7 Best External Hard Drives for Designers in 2022

Last Updated on December 17, 2021

In current times, designers have a lot of options when it comes to file storage. You have HDD and SSDs.

Furthermore, you could go the cloud way and upload your files to a cloud service provider and have the ability to access them from any computer. This can get expensive and the recurring costs may not be attractive to many.

To avoid this, and to have a personal backup of your files, you can settle for the best external hard drives for designers. These provide a wide array of features that can help designers in their work and improve productivity.

There are basically two types of storage you can opt for depending upon your budget and preference. If you need speed, then SSD can be excellent particularly for your most accessed data. The HDDs, on the other hand, are cheap and great for archiving.

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Comparison of Top External Hard Drives for Designers

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1. Samsung T7 – Recommended External SSD Hard Drive for Designers

Samsung T7

A super fast and slim NVMe SSD with 1050 MB/s transfer speed over USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C port.

If you are looking for a very fast, portable and a slim external hard drive, then we cannot recommend this enough.

Samsung T7 is a successor to the famous Samsung T5 SSD and hence greatly improves in terms of performance.

Unlike the Samsung T5 SSD, which is based on the SATA protocol, the Samsung T7 is based on the PCIe NVMe standard and hence greatly improves in terms of transfer.

This hard drive thus a transfer speed of a whopping 1050 MB/s. If you look at the performance / dollar value, none comes close to this.

There are other 1050 MB/s NVMe external SSDs out there but non offer as low a per GB cost as this.

Being an NVMe SSD, it is also smaller than the already small Samsung T5 SSD.

This SSD connects via the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB but does come with both USB Type C – to – USB Type C and USB Type C – to – USB Type A cables.

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2. WD My Passport – Affordable External Hard Disk for Designers

WD My Passport Portable

An essential portable hard disk drive with a 2.5″ form factor and an affordable price tag.

For users who want a minimal external hard drive that will suit their storage needs then the My Passport Portable from Western Digital (WD) will be a great fit.

This is your average Hard Disk Drive with transfer speeds capping out at about 120 MB/s. However, it does offer a whole lot of space for very cheap.

It comes with options ranging from 1TB to 5TB and also has cases in multiple colors that may appeal to a designer.

The drive is great for users who have large files to store and need a reliable external hard drive that can keep their files secure but do not care much for high transfer speed of SSDs. The Passport Portable does this by implementing password protection and also features a 256-bit encryption policy.

You also get backup software that protects your files in the event of a disk crash.

The drive has a USB 3.0 interface for connecting to your computer and is readily compatible with Windows Operating Systems. Users may need to format it if they want to work with it on other Operating Systems.

What makes this the best external hard drive for designers is the fact that it cuts costs while maintaining decent performance, proper security, and a good backup strategy.

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3. Samsung T5 – 540MB/s SSD – Affordable SATA SSD Option

Samsung T5

Am affordable, slim and compact SATA SSD.

This is the older version of the Samsung T7 we saw earlier above. This is also an SSD but based on the SATA standard and thus has a much slower speeds.

Its an SSD that makes use of a USB 3.1 interface to deliver speeds of up to 540MB/s which makes it among best external hard drive for designers particularly if you take speed, capacity and the price tag into consideration.

This is almost half the speed of the Samsung T7, however, its affordable price tag may appeal to many out there.

The device is small enough to fit comfortably in your pockets and has a metallic case that makes it very durable.

This will give you peace of mind when moving around with the device because it will be able to handle some shocks including drops of about 2M. Being secure, you get password encryption to protect your important files from unauthorized access.

This drive is for users who want great performance and sleek design. It offers both with the added advantage of being secure.

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4. SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD – Rugged 550MB/s SSD with Shock-Resistance

SanDisk Extreme Portable

A rugged and a highly portable and durable SATA SSD with 550 MB/s transfer speed. IP55 rating.

The SanDisk Extreme is a compact and rugged external SSD that is built for durability and performance. Its case is ruggedized to provide some shock protection and it helps protect the drive itself from internal damage.

If you are designers who finds themselves moving about alot and you are worried about your precious data being damaged, then the more physical protection you have the merrier.

The storage comes with IP55 protection making it resistance to water, dust, vibration and shock upto 1500G.

The device comes in a wide assortment of storage capacities to ensure that the users’ needs are met. Because of this, users with higher storage needs will be catered to while those who don’t need a lot of storage can opt for a cheaper low capacity one that fits their needs.

With this drive, you can expect to get fast transfer speeds. It’s quoted at 550MB/s which is enough to let you transfer large files in just a few seconds.

This external SSD comes with a USB 3.1 Type C interface but does with come with Type Ac adapter as well.

All in all, if you are looking for a rugged and a portable fast performance SSD, then this is the best external hard drive for designers.

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5. Seagate Backup Plus Slim – External Hard Disk with Backup Features

Seagate Backup Plus Slim

A 2.5″ portable HDD with auto backup feature.

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim is a great drive for users who want basic storage capable of auto back up and have a tight budget.

This your average 2.5″ portable hard disk drive with a fairly large storage at a budget price tag. But the real beauty here is that at an affordable price tag, it features data backup feature which you can set for daily, weekly or monthly cycles.

The drive has a USB 3.0 port which offers sufficient transfer speed for a hard drive operating at about 120 MB/s.

It has a slim metallic enclosure that makes it very durable, allowing it to take some falls easily without damaging the internals. Be that as it may, it is not advertised as shockproof so you will need to take good care of it.

What makes this the best external hard drive for designers other than the backup features, is that with some purchases, you can get a 2-month membership to Adobe Creative Cloud. This will grant you access to some software that can help with your designing work, therefore improving your overall productivity.

Being affordable makes this a great device. The addition of durability makes it even better has an external drive because your files will be safe.

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6. LaCie (LAC9000633) – Rugged 130MB/s External Hard Drive

Seagate Backup Plus Slim

A ruggedized 2.5″ portable HDD.

If you want a normal 2.5″ portable HDD but with ruggedized element either for outdoor adventure or to keep your designs super safe, then we highly recommend this option.

Having an external hard drive, you can easily rely on to keep your files safe is a feature that many designers need. That makes this the best external hard drive for designers.

It was built with that in mind and it offers decent performance in the process. At 130 MB/s, the performance is on par with many other external HDDs.

But the real beauty of this hard disk lies in its durability. This is water resistant, shock resistant, dust resistant and drop resistant hard drive best for protecting your important data.

The price is slightly higher per GB for a 2.5″ HDD. However, its durability makes it well worth it for some designers. With it you get the peace of mind that an accidental drop will not leave you at a loss of files you had worked very hard on.

In addition to having a high resistance to damages, you also get the benefit of large storage capacities for your files. You can find upto 5 TB of storage for portable 2.5 HDD.

This drive is ideal for users who are constantly on the move since it can survive harsh conditions. With purchase, you can get free access to Adobe Creative Cloud for a month.

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7. WD My Book  – Desktop External Hard Drive for Archiving

WD My Book

A large non portable desktop 3.5″ external Hard Disk Drive

If you require a very large and an inexpensive storage for your workstation, then we recommending investing in a desktop external hard disk such as this WD My Book.

This is a large 3.5″ external hard disk that requires a dedicated power source. This is not built for portability. Instead it is built to provide you with a huge amount of storage for archiving old but important files and media.

Not only is the per GB cost almost half as much as the portable 2.5″ HDD out there, it also offers size options that can reach upto 14 TB.

Hence, if a lot of storage is your primary requirement, then we highly recommend this as the best external hard drive for designers.

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How to Choose the Right External Hard Disk as a Designer?

The term designer is rather broad, so as a designer, choosing a hard drive should boil down to the features you want to use.

Having a concise list of things, you intend to handle with your drive, like working with files from the drive, making backups, or simply transferring your models, can help you choose the kind of drive you want.

Be that as it may, here are some of the main features you need to consider as a designer.


best external hard drive for designers
NVMe SSD are the fastest external hard drives out there but 3.5″ hard disk drives are the cheapest.

Depending on the kind of drive you want, you will get a wide range of options with varying purchasing prices.

One thing that may affect your purchase though is the cost of the drive itself. If you want a basic drive that will be used to store your files then you may need to pick an affordable drive.

If you’re more inclined to get a hard drive with top performance, high durability, and a wide range of features that you will need then you may find that your options are mostly expensive external hard drives.

In the long run, you should purchase a drive you are comfortable spending on depending on the needs you have.


This one is very straightforward. The capacity of the drive you purchase should match with the volume of files you have with a little extra room for growth.

If you need a lot of storage, consider getting one with a large capacity at the start because it may be cheaper in the long run when you consider the price per Gigabyte.

You will also not end up with very many small-capacity drives lying around that are too easy to misplace.

While you consider capacity, also think about backup drives, as you may need them in the worst-case scenario.


hard drive for designers
2.5″ HDD are portable but not nearly as fast as SSD

When it comes to performance, things boil down to SSDs vs HDDs. If you need to constantly move large files around then SSDs will save you some time.


SSDs have no moving parts whereas HDDs have a spinning platter that stores all the information magnetically.

HDDs will be better for file storage because they also tend to have larger capacities at cheaper prices.

HDDs also generate some noise during operation because of the rotating disk and their performance is slower than that of SSDs because a moving arm needs to read data from different sections of the disk.


Among the SSDs, there are two main types i.e the SATA and NVMe SSD.

The SATA SSDs  are larger and follow the slower SATA protocol. They currently cap out at speed of about 550 MB/s.

The NVMe SSDs use the PCIe protocol and within the external interface used the faster USB 3.1 and 3.2 Gen1 or Gen 2 interface and can achieve speeds upto 1050 MB/s at the moment.

The NVMe SSDs are currently the most expensive external storage device but excellent for those who value performance.

Final Words

Here we reviewed some of the best external hard drives for designers suitable for various purposes.

We looked at affordable, hard disk drives that have slower transfers speeds but a cost efficient GB/dollar value. We also looked at the performance heavy SSD slim portable drives with high transfer speeds.

The option you choose would depend upon your needs and budget. If you need to access your large files quickly from your external hard disk, an SSD drive would suit you well.

On the other hand, if you just wish to archive your designs, then any portable and affordable HDD would work fine.


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