Best 1tb external hard drive of 2014
January 3, 2015 8:28 AM   Subscribe

I have looked around in various stores on the web and big box and it seems that Western Digital, Seagate, and Toshiba are all good candidates. I have 200 gig of pic and documents to back-up so far. Purchasing data recovery plans are mentioned too. Looking for pros, and cons.. Please help me pick a good one. Thanks, have a great new year everybody!
posted by Upon Further Review to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
To be honest I just buy whatever's cheap on Amazon. Hard drives are pretty much a commodity these days, and if you're only using it to back up data you probably don't care too much about getting the highest possible performance.

You probably don't want a data recovery plan, just make sure the hard drive is never the sole location for all your stuff. (So if you want to store photos, you'll want at least two drives, and maybe cloud storage as well.)
posted by katrielalex at 8:35 AM on January 3, 2015

Backblaze publish regular reports (e.g.) that you might find useful. Note their caveats about the differences between their usage and a typical desktop user's, though. Hitachi and WD drives seem to be better on the whole than Seagate.
posted by pipeski at 8:36 AM on January 3, 2015

I like WD's My Passport Ultra, USB 3 compatible (if you have USB3 capability on your machine), 1 TB, haven't had a problem.

I would also caution that I have had problems with Seagate drives and so lately have been giving my business to WD (but not their green series).
posted by forthright at 8:37 AM on January 3, 2015

I got the toshiba since it was only $60 at best buy. So far, so good.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:40 AM on January 3, 2015

I've been happy with the WD My Passport Ultra. USB 3.0, hardware encryption, relatively inexpensive, and I like that they have only a single cable that does double duty for data and power. There are several other players in this market, but I won't recommend because I lack any real experience with them.
posted by doctor tough love at 8:41 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really like the way The Wirecutter does reviews. They describe their testing process, talk about the pros and cons for each model they test in a particular category, then make a specific recommendation (and, usually, a "step-up" recommendation if you want to spend a little more money or have specific needs). The Wirecutter has two articles, one for the best portable hard drive, and one for the best external desktop hard drive, that you might find helpful. Both have been updated within the past three months, so the information is about as current as you can get.
posted by zebra at 8:50 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've used a Toshiba Canvio since 2011 with zero issues. Mine is USB 2.0 and was more expensive, so $60 is a deal. What's nice with some of the modern external drives is that they're powered by USB, so there's no need to carry a power cable. It's really just like a bulky high-capacity flash drive.
posted by Woodroar at 8:52 AM on January 3, 2015

I really like my WD My Book Essential. Only downsides are that it is not too quiet and doesn't have any fancy hookups. I got it from work so I personally paid nothing for it, but I would assume it is reasonably priced if the state government is handing them out to employees.
posted by chainsofreedom at 9:13 AM on January 3, 2015

There's really no such thing as a bad one. The only certainty is that good ones fail too. Get two different brands, and back up to both. An extra backup means you won't need that data recovery plan.
posted by flabdablet at 9:14 AM on January 3, 2015

WD's green series, by the way, is fine for a backup drive. The green series is optimized for low power consumption and ability to tolerate a lot of spin up/spin down cycles, which is exactly what you want in a USB-powered drive.
posted by flabdablet at 9:16 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd like to emphasize the use of encryption on whatever you decide to go with. The WD has hardware encryption built-in (very convenient), the Seagate drive recommended by The Wirecutter does not. Of course, you can download something like xcrypt to do encryption in software.

But my point is that encryption is important. For instance, I handed off a couple of WD drives to my kids when they went away to college. If the drive gets lost or stolen, it sucks: but it's not as bad as if a stranger has access to all sorts of personal information that one might accumulate on such a drive.
posted by doctor tough love at 9:51 AM on January 3, 2015

I've been very happy with my WD Caviar Green 1.5TB drive, mounted in a NewerTech Voyager Q. This gives me the ability to swap-out drives as needed. Just recently, I used it to mount the HD from my son's girlfriend's otherwise dead MacBook Pro, in order to rescue needed files.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:02 PM on January 3, 2015

I bought a Seagate STBV3000200 Expansion 3TB USB 3.0 external drive for my HTPC and found out that it's actually quite noisy

This might not be an issue for you if you're plugging it into a computer that makes its own noises, but it my near silent lounge the hum from the drive was really rather audible.

In comparison, the Western Digital 2TB MyBook it replaced was silent.

Something you may want to be aware of!
posted by mr_silver at 3:10 PM on January 3, 2015

Best answer: I got this WD Essentials drive in 4TB during Cyber Monday; it's pretty quiet and has a pretty fast drive in it. It comes in a 2TB variety. The caveat here is that it's a "desktop"-style drive, so it has a fast (non-"green" 7200RPM) drive, which is what I wanted (it's used to supplement the SSD in my computer, so not backups).

The best for your particular needs here will be a green drive with USB 2 or 3 and a long warranty. 1 year is about the average but you may still be able to find an external with a 2- or 3-year one. The longer warranty will be preferable, since if the drive does manage to die you'll be able to get a replacement. (This will not protect the data on the drive.) I would stick with a drive by Western Digital, Seagate, HGST/Hitachi, Toshiba, or Samsung; they actually make drives, where everyone else buys a drive from them and puts a case around them. That said, LaCie and FD are both pretty decent choices as well. All green drives are, for the most part, going to be about the same speed-wise and reliability-wise, so let the warranty be the deciding factor. (To be honest, if the external fails, it's usually because the little circuit board that adapts the drive to USB is what went wrong, or the power adapter, but not the drive itself.)

To be honest, I would also recommend buying two drives: one you hook to your computer to do backups often (daily/weekly), and then one that you hook up occasionally for less-frequent backups (monthly/quarterly). The occasional drive goes in a safe or a safe deposit box at the bank or work or something - the point is to have a drive that gets used less (and therefore is at less risk of failing) and is away from your stuff so that if, say, your backup drive dies, your house burns down, you get robbed, etc. you're not out that much data. (I usually also top this off with something like Backblaze, so if it comes to it, you can get them to send you a drive with your stuff on it. The one constant thing about hard drives - and anything else mechanical - is that it will eventually fail.)
posted by mrg at 5:28 PM on January 3, 2015

The Seagate Slim is the best. 1TB, 2.5", USB 3.0 drive: $65. It's what's recommended in that WireCutter review.

Key features are USB 3.0, which is absolutely a requirement and fortunately standard now. 2.5", which means it is small and does not require an external power adapter. Most portable USB drives meet those criteria, including the Western Digital Passport drives. What distinguishes the Seagate is it is indeed Slim, about 60% the height of its competitors. Nice sleek little metal case, a nice upgrade over the competition.
posted by Nelson at 5:45 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a pair of 2TB Seagates of the kind Nelson described so well, and I love them. Tip: I got two different colors and assigned those colors to the drive names.
posted by Mngo at 2:23 PM on January 4, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the help everyone, think I'll get a pair of different brands to try: mrg summed it up-everything eventually fails- so we have redundancy, oh and encryption is an excellent idea.
posted by Upon Further Review at 6:16 PM on January 4, 2015

« Older Amateur Gardening 101   |   The right way to have a child out of wedlock? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.