1. Best External Hard Drive For Mac Photos
  2. Best External Hard Drive For Mac And Windows
  3. Best External Hard Drive For Mac Desktop

In this article to the best external hard drives for Macs, we focus on the top devices for plugging in and expanding the storage space of your MacBook or even your Mac. While there is a lot of love about Macs, Macbooks, and iMacs, they can be tricky at times to manually upgrade, which indicates supposing that you run of space, it is not so simple to open them up and pop in a larger hard drive.

I feel old saying this, but having used computers since before external hard drives existed, I can say with certainty that buying a hard drive is easier today than it’s ever been before. A Step-by-Step Guide to Backing up Mac to an External Hard Drive. Note: the screenshots below are taken based on macOS 10.12.5 Sierra. If your Mac has High Sierra or an older version, differences may exist, but the process should look similar to what’s displayed below. Step 1: Connect your external hard drive. An external hard drive is a great way to store huge amounts of data and images – far more than can be saved to most laptops or tablets. As such, many people find themselves needing the extra. Steps to Move your Photos Library to an External Drive: Attach your external hard drive to your Mac. If you have not yet done so, format the drive. We suggest using the same filesystem format that you are using on your internal hard drive. Open a Finder window and verify that your new storage device is correctly attached. You should see it. Having one of the best external hard drives or backup hard drive in your setup, especially if your main computer is a laptop, is not only practical – It could also be money-saving as well.

When you are in search of the best external hard drive for Mac for your needs, you should focus on the capacity you need. External hard drives come in all sizes and shapes and you do not want to pay too much for space you will never need, but neither do you want to run out of space all too quickly.

Best External Hard Drive For Mac 2020

  1. Western Digital external hard drive

This device comes in capacities from 1TB to 4TB, and also features cloud storage and 256-AES encryption, as well as WD’s own backup software. While the speeds of transfers are not the fastest, it provides a good balance between speed, price, and capacity. Other specifications include;

  • 4TB capacity
  • USB 3.0

Sold at 94 dollars at Amazon


  • Large capacity
  • Good data transfer speeds


  • WD backup software is basic
  1. Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt external hard drive

Supposing that you want to use Mac’s Thunderbolt port, this is a great choice, as it offers double the speeds of standard USB 3.0 drives. It also makes use of a traditional hard drive, instead of an SSD, and while it indicates speeds are not as fast as possible, it at least keeps the price low, while providing large capacities. Other specifications include;

  • 1TB and 2TB capacity
  • USB 3.0

Sold at 129.88 dollars


  • Low price compared to other Thunderbolt drives
  • Mac-formatted


  • Not SSD
  1. G-Technology G-Drive external hard drive

This is one of the quickest high capacity hard drives you can plug into your Mac, with a large 4TB of storage space that zips along its USB 3.0, FireWire or eSATA connection. The all-aluminum enclosure enables the drive a premium appearance and feel, while also safeguarding your data from drops and knocks. Other specifications include;

  • 4TB capacity
  • USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire, eSATA

Sold at 129. 95 dollars at Amazon


  • Slim design
  • Sturdy


  • Can be noisy
  1. Samsung T3 SSD

Assuming that you really want a super-fast external hard drive for your Mac, then this device is easily one of the best you can choose from. As it makes use of a solid-state drive, the read and writes speeds of this drive are quicker than external hard drives that make use of traditional hard drives. Other specifications include;

  • 1TB capacity
  • USB 3.1

Sold at 165 dollars at Amazon


  • Very good performance
  • Very high capacity


  • Expensive
  1. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive

With compatibility for both Windows machines and Mac, this device is very flexible and comes with a rugged case that is dust and water-resistant, along with a built-in USB 3.0 cable. Not only does the device have 256-bit AES security features and Near Field Communication features, but it is your data kept protected from knocks and drops with the rugged shell. Other specifications of this device include;

  • 2 TB capacity
  • USB 3.0

Sold at 108.99 dollars at Amazon


  • NFC security
  • Rugged design


  • Not the fastest drive
  1. Western Digital external hard drive

This model features cloud storage and 256-AES encryption, along with WD’s own software suite. This model is a good performer when it comes to data transfer speeds and does not come close to the top of the leaderboard. Not surprising at all, it does not get to the top speeds of solid-state external drives but is the drive you should consider today. Other specifications include;

  • 4TB capacity
  • 0 USB

Sold at 94 dollars at Amazon


  • Large capacity
  • Type-C connector
  • Suite of applications


  • Average performance
  1. LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 4TB

You probably have stumbled upon this device when perusing the Apple website for USB-C accessories. Though it is expensive for an external hard drive, do not get us wrong, particularly assuming that you are in the market for the top-end 4TB option. Other specifications of this device include;

  • 4 TB capacity
  • USB-C

Sold at 129.95 dollars at Amazon


  • Fast USB-C connection
  • Great design


  • Quite expensive
  • You need USB-C ports to take advantage of speed
  1. iStorage diskAshur 2TB external hard drive

Assuming that you are concerned about individuals getting access to your data if your external hard drive is taken away by a stealer, then you will like his model we are about to discuss. Assuming that someone is trying to tamper with your device, you can configure it to self-destruct. Though it might be pricier than other drives of its capacity, the extra security it provides will be well worth it for many of us. Other specifications of this device include;

  • 2TB capacity
  • USB 3.0

Sold at 267.88 dollars


  • Physical security
  • Rugged design


  • Quite expensive

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Does this sound similar to you?

You thought you had enough disk space when you originally bought your MacBook Pro, but soon you realized that storage is being filled up quicker than you can clear old files.

Or maybe you already had an external drive to help extend your MacBook’s storage, but now it’s either outdated, too slow, or experiencing issues.

We may be in the age of cloud computing and remotely stored files, but it’s always helpful to have a portable hard drive you can count on both for file backups and to work off as needed.

In this buying guide, we’ll help you pick the best external drive for your MacBook Pro so you can access all your files without sacrificing speed or performance.

Quick Summary

Here’s a brief overview of our recommendations depending on your specific needs and preferences:

  • The 10TB G-DRIVE Desktop External Hard Drive will give you enough volume and lightning speed for a traditional drive, and comes pre-formatted for Mac.
  • If you need instant cross-platform compatibility, and an array of color choices, you’ll be covered with the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB.
  • Known for being rough on your electronics? The Silicon Power 1TB Drive is rugged and durable, with water resistance in addition to quick read and write speeds.
  • If you prefer a modern speedy solid-state drive, the Glyph Atom RAID 1TB SSD is sure to meet expectations in terms of speed and durability.

Do I Need An External Drive for My Mac?

External drives are a worthwhile investment for more than just power users, but it can be hard to determine if you need one or not. Consider this:

  • Do you regularly work with large files such as videos and edited images, or run other creative files such as video games?
  • Is your MacBook Pro running slower due to being overburdened with files?
  • Have you ever wanted to backup your Mac just in case of any data disaster?
  • Are you using a cloud storage or online backup service but fear of security and reliability issues from the provider?
  • Are old files being stored on your computer because you occasionally reference them but can’t completely delete them?

Answering yes to any of the above scenario questions is a fairly good indicator that an external hard drive would benefit you.

On the other hand, an external hard drive is probably not the best option for for those of you who only have a small volume of unimportant files to save, which might be better served by using a cloud storage program like Dropbox or Google Drive or by offloading their old files onto a large USB flash drive.

Best External Drive for MacBook: What to Look For?

Storage Capacity

If you’re purchasing an external hard drive, it’s because you need the space on your MacBook, so it doesn’t make sense to cut corners on how much exterior space you purchase. However, it’s still important to consider exactly how much space you need. Consider how quickly you create large files (such as photo imports) and if you plan on keeping them in a long or short term to decide your actual need.


While many newer drives come formatted to work on both Mac and PC, it’s best not to choose one that is single-system compatible as it will limit the drive’s versatility (though you could manually format an external drive for both PC and Mac compatibility, it’s an extra effort and requires you to be a bit geeky). For added convenience, you should look for drives that come pre-formatted for Mac, which means you don’t have to install a special program and do it yourself.


There are several kinds of external drives based on the electronics that make them work. An HDD is the traditional spinning disk of data, whereas an SSD is newer technology that has no moving parts and store information inside the electronic components. An HHD, or Hybrid Hard Drive, uses a combination of these methods. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to speed, durability, price, and information safety, so make sure you know which you prefer.

The Best External Drives for MacBook Pro in 2019: Our Picks

Kindly note that the products chosen below are mainly based on our personal preferences and the guidelines as shown above. They are by no means made in the order below.

1. G-Technology 10TB G-DRIVE USB-C Desktop External Hard Drive

This speedy HDD drive offers a huge chunk of storage at an uncommonly high RPM. It will stand up to daily use in editing and media programs and connects to your computer via USB-C so you can take full advantage of its specs.


  • If you have set up Apple Time Machine, this drive will be ready for easy file backup so you won’t be waiting for your files to read or write. Also, it comes with a great amount of storage space.


  • The disk is pre-formatted for Mac, you won’t be able to use your files on a secondary computer such as a Windows PC unless you reformat it to NTFS file system.

2. Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB

Available in four different sizes, this hard drive from trusted brand Seagate comes in several colors. Approximately the size of your phone, it packs a punch for its size and is very portable.


  • It can be used on both Mac and PC without reformatting. Also, it offers fast connection via USB and weighs about 5 ounces.


  • Largest TB size option is not compatible with Mac.

3. Silicon Power 1TB Rugged Armor A60

An extremely versatile and sturdy drive, this model is compatible with more than just your MacBook. It’s water resistant, with read and write speeds at the standard 120 mbps.


  • It can be used with several gaming consoles and Apple Time Machine in addition to your Mac.
  • It’s also durable and available with the modern USB-C which is especially useful if you’re using the newest MacBook Pro.


Best External Hard Drive For Mac Photos

  • It appears somewhat unprofessional, also the drive is a bit on the heavy side as it weighs around 8 ounces.

4. Glyph Atom RAID 1TB External Solid State Drive

Available with USB and USB-C connections and pre-formatted for Mac, this SSD from well-known brand Glyph provides extremely fast speeds that will support your casual and power use. It looks clean and functions beautifully.


  • It comes pre-formatted for Mac with easy reformats for PC or cross-platform compatibility, significantly faster than comparable drives from Samsung and other brands, available in several colors and two connection types.


  • It’s the heaviest drive on our list at 11 ounces, and a bit on the pricey side as well.

Useful Tips & Resources

Picking a hard drive can be difficult, especially if you aren’t sure whether you need one. One way to help decide is to try a cloud storage platform such as Google Drive or Dropbox before you decide to buy an external drive. Both platforms are free to start with and they offer terabyte storage options for paying customers and using one may help you decide if you need more constant access to your files or simply a place to store them.

Best External Hard Drive For Mac And Windows

If you know you want an external drive but aren’t sure what storage type you need (HDD or SSD), perhaps this guide from PCWorld will help you decide which best fits your requirements.

Also, It’s worth noting that some external drives available on the market are formatted for PC only, but you can reformat it to Mac OS Extended, or for cross-platform compatibility (with NTFS) if you need to use your external drive for your MacBook Pro and a PC as well. This tutorial is definitely worth checking out:

Final Words

Best External Hard Drive For Mac Desktop

Regardless of your final choice of external drive, having one will definitely improve your workflow and computer performance. You’ll be able to use your files more effectively and improve your MacBook’s performance. Which external drive have you used in the past or are considering purchasing? Let us know.

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