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Macs, iMacs, and MacBooks are notoriously difficult to upgrade when it comes to their storage space. One great solution is to invest in an external hard drive for Mac systems and hook it up. External hard drives not only provide extra space, but they also act as fantastic backup options, and their portability means you can transfer a large amount of data to other computers at ease.
Best External Hard Drives for Macs Reviewed
We look at some of the best drives available for MacBooks and Mac computers in this article. Most of these drives are specifically preformatted to work with Apple’s own file system. We’ve considered affordability, durability, ease of use, and reliability when choosing the best external hard drives.
Best Overall External Hard Drive
WD My Passport has withstood the test of time and remains one of the most popular external drives for Mac and PC. This particular model is formatted for Mac systems, and we recommend it over any other if you want a balance between price and performance.
- Capacity Options: 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB
- Speed: 5400 RPM
- Interface: USB 3.0
Western Digital has been regularly releasing new updates of the My Passport external hard drive since the major design change in 2016. A simple yet stylish textured underside and a distinct modern design has become the iconic look that is well-known among many external hard drive users.
WD includes many neat features common across the most popular external drives from the manufacturer, such as automatic backup with Time Machine for Mac. It also allows users to automatically protect files and back them up to either cloud storage or on the drive itself.
For power, WD is using a USB 3.0 interface. Read and write speeds are thus limited to the interface speeds, peaking at around 110MB/s read speeds and 100MB/s write. Running at an RPM of 5400, this isn’t by far the fastest external hard drive anyone can buy for their Mac system. However, its good value, high reliability, and protection/backup features make it one of the most well regarded external HDDs available on the market right now.
The Mac version does come slightly more expensive, but it saves users from having to preformat the drive. If you have no problem in doing so, you can save a few bucks by buying the Windows version and format it for Mac OS yourself.
We also like the fact that WD has the My Passport external drive available in multiple colors. Do note though that for the Mac formatted version, the number of color options available is highly limited. Western Digital offers a 3-year manufacturer’s limited warranty for this drive, ensuring your its performance and your data remains secure for at least 36 months.
Best Rugged External Hard Drive
LaCie Rugged 2TB
The LaCie Rugged is a rubber reinforced portable hard drive designed to withstand abuse. It has a drop, crush, and rain resistance, making it ideal for individuals who travel a lot. Additionally, this drive is available with several interface options, ranging from USB 3.0 all the way to Thunderbolt USB-C.
For anyone looking for a sturdy and durable external hard drive for Mac, there’s no better option than the LaCie Rugged.
- Capacity Options: 2TB, 4TB, 6TB, 10TB
- Speed: 5400 RPM
- Interface: USB 3.0/USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 USB-C
Right off the bat, you’ll notice the LaCie Rugged has a sturdy design like no other hard drive. Encased in a sturdy outer shell, the LaCie Rugged is designed to withstand heavy physical abuse while protecting the delicate internal discs of the drive. The exposed metallic enclosure is made of aluminum instead of plastic, so even in off-chance that it does get impacted from the center, it won’t mean the end of your precious stored data.
LaCie primarily markets this drive for creative professionals who work in the field. Think of professions like photographers, field analysts, and frequent flyers. The orange rubber that runs around the drive is designed to withstand hazards such professionals would expect, including rain, dirt, accidental drops, and more.
Now, if you don’t want the elaborate rubber on all the time, you have the option of removing it. It’s easier than it seems from the images of this drive, and it’s a handy feature that we love. The drive’s rubber also comes with a tethered USB cable, which we’re a fan of.
One of the coolest aspects of this drive is that it comes in various interface options. Mind you, it’ll still spin at an average 5400RPM in all the models, but the Thunderbolt USB-C and regular USB-C interface options let you get the fastest speeds possible from an external hard drive revolving at that speed.
You can expect to write speeds of around 131MB/s and read speeds of 135MB/s with this drive. With the USB 3.0 interface option, you’ll get lower speeds, but that’s to be expected. Do note though that you’ll have to pay more for the Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 models.
LaCie Rugged isn’t the fastest drive available in the market, and it’s miles off even entry-level SSDs even when transferring files through Thunderbolt 3 port, but the reliability of the drive, its sturdiness, and smart design make it one of the best you can buy for Mac systems.
Best Portable External Drive
Since this is not a mechanical drive, it is not limited by something like an RPM speed of magnetic disks, you can get great speeds from its special interface.
- Capacity Options: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
- Speed: Up to 10Gbps via Thunderbolt
- Interface: USB 3.0, Thunderbolt
Buffalo is a US company that has many great products in their line-up, specifically their external hard drives. The Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt is one of their top tier products that is very reliable and specially designed for people who use a Mac.
Since macOS utilizes a file system known as HFS+, this drive uses the same one, meaning that this device was designed for Mac users from the get-go. It is very portable, plug and play external hard drive utilizing a Thunderbolt interface for lightning-fast transfer speeds.
It also has USB 3.0 along with support for USB 2.0 as well, so if you use it in devices that do not have a Thunderbolt port, then you can use it using the USB interface. On the USB 3.0, you can get speeds of up to 5Gbps.
The design of the device is pretty simple, it follows Apple’s trend of being minimalistic, with a silver body and small logo on the side and 2 ports. One is the USB port that supports USB 3.0 and 2.0 while the other port is a Thunderbolt interface.
Since it is an older variation of Thunderbolt, it might be harder to use on a Windows device without a dock, but for Mac, you can find it in the older devices that have a port that looks like a mini DisplayPort. But it does support Windows via USB and will work really great with your Mac device that has Thunderbolt support.
You also get 24/7 customer support from Buffalo along with a great warranty with a standard industry time of 3 years.
The Seagate Backup Plus hard drive comes in a stylish set of colors and is also extremely slip. This USB 3.0 device works interchangeably on Windows and Mac computers without the need to reformat. However, Seagate’s external drives are notorious for getting errors and bad sectors rather quickly, and that’s why we can’t recommend it above the Toshiba Canvio Premium as the best portable external hard drive for Macs.
These are our favorite external hard drives for Mac. The WD My Passport wins it for us because of how it strikes a perfect balance between price, performance, reliability, and software. There are not many preformatted drives of Mac systems, but that shouldn’t stop you from buying one if you like it. Formatting the drive to support Mac systems is easy – simply install DiskUtility and format the external drive while it’s connected to your Mac computer while selecting the Mac OS Extended file format.