Best Cheap External Hard Drives
With more and more people looking for extra space to store their digital images, movies, and music, interest in cheap external hard drives is growing. Over the past few years, the price of external hard drives has fallen even as the storage capacity has increased and the backup software has improved. Now you can find portable devices for as little as $50, but be prepared to spend closer to $100 for one of the best cheap external hard drives. We identified several hard-working external hard drives priced in the Cheapism niche.
Western Digital My Passport Essential
Western Digital has been making excellent hard drives for years, and this one is no exception. The My Passport Essential offers 500GB of storage, comes with reliable backup software,...
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Cheap External Hard Drives Buying Guide
To assemble our list of best cheap external hard drives, we focused on data transfer rates, storage capacity, backup software, and ease of use, and balanced user feedback against that of experts. Our top choices are the eye catching Hitachi Touro Mobile Pro (starting at $100) and the tried-and-true Western Digital My Passport Essential (starting at $100).
When it comes to cheap external hard drives, you might think the larger the drive, the better. But that's not necessarily the case. The size of the external hard drive you choose should depend on what you intend to do with it. If you want a hard drive to back up the multitude of videos, photos, and music currently stored on your home PC (or several network-linked PCs), or if you're looking for additional and accessible storage for large files (think video or image files), you'll definitely need a large external hard drive -- at least 500GB. But many consumers, especially laptop users who are often on the go, don't need as much capacity and may be better off with a smaller, slimmer, more portable hard drive. We limited our search for the best cheap external hard drives to those with a maximum 500GB.
Other factors are also worth considering when shopping for a cheap external hard drive. Data transfer rates, for one. Most new devices feature a USB 3.0 interface. If you have a PC with a USB 3.0 port, you'll appreciate the blazing speed with which you can back up or transfer files to a cheap external hard drive. (The drive will still work with a USB 2.0 port, but transfer speeds will be slower.) Most cheap external hard drives also include some sort of "bonus" backup software. If you already have backup software, the bonus software may not seem like a deal. But it's worth checking out because many of these programs are effective and easy to use.
Companies that make external hard drives include Iomega, LaCie, Samsung, Seagate, Toshiba, Transcend, Verbatim, and Western Digital. Most offer a range of portable hard drives with different storage capacities, features, and price points. Higher-end external hard drives generally offer more storage, faster performance, and extra features, such as backup software with multiple scheduling options and the ability to back up a small network. But for everyday home use or for carrying wherever you go, a cheap external hard drive has all the functionality you need. Most external hard drives are compatible with PCs and Macs, although some need to be reformatted for Macs, and in some cases the bundled backup software may be PC-compatible only.
Iomega eGo Portable 500 GB
Seagate Replica 250 GB
Verbatim USB 2.0 250 GB 96532
HP Portable Hard Drive
Seagate 4TB GoFlex Desk
Transcend StoreJet 320 GB
Verbatim Insight 320 GB
Seagate FreeAgent Go 500 GB
Western Digital Elements 1 TB
La Cie Little Disk 320 GB
Clickfree Automatic Backup 160GB
Samsung S1 mini
SimpleTech [re]Drive 500 GB
Seagate GoFlex Slim