As you may already be aware of, it doesn’t take long before files start filling up the internal hard drive of your machine. So it’s essential to choose the right external hard drive or SSD for your PC or Mac.

An external hard drive or SSD is simply a device which is plugged into your machine to give almost-immediate additional storage space, without the need to open your computers internal storage and make upgrades. In addition to the additional storage, the devices can be taken with you on the go and connected to different machines due to their portability.

You may be wondering what is the difference between a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (HDD)? Although they are very similar in physical specifications, SSD’s and HDD’s store data in different ways.

As two of the main storage solutions accessible to users wanting to expand their database, each has their advantages and disadvantages. Determining which one to choose can be a confusing process. So carry on reading to discover how each type of storage drive works and find our list of recommendations for the best external hard drive or SSD.

What is an SSD?

Firstly, SSD stands for Solid State Drive. Solid State Drives have progressed rapidly over the last few years. SSD’s rely upon electronic storage in non-volatile memory, which means that the data which is stored won’t vanish when you turn your computer off.

Let’s put it this way, you’re most likely familiar with USB memory sticks, right? Well, you can think of an SSD as a much larger and more advanced version of the memory stick. Similar to a memory stick, the SDD has no moving parts. Instead, data is stored in microchips.

On the other hand, an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) utilises a mechanical arm to move and read data. The HDD merely uses physical work/mechanical movement to acquire information, which in turn takes longer than the SSD. Making the SSD much faster.

What is a Hard Disk Drive?

A Hard Disk Drive, known as an HDD, was first invented more than 60 years ago.  A Hard Disk Drive is a storage device which comprises of one or more rotating platters which use magnetism to store data. A read/write head hovers above the rotating platter reading and writing information. The faster a Hard Disk Drive can perform, is down to how fast the platter can spin. The larger the hard drive, the more platters that can fit inside which equals to more storage capacity.

External Hard Drive vs SSD: Which one?  

Samsung T5 Portable SSD

Samsung T5 Portable SSD

You need to decide whether you are after an external storage device with a traditional hard drive or one that uses an SSD.

Typically, external hard drives are more affordable and most importantly are available in larger capacities. However, on the other hand, SSD’s are predominately more robust and smaller in size. This makes SSD’s extremely portable and easy to use on the go.

If you are looking to store great amounts of information whilst keeping prices at a low cost, an external hard drive will be a good option for you. Yet, if speed is your top priority, then we recommend choosing an SSD.

Storage considerations: 

When choosing an external hard drive or SSD for your device, there are numerous factors to take into consideration. Inclusive of storage. It is important to invest in an external storage device that has a big enough capacity for your needs.


Another important factor to acknowledge is the connection between the external storage device and your Mac or PC. USB-A ports which are found on older generations of the computer are gradually being replaced by new USB-C ports. The new ports can be found on all modern  Macs and PCs. So make sure you double check your connection types when investing in a data storage device.

We can’t necessarily state whether the external hard drive is better than the SSD as it all depends on your individual needs.

To help you decide which drive is a better fit for you, we have listed various requirements:

A Hard Drive might be the right choice if:
  • You need loads of storage capacity (up to 10TB)
  • Don’t want to spend much money
An SDD might be the right choice if:
  • You have the budget to pay for faster performance
  • Don’t mind limited storage capacity (External hard drives are available in higher capacities)
We have rounded up our top recommendations for the best external hard drive and SDD’s for your PC or Mac computer. Check them out below!

Best External Hard Drives and SSDs:

Samsung 500GB T5 USB 3.1 & USB-C External V-Nand Solid State Drive - Blue - 540MB/s

Samsung 500GB T5 USB 3.1 & USB-C External V-Nand Solid State Drive – Blue – 540MB/s

Samsung Portable SSD T5

Best high-speed option

The Samsung Portable SSD T5 elevates data transfer speeds to the next level and unleashes a new experience in external storage.

Samsung’s V-NAND flash memory combined with a USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface ensures that the T5 provides transfer speeds of up to 540 MB/s, that’s up to 4.9x faster than external HDDs. The T5 is smaller than the average business card, weighing just 51 grams, and at only 10.5 mm thick the compact, light and slim T5 is the perfect portable storage.

WD 1TB MyPassport USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive 5Gb/s - Black

WD 1TB MyPassport USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive 5Gb/s – Black

Western Digital My Passport Portable Hard Drive

Best external hard drive for Mac or PC

Start saving your precious memories and critical files with the 1TB My Passport USB 3.0 Secure Portable Hard Drive from Western Digital.

The My Passport portable drive is trusted to store the massive amounts of photos, videos and music you love. The sleek style fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, so you can easily take your treasured content everywhere you go. This hard drive comes preloaded with WD Backup software to ensure that your photos, videos, music and documents don’t get lost. Western Digital offers two options of the My Passport Portable Hard Drive, pre-formatted for either Windows systems or Mac.

SanDisk 500GB Extreme Portable SSD - 550MB/s

SanDisk 500GB Extreme Portable SSD – 550MB/s

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

Ultra high-speed transfers in a compact device

The rugged SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD delivers high-speed transfers of up to 550MB/s.

The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is built to weather a variety of conditions with water, dust and drop-resistance. It is rated IP55 and is certified to withstand 2-meter drops. With a large capacity of high-speed storage for high-res photos, videos and sound files, the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is perfect for all your creative pursuits.

Lacie 2TB HDD Rugged External Hard Drive USB-C/3.0 - 130MB/s

Lacie 2TB HDD Rugged External Hard Drive USB-C/3.0 – 130MB/s

LaCie HDD Rugged External Hard Drive

Great for storage on the move 

With a large capacity, the Rugged USB 3.0 Type-C External Hard Drive from LaCie marries a USB 3.0 Type-C interface and data transfer speeds of up to 130 MB/s with rugged durability that provides a drop resistance of up to 4′, crush resistance of up to 1 ton, and rain resistance, making this drive suitable for all-terrain storage, whether you’re in the field or in your home.

It can be used to store large Lightroom libraries, as a shuttle drive to transport footage from a set to a post-production house, or just for general tasks. This hard drive is compatible with both Windows and Mac.

Seagate 2TB Backup Plus Ultra Slim External Hard Drive USB 3.0 - 120MB/s - Gold

Seagate 2TB Backup Plus Ultra Slim External Hard Drive USB 3.0 – 120MB/s – Gold

Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim External Hard Drive

Large capacity at a lower cost 

The Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim Portable Drive is among the thinnest and most eye-catching portable hard drives.

This drive connects to your system using its integrated micro-USB 3.0 port and provides data transfer speeds of up to 100 MB/s, while also being backwards compatible with USB 2.0. In addition to its storage capabilities, this drive has also been equipped with dual front-mounted USB 3.0 Type-A ports, which can be used to recharge your tablet, smartphone, or camera, as well as back up files, even if your system is turned off or in standby mode.

If you are thinking about purchasing an External SSD or Hard Drive, be sure to visit our website now to get your hands on the best storage solution available.
Anya Beuzeval

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  1. […] If you are sat there wondering why your computer is taking a long time to open a programme, perhaps it needs updating in more ways than one. As well as ensuring you are using the most up-to-date operating system, you may need to install a new External Hard Drive or SSD. Doing either of these things will greatly increase the speed of your computer. This will give you an advantage by allowing you access to programs quickly and read-and-write operations. Not sure whether to choose a Hard Drive or SSD? Then check out our guide here.  […]

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