Anyone who uses a PC should have an external drive. It’s not only a useful means of data backup and storage, it also allows you to transport files from your desktop or laptop to another device.

Xbox One X one users, as well, would be wise to invest in an external drive as a way of augmenting the console’s measly 1TB hard drive (the external drive needs to be USB 3.0-compatible and will be formatted when you insert the drive). 

The question is, which external drive is right for you? To answer that, we’ve combed through our reviews of both external hard disks and SSDs to pick the top drives we’ve tested. We’ll also walk you through what you need to know to buy the best external drive for your needs.

Here are our top picks:

Best external backup drive

Our pick for best portable external backup drive for 2017 is Western Digital’s My Passport 4TB drive. Although it’s a tick or two slower than other backup drives (like our runner-up, for example) in sequential file writing (think copying movie files), it does better at writing small files (think hundreds of Word or Excel documents.) It’s not flashy or super-fast, but for most people who only whip it out once a month to run backups and then shove it back into a drawer, those things don’t matter as much as the capacity, price, and reasonable performance. (Read our full review.)

Runner-up

Our runner-up for this popular category is Seagate’s slightly larger and somewhat faster Backup Plus Portable. Like the WD above, it’s a USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) drive. It tops out at 5TB in a single drive and can also be had in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities. There’s even a “fast” 4TB version that uses two hard drives in RAID for more performance.

In our tests of the 4TB version, we found the Seagate to be slightly faster with large file transfers (think movies) but worse with small file transfers (think Office documents). It’s still a worthy runner-up, though. (Read our full review.)

Best external performance USB drive

Remember that scene in Office Space where Peter Gibbons is desperately trying to save files to disk before getting out of the office? Yeah, mmkay. If you need ultra-fast performance in a package that you can put in your pocket, look no further than Samsung’s new T5 . Not much larger than a book of matches, the T5 comes in sizes from 500GB to 2TB. The best part is its speed. The drive features a USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) over USB Type C.



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