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The 10 Best External Hard Drives - May 2017

Every week we analyse the technical specs, reviews and prices of every external hard drive on the market in the UK to determine our top 10 list.
In total we compared over 757 external hard drives, 6,860 reviews and 6,280 prices. Last updated 19 May 2017.

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DriveStation HD-LCU3 4TB
#1 in External Hard Drives

Buffalo DriveStation HD‑LCU3 4TB

Digital Versus - 5 StarTrusted Reviews - RecommendedExpert Reviews - UltimatePC Advisor.co.uk - Recommended
32 Reviews + 16 Awards
  • 16 industry awards
  • Has an external power adapter
  • Does not have a Wi-Fi
No
4TB
Black
USB Powered
Hard Drive Capacity
Colours
  • £120.27
    PC World Business
    Save £16.47 (12%)
    View Details
  • More shops: 3
  • £121.14 Misco
Portable 4TB
#2 in External Hard Drives

Seagate Portable 4TB

apcmag.com - Editor's Choiceoverclockersclub.com - Hard Drive Of The YearPC Mag - Editor's ChoiceExpert Reviews - Best Buy
612 Reviews + 21 Awards
  • 21 industry awards
  • Reasonably priced
  • Fast read/write speed
Yes
4TB
Silver
USB Powered
Hard Drive Capacity
Colours
  • £109.99
    PC World
    View Details
  • More shops: 15
  • £119.99 Argos
  • £119.99 Maplin Electronics
StoreJet 25H3 4TB
#3 in External Hard Drives

Transcend StoreJet 25H3 4TB

  • Six industry awards
  • Fairly priced
Yes
4TB
Black
USB Powered
Hard Drive Capacity
Colours
  • £179.89
    Amazon UK
    View Details
WD My Book 6TB
#4 in External Hard Drives

Western Digital WD My Book 6TB

theregister.co.uk - Recommendedpcactual.com - Recommended01net.com - 5 StarDigital Versus - 5 Star
77 Reviews + 10 Awards
  • 10 industry awards
  • Has a password protection
  • Expensive
No
6TB
Black
USB Powered
Hard Drive Capacity
Colours
  • £183.82
    Ebuyer
    Save £591.82 (76%)
    View Details
  • More shops: 3
  • £341.99 Wellindal
  • £454.32 Amazon UK
Fi
#5 in External Hard Drives

WE Fi

hardwareheaven.com - Value Awardpureoverclock.com - Great Valuetechpowerup.com - Great Valueoverclockers.com - Approved
20 Reviews + 9 Awards
  • Nine industry awards
  • Good value for money
  • Has a Wi-Fi
Yes
1TB
Black
USB Powered
Hard Drive Capacity
Colours
  • £101.99
    Electronics & Gadgets Direct
    View Details
Expansion External Hard Drive - 4 TB
#6 in External Hard Drives

Seagate Expansion External Hard Drive ‑ 4 TB

  • Three industry awards
  • Reasonably priced
  • Fast read/write speed
Yes
4TB
Black
USB Powered
Hard Drive Capacity
Colours
  • £109.98
    PC World Business
    View Details
  • More shops: 3
  • £109.99 PC World
  • £139.00 Wex Photographic
Expansion External Hard Drive - 5 TB
#7 in External Hard Drives

Seagate Expansion External Hard Drive ‑ 5 TB

  • 10 industry awards
  • Reasonably priced
  • Fast read/write speed
Yes
5TB
Black
USB Powered
Hard Drive Capacity
Colours
  • £129.98
    PC World Business
    Save £10.00 (7%)
    View Details
  • More shops: 2
  • £129.99 PC World
Blue Mobile 2TB
#8 in External Hard Drives

Western Digital Blue Mobile 2TB

ua.gecid.com - Recommendedcowcotland.com - Silverhardwarecanucks.com - Dam Innovativeadrenaline.uol.com.br - Gold
53 Reviews + 7 Awards
  • Seven industry awards
  • Running costs are very low
  • Very fast data transfer rate
No
2TB
Black
USB Powered
Hard Drive Capacity
Colours
  • £111.99
    Ebuyer Business
    View Details
  • More shops: 3
  • £127.98 Ebuyer
  • £130.48 Amazon UK
Ultra Slim 2TB
#9 in External Hard Drives

Seagate Ultra Slim 2TB

nikktech.com - Goldeteknix.com - InnovationHEXUS.net - ApprovedPC Advisor.co.uk - Recommended
58 Reviews + 8 Awards
  • Eight industry awards
  • Keenly priced
  • Fast read/write speed
Yes
2TB
Platinum
USB Powered
Hard Drive Capacity
Colours
  • £87.73
    BT Business Direct
    Save £16.71 (16%)
    View Details
  • More shops: 5
  • £87.73 BT Shop
  • £89.98 PC World Business
Backup Plus External Hard Drive - 4 TB
#10 in External Hard Drives

Seagate Backup Plus External Hard Drive ‑ 4 TB

computershopper.com - Editor's Choicetweaktown.com - Best Features Award
17 Reviews + 2 Awards
  • Two industry awards
  • Heavy
Yes
4TB
Black
USB Powered
Hard Drive Capacity
Colours
  • £119.98
    PC World Business
    Save £5.00 (4%)
    View Details
  • More shops: 3
  • £119.99 PC World
  • £133.14 Misco

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External Hard Drive Brands

Find out how external hard drive brands compare. The average rating for each brand is based on the rating of all of their external hard drives. Click on a link to compare all external hard drives made by your favourite brand.

Logo Brand Number of External Hard Drives Price Range Average Rating
Western Digital logo Western Digital External Hard Drives 62 £19 - £733 89%
Seagate logo Seagate External Hard Drives 48 £39 - £200 93%
LaCie logo LaCie External Hard Drives 45 £45 - £648 89%
iStorage logo iStorage External Hard Drives 42 £118 - £521 79%
Toshiba logo Toshiba External Hard Drives 24 £30 - £166 81%
Buffalo logo Buffalo External Hard Drives 20 £35 - £246 87%
Other brands Other External Hard Drive Brands 96 £10 - £899

Choosing the Best External Hard Drive

External hard drives are portable and used to backup files and data from your computer, so they’re safeguarded in case of accident or for retrieval at a later date. While Cloud-based backups are being used more and more for backups, external hard drives still have several important benefits compared to online backups:

  • Peace of mind: many people don’t 100% trust the Cloud yet, and having their data stored in some unknown, invisible server somewhere leaves them worried about the long-term safety of their data. External hard drives offer tangible, physical objects to safely backup your files, without having to rely on 3rd-party companies.
  • Backing up and restoring files is far faster, especially with newer models that use USB 3 for transferring data.
  • Data can be retrieved without needing a net connection, making them useful if travelling or if you find yourself somewhere without a solid net connection.
  • High-level security options - such as fingerprint scanners, palm vein scanners and number pads - offer vastly increased security and peace of mind when storing very important files. Moreover, there is the increased security of being able to physically lock away the hard drives away from prying eyes.
  • Finally, USB hard drives are still one of the best methods for quickly moving very large files between different computers. It is frequently easier (as long as the computers aren’t too far apart) to simply transfer the file to the drive, plug it in to the second computer, and transfer rather than having to deal with slower upload/download speeds from services such as Dropbox.

Capacity

The main important consideration when choosing an external hard drive is the capacity. This Is a measure of how much data the drive can hold, and is measured in gigabytes (Gb) or terrabytes (Tb) . A gigabyte is 1000 megabytes, and a terabyte is 1000 gigabytes. Our drives range from relatively small portable 120gig drives to enormous 5Tb drives, which can safely hold all the data from multiple machines at once. Generally speaking the higher the capacity the better, but it does depend on what you’re going to be backing up. If you only use your computer to store documents, low-res photos and the like, a 2-500 gig drive should be enough. On the other hand, large capacity drives are useful for storing RAW photos, video editing or Photoshop files.

Size & Portability

Hand in hand with the capacity of the drive is its size. Generally speaking, the larger the capacity of a drive, the bigger it is. Small-capacity drives are extremely portable, being no larger than a mobile phone, so can be transported very easily. On the other end of the scale, the very large capacity drives are not meant to be portable, and usually sit in or under your desk as a safe deposit for all your data. Portability and weight will only become a real issue when choosing the very high-capacity drives, but it is worth paying attention to if you plan on transporting the drive frequently.

Read/Write Speeds

Read & write speeds measure how quickly data can be written from & to the external hard drive. This is measures in bytes per second - the higher the speed, the faster large files (such as movies) will be transferred onto or from the drive. The read-write speeds are also affected by the USB version supported - USB 3.0 supported drives allow far higher transfer rates than USB 2 drives, so it is worth seeking out the newest drive you can for the fastest data transfer speeds.

Power

On the subject of USBs, external hard drives are powered by 2 main methods: via USB or externally power lead. Smaller drives will be powered via USB - this means that the same lead that transfers the data also powers the device. This means no battery, no extra leads, and they are far more portable. Larger drives may be so big and powerful that USB alone can’t provide enough power - in which case they may need an external power connection to properly function. This means that extra consideration has to be made for a spare power socket and the required leads - making them less use when on the go.

Extras

Finally, there are a wealth of extras that can be found in more advanced models of external hard drives. Some of these may only be useful in specific situations, and you will usually pay more for them, but the utility may well be worth the extra cost. Some examples of extra features include:

  • Integrated card reader: a built in card reader in the drive allows the device to also read/write to SD cards.
  • Fingerprint scanner: an optical fingerprint scanner drastically increases the security of your device, by meaning only specific fingerprints can unlock the device and access the files. For even greater security, a ‘palm vein’ scanner detects the blood pumping through the unique arrangement of veins in your hand, meaning that the scanner cannot be fooled by severed fingers - the owner has to be there in person and alive.
  • Ruggedized outer layer: for those who frequently take drives outdoors or in harsh conditions, a hefty rubber or metal basing protects the device from damage, keeping your files intact through even the worst conditions.

External Hard Drive Retailers, Prices and Features

External Hard Drive Prices

In total we found 323 external hard drives ranging from £8 to £1,064. A new external hard drive costs on average £162 and 80% of external hard drives are priced between £48 and £329. The cheapest external hard drive that we found is the Maxtor M3 1TB at only £8, and the most expensive is the Western Digital My Book Pro at £1,064.

External Hard Drive Brands - Price Range

Digittrade external hard drives start at £341 and the most expensive Digittrade external hard drive costs £899. The average price of Digittrade external hard drives is £620 which is the highest average price of all external hard drive brands.

The average price of Tandberg Data external hard drives is £511 which is the second highest average price of all external hard drive brands. Tandberg Data external hard drives start at £511 and the most expensive Tandberg Data external hard drive costs £511.

DataLocker external hard drives range in price from £294 to £428, and the average price of DataLocker external hard drives is £361 which is the third highest average price of all external hard drive brands.

External Hard Drive Brands - Average Ratings

We have analysed 841 expert reviews and 3,390 user reviews for external hard drives available online and used this information to evaluate the average rating for each brand of external hard drive. The top rated external hard drive brand is Seagate with an average rating of 91%. The second best brand is Maxtor with 91% and the third best brand is LaCie with 86%.

Biggest External Hard Drive Retailers

The biggest external hard drive retailer by number of products currently for sale is Amazon UK. We found 158 current external hard drive offers from Amazon UK. The second biggest external hard drive retailer is Ebuyer with 134 offers. That means Amazon UK is slightly bigger than Ebuyer when it comes to external hard drives. Ebuyer Business is the third biggest retailer with 125 current offers.

When Are Most New External Hard Drives Released?

We couldn't see any evident trend in the release dates for new external hard drives over the last 3 years. June was the biggest month last year for new external hard drives, with 38 new external hard drives released that month. The biggest month in 2015 for new external hard drive releases was September, with 81 new external hard drives released that month. In February 2014 91 new external hard drives were released making it the biggest month that year for new external hard drive releases.

How Fast Do External Hard Drive Prices Drop After Release?

On average external hard drives drop in price by 2% in the first 6 months after release. If you are prepared to wait then you could save an average of £4 on a typical £162 new external hard drive by waiting 6 months before buying.

Hard Drive Capacities

Comparing all external hard drives, the hard drive capacities range from 1GB to 60TB. The hard drive capacities of the majority of external hard drives range from 1TB to 2.1TB. The Western DigitalMy Book Pro has the biggest hard drive capacity. This external hard drive is a 16TB capacity external hard drive and currently retails for £529.24. The external hard drive with the smallest hard drive capacity is the Western DigitalMy Book Pro, which is a 1GB capacity external hard drive and is priced at £160.32.

USB Powered

Of the 567 new external hard drives currently listed on Kagoo, the vast majority are USB powered external hard drives. 413 external hard drives out of 567 are USB powered external hard drives.

Weights

The weights of external hard drives range from 41g to 6.8kg. The weights of most external hard drives range from 41g to 340g. The ioSafe3TB Solo G3 Fireproof External Hard Drive has the heaviest weight. This external hard drive is a 6.8kg external hard drive and is on sale for £260.26. The ioSafe3TB Solo G3 Fireproof External Hard Drive has the lightest weight. This external hard drive is a 41g external hard drive and can be purchased for £79.22.

Biggest External Hard Drive Retailers

The biggest external hard drive retailer by number of products currently for sale is Amazon UK. We found 158 current external hard drive offers from Amazon UK. The second biggest external hard drive retailer is Ebuyer with 134 offers. That means Amazon UK is slightly bigger than Ebuyer when it comes to external hard drives. Ebuyer Business is the third biggest retailer with 125 current offers.

Which Are the Cheapest Retailers for External Hard Drives?

The retailer that most frequently offered the cheapest price on external hard drives is Ebuyer Business and offers the cheapest price on 77 external hard drives.

Proportion of External Hard Drives for Which Each Retailer is Cheapest?

Ebuyer Business most frequently has the cheapest external hard drive prices (found to be cheapest for 61.6% of its external hard drives).

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