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Reliable, portable hard drives to protect your files and personal life

Popular Science logo Popular Science 29/10/2019 Tony Vaz
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Many computers no longer come with much hard drive space, as lots of information is now stored in the cloud or in multi-terabyte external hard drives, which have become affordable. That said, it’s important to make informed decisions about where you save your files. People whose careers depend upon safe file storage—those who edit film, present decks, program games, write dissertations—keep their work on portable hard drives. The next great American novel is probably on a drive in someone’s backpack. Since the cloud requires an internet connection and a trust that data companies won't lose your work, having a sturdy physical device to back up your digital information is a responsible move. Here are some of our favorite portable hard drives currently on the market.

WD 5TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

a close up of a computer: Ideal for PC users. © Amazon Ideal for PC users.

This drive is a giant in terms of storage space but is physically compact and portable. It can be set to automatically back up and organize the files on your computer via the included Western Digital software. It connects with a Superspeed USB 3 or USB 2 and has security features like password protection and hardware encryption. This model is formatted for PC users but WD also makes a version more compatible with Macs. You can buy it in black, blue, or red.

Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD

a close up of a speaker: Strong choice for photographers. © Amazon Strong choice for photographers.

This 2TB hard drive has a stylish fabric exterior and is significantly less pricey than many 1TB hard drives. The drive is password protected, hardware encrypted, and works well with both Mac and PC. You can connect it via USB-C and USB 3 and set it to automatically back up your files. The Seagate also conveniently comes with a free one-year subscription to Mylio Create (photo storage and sharing program) and a two-month subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. This drive is available in either black or white.

LaCie Mobile SSD 1TB SSD USB-C Hard Drive

a close up of a device: Fast and lightweight option. © Amazon Fast and lightweight option.

This LaCie is an SSD and moves faster than HDDs, but it is more expensive for less storage space. If you need super fast access to large files on your drive, this is a good pick. It also weighs less than other drives, which is a perk if you’re commuting with it daily. Connect to either Mac or PC via USB-C. The LaCie SSD comes with a free one-month membership to Adobe Creative Cloud.

iStorage diskAshur2 256-bit Secure Encrypted Hard Drive

a calculator on a table: Military-grade storage and encryption. © Amazon Military-grade storage and encryption.

This beast of a hard drive requires a 7- to 15-digit pin for access, with number buttons on its attractive exterior. It features 256-bit encryption, so this is a smart option for storing secret files

or those that require special protection. It connects with USB 3.1 to Mac and PC alike. The iStorage comes in four different colors and sizes as high as 5 TB.

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