6 Best External Hard Drives for Graphic Designers in 2022

Last Updated on December 17, 2021

When it comes to graphic design, users have a few things they need from an external hard drive.

You may want a drive to store your files in and one whose speed is not the greatest consideration.

And likewise, some prefer to have a hard drive that is first enough to work off with minimal lags. Whatever your needs, the best external hard drives for graphic designers should be able to fit them.

Therefore, when picking one, you will often have a few things to consider so that you get the best one.

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Comparison of Best External Hard Drives for Graphic Designers

ProductTypeSizeConnectivityTransfer SpeedCheck
M.2USB 3.2
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2.5"USB 3.1
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HDD3.5"USB 3.0~140
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HDD2.5"USB 3.0~100
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LaCie Rugged
M.2USB 3.21050
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HDD2.5"USB 3.0
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1. Samsung T7 SSD – Recommended External SSD for Graphic Design

Samsung T7

A small, minimal and fast NVMe SSD for professionals.

This is one of the latest and the greatest external hard drive for graphics designers as it features a small form factor a fast NVMe SSD.

This is much similar to its very popular predecessor i.e the Samsung T5 SSD, but it significantly improves on the performance.

Unlike the Samsung T5 SSD that was based on the SATA protocol. The Samsung T7 features an NVMe SSD.

NVMe SSD are a lot faster than their SATA counter parts. Essentially, the only bottleneck for the the NVME SSDs is the USB port transfer speed itself.

Hence, this has a transfer speed of about 1050 MB/s making it twice as fast as the previous T5 model.

The drive features a simple and a minimal outlook with a single USB-C port for connectivity which runs on the USB 3.2 Gen2 protocol.

Most of the latest motherboards do support this protocol.

In addition to that since NVMe sticks have a smaller form factor, you will find that this hard drive is much smaller than its the older T5.

So whether you want to store large graphics, or want to work directly of the SSD drive itself, it will give you a lag free experience considering that fact that it is almost 7-10 times faster than an internal HDD.

In short, if you are looking for our recommended and the latest high speed option, then this is the best external hard drive for graphic designers in our opinion.

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2. Samsung T5 SSD – Recommended External SSD for Graphic Design


An affordable SATA based compact SSD. A very popular SSD among professional designers.

Samsung T5 needs no introduction. It is one of the most successful external SSD out there.

The T5 is basically the older version of the T7. It is slower but is also cheaper. Basically, unlike the Samsung T7 above, this is an external SATA SSD NOT NVME SSD.

Like the the T7 above, this drive has a metallic case that not only gives it a stylish look but also adds to its durability. As a result, you get one of the best external hard drive for graphic designers that you can comfortably travel with.

The device comes in a small package that can easily fit in your bag or your pocket and is ideal for graphic designers who work from their laptops in different locations.

The drive is a bit pricey compared to some other SATA external SSDs, but it does offer great performance that makes up for it.

You get a USB 3.1-ready package that can deliver speeds of up to 540MB/s. This allows you to do a lot of things like transferring large libraries in a matter of seconds.

If you wish, you could work or edit your designs straight off the hard drive and still get great performance.

It comes in a variety of storage sizes of up to 2TB and is also available in multiple colors to fit the designer’s needs.

Thanks to the device’s encryption, you can keep your files safe with a password hence preventing unauthorized use.

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3. G-Technology G-Drive – Large storage 245MB/s HDD

G-Technology 0G03594

A large capacity 3.5″ external HDD for storing large archives of your graphic designing work.

When you’re looking for a drive that you don’t intend to move around with, the G-Drive from G-Technology will suit your needs.

It has an aluminum body that makes it very hardy and durable against some shocks.

At the same time, you get a high-performance unit with a USB 3.0 interface that is capable of delivering speeds of up to 245MB/s.

This is great for a hard drive and is further made possible because the disk spins at a whopping 7200RPM. Hence the drive can be expected to have a transfer speed of about 140 MB/s.

In addition to being a great performer, the drive has storage capacities of up to 10TB. This is great when you have a large library of files that you need to store for your work. It also comes in handy for large file transfers.

The drive is compatible with Apple Time Machine so users on macOS will find this one of the best external hard drive for graphic designers.

It is also compatible with modern versions of Windows and can run on older computers that use the USB 2.0 interface.

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4. WD Elements – Basic Affordable External Hard Drive for Graphic Designers

WD Elements

A very affordable and a basic portable 2.5″ HDD for most casual users. Great for simple graphics and media storage.

The WD Elements is a simple hard drive that despite not having many features to offer, is one of the best external hard drive for graphic designers, especially when starting.

It has a simple build with a hard-plastic enclosure. This means you don’t get extra durability or waterproofing in case of accidents.

What you get, however, is a USB 3.0 interface that gives you a fast connection line between the drive itself and your computer, allowing you to transfer files to and from it with great ease.

At the same time, the drive is very affordable which makes it an easy buy when all you need is an external storage device for your files.

You get large storage capacities with this, up to 5TB for the portable version. This gives you enough room to store your files and backup your portfolio.

In addition to that, the drive is portable but you will have to take extra care to prevent any damages.

The device comes preformatted with NTFS (for Windows) but with a simple reformat you can get it to work with other Operating Systems.

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5. LaCie Rugged SSD Pro – Very Expensive 2800MB/s NVMe SSD for Creatives

LaCie Rugged SSD Pro

A ruggedized NVMe external SSD with fast 1050 MB/s  transfer speeds. Great for outdoor users.

This is yet another NVMe based external SSD like the Samsung T7 we saw earlier, however, this one is ruggedized.

The NVMe allows it to have transfer speeds of 1050 MB/s. This will let graphic designers transfer very large volumes of files with hardly any significant delays.

It should be noted that while this SSD has the potential to have very high speeds, it is limited by the speed of the USB port you install it in.

The connection makes use of a Thunderbolt interface that supports high transfer speeds to compatible computers.

The device’s performance makes it very expensive as a 1TB unit can cost over $350. Despite that, users who choose to get this can work right off it and even run their graphic design software straight from the device.

You get a waterproof casing for the device with an IP67 rating. At the same time, the device is rugged and features advanced shock-proofing and can survive drops of up to 3 meters.

Furthermore, the device can survive the crushing force of a car’s weight, and combining its performance and durability makes this one of the best external hard drive for graphic designers.

Furthermore, it’s portable so you can be safe traveling with it.

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6. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme – NFC, Rugged and Dust/Water Resistance

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC

Ruggidized 2.5″ portable SSD with both USB and NFC communication options.

This rugged hard drive is a great companion for graphic designers. Not only is it durable, but it’s also very convenient as you get a built-in USB cable so forgetting to bring one is not an issue.

The MiniStation Extreme comes ready to use as its preformatted to work with Windows. Mac users will need to reformat it to get full use of its features though.

The military-grade rugged exterior keeps the hard drive safe from shocks and allows it to survive drops that could be fatal to unprotected drives.

At the same time, you get hardware encryption that helps keep your files safe, ensuring that if you end up losing the drive, the contents will not be accessed by any unauthorized users.

To supplement the security features, the device features NFC security with a card that gets supplied with the unit.

The card can be used to unlock the hard drive via NFC for extra security. The security features and great performance make this one of the best external hard drive for graphic designers.

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How to Choose the Right Graphic Designing External Hard Drive for Creatives?

Graphic design software has evolved and gotten more sophisticated now than ever. There’s always a tool, plugin, or utility for almost anything you would like to do.

This is partly because computers themselves have become powerful enough to handle the demanding software more efficiently.

When creating and exporting your design files, you may need an external hard drive to assist in the work and make it easier.

Combining Drives

buffalo ministation extreme
A 2.5 inch external hard drive is a great compromise between storage capacity and portability. Source: Buffalo Ministation Extreme

A lot of the time, matching high performance to large storage spaces in an external hard drive means spending a lot of money.

This is because some of the fastest drives are SSDs and while they have gotten more affordable over the years, a large capacity one will still cost you a fairly high amount.

With combining drives, you can have a large capacity unit that will store all your files and resources, possibly an HDD.

To back it up, a fast SSD can be used, one that you can work directly off without hitting major performance pitfalls.

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Better Performance

When discussing external hard drive performance, there are usually two camps in question. HDDs and SSDs.

HDDs have a spinning disk and a moving arm that zaps across the disk as it rotates to read your files from it.

As you can guess, this wastes a lot of time because to read a certain sector, the arm needs to wait until the platter does a rotation for that sector to come up to the arm.

This increases latency and reduces the drive’s performance.

Hard drives with faster-spinning platters have been invented to cope with this issue but there’s a better alternative.


Best External Hard Drives for Long Term Storage
SSDs are fast, but they are not quite suited for large media archiving. Source: LaCie Rugged SSD

SSDs are not a new technology. But they were once so expensive that most people could not afford them.

They have no moving parts and instead use ICs (Integrated Circuits) to store and retrieve data. Because of this, they have very low latencies and can supply a lot of bandwidth.

External SSDs can be great to work from but when we compare the prices per gigabyte, they are more expensive than HDDs.

External HDD vs SSD, which Is Best?

When it comes down to deciding whether to pick an SSD or an HDD, you’ll have to weigh your needs against a budget.

Your needs and budget will help you decide whether to buy a 2TB external SSD or a 2TB external HDD for example. Nevertheless, a good unit will work perfectly.

Desktop External Hard Drives

best external hard drives for graphic designers
3.5″ large hard drives require an external power source but offer a huge capacity at cheap. Source: G-Technology G-Drive

Desktop External Hard Drive is basically a term used to describe the large 3.5″ external storage devices.

These storage devices require an external power connect to the wall socket. Hence they are not considered quite portable.

However, when it comes to sheer value and capacity, nothing beats them

If you have a dedicated workstation and you want a huge hard disk to store and archive your designs and other multimedia, we highly recommend these.

However, if you often move around and want to carry your external hard drive with you, then these may not be the best option for you.

Backup Software

If you have super crucial and critical data, then it may be unwise to store all that on a single hard drive.

Hence, if you are getting an external hard drive in order to back your work up, then a large HDD is generally recommended.

Some hard disk come with a backup software built in. However, if they don’t then you can use a third party backup software to automate the process for you.

Alternatively, you can do the good old manual backing up should you wish you to.

An SSD for mere backing up would not be quite recommended particularly if you have huge data to backup. An SSD is generally a work horse hard drive. So unless if you want to use the hard drive very often, they are not recommended for backing up graphic designs.

The only crucial benefit an SSD provides is the speed at which it would backup your work everyday.

Final Words

Here we checked out some of the best external hard drives for graphic designers and creatives.

Generally, the option boils down to whether you are looking for high performance or for large capacity at a certain budget.

For archiving and backing up we recommend large 3.5″ hard drives particularly if you have stationary workstation.

If you have around too much, then we recommend a 2.5″ portable HDD if you need high amount of storage or a SATA SSD if you need speed.


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