7 Best External Hard Drives for Mac For 2022
Updated: October 06,2022
Finding the best external hard drive from Mac is a big deal, particularly if you’re involved in creative tasks or working with large files. As we all know, it’s expensive to upgrade official Apple storage, so we’ve narrowed it down to seven of the top external hard drives for Mac that are both affordable as well as easy-to-install.
Here’s what we looked at:
- Storage Size
- Drive Type
1. Samsung T7 Portable SSD (2 TB)
Fast solid-state drive
Fast USB 3.2 transfers
These 2TB external hard drives for Mac are among the fastest and most secure on the market. They’re perfect for combining external and internal storage into long-term data preservation.
Thanks to its metal shock-resistant shell, it can be dropped from a height of two meters without any damage. Moreover, the shell comes in three stylish colors – indigo blue, titan grey, and metallic red.
In terms of design, it’s thin and minimalistic but perfect for mobility. With a size of just 3.35 x 2.24 x 0.31 inches and weighing in at just over 2 ounces, you can fit it in your pocket and forget about it.
It sports a simple USB 3.2 Gen 2 port for power and can transfer files at blistering speeds. It’s registered at 1,000MBps, while sequential reads are as fast as 1,050Mbps. It’s a nice upgrade from Samsung’s previous T5 model.
It also lets you set an access password using AES 256-bit encryption.
With such high performance, you’d think the drive would overheat, but its Dynamic Thermal Guard technology maintains an optimal temp. We tested several substantial transfers and the T7 was never hot to the touch, nor were speed drops an issue.
Although it’s primarily an external hard drive for Mac, it’s also compatible with PC, Android devices, and games consoles when formatted correctly. You get both USB C-to-C and C-to-A cables to make it easy to switch between your devices.
There’s not much in the way of setting up, as you’re given the software to create your password and update it easily. Furthermore, you get iPhone and Android apps.
If you happen to be migrating data from an older hard drive, Samsung recommends using its official migration tool.
You can purchase this external SSD for Mac for the somewhat high price of $455. They have other models available with 1TB and 500GB at a lower cost.
2. LaCie Rugged SSD Pro
IP67 water & drop resistant
Adobe Creative Cloud trial
Mac has many portable hard drives, but none that can take a beating like the LaCie Rugged. This SSD withstood a two-ton car crush test, so if you’re an adventurer or if there’s any chance you could get smashed by heavy objects, your hard drive should be safe.
Furthermore, the drive can survive a drop of three meters with little more than a scratch and is iP67 certified resistant. That means it’s completely dust-proof and you can go swimming with it for up to 30 minutes!
Of course, its ‘rugged’ design means it looks pretty tough too. You get a matte black shell made from aluminum alloy. Despite all that, it’s remarkably small, fitting into your palm, so it’s easily forgotten in a jacket pocket.
As far as connections go, it supports Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C 3.1. The SSD is a Seagate FireCuda NVMe, which results in perfect playback and recording of video up to 8K and file transfer speeds of 2,800MBp - it doesn’t get much faster than that!
This 1 terabyte external hard drive provides ample storage for most Mac users and it’s just as compatible with PCs.
The box contains the necessary cables and a nice bonus one-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud - programs like Premiere, inDesign, and 20 other apps without restrictions.
To conclude, you can pick this up for $392.53 and it comes with a generous five-year rescue data recovery warranty. That means if you somehow manage to damage this beast, you can still get your files back.
It might be our pick for durability, but it’s up there for the best SSD external hard drive for Mac when it comes to speed too.
3. Samsung Portable SSD X5
Thunderbolt 3 & NVMe power
Good value for money
This external SSD drive for Mac has everything you need for today’s data-heavy user. There’s an $817 2TB version, a $371.06 1TB option, and an even cheaper 500MB one.
Samsung combines its 970 Evo MVMe solid-state drive with an Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 to PCIe bridge to reach eye-popping speeds. TB3 tops out at 4GBps, but you’re realistically looking at 2.8GBps write speeds, which is still top of its class. In fact, it’s our number 1 pick for the fastest external SSD drive Mac out there!
The only thing worth nit-picking about is if used for long periods of time, it starts to heat up and, in turn, reduces speed to maintain a healthy temperature. This is due to their Dynamic Thermal Guard (DTG) technology. Even so, the speed is still incredible, so we’d only consider knocking off half a star, if at all.
The X5 is comparatively heavy at 5.3 ounces, but it’s still compact and portable. The entire thing measures just 4.5 x 2.7 x 0.7 inches. Samsung encases it in metal with a glossy finish. But you will get a non-slip undercarriage, so it doesn’t slide around your desk or other surfaces. Just note, though, it isn’t certified against falls, dust, or water. So, it’s best to keep this as a primarily indoor hard drive.
You’ll find the USB-C port at one end, alongside a status light. Fortunately, it comes with a Thunderbolt cable.
Samsung has already formatted it as exFAT for Macs, but you can theoretically use it with other computers and devices. You also get software, which allows you to set an AES 256-bit access password.
Samsung has created a performance-orientated and incredibly priced SSD external hard drive that Mac users needing a storage boost can appreciate.
4. SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD
Western Digital’s SanDisk brand has created an ultra-durable and rapid external hard drive Mac you will become instantly enamored with.
It looks spectacular with a black metal casing and grille, with a visible grey interior. You can drop it from heights of up to three meters, throw it in a pile of dust, and submerge it in water for half an hour. It’s even crush-resistant up to 1,000lbs!
Secondly, it’s definitely fast! It can read at a rate of 1,050MBps and write at 1,000Mbps, making it second only to the latest Thunderbolt technology. On top of that, it remains cool for long periods due to an aluminum core. For best results, you’ll want a USB-C 3.2 connection, though.
By default, SanDisk is set up for Macs, but you can always format it for PCs and other devices. As an HFS+, it’s automatically compatible with Mac Time Machine backups, letting you perform incremental backups of files that you can restore at a later date.
G-Drive has 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption. With this, you can protect your data from hackers, which you can guard with a password using the SanDisk Security software.
Despite its rugged looks, it’s very portable and easily slips into your coat pocket. It measures in at just 0.6 x 2 x 3.7 inches and weighs 7.2 ounces - not too bad for something that can survive a car running over it.
To top it all off, the 1TB external hard drive is just $209.14, which is an excellent value for money. There’s also a 500GB external hard drive option at $109.99, 2TB at $289.99, and 4TB at $599.99.
5. WD Black P10 2TB
Hard drive size
Western Digital’s P10 2TB is unique because it isn’t intended to be used as a main hard drive. Moreover, you shouldn’t play your games from this drive, even though WD targets gamers, has gamer aesthetics and cross-platform support for Mac, consoles, and PC.
Instead, its primary purpose is extra storage. This is in response to the almost total switchover to digital games, hard drives filling up quickly, and being a hassle to uninstall games to make room for new ones.
The P10 solves this by giving you an external place to store your games and then quickly transferring them back over to the internal system when needed.
It’s a traditional 2.5-inch drive that spins at 5,400RPM and reaches speeds of up to 140MBps. This is because it’s not meant to run the games themselves. It’s perfect for transferring games between drives but pales in comparison to the 1,000MBps SSDs and Thunderbolt setups. So it isn’t an SSD for MacBook Pro users!
It’s no different from a good memory stick or USB flash drive in many ways.
The upside is it’s the most affordable option we’ve found, available on Amazon with 2TB for just $69.99.
If you are a gamer that needs a format-ready hard drive that is both durable and portable to store your excess game library, then the WD Black P10 is an excellent option. One minor drawback is that it doesn’t include a USB-C cable - although most of us probably have a load of these lying around.
For its intended use, it’s an excellent value for money. As a standard external hard drive, it’s a great choice. Don’t be put off just because it’s marketed towards gamers.
6. Seagate Ultra Touch HDD 2TB
Stylish fabric-covered enclosure
The first thing you notice about the Ultra Touch 2TB HDD from Seagate is its unique and stylish fabric cover, which you can get in black or grey. Functionally, it can prove to be a bit disappointing, but nothing too serious.
It made our pick for the most affordable choice, whether you’re looking for the best external hard drive for MacBook Pro, another Mac system, or even Windows, for that matter. Just plug it in via USB-C 3 and the Mac will recognize it automatically.
One major plus is Seagate’s Toolkit utility, which handles AES 256-bit encryption and passwords. Moreover, you can easily schedule backups, synchronization, and restore data with a few clicks. As a bonus, you get one year of the Mylio Create photo-organization app free, although the free two-month Adobe Cloud Photography plan is much more sought after.
Performance-wise, it hits all the marks for a traditional hard drive. 5,400rpm and 120MBps. This is perfect for file backups but not running programs - save that for an SSD.
It includes an 18-inch USB-C 3 cable, power adapter, and downloadable toolkit with your purchase.
This is an exceptional value for money if you want an affordable, good-looking, high-quality hard drive with backup scheduling and a few other extra perks. Pick it up for $87.95.
7. Kingston XS2000 Portable SSD
500MB, 1TB, & 2TB
Whether you need a MacBook air external hard drive or mini Mac storage for anything else, this is the best performing ‘mini’ on the market. It measures just 0.5 by 1.3 by 2.7 inches and can fit more easily in your pocket than your phone. Furthermore, it comes with a protective rubber sleeve that leaves access to the USB-C 3.2 port.
This makes it IP55 resistant to dust and water. However, the keyword is ‘resistant,’ so don’t drop it in water.
As far as performance, you get transfer speeds of 2,000MBps, which is much better than your average HDD, though lower than a larger SSD with Thunderbolt support. Above all, it can easily handle 8K video, so there’s not much else to ask for.
One thing it does lack is the encryption and password features of many other external drives we’ve reviewed.
The drive comes with a protective sleeve and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 cable. It works with Mac, as well as Windows and other exFAT files systems. However, it doesn’t have any associated software. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it's plug-and-play.
It’s highly affordable. You get 500GB capacity for $99.99, 1TB for $159.99, and 2TB for $284.99.
Best External Hard Drives for Mac for 2022
- •Samsung T7 Portable SSD (2 TB) – Best overall external SSD / HDD for Mac.
- •LaCie Rugged SSD Pro – Best durable Mac external hard drive.
- •Samsung Portable SSD X5 – Best SSD external hard drive for Mac in speed performance.
- •SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD – Best value for the money SSD drive.
- •WD Black P10 2TB – Best for game storage.
- •Seagate Ultra Touch HDD 2TB – Best for those on a budget.
- •Kingston XS2000 Portable SSD – Best portable external hard drive.
How To Choose The Right External Hard Drive for Mac?
Choosing the best external drive for Mac will depend on your individual needs, whether budget or raw performance. Here’s what to look for:
The price of external hard drives depends on the type of drive, storage capacity, and speed. You can get a 2TB SSD with encryption from Seagate for less than $100. However, paying over $400 for a high-end model isn’t unheard of.
Solid-state drives (SSDs) are quickly becoming the norm. They don’t have moving parts like traditional hard drives, making them more reliable and less prone to drop damage. Moreover, they perform instantaneously since there are no mechanical parts to kick into gear, making for faster computing. That means quicker booting, app loading, file transferring, and overall responsiveness.
Notably, they require less power. For example, Apple external hard drive models usually run from a USB-C/Thunderbolt connection.
An SSD stores everything in memory chips, so it’s flash memory, which is a bit like RAM.
There are some exceptions, but if you want the fastest and most portable external hard drive for MacBook or any other MacOS system, an SSD is what you’re looking for.
Usually, the most important thing is speed, even when looking at cheap external hard drives. Firstly, the standard is around 1,000MBps to read data, e.g., watching a movie. Otherwise, it’s 1,050MBps when writing or creating new data.
Brands often advertise the peak transfer speed that you can hypothetically reach but is only achievable with the best connection.
We advise not even considering a model that is less than the 1,000/1,050Mbps read/write standard. Anything lower and you may struggle to watch or work with 4K, 6K, or 8K video.
The fastest USB cable and port you can find is the USB-C 3.2, though 3 and 3.1 are also common. These meet the speeds mentioned above and, for the most part, are reliable for data transfer, reading, writing, and providing power from the system to the hard drive. Don’t bother if it’s a USB 2 generation drive.
If you want an even faster HDD, a Thunderbolt port and cable are the answer. Hard drives now offer a single port that supports both USB-C 3x and Thunderbolt.
Most importantly, a Thunderbolt lets you transfer data at speeds as high as 40GBps. That’s double the capability of a USB. In the real world, you probably won’t need these speeds, but it’s still the best and prepares you for the future.
Thunderbolt also supports connections to 4K displays and higher. However, you’ll need to pay extra.
Size and Portability
External hard drives are getting smaller all the time and by nature, they’re portable because you can unplug the cable and take it anywhere you want. While there are Mac mini external hard drive options like the Kingston XS2000, they’re not necessary. All the best external SSD for Mac drives we’ve reviewed will fit in your jacket or even pants pocket.
Still, if you want the most mobility, make sure to check out the dimensions and weight before purchasing.
In the age of hackers and tech thieves, or even just nosy family members and colleagues, you can never be too careful about security. The best external hard disk drives now encrypt data using the AES 256-bit algorithm. This makes the data impossible to read unless the user has the password. Just make sure to install the drive’s native software, which you should automatically download when you first connect it.
Doing that means entering a password to gain access whenever it hibernates or disconnects. Of course, this isn’t mandatory, but it’s undoubtedly the wisest thing to do.
It also makes disposing of the drive or selling it more secure.
While we have been looking at how to use an external hard drive on Mac systems, you might also own a PC that you want the drive to work on. Fortunately, most allow this, though Macs and PCs use different operating systems. So, you might need to format them accordingly.
Macs use an exFAT/ HFS+ file system instead of NTFS or FAT32 like PCs and other consoles. The good news is that Macs can read NTFS drives as well as read and write to FAT32 drives. The other way around requires you to use the Windows Disk Management tool. Locate the drive, delete the Mac volume, and format in NTFS or FAT32.
Remember to back up any files if you go this route!
Choosing the best external hard drive for Mac can be daunting, but the market has never been better for affordable and compact solutions. SSDs with Thunderbolt connections are the gold standard, but other features appeal to specific users. We hope this list has done some of the hard work for you and made choosing the best external hard drive for Macbook Pro to iMac and everything in between more manageable.
Do external hard drives work with Mac?
Yes, despite Apple notoriously walling off consumers, you can still use most external hard drives on Mac systems. Your Mac can detect drives formatted for PCs; you just need to use a quick MacOS Disk Utility app to format it for the Apple system.
Other than that, it should plug-and-play as long as there’s a USB or Thunderbolt port.
Is WD better than Seagate?
The debate between WD and Seagate hard drives depends on various factors. Buyers should explore the specific model, not the overarching brand, as both are industry leaders. It’s all about whether you want an SSD and USB 3x/Thunderbolt support, which both brands offer on specific models.
What brand of external hard drive is most reliable?
The best external hard drive for Mac regarding reliability falls to the Samsung T7. However, if this is out of your budget, the Seagate Ultra Touch offers virtually everything you need for less than $90!
A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring information and learning new things. If he's not writing or pushing his own brands, you'll find him watching pro wrestling or trying not to rant about politics online.
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