PC Gear Lab

5 Best Encrypted External Hard Drives in 2020

As an external hard drive user, knowing that your files will be safe is important because the drive can easily fall in the wrong hands.

When you store sensitive files on a hard drive, you will need features that offer great security through drive encryption. This ensures your files will not be read by anyone who doesn’t have a password or the necessary means to unlock it.

This is where the best encrypted external hard drives comes in.

Getting a good one that can provide you peace of mind and perform well isn’t too hard.

List of Best Encrypted External Hard Drives in 2020

The following hard drives in particular stand out as far as the popularity and performance/dollar value goes.

  1. iStorage diskAshur 2 – Large Storage USB 3.1 SSD
  2. SiForce Lockbox Slim – Comes with Portable Case
  3. Apricorn Aegis – Very Large Capacity Desktop Drive
  4. Buffalo MiniStation – NFC Security Rugged Hard Drive
  5. LaCie Rugged – Portable, with water/dust resistance

1. iStorage diskAshur 2 – Large Storage USB 3.1 SSD

The diskAshur 2 from iStorage is a great device for users who fancy security and have no problem showing it.

From the device’s aesthetic, you can tell it’s built for security as it comes with status LEDs that display the drive’s status of whether it’s locked or not when in use.

Perhaps the most tell-tale sign is the keypad that you use to key in the password you use to gain access to the drive.

Aside from the security aspect, you get a high performance external hard drive that’s powered by a SATA SSD.

The data is carried through a USB 3.1 connection that gives you fast and stable transfers over cable.

The drive comes in varying storage capacities that will fit the people who use it differently. As such, you get to store as much data as possible with this.

Storage capacities go up to 8TB and as you can expect, the higher you go the costlier the drive gets. Nevertheless, you get a nice package that stands out as the best encrypted external hard drive.

2. SiForce Lockbox Slim – Comes with Portable Case

Just like the diskAshur 2, the Lockbox Slim from SiForce also has a keypad to key in your hard drive’s password.

These are on a touchpad, however, and require you to use a 4 to 8-digit pin to unlock the device.

Being an HDD means you don’t get the best transfer speeds possible. But because it uses the USB 3.0 interface, you get decent reads and writes from the device.

Unlike many other portable external hard drives, the Lockbox Slim comes with a portable case to carry the drive around in.

You could leave the case behind and travel with the hard drive as is thanks to the fact that it has some shock tolerance thus making it the best encrypted external hard drive.

Inside you’ll find a USB cable along with a wipe for the OLED screen on the device that can be used to display some information to the user.

Storage capacities range from a small 500GB Unit to a large 4TB one depending on the volume of files that you have to store.

3. Apricorn Aegis – Very Large Capacity Desktop Drive

With very large storage capacities of up to 14TB, the Apricorn Aegis is the best encrypted external hard drive.

The large space means you can store numerous files inside it and thus makes it a great hard drive for archiving.

If you choose to use it to store copious amounts of external files, you will benefit from the drive’s 256-bit encryption.

This keeps your files safe from unauthorized access and can be beneficial for long-term storage of official documents or personal files.

The drive has an aluminum enclosure that protects the internals from damage. It also serves as a heat sink, dissipating excess heat so that the hard drive can maintain low temperatures even with extended use.

You can set it up to work with most common operating systems like Windows, Linux, and Mac, and getting it up and running is quick and easy since it doesn’t require any additional software.

If you intend to use this in the office, you can make use of its lock slot to keep it permanently secured to your desk or work area for even more security.

4. Buffalo MiniStation – NFC Security Rugged Hard Drive

The MiniStation implements security in a more convenient manner compared to entering a password whenever you need to unlock the device.

While you can also configure a password via the provided software to use the hard drive with, you get a card with an NFC chip upon purchase.

When fully set up, you can use the NFC card to unlock the hard drive by tapping the card’s chip onto the allocated site on the hard drive itself. The biggest disadvantage with this is that anyone with your card can potentially access your files.

Besides security, you get a rugged exterior with this device. The main aim is to make the drive as durable as possible and it works. The drive has military-grade shock resistance and can survive mild water and dust exposure.

A USB 3.0 cable that wraps around the drive is used to connect to host devices. It provides a fast interface for file and data transfers.

The hard drive is available in capacities of 1 and 2 TB and features an internal disk that spins at 7200RPM.

When you have durability and security in mind, this is the best encrypted external hard drive as it gives you both.

5. LaCie Rugged – Portable, with water/dust resistance

This portable external hard drive was built with the main aim of being highly durable. As a result, you get a device that can survive a lot of the ups and downs of travel with minimal issues whatsoever.

It’s a great hard drive for a workstation as it comes with different storage size options that provide a lot of benefits to users.

You can use it to store files and It has a good speed of about 130 MB/s. This makes it unideal for large file transfers if you want to do it in a short time. However, smaller files will be done pretty quickly.

The hard drive can survive a fall and is resistant to water and dust and can even withstand large crushing forces.

This is thanks to the rugged exterior that acts as a padding for the metal enclosure that houses the hard drive itself.

The drive has an AES 256 encryption feature that keeps your files safe from access by unauthorized users. It’s also affordable, making it the best encrypted external hard drive.

FAQ

What to Expect from the Encrypted External Hard Drives?

best encrypted external hard drives
Encrypted hard drive with external keyboard are the safest drives but are expensive. Source: iStorage diskAshur2

Encryption on a hard drive entails prohibiting access to the files on the drive by using mathematical functions that make the files unreadable.

As a result, you would need a key or a password to decrypt and read said files.

This is vital for people who want the benefit of confidentiality. For example, if you keep sensitive files on an encrypted hard drive and only you have the key/password, only you will be able to access the files and use the hard drive.

When to Encrypt

buffalo mini station
The affordable method is to go for regular hard drives that have software encryption. Note they may not be compatible with all operating system. Source: Buffalo MiniStation 2

One of the many times you may need to encrypt your hard drive is when you have sensitive files on it.

As seen, when you do not want anyone seeing your family pictures or work documents, encrypting the drive will help with that.

Also, if you constantly have your hard drive in easily-accessible places or always leave it in plain sight, then implementing an encryption strategy should help you keep out unwanted snooping. This can be done in the office or at home.

Benefits of External Hard Drive Encryption

best encrypted external hard drive featured
If safety of personal and critical data is important to you, encryption cannot be understated.

The main benefit of encryption is for security. It is important to keep your data safe even when you feel like you have nothing to hide. That added layer of security can mean a lot.

While losing your drive may seem catastrophic, losing your personal information stored in the drive will be worse. Encryption helps circumvent this by making the files inaccessible unless your password is known or the key has been acquired as well.

At the same time, an encrypted hard drive will be much harder to steal if the would-be perpetrator already knows that the drive is encrypted. The person in whose hands the drive falls into will not be able to use it and that will give you some peace of mind.

Good Encryption Practice

For encryption to be effective, only you should have access to the drive. In other words, you should be the only one who knows the drive’s password or has the drive’s key if it’s a personal drive.

At the same time, make sure you’re using a strong password. Simple password or common words can be easy to find and be used to maliciously unlock your device, however, with a strong and uncommon password you’ll be safer.

Ultimately, you should also strive to take care of the hard drive by keeping it safe as well.

Final Words

If safety is your utmost concern, then here we looked at some of the best encrypted external hard drives from various type including SSD and HDD.

Encrypted hard drives are not as common and may charge a higher premium, but if you travel a lot with very critical documents and data, an encrypted hard drive is a useful investment.

This is also true for those who travel a lot and tend to store highly personally photos and videos in their hard drives.

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