Mac hard drives typically spin at rates of 5,400 to 7,200 RPM. The higher a disk's RPM, the faster its working speed. Traditional hard disks are the most common options of external drives for Mac, but you can also use them as laptop internal hard drives. Mac hard drives are available in three primary forms: solid-state drives (SSDs), flash memory and traditional hard disks. SSDs are high-speed, and that makes them the go-to memory option for ardent gamers, graphic designers, and other professionals who value speed over all else. Traditional hard disks are bigger and cheaper. How do I use Disk Utility to reformat my hard drive? Open Disk Utility. Select your new hard drive from the sidebar. If you don’t see it, go to View Show All Devices. Click the Erase button at the top of the window. Choose a new name for your Mac’s hard drive. Change the format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

We spent over 30 hours researching and testing 20 different external hard drives and found that HDD capacity, warranty, and backup speed were most important. The Western Digital External hard drive scored high marks in every category and is our top pick. This hard drive is the perfect device to back up the information on your Mac computer. This external HD offers fast file transfers with strong USB 3.0 connectivity. The backup drive does not need power to work, as it is powered with a USB. You will have all the storage room you need to protect your important files, documents, and photos.

Mac External Hard Drive Reviews

These days everyone is purchasing external hard drives for their computers, because you never know what’s going to happen. Should you lose your computer, or if something happens to its hard drive, then you have completely lost the data on your computer. That means that owning and using an external drive is a smart way to store your information in a separate location, so that you’re prepared in case the unexpected should happen.

Also, people have more data than ever, when you consider all the photos, videos, music, and so much more that folks keep on their computers. Even MacBooks aren’t designed to store all this information, and that’s why an external hard drive will help you to clear some space on your computer. Lets take a look at the top rated Mac external hard drives so that you can be well on your way to finding the right drive for you and your unique requirements.

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36 products considered
20 products reviewed
30 hours reviewing

1. Western Digital

Best Overall Mac External Hard Drive

This backup drive for your Mac is manufactured by WD and features a secure portable storage capacity of up to 3TB. You also get an optional 256-bit AES hardware encryption if you so choose. This drive is compatible with Apple Time Machine as well, and its stylish design adds an overall creative style to your work desk.

You get a whopping USB 3.0 connectivity, and the drive is formatted for MAC OS X, so reformatting will be required for Windows. With a 3 year limited warranty, you can be sure that this drive is going to stand the test of time, and should anything go wrong, it’s easy to simply return it for a refund.

The chances are there’s not going to be any reason to return this drive because it’s solidly constructed and made from only the best materials. Perfect for all your backup and storage needs, you’re going to see that this drive outperforms the rest, and that’s why it’s one of the top rated models on the market.

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2. Toshiba

Best Overall Mac External Hard Drive – Runner Up

With its 1 TB capacity and 5400 RPM speed, this backup drive is a top pick because it provides ample storage and comes in a sleek design. This is a USB 3.0 powered portable device that gives you all the add-on storage that you crave, and at a price that you can afford. With its plug and play operation, it’s easy to use this device with no software to install.

The drive accommodates large digital files with a spacious storage capacity that customers swear by. Also, the body of this drive is compact, and smudge-resistant so that you don’t have to deal with unsightly fingerprints. All in all, this is a top rated external drive for Mac because it offers ample storage space in the perfect sized device.

It’s easy to carry on the go, and you can be confident when you’re using it that you’re getting a safe and effective means of saving your important data, so that you can retrieve it whenever you need it most.

Darius Spieth

3. Seagate

Best Budget Mac External Hard Drive

This external hard drive from Seagate is the perfect solution for backing up your Mac. You get 200GB of free OneDrive cloud storage for up to 2 years, and this is included with your purchase when you register a new Backup Plus drive. After you have registered the drive on, you then get an added 200GB on your new or existing OneDrive account.

You can only redeem one offer with your OneDrive account, but you’re going to see that this is really all the storage that you’re going to need. The program allows you to create customized backup plans that include the signature Seagate dashboard software. You can also backup your mobile device photos and videos anytime using the Lyve App which works automatically.

You experience the fastest file transfer with powerful USB 3.0 connectivity. Also, the USB powered backup drive needs no power supply to operate. All in all, what you’re getting here is a tremendous backup drive that is going to give you all the storage that you so desperately need.

Darius Spieth

Summary of Our Top Picks
Mac computers are superior in a number of different ways, but they’re not completely perfect. Like all computers, they have a limited amount of storage, and in our data-heavy lives, this storage can run out in no time. Owning an external hard drive for your Mac is a wonderful way to not only have a place for this excess data, but also store it safely in case anything should happen to your computer.

We highlighted the top rated external hard drives on the market, and these are popular because they have an ample amount of storage, are affordable, and constructed from the highest quality materials. These top rated models also have the latest technology that makes them easy to use and reach lightening-fast speeds.

If you’re not yet convinced that one of these drives is right for you, then you can take a look at this buyer’s guide to find some other options that are out there for you. Each drive is so different, so it’s important to know what options are available to you so that you can make an informed decision.

5. My Passort

7. U32 Shadow

9. Mac

Mac External Hard Drive Comparison

Western Digital




My Passport


U32 Shadow



1,000 – 3,000500
– 3,000
– 2,000
– 1,000
– 1,000
– 2,000
– 2,000
– 2,000
Disk Speed
Rate (MB/s)

Mac External Hard Drive Buying Guide

When it comes to finding the right external hard drive for your Mac, you have a lot of options out there. When looking for the right solution, you need to consider how much data you have to store, and whether you have multiple computers that are connected to your home network. You also need to take into account backup speed, the sensitivity of our data, how good you are with computers, and the physical size of the drive. This is going to effect the portability.

How Much Storage Do You Need?

It’s possible to spend up to $200 on a 2 terabyte drive, or even $300 for a 4TB model, but having all that space may not be necessary for you. You basically want to get the largest drive that you can afford, because this will allow you to store all your data for years to come. Keep in mind that your storage is going to accumulate, but it’s about knowing how much data you really have on a consistent basis.

You for sure want to get a drive that has at least the same amount of storage as your computer’s hard drive. The physical size of the drive is another consideration, especially if you want it to be portable. Should you need to take your backup with you, then you want to make sure that it’s small enough to carry.

How Fast Should it Be?

The speed of the external hard drive is another consideration that you need to take into account. Some people think that online storage options are a good idea but the problem is that they’re really too slow. Sometimes after your first backup it can take almost days to complete the next one, and that’s why an external hard drive offers you a faster solution. This makes it quick and easy to store music, videos, and images in a flash. Keep in mind that installation of the drive is going to require a little bit of technical know-how. Once you learn the ropes, you’re going to see that an external hard drive is a great alternative to all other forms of storage.

How Many Computers Do You Have?

This is something you definitely need to consider when buying an external hard drive. If you have many computers running on the same network then consider purchasing a network drive that can cover all these devices at once, and helps you to share data that you save. It’s going to take a little more time to figure out the installation, but in the long run it’s the easiest solution. Also, if your computer is placed near a router then connecting it with an Ethernet cable is a smart choice that is going to give you faster speeds. When you have a wired connection it makes it up to 50 times faster than your usual wireless connection.

Are You Good With Computers?

This is going to help determine which drive you purchase. It’s fairly easy to set up a backup, but when you’re not tech savvy it’s important to choose the simplest option. When it comes to going with the handiest choice, and these are thumb drives and optical discs, it’s going to require you to use multiple discs and devices to get the backup done. A good alternative if you know you’re not adept at technology is an external hard drive that runs without software or a drive that does backup at the push of a button.

Supplementing your Software

You can find inexpensive drives that do not require software but they’re a bit short when it comes to features and flexibility. You can even get software that is bundled with other drives, and these have their limitations as well. Often these are not able to back up onto CDs and DVDs. Third-party backup software is going to be quite inexpensive, and sometimes this option is well worth it. Some operating systems come with their own backup software such as Max OS X 10.5, and these will automatically back up everything that you have and they let you restore anything from a single file onto the entire drive.

It’s possible to restore the most recent version of a file that you have modified, and Time Machine in particular makes it easy to do this. The interface of this is quite simple to use, but it does take a little effort to learn the basics of the backup process. Windows 8 also comes with a backup program that has a feature called ‘File History’ that will backup copies of files similar to the way that Mac OS X does it.

Add More Protection

Should your backup and computer live in the same area then your data can be prone to fire, burglary, flood and other problems. If you want your content to be as safe as possible then consider a supplementary backup that is in a different location. This means that your content will always be safe should something happen to your computer.

Types of Backup

There are a number of different backup options, including internal, external, online services, network drives, and thumb devices. You get the fastest backup with an internal drive, but installation of this can be quite complicated. This kind of backup is also susceptible to malware that may infect the primary drive. Optical discs are quite easy to use, but you’re going to need a lot of them, and the discs themselves are prone to wear and tear.

Thumb drives are another good option and they offer higher capacities than optical drives. Keep in mind that it is easy to lose these and they don’t have the same capacity as hard drives. With all the types of backup that you should consider, an external hard drive seems to be the most appealing.



If you’re someone that owns a lot of data then having an external hard drive is a must to ensure that all that data is safe and secure. Most computers just don’t have the storage capacity that people need, and that is why an outside source helps to take the load off your computer while also keeping this data safe in a remote location. There are a lot of external drives out there to choose from, and when you’re looking for a model that is specifically designed for the Mac then you’re going to see that the options almost seem endless. We highlighted the top rated external drives on the market, and these are praised by customers because they deliver solid performance, durability, and are made from the highest quality materials. You can be confident when you purchase one of these models that you’re getting a product that will safely store all your material and will be able to handle ample volume.

The buyer’s guide took it a step further by highlighting the various features that are available to you. When it comes to finding the right drive for you, it’s really about knowing yourself and what you’re looking for. If you’re someone who is not very tech savvy, then it’s smart to go with a simpler option that isn’t going to require as much installation and upkeep. If you’re very good with technology, then you can select one of the more complicated options that is probably going to work faster and more efficiently. No matter what device you choose, you’re going to love the benefit that you get from owning an external hard drive, and the peace of mind that it gives you.


For those who chose a MacBook over an ordinary laptop must be short for some storage space, right? Well, upgrading storage space through apple is as costly as purchasing a new laptop. In this case, an external hard drive is less expensive and beneficial for storage requirements.

You can switch your external hard drive from a Mac to a pc which makes data transfer for two different OS easier. Furthermore, external hard disks are less likely to get corrupted and are portable in nature.

Macbooks generally have SSDs which are capable of loading a program quickly but more likely to low on storage.

Furthermore, SSDs are quite costly and upgrading an SSD on a Macbook is definitely costlier than you could even imagine. An external hard drive is best for storing data such as photos, videos, movies, rendered projects and more.


  • 1 10 Best External Hard Drives for MacBook in 2020
    • 1.3 3. Seagate Backup Plus Slim (2 TB)
    • 1.4 4. Western Digital My Book (8 TB)
    • 1.5 5. Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt
    • 1.6 6. G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB)
    • 1.7 7. Adata SD700 External SSD
    • 1.8 8. LaCie Rugged USB-C
    • 1.9 9. Samsung X5 (1TB)
    • 1.10 10. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive
  • 2 What things to consider while buying External Hard Drive For Mac?
  • 3 External Hard Drive Vs SSD: Which one is good for MacBook Pro?

10 Best External Hard Drives for MacBook in 2020

Although choosing an external hard drive is a complicated process but we have made a list of 10 best external hard drives for Mac that you should consider before your final decision.

1. Samsung Portable SSD T5

Starting off Samsung Portable SSD T5 which is an outstanding storage device, it can reach up to a speed of 550 MB per second for data transfer which is amazing. You can directly plug it into a USB-C port or USB-A port.

It contains no moving parts therefore chances of getting damaged due to mishandling are less. Even though SSD is costlier than a hard drive, the speed it offers is commendable. You will notice a significant boost in the overall performance while doing stuff that requires you to load large files and programs.

Overall, the SSD is fantastic but only if you can spare a few more bucks than your actual budget. You can get the SSD ranging from 250 GB to 2 TB from Amazon with some additional discounts.

2. Western Digital My Passport 4TB external hard drive

Western Digital My Passport 4TB external hard drive is the newest generation of external hard disks and is available in capacities from 1 TB to up to 4 TB. It offers cloud storage and 256-AES encryption alongside WD’s software for backups.

The data transfer speeds won’t disappoint you and the drive offers speed similar to what an SSD provides. If you are looking for a drive with good data transfer rate and maximum storage, consider Western Digital My Passport 4TB as a choice.

3. Seagate Backup Plus Slim (2 TB)

If you are looking for a reliable, portable, and affordable hard disk, Seagate backup plus slim is the thing you should have a look at. It supports Windows and Mac both and perfect for storing your essential data right away.

With the Seagate dashboard backup system, you can schedule backups and never lose your important files anymore. Backup automation can be set for daily, monthly, weekly or your desired time-frequency.

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Alongside, Seagate also provides a two-month membership for adobe creative cloud photography plan and a one-year subscription to Mylio create to manage your photo library.

  • Affordable price
  • Metal body
  • Supports USB 3.0
  • Comes with an automation backup software
  • Doesn’t support USB 3.0 cables

4. Western Digital My Book (8 TB)

This Hard disk is probably for creators and organizations that require a lot of storage for various purposes. Faster data transmission rate will let you transfer data in the meantime, all thanks to USB 3.0 support.

It also offers 256 AES encryption for securing your data and makes sure your personal data is secured in the storage device. Even though it meets the requirements of a regular user, the only thing where Western Digital My Book (8 TB) lacks is portability.

Therefore, if you are looking for a hard disk for work purposes and if portability is not an issue, Western Digital My Book (8 TB) is definitely the right choice.

  • High storage
  • Data encryption
  • Compatible with the time machine
Apple hard drive cost
  • Requires power source to work
  • Not portable

5. Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt

Buffalo MiniStation thunderbolt offers data transmission at a speed of twice of what USB 3.0 offers. You can enjoy this feature if your device has a thunderbolt port. Another good thing about Buffalo MiniStation thunderbolt is its price. It is affordable and portable.

  • Also Check: 10 Best Cooling Pads For MacBook Pro Reviewed

However, it is a hard drive, not a solid-state, therefore, the data transmission will definitely be high but the overall performance of your pc will remain unchanged. Lastly, if you don’t have a thunderbolt port in your pc, you can use the traditional USB 3.0 port.

  • USB 3.0 port
  • Affordable
  • Formatted for Mac
  • Not a Solid State drive

6. G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB)

With the new products, Apple is on its way to completely shift to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports but there are still some people who are using old hardware and for them, G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB) is going to work like a charm.

The body of the HDD is made up of metal which makes it durable and strong against accidents such as dropping off the drive on the floor or whatnot. It runs at a speed of 7200 RPM and can transfer data at a rate of 195 MB/s which is efficient for transferring music, videos and software.

  • Metallic body for durability
  • High data transmission rate
  • USB 3.0
  • Should be reformatted for Windows OS

7. Adata SD700 External SSD

Adata SD700 is an affordable External SSD which is IP68 rated which certainly makes it a water-resistant storage device. The overall performance of this SSD is commendable and as per our research, Adata SD700 External SSD is the only SSD with an IP68 rating.

You can expect faster transfer rates and better booting speed if you are planning to install an OS on the SSD. Don’t worry about the storage space as it is available in 1 TB capacity also. The maximum read and write speed is up to 440 MB/S, all thanks to the USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface.

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Shock resistant
  • Supports Android, Mac, and Windows
  • 3 years of Warranty
  • Mac users must format it to FAT32 to use this product

8. LaCie Rugged USB-C

Icloud Storage Plans

Lacie rugged USB-C hard disk can be distinguished easily because of its unique rubber casing that makes sure your hard drive doesn’t get damaged when it drops from up to 1.3 m height. It can withstand rain, dust and can even survive 1-ton pressure. This is certainly the best choice for content creators.

Alongside hard disk, you will also get access to a one-month subscription to Adobe creative cloud all apps plan. The company also provides 3 years of warranty for the device and will also help you to restore the data if lost.

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In terms of speed, Lacie rugged USB-C hard disk is not very fast as it provides only 120 MB/s which is comparatively lesser than the HDDs mentioned in this listicle. However, there are various variants available for this hard disk on Amazon.

  • Durability
  • Affordable
  • Resistant to water
  • Lesser data transmission speed

9. Samsung X5 (1TB)

Samsung never disappoints with its amazing hardware capabilities. With Samsung X5, you can transfer data at a rate of 2,300 MB/s which is the fastest speed an SSD can provide you. The build quality is super amazing as it is made up of metal, making it stronger than storage disks that are made up of plastic bodies.

The shock-resistant capability can save up your drive from a fall of 2 meters. Alongside this, it comes with Thunderbolt 3 technology that is ideal for faster data transfer of up to 40 GB per second which is unbelievable. You can take full advantage of this SSD on your MacBook or Macbook pro without having to format anything.

  • High data transmission rate
  • Supports thunderbolt 3
  • Shock-resistant up to 2 meters
  • Heats up really quick
  • Comparatively expensive than the other disks

10. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive

In terms of flexibility, Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive is really good as it supports both Mac and windows out of the box. The disk doesn’t get damaged due to dust and water which is again a positive point.

It encrypts the user data at 256 bit AES security which additionally makes everything on the drive, secure. Overall, it is a great drive for Mac owners as well as windows owners too.

  • Secure for handling user data
  • Protects from water and dust
  • Low-speed data transfer

What things to consider while buying External Hard Drive For Mac?

So those were some of the best external hard disk drive solutions for Mac. However, you must be confused about which external HDD to choose. But not to worry, let me just point some of the key factors that you need to consider while buying an external hard drive:

1. Storage

One of the first and the most important thing that you need to consider is the storage space of your external HDD. As you already know that Macbook does not come with a huge space. Hence, you better choose something which offers you enough space to store all your files.

For many users, 1 TB of space should be good enough. But if you need to store a huge number of files and save them for a longer period of time, then getting 2TB of HDD would be an ideal choice.

Apart from 1TB and 2TB of storage options, you can also consider getting huge storage options like 4TB. But for a day to day work, 4TB of HDD does not help much. Also, they are quite expensive.

2. Transfer speed

After the storing capacity, transfer speed is the second most important thing that you have to consider. You don’t want to get an external hard disk drive for Mac, which takes too long to copy files. Instead, you need something that can get the job done as quickly as possible.

So the first thing that you must do is avoid USB 2.0 powered external HDD. As they are outdated and not fast enough. Instead, you should get an external HDD with USB 3.0, 3.1 Gen 1 or USB 3.2 Gen 1. All of these are capable of offering an exceptional transfer speed. On the other hand, I would like to recoomend you to buy the best external SSD for Mac that offers good transfer speed.

3. Compatibility

The next thing you need to check its compatibility. External HDD formatted for Windows 10 may have connectivity issues with Mac OS and vise versa. So since you are using a Mac powered machine, I would recommend you to get an external HDD with Mac OS compatibility.

Although there is no need to focus on the compatibility part way too much. Since you can always format your external HDD using a Windows Computer with exFat Format. So you can easily use the HDD with your Macbook. But yes, if you get a pre compatible external hard disk drive then it saves you from extra work and headaches that you have to face.

4. Security

If you are someone who takes security really seriously, then you must look for security features. Most of the manufacturers do ship security software and backup software. So you can easily encrypt your drive or take a backup of it. Even, if you don’t consider encryption feature, backup feature is something that you must and should consider.

Even to make sure your HDD stays safe, they use strong casing from physical damage. So you can consider getting such external hard disk drives that save you from every side.

External Hard Drive Vs SSD: Which one is good for MacBook Pro?

Whenever it comes to a primary storage solution for computers, HDD and SSD’s are the only solutions we have. However, in the last couple of years, the usage of HDD has dropped drastically, and people are not moving to SSD’s for better performance.

But there are quite a lot of users who are still unaware of the difference between a hard disk drive and a solid state drive or SSD.

However, not to worry, let me just draw a quick difference between both and help you to understand better.

1. Storage Capacity

HDD’s are a great option if you want something for storage. HDD’s are available in a wide range of storage capacities like from 500GB to 12 TB. Even, for enterprise uses, you will find a large capacity of HDDs.

SSDs are also available with large capacities. However, when it comes to the costing of an SSD and an HDD, SSDs are quite expensive. Hence, if your main goal is to store huge amount of data, HDD is an ideal choice.

Apple External Hard Drive

2. Speed

Whenever it comes to speed, SSDs are a better option. Since a hard disk drive uses a round plate with a layer of magnetic material. And the data is stored on this magnetic layer only. So the disk spins and the magnetic head is used for reading and writing data.

Also, the speed that the disk spins is measured in RPM. And on an average, an HDD has about 5,400 RPM, and it will have a read/write speeds of around 100 MB/s.

However, when it comes to SSD’s, there are no moving parts. As a result, it offers you a much faster data transfer rate. On average, it offers you around 550 MB/s and 520 MB/s of data transfer rate.

3. Reliability & Durability

There are quite a lot of factors that determine the lifespan of drivers. However, you should know that an SSD can sustain a limited number of write cycles compared to HDD which has no read/write limits.

But you should know that SSD has a write cycle limit between 3000 and 10,000 which is a high number. So it would not be a problem for you.

Macbook External Hard Drive

Also, SSD’s are lesser affected by any sort of damages compared to HDD. Since there are no moving parts in SSD, they tend to survive more. While HDD’s might stop working if it encounters any physical damage.

3. Cost

Finally, let’s talk about pricing. Well, if you look at the cost of both HDD and SSD, you would happily pick up an HDD. Why? Because SSD’s are expensive. When you choose an HDD, you will get a large amount of capacity for a lesser price. But on the other hand, if you choose an SSD, it would cost you 3-5x of an HDD price.

In the end, the conclusion is HDD’s are a better option when it comes to storing data. Of course, SSD’s are faster and more reliable. But they do come with a high price. But on the other hand, if you take care of your HDD in a good manner, it will offer you great performance for years.

Wrapping it up:

So, these were the 10 best external hard drives for Macbook Air and Pro. Every disk mentioned in this article has its own pros and cons, we have tried our best to list out the good and bad in every product. For Mac users, external SSD can be really helpful for storing content and transferring it to a different place.

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