External Hard Drives for Mac
We understand that your data is important to you. Whether it’s personal documents, important work files, or just making sure you have everything you need to be backed up, you can never be too safe. The best external hard drives for Macs are not only useful for storing data but are an excellent way to transport files from one location to another. When you consider price, ease of use, and portability, the Seagate Ultra Touch HDD is the most reliable hard drive you can carry around with you at all times, but there are plenty of other options.
Best overall: Seagate Ultra Touch HDD (2TB)
If you want a reliable external hard drive with a decent amount of storage that is super easy to carry around and has a very affordable price tag, the Seagate Ultra Touch HDD is the best option for most people. Formatted for Windows and Mac right out of the box, it’s easy to carry all your essential documents from desktop to laptop as soon as you hook it up.
The Seagate Dashboard backup system is a fantastic, simple tool that lets you schedule backups to ensure you never miss any critical files if something terrible happens to your computer. You can set automatic backups daily, weekly, or monthly and change the frequency whenever you want.
Seagate also throws in a one-year subscription to Mylio Create for free — which can help you wrangle your photo library if you don’t already use some photo managing tool — and a four-month membership to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan.
- Great backup software
- USB 3.0
- Metal enclosure
- Works with Time Machine
- Proprietary cable
- No USB-C
Best USB-C hard drive: Samsung T7 Portable SSD (2TB)
This small compact SSD drive from Samsung comes with both a USB-C to USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-A, meaning it’s perfect to use with your MacBook or Mac.
More importantly, it’s super fast. SSDs tend to be much faster than HDDs, so if you need speeds, this is our pick. There’s more than enough speed and power to transfer any file with up to 1,050 MB/s read speeds and 1,000 MB/s write speeds. And it should be able to store all your photo and video files with ease thanks to its straightforward software. Plus, if you’re worried about encryption, the Samsung T7 Portable SSD has you covered with an optional password to launch the drive and AES 256-bit hardware encryption on all your files.
However, it’s worth noting that you’ll be paying more for SSDs than HDDs, hence the expensive price here.
- USB-C available
- It’s an SSD, which is faster than an HDD
- Super compact
- AES 256-bit hardware encryption
- A little expensive per storage
- Not Time Machine compatible
Best capacity: Western Digital My Book (6TB)
Source: Western Digital
Compatible with Time Machine right out of the box, the 6TB storage capacity on the Western Digital My Book is perfect for people looking for a lot of space at a reasonable price. It’s USB 3.0 compatible, meaning it’s easy to take advantage of its storage speeds with fast transfer speeds.
While portability is not the Western Digital My Book’s strong suit since it needs a separate power source, it does offer 256-AES encryption when you download its easy-to-use security software. It ensures all your important files and documents stay private.
If you’re looking for a drive with lots of space, so you don’t need to keep purchasing more as your storage grows, look no further.
- Lots of storage
- 256-AES encryption with simple software
- Time Machine compatible
- Not very portable
- Needs external power source
Best rugged drive: LaCie Rugged SSD (1TB)
LaCie hard drives have always been good for people on the go because of their rugged design. The LaCie Rugged SSD Pro can withstand some dust, dirt, and even a tiny bit of water being splashed on it as it has an IP67 rating. Plus, its rubberized outside makes it shock-resistant, meaning it can survive a fall if you accidentally knock it off your desk.
Since it’s an SSD, it’s incredibly fast, being able to play back 6K video no problem. Plus, the included USB-C cable makes it perfect for MacBook and Mac users alike!
- Fast speeds
- Time Machine compatible
Best fast drive : Samsung X5 (500GB)
If you’re used to dealing with giant file sizes and need a hard drive that can handle transfer data fast, the Samsung X5 is one of the fastest SSDs you’ll find. Its read and write speeds are 2,800MB/s and 2,300MB/s, respectively, and the entire body is made of metal, making it much tougher than plastic drives. Plus, the internal frame on the inside is shock-resistant for drops from two meters.
This SSD comes with Thunderbolt 3 technology included. This is so you can take advantage of the fast speeds on your Mac or MacBook Pro, and it doesn’t need any formatting, so it’s plug and play!
- 2,800MB/s read speed
- Thunderbolt 3
- Gets warm
- Not compatible with Time Machine
Back it up, back it up!
The Seagate Ultra Touch HDD is the best external hard drive for your best Mac because you can carry it around with you at all times, it’s formatted for both Mac and Windows right out of the box, and its easy-to-use software can automatically complete backups for you as often or as little as you want. No matter how you back up your Mac, the Seagate Ultra Touch HDD has you covered.
Seagate also throws in a one-year complimentary subscription to Mylio Create. This program can help you wrangle your photo library if you don’t already use some photo managing tool. A two-month membership to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan means it’s the best external hard drive for Mac for budding photographers as well.
If you are looking for something with USB-C to use with your MacBook, and nothing here suits your fancy, you can always check out the best USB-C hard drives for Mac to ensure you can use them on your Mac laptop with no dongle needed.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Luke Filipowicz is an iMore staff writer who has been carrying around his Seagate Backup Plus Slim since his college days.
Lory Gil is the former Managing Editor of iMore and an avid believer in having as many backups of your important files and documents as possible.
Rene Ritchie is the foremost authority on all things Apple and has insider knowledge about the goings-on at the biggest tech company in the world. When it comes to accessories for Mac, Rene has used them all.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.