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Best External Hard Drive for Photos [2021 Review]

In: 
Published: 16/06/2021

Every photographer’s nightmare is running low on storage without a backup external hard drive. Equipping yourself with the best external hard drive for photos is the only way to avoid such scenarios. In this review, we detail everything you may need to know to make an informed decision.

Our Top External Hard Drive Reviews

External hard drives are crucial components in the multi-step digital workflow process. The review below focuses on the best external hard drive for photos that will suit your storage needs.

Brand
Best Overall
Oyen Digital 10TB MiniPro
Best for the Money
SanDisk Professional 5TB G-Drive
Best Cheap Pick
Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB
Product
10TB MiniPro Dura RAID USB 3.1 (USB-C) Portable...
SanDisk Professional 5TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD -...
Transcend 2TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 StoreJet 25M3G SJ25M3G...
Hard Disk Size
10 TB
‎5 TB
2 TB
Item Weight
2.83 pounds
‎12.3 ounces
7.52 ounces
Rating
-
-
-
Best Overall
Brand
Oyen Digital 10TB MiniPro
Product
10TB MiniPro Dura RAID USB 3.1 (USB-C) Portable...
Hard Disk Size
10 TB
Item Weight
2.83 pounds
Rating
-
Price
Best for the Money
Brand
SanDisk Professional 5TB G-Drive
Product
SanDisk Professional 5TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD -...
Hard Disk Size
‎5 TB
Item Weight
‎12.3 ounces
Rating
-
Price
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB
Product
Transcend 2TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 StoreJet 25M3G SJ25M3G...
Hard Disk Size
2 TB
Item Weight
7.52 ounces
Rating
-
Price

Here's a quick recap of our top recommended external hard drives listed in this article. In this table, we've also included an overview of their top features.

ProductStorage CapacitySpeedWeight (Pounds)
Oyen Digital 10TB MiniPro10TB250MB/S2.83
SanDisk Professional 5TB G-Drive5TB130MB/S0.9
Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB2TB625MB/S0.5
WD 5TB My Passport5TB126MB/S0.5
Lacie Rugged Mini 5TB5TB130MB/S0.9
G-Technology 4TB ArmorATD4TB135MB/S0.8
LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB2TB130MB/S0.4
Transcend 4TB StoreJet 25H3B4TB625MB/S0.7
Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB4TB153.8MB/S0.5
Seagate Portable 4TB4TB625MB/S0.5

Best Overall External Hard Drive for Photos: Oyen Digital 10TB MiniPro

The Oyen Digital 10TB MiniPro comes with a whopping storage capacity of 10TB, the largest storage capacity on our list. It features a dual-bay RAID enclosure consisting of Type-C connectivity, as well as Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 Gen 1 support for better transfer speeds. 

10TB MiniPro Dura RAID USB 3.1 (USB-C) Portable...

Also, it provides RAID storage options, including mirroring, independent drives, striping, and merged drives. It features a spin-down capability to reduce power consumption and increase efficiency, a feature you won’t see in models like the Seagate Portable 4TB. 

However, it’s the heaviest on our list, which is inconvenient if you were to shoot for a prolonged duration. Like the SanDisk Professional 5TB G-Drive, it features a shockproof construction of an aluminum enclosure with a silicon rubber sleeve, making it impact-resistant.

Pros

  • It has the least power consumption on our list
  • It has the largest storage capacity on our list
  • It’s shockproof, suitable for any environment

Cons

  • It’s the heaviest on our list, making it hard to carry on shoots
  • It’s not strong as other models like the SanDisk Professional 5TB G-Drive 
10TB MiniPro Dura RAID USB 3.1 (USB-C) Portable...
  • Capacity: 10TB HDD (2 x 5TB Seagate ST5000LM000 installed)
  • Interface: USB-C (Compatible with all USB & Thunderbolt 3)
  • Bus-powered or external adapter power (included)

Best External Hard Drive for Photos for the Money: SanDisk Professional 5TB G-Drive

Whether you are in the studio or always moving from one place to another, the SanDisk Professional 5TB G-Drive will provide you with pro-grade durability to protect your footage and photos. Like the G-Technology 4TB ArmorATD, this hard drive features a triple-layer drop and shock resistance made of the anodized aluminum enclosure. 

SanDisk Professional 5TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD -...

Also, it has a durable rubber bumper and shock mounts, allowing it to withstand a pressure of around 1000 pounds. 

It comes with a large storage capacity of 5TB with an excellent speed of 130MB/s, which allows you to transfer your files fast and store thousands of high-resolution photos, unlike the LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB. 

It’s also compatible with Mac OS 10.12 and Apple’s Time Machine, and you can still reformat it to use with Windows 10. However, reformatting may be challenging to beginners, and ready to use options like the Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB may be preferable. 

Pros

  • The construction is sturdy, ideal for tough circumstances
  • The storage capacity is bigger than that of Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB
  • It has better compatibility than the WD 5TB My Passport

Cons

  • It has a slower speed than G-Technology 4TB ArmorATD
  • It’s not Linux compatible, unlike Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB
SanDisk Professional 5TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD -...
  • USB-C (5Gbps) drive for quick file backup and storage
  • USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3 compatible
  • Premium, anodized aluminum enclosure for strength you can feel

Best Cheap External Hard Drive for Photos: Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB

The Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB is a stylish military green portable external hard drive, convenient for photography with its excellent transfer speed of around 5GB/s. Like the WD 5TB My Passport, it comes with an integrated 256-bit AES encryption to secure your data. 

Transcend 2TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 StoreJet 25M3G SJ25M3G...

It comes with a built-in suspension system, a military silicone rubber sleeve, and reinforced casing, making it drop and shock-resistant, ideal for use in tough situations. 

It’s compatible with Operating systems from Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.7, Linux, and later versions, unlike the WD 5TB My Passport. Although it features the Transcend Elite data management software for organizing photos, it lacks automatic backup like the Seagate Portable 4TB.

Pros

  • It comes with data management software, helping you organize your photos
  • It is compatible with many operating systems, unlike the WD 5TB My Passport
  • It has advanced data encryption, ensuring photo security

Cons

  • It has a smaller storage capacity than SanDisk Professional 5TB G-Drive
  • The data transfer speed is less impressive than the LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB
Transcend 2TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 StoreJet 25M3G SJ25M3G...
  • Usb 3. 1 Gen 1 interface with the support of UASP
  • Up to 2TB storage capacity
  • Three-stage shock protection system

Best Secure External Hard Drive for Photos: WD 5TB My Passport

The WD 5TB My Passport is a portable external hard drive featuring a slim design, allowing you to carry it around while shooting your photos. Unlike the Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB, it comes with a large storage capacity of 5TB, allowing you to store thousands of photos in RAW format. 

WD 5TB My Passport Ultra Blue Portable External...

Also, it features 256-bit encryption to enhance the protection of your images. To allow you to transfer your photos fast and continue with your real estate photography, it features a USB 3.2 Gen 1 connectivity for better transfer speeds. 

Unlike the Lacie Rugged Mini 5TB, it’s only NTFS formatted for Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, which is its biggest downside.

Pros

  • It has a large capacity that suits photography needs
  • It features a slim design, making it portable
  • It uses data encryption which helps secure your photos

Cons

  • Its compatibility is limited, unlike the Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB
  • It has the lowest transfer speed on our list, making it unsuitable if time is a concern
Sale
WD 5TB My Passport Ultra Blue Portable External...
  • USB-C and USB 3.1 compatible
  • Innovative style with refined metal cover
  • Password protection with 256-bit AES hardware encryption

Best Compatible External Hard Drive for Photos: LaCie Rugged Mini 5TB

Equipped with a rubber sleeve, the Lacie Rugged Mini 5TB is designed for videographers and photographers in mind. It’s pressure and shock-resistant, unlike the WD 5TB My Passport, making it suitable for all environments. 

LaCie Rugged Mini 5TB External Hard Drive Portable...

Despite the small storage capacity, it features a USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.2 Gen 1, allowing it to deliver impressive transfer speeds of around 130MB/s. Nevertheless, it lacks management software, leaving the photos disorganized, and you may need to manually create a photo library. 

Unlike the WD 5TB My Passport, it’s compatible with Windows 7 and 8, the Mac OS 10.5 and later versions, making it more flexible.

Pros

  • It meets pressure-resistant, suitable for use in tough situations
  • It has impressive data transfer speeds
  • It’s compatible with many operating systems making it more flexible, unlike the WD 5TB My Passport

Cons

  • It has a smaller storage capacity than the Oyen Digital 10TB MiniPro
  • It doesn’t come with a built-in automatic backup, unlike the Seagate Portable 4TB 
Sale
LaCie Rugged Mini 5TB External Hard Drive Portable...
  • Travel with a massive capacity of up to 5TB in an ultra compact portable external hard Drive
  • For those who have a need for Speed, seamlessly connect to usb 3. 0 computers and transfer content...
  • Trek confidently with an external Hard Drive that offers all terrain durability of drop, crush, and...

Best Versatile External Hard Drive for Photos: G-Technology 4TB ArmorATD

If you want an external hard drive that can take a beating, the G-Technology 4TB ArmorATD is an all-terrain, rugged drive. It features a triple-layer drop and shock resistance, making it ideal for use even in the toughest conditions. 

G-Technology 4TB ArmorATD All-Terrain Rugged...

It’s equipped with an aluminum enclosure, a durable rubber bumper, and internal shock mounts, allowing it to withstand a pressure of around 1000, better than the Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB. 

Although it’s equipped with USB Type- C to Type-A and USB Type-C to Type-C cables to enhance versatility, it’s not compatible with Linux operating systems. Unlike the Lacie Rugged Mini 5TB, it comes with an impressive data transfer speed of 135MB/s, and a capacity of 4TB, making it suitable for image storage.

Pros

  • It features USB Type- C to Type-A and USB Type-C to Type-C cable, making it more versatile
  • It has better transfer speed than Lacie Rugged Mini 5TB
  • It features pressure resistant construction

Cons

  • The storage capacity is smaller than WD 5TB My Passport
  • It’s not as power-efficient as theOyen Digital 10TB MiniPro
Sale
G-Technology 4TB ArmorATD All-Terrain Rugged...
  • Triple-layer shock resistance for added durability
  • Rain-and dust-resistant (IP54) enclosure with a 1000lb crush rating
  • With capacities up to 5TB of storage for your photos and footage

Best High-Speed External Hard Drive for Photos: LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB

The LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB comes with an enhanced data transfer speed of around 5Gb/s to 10GB/s, a high transfer rate that every photographer desires. Although it comes with USB Type-C and Type-A cables, the lack of micro-USB limits it.  

LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB External Hard Drive HDD –...

Also, it comes with high-resolution multimedia storage options for videos and photos to suit your real estate photography needs, unlike the G-Technology 4TB ArmorATD. 

Besides, it comes with the LaCie Toolkit for folder mirroring across devices and automatic backups in a one-click process, ensuring you don’t lose your photos. It’s compatible with Mac OS and Windows operating systems for enhanced flexibility, unlike the WD 5TB My Passport.

Pros

  • It has the best transfer speed on our list
  • It’s the most lightweight on our list, convenient for carrying around
  • It comes with USB Type-C and Type-A cables, enhancing versatility

Cons

  • The lack of micro-USB limits its versatility 
  • It has a smaller storage capacity than SanDisk Professional 5TB G-Drive
Sale
LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB External Hard Drive HDD –...
  • Enjoy 2TB of capacity for photos, playlists, docs, and more
  • Use seamlessly with Mac, Windows, USB-C, and USB 3.0
  • Back up files with a single click or schedule automatic backups

Best Durable External Hard Drive for Photos: Transcend 4TB StoreJet 25H3B

The Transcend 4TB StoreJet 25H3B comes with a high-level three-stage protection system that meets the military drop-test standards, giving you data safety and the confidence your photos will be safe while moving from one location to another. 

Transcend 4TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 StoreJet 25H3B SJ25H3B...

To meet these standards, it features internal hard drive suspension technology with a durable anti-shock outer shell made of military-grade shock resistance silicone. However, without data management software, you may face problems organizing your photo library. 

When transferring data, it uses an LED indicator which helps you to know when the transfer is complete. Like the LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB, it features a one-click backup for automatic data backup, ensuring you don’t lose your photos.

Pros

  • It has the best pressure resistance on our list
  • It features an LED indicator light, helping you know when the transfer is complete
  • It comes with an automatic backup, ensuring your photos are secure

Cons

  • It has a smaller storage capacity than Oyen Digital 10TB MiniPro
  • It’s doesn’t come with a data management program, and you will have to organize photos manually
Transcend 4TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 StoreJet 25H3B SJ25H3B...
  • Usb 3. 1 Gen 1 interface with the support of UASP
  • Up to 4TB storage capacity
  • Three-stage shock protection system

Best Compact External Hard Drive for Photos: Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB

The Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB features a sleek profile design that is dust and moisture resistant, ideal for use in harsh temperatures. It features USB 3.0 for fast data transfer and a 4TB storage capacity, suitable for storing thousands of high-resolution photos, unlike the Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB. 

Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB Portable External Hard...

Although it’s heavier than the LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB, the sleek design makes it compact and convenient for carrying around when shooting different properties. 

It comes ready to use with the Windows and Mac OS operating systems, and you don’t need an additional software installation to use this hard drive. Unlike the Transcend StoreJet 25M3 2TB, it’s not compatible with the Linux operating system.

Pros

  • It comes with a sleek design, suitable for carrying
  • It comes ready to use with the compatible operating systems
  • It’s dust and moisture resistant, suitable for all environments

Cons

  • Despite having a 4TB storage capacity, it’s not great like Oyen Digital 10TB MiniPro
  • Without an LED indicator, you may not know when the transfer is interrupted
Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB Portable External Hard...
  • Sleek profile design with a matte, smudge resistance finish
  • Plug and play; Easy to use with no software to install
  • Quickly add more storage capacity to your PC and other compatible devices

Best Backup External Hard Drive for Photos: Seagate Portable 4TB

The Seagate Portable 4TB is designed to grow your photo library, featuring an exFAT format and compatible with Mac 10.11 and Windows 7 and later versions of operating systems. It’s bus-powered, and you won’t need an additional power supply, making it convenient for carrying around. 

Seagate Portable 4TB External Hard Drive HDD USB...

Like the LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB, it features a downloadable Backup Toolkit that allows mirror folders for more effective file management.  However, you will need to manually download the toolkit, which may inconvenience you, especially in poor network coverage. 

Unlike Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB, it comes with micro-USB to USB Type-A supporting USB 3.1 Gen 1 for faster data transfers and enhanced versatility.

Pros

  • It doesn’t require an additional power supply, enhancing portability
  • It supports an automatic backup toolkit to enhance photo security
  • It comes with micro-USB to USB Type-A, enhancing versatility

Cons

  • You will need to download the automatic backup toolkit, unlike Transcend 4TB StoreJet 25H3B
  • The lack of USB Type-C and Type-A cables limits its versatility
Seagate Portable 4TB External Hard Drive HDD USB...
  • Easily store and access 4TB of content on the go with the Seagate Portable Drive, a USB external...
  • Designed to work with Windows or Mac computers, this external hard drive makes backup a snap just...
  • To get set up, connect the portable hard drive to a computer for automatic recognition no software...
External hard drive connected to a laptop

Conclusion

External hard drives for photos vary in capacity, features, and speed, and choosing the right one may be challenging. Although the best choice will depend on your storage goals, you can’t go wrong with any external hard drive from the above list.

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