The 5 best external hard drives for data backup

Important data should be archived. At least one backup copy should be on an external hard drive. TECHNOLOGY BUTTON presents five of the best models.

Photos, videos, music, favorite TV programs, documents, simply the whole of life: many users still save their important digital projects on the internal hard drive of their computer and as a backup in the cloud. With the latter, the number of providers is almost limitless – but who knows in which country the respective servers are hosted and who has access to these private and business documents of the cloud users? In addition, many cloud services are only available for a monthly subscription fee. It is therefore much cheaper and more reassuring to save everything important on an external hard drive on your desk at home. The so-called HDDs (stands for “Hard Disk Drive”) offer a particularly large amount of storage space and usually also suitable backup software.

1. WD My Password Ultra 4 TB (approx. 118 euros)

The test winner of “Computer Bild” convinces with its robustness (metal housing) and compactness as well as various other extras. The portable accessories with USB 3.0 adapter (USB 3.2 Gen 1 according to the new standard) allow hourly, daily or monthly backups. The easy-to-understand software guides you through the backup process. The 4 TB storage is strongly encrypted and uses password protection. The hard drive adapts to the furnishings depending on the color selected: a white and gold version is also available. The testers praised the high writing speed and the particularly fast access times when reading.

Advantages : Also available in other storage sizes (from 1 TB up to 5 TB), compatible with PC and Mac, fast USB-C connection, downwards compatible with older devices, three-year guarantee.

Disadvantages : Transportable, but quite heavy (231 grams), the cables supplied should be longer.


2. Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go 4 TB (approx. 102 euros)

A little cheaper than the WD test winner, this model is more compact due to its dimensions (19 x 14.5 x 5 cm). This makes it easier to use on the go, if the hard drive is not only supposed to save stationary data. The Verbatim is suitable for both PC and Mac. Depending on your requirements, the Verbatim can be delivered with a special surface for more grip (“grooved”) or with a high-gloss or matt surface. Verbatim’s plus points are the high writing speed and the rapid access time when reading.

Advantages : Plug & Play for fast connection to all common devices, flexible storage sizes from 1 to 5 TB, USB 3.0 interface, downward compatible to USB 2.0, extra software for even more security (Nero BackItUp and Burn) included, plus CD – or DVD burner software, damaged files can be restored.

Disadvantages : No USB C, only short cables included.

3. Seagate Expansion Portable 4 TB (approx. 89 euros)

In addition to WD and Verbatim, Seagate is also a reliable accessory provider with good customer ratings. The popular expansion series is affordable for small budgets, costs less than 100 euros from various providers such as Amazon, but delivers a good performance. Thanks to Plug & Play, no special software installation is required. A quick guide will also help. This external hard drive understands USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. A corresponding cable is included. It looks very modern due to the neat surface. The disk must be reformatted for use with Macs.

Advantages : Inexpensive for the performance, already available with 500 GB (sufficient for 160,000 images), recognizes consoles like PS4 quickly.

Disadvantages:  Not whisper-quiet, no USB C, at 236 grams rather heavy and less portable.


4. Western Digital Elements Portable 2 TB (approx. 54 euros)

Don’t have to back up tons of photos, films, and documents? How about storage space to go then? With the portable series, WD has landed a blockbuster that is one of the best-selling external hard drives and impresses with its price and size with good performance. For around 54 euros you can get a storage treasure that weighs only 132 grams and therefore fits in every handbag and almost every trouser pocket. The transfer speed of up to 5 GB / s thanks to USB 3.0 is perfectly fine.

Advantages : Extremely handy, good durability, USB 3.0 on board, ideal for Windows users.

Disadvantages : software not included, no USB C, no carrying case, has to be formatted by yourself when using the TimeMachine on Mac, cable only 50 cm long.


5. Transcend 4 TB StoreJet 25H3B (approx. 103 euros)

Are you used to hectic work? In a hurry, the external hard drive can tumble off the desk or at least tip over. Then a model with an anti-shock system such as the Transcend Rugged is recommended. The case will not break even in the event of a major drop. The non-slip device even passed the U.S. military’s drop test. Although the manufacturer specifies USB 3.1, the transfer speed is 5 GBit / s but only on USB 3.0 level. Installation takes a second: just press the one-touch button and the Transcend will start the automatic backup. Useful: With RecoveRx, data recovery software is also included in the scope of delivery.

Also interesting: Will my data be gone if I cancel Google Drive & Co.?

Advantages : Two colors (purple or blue), a data manager is included with Transcend Elite, with the program all data can be managed effortlessly.

Disadvantages:  Not a lightweight at 295 grams, no USB-C.

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