While most people call all storage devices "hard drives," external drives can come in many different flavors. From HDD — the traditional hard drive — to super small solid-state drives, there is a lot of choices when you're looking for the right 1TB external drive solution.
What's the difference?
Leaving aside analog solutions, there are two main types of external drives; traditional HDDs (Hard Disk Drive), and the more modern SSDs (Solid State Drive).
Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
HDDs are mechanical in nature and are normally used to give you large amounts of storage for a cheap price. While they are cheaper, they are also more prone to mechanical malfunction and cannot survive a lot of bumps and drops without losing your data.
HDDs transfer data at a much slower rate than SSDs and will eventually need to be defragmented — the data needs to be reorganized — to keep the transfer speed up.
You should use External HDD hard drives when you are storing images, music, or long term data on a computer that isn't likely to be moved around too much.
Solid State Drive (SSD)
Solid-state hard drives are much more versatile than the traditional hard drive. Because they are essentially one big SD card they can take much more punishment than an HDD. They can also be made much smaller, sometimes just a couple of inches long, giving you more freedom to take them along with you.
When it comes to speed the average SSD blows the HDD out of the water. 500 MB/s is pretty standard for an SSD and when connected to a PC or Mac, it will feel like you accessing RAM, it really is that quick.
Though SSDs are quicker than HDDs they can also be a lot more expensive. A 1TB SSD is likely to be considerably more expensive than a 1TB HDD, but the advantages make it worth the extra cost at most points.
You should an SSD when you want to be mobile or if you need extra storage that needs to be fast. An Xbox One or PlayStation 4 would benefit from an SSD as external storage as the games stored on it would load almost as fast as internal storage.
The Best External Hard Drives
Your Xbox One or PlayStation 4 will load games much faster using this Solid state drive.
- Blisteringly fast
- Expensive compared to an HDD
When you are using an external hard drive your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One the most important aspect is your read/write speed. On average, a standard hard drive will write about 100MB/s whereas an SSD will read/write a whopping 540MB/s.
What this equates to in real-world terms is your games will load faster from the external solid-state hard drive than they do from the internal standard hard drive.
This Samsung hard drive fits in the palm of your hand and can hold 1TB of data. It also comes in many different colors to match your console or your gaming aesthetic. I like the red one myself as red makes you go faster.
Store all your media and keep it safe
This Seagate hard drive is not for moving around. It's for storing everything in one place.
- Eight whole terabytes of storage
- Solid and safe
- Works on both PC and Mac
- Slow read/write speeds
OK, this is one is a bit bigger than 1TB...
Seagate has always made excellent hard drives and the desktop 8TB HDD is no exception. The casing itself is made of a glossy black plastic that houses enough disk space to hold 2,000 movies at 1080p.
This is not mobile though. This is designed to have a place on your desk and for you to plug into with your laptop, or keep plugged into if you have a desktop. This is made to be a secure location for your videos, photos, documents, and other media you only use occasionally.
What's amazing about this Seagate hard drive is that it costs less than one SSD with eight times less storage. If you are into hoarding huge amounts of media, this is the hard disk for you.
This is insanely small
You can take your media anywhere with you, safe and sound.
- Small and light
- Water and dust resistant
- 540MB/s Read/Write speed
- So thin it could break
Part of my job requires me to travel to events and record video, audio, and, sometimes, gameplay footage. When I travel I like to have as little weight as possible at the actual event. This tiny SSD from SanDisk weighs almost nothing — less than 3 ounces — and is so neat and compact it can be taken anywhere in any pocket.
It's also water and dust resistant, meaning you can take into some extreme places — if you are a photographer for example — get it wet or dusty, and, as long you clean it off before you use it, it will still work well.
Like all SSD it has a crazy transfer speed as well. It's much faster than the internal hard drive in my PC and it makes me want to buy another to keep connected at all times.
Stylish and powerful
For those of you who want a classy looking accessory, the people at Seagate have created this.
- 120MB/s read/write speed
If you are still convinced that a mechanical hard drive is right for you but you want something lightweight and portable, then this Seagate hard drive is the one for you.
With a beautiful brushed Aluminum body with a light blue paint job, this HDD has 1TB to store your media and is small enough to take with you wherever you go.
The hard drive is also available for PC and Mac, so whatever device you use, you can be assured the Seagate HDD will work as needed. Because it's an HDD though you will be hampered by a much slower read/write speed. This is a hard drive for backing up your media, not for accessing games on your Xbox One.
Can be run over by a car
This little hard drive is incredibly robust and will keep your storage safe, no matter where you are.
- Decent read/write
- Bulky for a portable
With a case that reminds me of a lifeboat, the LaCie portable hard drive is designed with ruggedness in mind. It's so tough in fact it can be run over by a one-ton car and still survive.
With a read/write speed of 130MB/s the LaCie is pretty decent for an HDD. Though it is designed to be rough and ready, the bulk is a little much for me, but if you are likely to want to edit photos of your hike on the fly, this may be the right thing for you.
Speaking of editing, the LaCie also comes a month's free subscription to Adobe's suite of photo apps. It's just a month, but it may help you if you have a specific vacation or trip planned.
Choose your fighter!
When looking for external storage solutions you really have a choice to make. You can go for the mechanical option, like the Seagate 8TB HDD. It will give you a lot of storage for your money but may run a little slower.
Or you can spend the extra money to get an SSD that will work blisteringly fast on your Xbox One or PlayStation 4 but maybe lighter on the amount of storage you can actually receive.
For my money, I have bought the Samsung 1TB SSD plugged into my PlayStation 4 and it loads games faster than the storage that originally came with it. If you are looking for a mobile hard drive, then the SanDisk SSD is my goto device. It's water and dust resistant and small enough not to be a burden.