Macs tend to be pretty powerful devices, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to need more space somewhere down the line. As games, software, and our collections of photographic and video memories get larger, so do the needs to have space. Fortunately, expanding storage capacity is one of the easiest things to do on a Mac.
We’ve talked at length about the best hard drives for PCs, Playstation 4, and Xbox One, but if you own a Mac, those models might not offer the best storage solutions for you. That’s why we’ve put together this guide. We’ve picked out 10 contenders for the best external hard drive for Mac, and we’ll also help you understand what you need to pay attention to when shopping for a hard drive.
- 10 Best External Hard Drives for Mac
- 1. WD 5TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive
- 2. Apple AirPort 2TB Time Capsule
- 3. Silicon Power 2TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive
- 4. Seagate Portable 5TB External Hard Drive HDD
- 5. LaCie Rugged Mini 4TB External Hard Drive
- 6. G-Technology 4TB G-DRIVE USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive
- 7. Samsung T5 2TB Portable SSD
- 8. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC USB 3.0 1TB Rugged Portable Hard Drive
- 9. iStorage diskAshur2 500GB USB 3.1 secure encrypted hard drive
- 10. CalDigit AV Pro 2 Storage Hub USB C 5Gb/s External Drive
- External Hard Drive for Mac Buyer’s Guide
10 Best External Hard Drives for Mac
1. WD 5TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive
If you need a lot of space but don't want to pay a lot of money, the best deal may just be the WD Elements. You can get a whole 5 terabytes of storage for less than a hundred dollars. It may be simplistic and stripped down of any major features, but it's certainly lean and mean. In addition to the large storage capacity, it supports USB 3.0 transfer rates for faster speeds on data. And that lack of features can be a boon too. It offers a high level of compatibility, so it will work just as well with a PC or gaming console as it will with a Mac.
2. Apple AirPort 2TB Time Capsule
Apple is sometimes notorious for being proprietary, and that means that investing in Apple manufactured devices is a great way to go if you want to make sure a hard drive is going to work exactly as well as intended. Just keep in mind that this isn't a traditional hard drive. Instead, it also doubles as a full wireless router and allow you to upload all of your files, folders, and memories directly online. That's accomplished thanks to the seamless integration with Time Machine, but it also means that you'll always have a backup in case anything goes wrong.
3. Silicon Power 2TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive
Need a hard drive that's able to withstand just about anything? This rugged drive can survive just about anything. It's uniquely designed for the needs of serious adventurers, and that's why it's wrapped in a body that's shockproofed to military standards and decently water resistant. But portability is also one of the best features here. This external hard drive also includes a special groove along the edge of the case that provides some of the best cable management we've seen. The Silicon Power is FAT32 formatted, so you can just plug it in to your port and expect it to work.
4. Seagate Portable 5TB External Hard Drive HDD
Sometimes you just need a hard drive that's quick and efficient, and this Seagate backup drive delivers that in spades. There aren't a lot of features at work here, but this hard drive offers 5 TB of storage space for just a little over a hundred bucks. The Seagate backup is also explicitly designed for use with both Mac and Windows, so you can depend on it when you need to move data back and forth between a work computer and a personal device. And transferring files is easy. This hard drive uses a simple and easy to understand drag and drop interface for sharing.
5. LaCie Rugged Mini 4TB External Hard Drive
If the Silicon Power hard drive isn't to your tastes but you're still looking for something rugged, turn your attention to LaCie's counterpoint. The LaCie may not be as cheap, but it can sustain falls, water, and dust thanks to the sturdy shell built around the edges of this hard drive. Both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 formats are supported, and this LaCie hard drive for Mac promises fast transfer speeds of up to 130 megabytes per second. And in a pretty unique offer, the LaCie Rugged comes with a full month long membership to the Adobe Creative Cloud full plan, making the LaCie one of the best choices for creatives.
6. G-Technology 4TB G-DRIVE USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive
While this external hard drive from G-Technology will work with Mac or PC, it's designed specifically with the needs of Mac users in mind. It's formatted specifically for Mac, so you can just plug it in through your Thunderbolt drive and expect it to work without any muss or fuss. And it even includes Time Machine support for easy digital backup.
And despite bearing a pretty decent price tag, the write speeds and transfer speeds here are fast. It uses the latest USB 3.0 protocol to accelerate transfer speeds to a maximum of 245 megabytes per second. It's also highly durable in design.
7. Samsung T5 2TB Portable SSD
Samsung may not be especially well known for their hard drives, but they've produced a model worthy of praise with the T5. This is one of the more expensive hard drives available for Mac, but it's also easily one of the best. The digital data transfer rates on this portable SSD promise a blindingly fast 540 Mbps.
These drives can fit entirely in the palm of your hand, but that doesn't mean that it's lightweight in terms of features. Optional password protection and hardware encryption keeps all your data safe, and the frame of this portable SSD is highly shock resistant.
8. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC USB 3.0 1TB Rugged Portable Hard Drive
The Buffalo MiniStation Extreme offers one of the best prices around for external hard drives. You can pick it up for less than a hundred dollars and count on it to last for a significantly long time. It's ruggedized to precise military standards and fully water and dust resistant.
And since these external hard drives come with encryption, you don't have to worry about your data being compromised either. It also supports Near Field Communication technology, so you can transfer data to your hard drive storage with just a simple tap of an NFC compatible device.
9. iStorage diskAshur2 500GB USB 3.1 secure encrypted hard drive
If you need to keep your data protected, there are few hard drives quite like the iStorage diskAshur2. The storage capacity may be a little light for the price, but the security here is incredibly heavy duty. A full number pad on the outside means that you'll need to enter a PIN to access the drive.
And even if thieves get past that, they'll find some of the best digital hardware encryption available in any hard drives external. And with a little formatting, you can count on this drive to work with practically any operating system under the sun.
10. CalDigit AV Pro 2 Storage Hub USB C 5Gb/s External Drive
There aren't a lot of drives like the CalDigit AV Pro 2. This external drive is Thunderbolt compatible, but the write speeds are where it really stands head and shoulders above other drives. It can reach a blistering 5 Gbps without costing you a fortune.
And this CalDigit model can also serve as a charging station for your devices thanks to the abundance of USB ports built in. Two additional USB 3.1 ports allow you to connect your laptop or other digital devices so you can keep your laptop charged on the go.
External Hard Drive for Mac Buyer’s Guide
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Any External Hard Drives Work with Mac?
Almost all external hard drives on the market is going to work for a Mac, although you may need to format drives to make them compatible with the Mac interface. The only thing to pay attention to is the connector. As long as you can link it up to your Mac using a Thunderbolt, you can use any external hard drive with a Mac computer.
Do You Need a Special External Hard Drive for Mac?
No, but it can’t hurt to get one. There are a decent amount of external hard drives that are built specifically with Macs in mind, and they often come with extra storage and data features. Consider a hard drive external model carefully before picking one up. Many external drives are built first and foremost with Windows in mind, and the last thing you want is for you to find out the key features you wanted won’t work on a Macintosh.
If you want the best external hard drive for your Mac computer, you have no lack of options to choose from. Thunderbolt cables allow for the fast transfer of digital data with an external drive, and the price of external hard drives has dropped enough that you can usually get decent storage space on drives without having to spend much.
That also means you don’t need to settle for a 1TB external hard drive. Whether you’re running a Mac or PC, these storage solutions represent the best external hard drives available in 2020.