5 Best External Hard Drives for Laptop in 2021

Laptops have gotten more popular and affordable over the last few years. People use them for all manner of things including productivity and entertainment. If you have a good laptop, you’re golden.

Internal storage isn’t always sufficient though. So, if you need more you should consider getting one of the best external hard drives for laptop.

These will give you great performance and increase your storage capacity. You can use it to back up your files or for media storage. Doing so will leave your internal storage for more demanding things like software installations.

The key is to find an external drive that promotes portability as its primary characteristics. You can look into not just slim options, but also that have rugged form factor.

List of the Best External Hard Drives for Laptop in 2021

The following external hard drives stand out the most in terms of value and customer satisfaction.

  1. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC – Rugged with NFC support
  2. WD My Passport Ultra – Highly Affordable External Drive
  3. Samsung T5 – Popular SSD with Shock Resistance
  4. LaCie STHR1000800 – Expensive Crush Resistant SSD
  5. WD My Passport Wireless Pro – Battery Powered drive with WIFI

1. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC – Rugged with NFC Support

A popular External Hard Disk with connectivity via NFC and USB 3.0.

When looking for a performant external hard drive, one of the many things you should consider is the transfer speed you will be getting.

The Buffalo MiniStation may not be the fastest drive, but it leverages USB 3.0 technology to offer a faster interface that connects to your computer for faster data transfers.

This external hard drive has military-grade shock protection which makes it more durable than most external drives.

In addition to the durability, you also get a little bit of water and dust resistance with the IPX3 and IP5X standards for each respectively.

When you want your data to be secure, you can rely on the MiniStation Extreme since it also features data encryption and leverages NFC to secure your data with the help of a smart card.

What makes this one of the best external hard drive for laptop is the fact that it’s built to last and comes with some decent specs. Its rugged body enables it to survive drops of at most 1.2 meters. Also, the NFC support helps it keep your files secure.

2. WD My Passport Ultra – Highly Affordable External Drive

The most popular and one of the staple affordable external hard disks for laptops.

If you’re a cost-conscious user and are looking to save money but still buy one of the best external hard drive for laptop then this one should be on your list.

The WD My Passport Ultra comes in a variety of disk capacities which makes it very appealing to a wider range of users.

As it’s meant for external use, the drive is compatible with most modern and common operating systems like Windows and Macs and thus can provide some extra space to store your files in.

The device itself has a metallic construction that’s not only aesthetic but can also provide some protection for your hard drive’s internals.

The device is built to work with USB 3.0 so you should not expect to encounter any compatibility issues. That aside, USB 3.0 brings some performance benefits over USB 2.0 and these may be seen in real-world performance.

You can expect to get decent speeds from this device during normal use.

With its metallic body, fast USB interface, and disk encryption, this is a highly affordable drive.

3. Samsung T5 – Popular SSD with Shock Resistance

A highly popular slim and fair priced external SSD drive for laptops.

The Samsung T5 is an external SSD that is built for performance. This device comes in a variety of colors that are appealing and has a metallic construction that’s smooth but sturdy enough to give the internals some bit of protection.

Being an SSD, you get amazing read and write speeds when you use the Samsung T5 SSD. Transfer speeds can go up to 540 MB/s which is expected for external SSDs with a Type-C USB 3.0 interface.

In addition to being fast, the device is very compact and portable. It can easily fit in your pocket, letting you take it anywhere and it also has decent shock resistance thanks to its metal case.

The T5 features disk encryption which keeps your files safe from unauthorized access.

With this device, you also get a variety of storage capacities to choose from, ranging from 250 Gb to 2TB. This puts the choice squarely on the user’s hands.

This is a very popular device among video editors due to its performance and fair price. For large file transfer, ease of use, and portability, this is the best external hard drive for laptop.

4. LaCie STHR1000800 – Expensive Crush Resistant SSD

Ruggedized and a tough external SSD with some of the fastest transfer speeds of 950 MB/s.

This drive checks many of the boxes that a user would need from an external hard drive. Its enclosure is rugged which makes it very durable. Specifically, the drive has a shock resistance rating and can withstand accidental drops of up to three meters.

To ensure that users feel safe with the drive, there’s an additional IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. What this means is that the drive can survive submersion into a 1m deep body of water for up to 30 minutes with no effect.

The drive is also crush resistant.

You get very fast performance from this drive, with speeds that go up to 950 MB/s, you can expect to get better read and write times.

As an extra layer of security, this external drive comes with encryption that protects your files from unwanted access.

Of course, all these premium features come at a cost. The LaCie STHR1000800 is an expensive device and that makes sense considering what you get. Users looking for the very best external hard drive for laptop in terms of speed should really consider this one.

5. WD My Passport Wireless Pro – Battery Powered drive with WIFI

A unique battery operated external hard disk that can be accessed through WiFi as well as USB 3.0.

This is one of the most unique external hard drives because unlike the ones covered so far, it comes with WIFI support.

The WD My Passport Wireless Pro has some great features that make it one of the best external hard drive for laptop.

It creates a hotspot that you can connect to and access your files, meaning you can stream media on your drive straight from your phone wirelessly.

It comes with an internal battery pack to support this feature and the battery itself can easily last a day with moderate usage and when needed, can act as a power bank for your phone.

It’s really easy to configure and once you get it working you can even use it as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) system and use it as a media server with applications like Plex.

Besides WIFI connectivity, the drive also has a USB 3.0 connection that you can use to connect to your computer.

This drive is great for users looking to declutter since you can operate it wirelessly. It also performs well.

What to Expect

Getting an external hard drive for your laptop shouldn’t be a daunting task. There are common features you need to look for in a hard drive. Having them can be a sign that you’re getting a good product that will serve you well.

Storage Capacity

Best External Hard Drives for Laptop 2
Hard Disk Drives offer a much higher capacity than Solid State Drives for the same price: Source: WD My Passport

For starters, the storage capacity of a hard drive is an important thing to consider. While you may not necessarily need a ridiculously large capacity HDD/SSD as an external drive for your laptop, you will need one that can fit most of your files easily.

A safe bet is to not go below 1TB. These are easily available, affordable, and have enough space for most average users.

For those with more demanding storage needs, you could go above this and get a drive with up to 4TB or even more.

Also Read: Best Internal Hard Drives for Video Editing


SSD win by a huge margin when it comes to sheer performance. Source: Samsung T5

The next thing you should consider is the performance of the hard drive. If you’re constantly moving large files to and from your hard drive, then ensure you have one with a USB 3.0 port for connection at the very least.

The older generation USB 2.0 interfaces operate at up to 60 MB/s whereas USB 3.0 can do up to 625 MB/s.

In addition to the interface type, there’s also a huge performance difference between external HDDs and SSDs.

SSDs are significantly faster with lower latencies than HDDs. This means you can get speeds of about 500MB/s and above with a good SSD whereas even the best HHDs can only deliver a fraction of that.

Also Read: Best External Hard Drives for Music Production


Because it’s an external drive, you may find yourself carrying it around when you need to work on-the-go.

Having an external hard drive that’s built and tested for durability can help alleviate the fear of losing all your files to the drive’s physical damage.

Durability can mean anything from having extra-rugged padding for shock protection to even crush protection and more.

Durable drives are always the best for people who want to move around with their laptops and external hard drives with minimal worries.

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One important aspect that you always need to consider before buying anything is cost. A good external hard drive for your laptop should be affordable so that you can get one with the capacity and features you want without necessarily hurting your finances.

If an external hard drive can do well in all these aspects then it’s a good buy.

Final Words

As you may have noticed from the above list, the best external hard drives for laptop come in several different configuration price ranges. While there are a ton of external hard drives that you can procure, the list above should have at least pointed you to the right direction.

Of course SSDs are the way to go if you value speed, however, for those who need an affordable archive with a large storage, then an HDD is usually the most economical option.

Extra features like WiFi, USB Type C can add further to the cost of an external drive, but you can choose to stay with the bear minimum features as well.

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