The GoPro is a great device for people who love to document their adventures. These handy little cameras can capture very high-resolution videos and save them onto an onboard memory card.
The problem is, during long recording sessions, these memory cards can fill up rather quickly and you will need to offload the content into an external drive that has more to store the files for later.
The best external hard drives for GoPro videos is basically the one that can enable you to transfer the files on the go on your wild adventure and also not be cumbersome to carry around.
If you are at home or at your recording studio with ready access to your PC, then offloading the content isn’t a problem.
However, the problem arises when you are out in the wild for an extended adventure WITHOUT access to your PC or laptop.
One way around this is to buy multiple high-capacity SD cards and carry them around with you. But that can get expensive. A single 1 TB SD card can cost MORE than a 4TB portable external hard disk.
Fortunately, there are certain external hard drives for GoPro videos and also workaround solutions that you can employ to transfer your files by just using a Phone and a Power Bank (which almost all carry on their adventures).
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Transferring Files from GoPro WITHOUT a PC to External Hard Drive
There are a few ways you can employ to transfer files from your GoPro to the external hard drive WITHOUT needing a laptop.
You will, however, need a Phone and a Power Bank.
The most convenient, but slightly more expensive method, is to use a Wireless Filehub device on your travels. These can wirelessly transmit data and can allow you to transfer data from a connected SD card to the connected external hard drive using your phone. They have multiple input ports as well as an SD card reader allowing you to interface multiple drives and devices. The WiFi function allows you to transfer files from one drive or card to another. You, however, would have to carry a power bank with you to power it on your travels. You will need to procure a 2.5″ external hard drive obviously. The hard drive can be any affordable one from a respectable brand such as WD or Seagate. These are often quite cheap.
Method 1 – Using a Wireless Filehub and a Phone
The most convenient, but slightly more expensive method, is to use a Wireless Filehub device on your travels.
These can wirelessly transmit data and can allow you to transfer data from a connected SD card to the connected external hard drive using your phone.
They have multiple input ports as well as an SD card reader allowing you to interface multiple drives and devices. The WiFi function allows you to transfer files from one drive or card to another.
You, however, would have to carry a power bank with you to power it on your travels.
You will need to procure a 2.5″ external hard drive obviously. The hard drive can be any affordable one from a respectable brand such as WD or Seagate.
These are often quite cheap.
Method 2 – Using a USB-C Hub and a Phone
Perhaps the cheapest method is to use an external hard disk with a USB hub that has an SD card reader and then interface it with your Phone (the phone will act as the replacement for the computer).
The USB-C hub, along with an SD card reader, should also have two extra USB ports for data.
You will need
- A Phone
- A Power Bank (external power source)
- One or Two extra USB Cables (Type depends upon the USB ports on your external hard drive and on the dongle)
- A Lightning to USB Type C dongle (If iPhone)
Here are the steps:
- Connect the main cable of USB-C Hub to the Powerbank (or any external power source i.e charger)
- Connect the External Hard Drive to the USB-C Hub using its cable.
- Remove the SD Card from GoPro and insert it into the USB C Hub.
- Connect the Phone to the USB-C Hub using a Type-C cable
- For iPhone, you will need to procure a lightening to Type-C dongle
So basically, here you have created a data transfer interface that uses your PHONE as the computer for file transfer.
Method 3 – Using a WiFi External Hard Disk with SD Card Reader
One of the most ingenious ways is to use a WiFi external hard disk with an SD card reader.
This option is almost a bespoke option for GoPro users.
A rare external hard disk with a WiFi router.
Built-in SD Card Reader
Phone can be connected through WiFi
The WD My Passport Wireless is battery powered so you can carry it around and you do not need to have a power bank or an external power source to power it.
In addition to that, since it has a built-in SD card reader, you can plug in the SD card and transfer the data from the SD card to the drive.
This can be achieved by connecting your phone to the WiFi router built into the WD My Passport Wireless.
There is a catch, however. Firstly, this is a very expensive drive. Secondly, it is hard to find.
Option for Archiving Your GoPro Data
Of course, when you are done with your adventure, you want to come back to your studio and offload ALL the content into a very affordable drive for archiving.
For that, you can look into the large 3.5″ desktop hard drives. These have perhaps the biggest capacity at the cheapest price tag possible.
A single drive can feature up to 22TB. AND to put things into perspective, an 18TB desktop external hard drive would cost you LESS than a 2 TB WD Wireless drive above.
4TB – 22TB
Requires an external power source
Other Factors to Consider For Choosing the Best External Hard Drives for GoPro Videos
If you find yourself always on the go, there are a few more factors that you MAY or MAY NOT consider.
Portability – If You Carry Your HDD With You
If you intend to take your hard drive out to the field then you should consider getting a portable one.
Doing so will relieve you of the burden of having to carry around a hard drive that’s not practical in the outdoors.
If this is you, then large 3.5″ desktop hard drives should be out of the question.
By portable hard drive, we mean 2.5″ hard drives.
Durability – For the Rough Adventurers
A lot can happen when you’re out with your GoPro. This is part of the reason why these cameras are built to be durable and water-resistant.
The same should go for a hard drive that you intend to use out in the field.
Chances are that the drive won’t be exposed to as much of the action as the camera. Nevertheless, if the drive is shockproof or waterproof, you will have more peace of mind.
You should note, however, that drives that have IP and shock protection tend to be more expensive.
Security and Redundancy of DATA
Another very important consideration is the security of your data. By security and redundancy, I am talking about disaster recovery.
Depending on how critical your data is, you can choose to have clones and copies of your hard drives so that there is no single point of failure.
For redundancy and backup, RAID configuration is used. For this, you need to have 2 drives with a system that has the RAID functionality.
WD My Book Duo, for instance, is an external storage enclosure that features 2 x 3.5″ drives inside. This system supports RAID which can be configured to mirror the data.
Meaning, the content of one drive will be copied onto the other every time you store something.
You can look into the likes of WD My Book Duo for instance.
Storage Capacity and Price / Dollar Value
Depending on how much content you’re shooting, the external hard drive you choose should have sufficient storage for it.
This means that If you take large volumes of videos in a session then having a drive that keeps up with the files will make it easier for you.
The same goes the other way around and so if you don’t collect a lot of footage, there won’t be much need for a very large capacity drive. This is where your needs affect your choice.
When it comes to capacity, the following is the hierarchy 3.5″ Desktop HDD -> 2.5″ Portable HDD -> External SSD.
The same hierarchy also applies to GB/dollar value.
3.5″ desktop HDDs offer the most storage capacity (easily reaching 22 TB per drive) and the cheapest price tag, but they are not portable at all.
2.5″ Portable HDDs can be carried around and they can offer up to 5 TB of storage.
External SSDs are the most expensive, the most portable, and also the fastest. These can have capacities of up to 2 TB.
If you are out in the open, then external SSDs are NOT recommended for GoPro videos.
Think about it. When out in the open, you will use your Phone as the computer to transfer data between the external hard drive and the GoPro’s SD card.
If you were to use an external SSD instead of an external HDD, then a phone would not be able to support fast transfers onto the SSD since it cannot function as fast as a full-fledged PC. Hence the entire purpose of having fast storage will be go wasted.
When you are out in the open with your GoPro, you will need to come up with some clever ways to transfer the data onto an external hard disk.
I talked about a few methods above, but there are many more ingenious ideas, some of which can be expensive.
Remember, your file transfer system for GoPro does not have to be expensive. In fact, I also recommend having a large archival hard disk in your studio for offloading all the data from the smaller portable external drives.