an external drive is one important part of a good backup strategy.
This guide is for anyone who needs a drive they can keep in their bag and use to back up photos and other data while you’re traveling. With this type of drive, you’ll be paying more per terabyte and sacrificing some speed, but portable drives are smaller and lighter than desktop drives and don’t need an additional power adapter. They’re also designed to withstand a little more abuse, though one bump or drop can still lead to failure.
Portable hard drives have smaller platters and slower rotation speeds than desktop drives, which translates to slower read and write times and longer waits for file transfers. They’re also smaller in capacity. Right now, the highest capacity portable hard drives hold TB; 3.5-inch desktop external drives go all the way up to TB.
A portable solid-state drive is a great option if you can afford to pay a lot more for a smaller, lighter, more durable, and much faster portable drive with hardware encryption. Unlike portable hard drives, which are limited by disk speed, portable SSDs can benefit from USB 3.Gen 2: Samsung’s TPortable SSD is roughly four times faster than our portable hard drive picks. But the Samsung Tis also three times as expensive, so it isn’t the best option for everyone. As the new standard has become more common, we’ve found a few portable SSDs with USB 3.Gen support that aren’t prohibitively expensive. We discuss these models thoroughly in our review of portable SSDs.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
As PCSTATS notes, the Backup Plus Slim’s USB port wobbles up and down when pressure is applied to the cable more than with other drives. Always disconnect the cable before stashing the drive in a drawer or bag. The USB connection is the weakest point in the external drive, and if you break the port, you won’t be able to access your data until you find a new enclosure.
The Backup Plus Slim’s USB connection can be wobbly, so be sure to unplug the cord before transporting the drive.
Seagate also sells one- and two-year data recovery plans, but we’ve seen several reviewers complain about long waits and a lack of communication from Seagate customer service. Instead, we recommend taking 1minutes to set up an automatic backup that sends your files to an external drive and encrypted cloud storage without any regular action from you. Data recovery plans never guarantee success, and a thorough backup system is the only way to prevent data loss.
Our pick doesn’t have encryption to protect your data from prying eyes. While the option to encrypt would be nice, it isn’t a dealbreaker for most people. If you really need encryption, use an encryption utility like Veracrypt (or Bitlocker) or consider a portable solid-state drive.
We reassembled the enclosures and plugged in the drives to find my movie intact and the drives completely healthy. So we dropped them on the floor.
The A80 and the A65, which we were able to reassemble, survived 1and 1drops, respectively. Our computer stopped recognizing the A80 after its 17th impact, and the A6refused to connect after its 18th collision with the floor. (We opened the drives again to look for any loose connectors we could fix, but no dice.) In short, neither drive we drop tested survived the abuse they’re advertised to endure.
How to format your external hard drive
If you plan to use your drive for File History or Time Machine backups, or if you use only one operating system, stick to NTFS for Windows or HFS+ for Mac. NTFS is native to Windows, and most hard drives—including our pick and our runner-up—are preformatted for this file system. macOS and Linux, however, can only read files stored that way; they cannot write to an NTFS-formatted drive. HFS+ is the default macOS file system, and a drive formatted this way will not mount on a Windows computer without additional software.
If you need to transfer large files between Mac and Windows computers—and if you plan to back up your data without File History or Time Machine—exFAT is the best option. exFAT works between macOS and Windows, but doesn’t have the 4GB size limit that FAT3does, which means you’ll be able to back up movies and other large files.
To reformat a drive on Windows, plug in the drive and open Windows Explorer. Right-click the drive and choose Format from the drop-down menu. Select the file system you want, give your drive a name under Volume label, and make sure the Quick Format box is checked. Click Start, and the computer will reformat your drive.
I’ve owned several versions of the Rugged drives over the last or years. They’ve been around the world with me several times over and although they’ve taken a lot of physical punishment in the field, I’ve never experienced any issues. It was a pleasant surprise to find that this latest incarnation of the drive actually feels even more robust than my old ones, and this is reflected in the improved IP5dust and moisture resistance rating that it’s received.
As a photographer who travels a fair bit, having confidence in my storage devices is important to me and the solid chassis and rubberized exterior immediately gave me that confidence after unboxing this drive. I wouldn’t give it a second thought when throwing this into the bottom of my camera bag with all the other accessories that rattle around in there.
For PC users there’s a USB 3.0 port behind the plug and this serves as a useful backup for the Thunderbolt connection as well.
One concern for any drive that has an integrated cable is the fact that any device is only as strong as its weakest point, which in the case of this drive is likely to be the cable. Fortunately though, if the Thunderbolt cable or plug malfunction in any way then you have the USBconnection as a backup. Western Digital’s My Passport Pro also features an integrated Thunderbolt cable, but nothing else – this lack of redundancy would worry me on a long photography expedition to a remote location.
In fact, I’ve just returned from a two-week wildlife photography trip in British Columbia where the nearest town was over hours away. That’s exactly the kind of situation you don’t want to be in without some kind of backup, so I was thankful to have both USB and Thunderbolt options. On that particular trip I also found myself staying in a remote cabin that didn’t have any mains electrical power. I was able to charge my laptop’s battery at a nearby lodge and thankfully the Rugged Thunderbolt drive is bus powered, meaning there was no need for an additional power supply when I needed to use it.
To really put the drive through its paces I ran a selection of tests on my late 20127-inch Apple iMac using AJAs System Test tool, the very same tool that LaCie uses for providing transfer speeds in its specifications. Sustained read and write speeds vary depending on the size of the file that you are writing, but with smaller files I was able to achieve a read speed of 140MB/s and a write speed up to 148MB/s over Thunderbolt. For a 5400rpm drive this is an excellent score, and to underline that I also tested a Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt drive that I happened to have in the office. This produced speeds of only 73.2MB/s and 83.2MB/s for read and write respectively.
When the drive is first plugged in you have the choice to use your platform’s built-in disk management software to format it, or running LaCie’s own setup program. Normally I would simply format to HFS+ using my Mac’s Disk Utility program, but this time I wanted to test out the included password protection software so I ran the LaCie setup tool instead. The first part of the setup tool allows you to select how much of the disk you want to be formatted to work with a Mac, and how much for Mac/PC sharing with Fat3formatting. A simple slider sets the percentage for each partition and I appreciated the fact this was brought to the user’s attention. It’s not something I would normally think about, but having a small amount of space on the drive set aside for PC sharing might very well come in handy one day.
The second step allowed me to choose which of the included software I wanted to install. LaCie Private Public, the 256-bit AES encryption software, or Intego, the company’s automatic backup software. Since I’m running mine with a Mac, which comes with Time Machine backup included, I was only interested in the password protection software.
Having played around with this, and found myself quite satisfied with it, I decided to reformat the drive with a different split between HFS+ and Fat3Unfortunately it was at this point that I discovered the setup assistant that comes on the drive is a one-time thing. For some reason there is no option to reformat a drive, and launching it a second time only gave me options to install the bundled software again. You’d better make sure you choose wisely when you first decide on how much space, if any, you want to allocate for your PC ‘share’.
The Rugged Thunderbolt drive is a fast and portable drive that would suit any photographer who spends a lot of time traveling or working in inclement environments. The inclusion of a captive Thunderbolt cable gives you one less thing to have on your packing list, and the solid build of the drive instills confidence when it comes to tossing it into a suitcase, or the bottom of a bag on a busy shoot. Apart from the improved build over the previous model of Rugged drive that I personally owned, I’m also very impressed by the transfer speeds of this drive.
Windows notebooks are generally more affordable than Macs and offer a much wider range of design choices from more than a dozen major vendors. Unlike Apple, Microsoft and its partners allow users to buy notebooks with touch screens, as well as convertible designs that let you easily transform from notebook to tablet mode.
If you’re used to the Windows interface, but haven’t tried Windows 8.1, you may be in for a jarring surprise. The new OS has replaced the Start menu with a tile-based start screen and a raft of new full-screen, touch-friendly apps. However, Windows 8.still has a desktop mode for running all your existing apps and you can boot directly to it. It’s also not hard, with a few utilities and settings tweaks, to add a Start Menu and make the Ui look a lot like Windows 7.
Some Windows notebooks provide business-friendly features, such as biometric and smartcard verification and Intel vPro systems management.
Apple OS X Yosemite
Apple’s MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros offer an easy-to-use operating system in OS X Yosemite. In fact, some may find OS X easier to navigate than the newer and bolder Windows 8.MacBooks offer iOS-like features such as Launch Pad for your apps, superior multitouch gestures, and the ability to take calls from your iPhone.
MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros also tend to outclass most Windows machines when it comes to industrial design and the touchpad. While Windows PCs offer more software choices, Apple makes it easier to find and install programs with the Mac App Store.
Know Your Specs
Notebook specs such as CPU, hard drive, RAM, and graphics chip can confuse even notebook aficionados, so don’t feel bad if spec sheets look like alphabet soup to you. What you need really depends on what you plan to do with your laptop. More intensive tasks such as 3D gaming and HD video-editing require more expensive components.
For buttery-smooth frame rates in both traditional and virtual gaming, I’d highly recommend investing in either AMD’s Polaris (RX 550, 560, 570 or 580) or Nvidia Pascal GPUs (GTX 1060, 1070, 1080 or 1080 Ti). They’re pricier, but you’ll have the power you need for years to come. Plus, it’s well worth the expense, considering that you want to maintain the 90 fps needed to stave off simulation sickness in VR.
When you store your files on the “cloud,” you’re really storing them on remote servers. The obvious concern is that these servers use hard drives themselves. Just like the drive in your computer, these are susceptible to disk damage and the ravages of time.
Good cloud backup providers go to great lengths to make certain inevitable failures don’t result in data loss. Carbonite provides a nicely detailed whitepaper on their data security practices, so we’ll use them as an example.
Redundant Data Storage
Even with such measures in place, server disks will eventually fail. To ensure such mishaps don’t affect you too much, Carbonite incorporates RAID technology into their storage architecture.
RAID stands for “redundant array of independent disks.” In Carbonite’s version of a RAID setup, your data is split into blocks and spread across 1different disk drives. On these 1disks, there are at least three copies of each data block. That way, a single disk failure will never cause you to lose your data. When a disk does fail, it’s immediately replaced with a working disk.
Cloud Backup and Local Storage are Better Together
I would alter that to read “3-3-1.” That’s because using three mediums (your device HD, an external HD and cloud backup) lets you take advantage of speed benefits of local storage and the increased security that comes with keeping your content stored in a hardened data center.
Many of the best cloud backup solutions accommodate this strategy by letting you manage your local storage device through their desktop applications. This helps you cut down on the amount of work you have to do and ensure you don’t accidentally overlook files.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on new releases and more.
The main difference between different portable storage devices is whether it is a Hard Disk Drive or a Solid State Drive. The former saves information on a spinning, metallic platter, akin to old vinyl records. The latter saves information digitally, in tiny electronic chips, similar to one of those tiny flash drives. The main differences in functionality are capacity, speed, and price.
SSDs are accordingly smaller in capacity, provide much faster transfer speeds and are accordingly more expensive. SSDs are mostly used to store more demanding media files (like 4k movies, for example), programs, games, and even operating systems because the faster transfer speeds shorten loading times for all demanding software by a lot. The tradeoff of this, of course, is the price. However, scientific progress with HDDs is slowly coming to its limits, while SSDs keep on being improved and optimized. So after years, HDDs may be inferior in all metrics and may become a relic, similar to what floppy disks are today.
WD My Passport
The WD My Passport is another well-received portable hard drive that is built for every file’s security. You can use it to auto backup your data whenever necessary via the WD Backup software. Protection is also enforced for your documents by its hardware encryption and password security features, enforced by the WD Security software. This drive is also aesthetically pleasing, while also giving you a variety of case colors to choose from.
WD My Passport became one of the most sought hard drives given its automatic backup feature for making sure your files will never be lost. You can schedule the backup feature according to your preferences by selecting a frequency and time. You can also set up additional password protection for your hard drive via the WD Security software.
Seagate is one of the industry leaders in producing top-of-the-line portable hard drives that never fail to exceed expectations. The Seagate Expansion is the third of the top options you can get from Seagate.
The Seagate Expansion also has high energy efficiency with the aid of its power management feature. You can consider this hard drive as the no-frills storage. However, there is no included backup software or encryption functionality, which, alongside the 1-year warranty, makes the drive a bit less reliable.
Apart from accessing it via PC, you may also find it helpful in storing files from your media player or gaming console. It measures 4.x 3.x 0.in (12.x 8.x 1.cm) and is compact enough to be slipped in your backpack or purse. It weighs only 5.9oz (0.16kg).
Transcend StoreJet M3
Apart from this feature, the StoreJet Malso runs the Bookmark Sync software, which will input duplicates of your browser’s bookmarks to the hard disk. This is also accompanied by easy access to your Google Drive file storage cloud, making data transfer from it to your StoreJet super-easy. Another feature in the array of software that comes with StoreJet is RecoverRx, that can recover accidentally deleted files even after formatting. Lastly, you also have Crypto, a feature designed for decryption and encryption of folders and records.
When compared to its rivals, StoreJet Mcan compete well in terms of fast transfer rate. It can reach the highest transmission speeds of 5400RPM drives at around 120 MB/s read/write speeds via its USB 3.0 interface. Regardless of the operating system, it appears to sustain more than average pace in reading and writing files. However, it has to be noted that the speed may vary a lot depending on the utilization of software and hardware.
The Transcend StoreJet 25Mportable hard drive comes formatted for Windows (NTFS) but can be easily reformatted. The dimensions of the drive are 5.x 3.x 0.8 in (1x 8.x 1.9 cm) and it weighs 8.ounces (0.2kg).
Silicon Power Rugged Armor A60
If you ever wanted to know what a tank turned into a hard drive would look like, the Silicon Power Rugged Armor A60 would be the closest bet on the market. According to Silicon Power, it is compliant with the drop-test standards of the U.S. Military, MIL-STD 810G protocol 122cm drop test. The protective layer made from silicon guarantees seismic protection as well as protection from water splashes, indicated by the IPXprotection marking, with X being an unmeasured value of dust protection, and being protection from splashes.
Find Out the Transfer Rates
Transfer rate may not be a big deal for others, but it does matter if you will back up your files regularly, or if you want to store entire programs on the drive. You certainly would not want to spend hours simply to copy a few photos or videos on your backup drive, nor do you want to wait for an hour for your favorite game to load. Faster transfer rate is imperative if you often keep larger files, such as 4k videos.
Store Your Hard Drive Properly
Some people encounter data loss and premature failure of hard disks due to improper storage. External hard disks are mostly designed to be kept lying flat in order to keep the moving parts of the read/write head to have small but constant stress on them. Putting your drive on a flat surface when using it also removes such sideways stress, which is especially important when said parts are moving.
There is a possibility for the needle to position either far or too close to the platter if the portable hard drive is not lying flat. Consequently, this could also influence the hard drive’s performance of reading or writing data.
Avoid Exposure to Excessive Heat and Water
Hard drives may be designed to work in varying temperatures, but it is still imperative to keep it away from the harshest conditions. If you can, always find an area where it will not be exposed to extreme sunlight. It is also good practice to keep liquid containers far from the storage unit when being used. While this is the kind of thing your mom would tell you as a kid, it never hurts to remind it, considering how careless we become of the outside world in the digital age.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your thunderbolt hard drive wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of thunderbolt hard drive
- №1 — WD 1TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive – USB 3.0 – WDBUZG0010BBK-WESN
- №2 — G-Technology G-DRIVE ev ATC with Thunderbolt Portable Hard Drive 1TB
- №3 — LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive STEV2000400