Less than a decade ago, you would have paid several hundred dollars for a chunky hard drive with just a few Gigabytes ( GB ) of memory space on. now you can get 5 Terabytes (TB) of portable storage (that’s 5000 GB!) for just over $100 such as the Western Digital 5TB My Passport which we chose as the best external hard drive for Mac users of 2021. however, the external hard drive landscape and technologies is constantly changing and it can be unmanageable to know where to start when buying one. And then there ’ s the interview of whether to go for an SSD drive or conventional “ mechanical drive ”. SSD drives are faster because they have no move parts but conventional drives are broadly cheaper and offer more memory space. If you ’ re new to the world of external storage devices, we strongly recommend checking out the section on how to choose an external drive to help you make a more inform decision. You May Also Like:
Do Any External Hard Drives Work With Mac ?
The thoroughly news is about all external unvoiced drives work with Macs. however, there are some external hard drives which are more compatible with Macs than others. Most external hard drives use USB ports or USB-3 ports to connect to your Mac but all Macs nowadays have Thunderbolt 3 ports which offer even fast data transfer connections than USB. Some external arduous drives are besides already formatted to work out of the box with macOS although most require formatting first. You can be assured though that all the hard drives featured hera are compatible with the latest versions of macOS including Big Sur and Catalina .
What External Hard Drive Does Apple Recommend ?
The entirely formally Apple endorsed hard drive is the Apple Airport Time Capsule. Time Capsule works over your wireless local area network connection so the smart thing is, backups are performed wirelessly when used with macOS Time Machine. It ’ s easily the best radio receiver hard drive for Mac in terms of compatibility with macOS and arguably the best external hard drive for Time Machine on a Mac. however, we don ’ t recommend the Apple Airport Time Capsule for a couple of authoritative reasons. The main reason is that it ’ south very expensive compared to other hard drives and don ’ t get many terabytes for your money. Backing up via WiFi is besides much slower than using an external hard drive connected with either a USB 3.0 cable or Thunderbolt connection. Unless you specifically want a wireless hard drive, the heavily drives we ’ ve reviewed here are both much better value for money and fast. With this in heed, here then are the best Mac hard drives and SSDs of 2021 in order of rank. We think the Western Digital 5TB My Passport For Mac is the best external hard drive for Mac of 2021 due to a hearty combination of dependability, value for money and portability. It ’ south fix formatted for use on Mac, Time Machine ready and belittled enough to fit in your coat pocket. With a 3 year guarantee and big enough to backup all Mac hard drives, if you need a fast, authentic, value for money backup solution for your Mac, you can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate go wrong with the WD 5TB My Passport. The WD My Passport for Mac supports USB 3.0/Thunderbolt connections but it will besides work with older USB 2.0 connections. We recommend paying that little extra for the 5TB which is the biggest interpretation available in the My Passport Range which ranges from 2TB-5TB. If you ’ re going to carry it around a lot, we besides recommend getting a proper carry case for it excessively. Pros:
- Very reliable
- Ready formatted for Macs
- Good value for money
- Thunderbolt port
- 3 Year Warranty
- Limited to maximum of 5TB
Buy on Amazon The Seagate Backup Plus for Mac is the closest equal to the WD My Passport for Mac but offers slenderly better prices than its rival. The Seagate Backup Plus For Mac ranges from 1TB to 5TB and like the WD My Passport, it ’ mho cook formatted for function on Macs and Time Machine ready for moment backups vitamin a soon as you plug it into your Mac. It besides has USB 3.0/Thunderbolt connectors and includes a USB 2.0 arranger cable for older Macs. The Seagate Backup Plus for Mac besides comes with Seagate Dashboard backing software but we found it a sting bloat and difficult to customize backups with. There ’ s in truth no need to use it if you ’ re using Time Machine for your backups. Although Seagate don ’ t make it very clear in the product description, the Backup Plus For Mac has a 2 year guarantee which is 1 year less than westerly Digital. There ’ mho besides a shockproof carry sheath for it and Seagate are offering 2 months free Adobe Creative Cloud subscription included. Be mindful however that although Seagate has traditionally had a good reputation in the external hard drive industry, more recently there are far more reports of hard drive problems and customer service issues with Seagate external hard drives. There are besides many satisfied customers besides but to be on the safe side, you might a well go with WD drives as they ’ re precisely the same price and in our feel, rock solid. Pros:
- Cheaper than Western Digital drives
- Ready formatted for Macs
- Thunderbolt port
- 1 year less warranty than WD drives
- Some reliability concerns
Buy on Amazon The main selling point of the Transcend StoreJet M3 is that it ’ second fabulously hard. For those that intend to use a repositing or backup device on the move such as photographers, we think it ’ s the best external hard drive for photographers on Mac due to it ’ s incredible lastingness. In fact, the Transcend StoreJet M3 is military drop tested with an advanced 3 stage electric shock protection system and a incredibly strong anti-shock rubberize out shell. The Transcend StoreJet M3 besides comes with its own software that can be used for one-touch backups. just press the button on the Transcend and the software will mechanically backup although it besides works with Time Machine. The Transcend StoreJet M3 besides comes with an extra USB cable to connect to a second USB port in shell your Mac can ’ thyroxine provide adequate exponent for it from one connection although most Mac users shouldn ’ t want this. If you ’ re going to using an external storage device outside, the Transcend StoreJet M3 is a good choice but note that it only comes in a 1TB and 2TB translation – there ’ s nothing bigger. To enhance security, you can choose from a image of carry cases excessively. Pros:
- Incredibly strong and durable
- One touch backup system
- No Thunderbolt port
- Limited to maximum 2TB
Buy on Amazon If you don ’ t need a portable external drive and are happy to merely have something bigger on your desktop, then look no further than the WD My Book Desktop. We ’ ve used WD My Book Desktops for over 10 years and never had a trouble and would not hesitate to recommend it however. Unlike the portable version, the WD My Book Desktop has its own world power supply which you connect to the mains so it doesn ’ triiodothyronine draw any might from your Mac. It has a USB 3.0 connection port but besides works with USB 2.0 ports. unfortunately it doesn ’ t have a Thunderbolt port although you can use a USB 3.0 to Thunderbolt converter cable with it. The WD My Book Desktop besides comes with its own WD Backup Software which is square but you in truth don ’ t need it if you use time Machine or another accompaniment software. For security system, the WD MyBook Desktop besides features 256bit AES hardware encoding that password protects your data. The WD My Book Desktop is available in 3TB going up to 10TB. Pros:
- Very reliable
- Ready formatted for Macs
- Encryption password protected
- No Thunderbolt port
Buy on Amazon The Samsung T5 Portable SSD is easily the quietest external hard drive for Mac users we ’ ve seen. SSD drives normally offer the poorest value for money in terms of dollars per terbium. They are however highly fast and silent compared to solid department of state drives because like your Mac ’ s internal hard campaign, they have no be active parts. There are very few SSD external drives for Mac that we can strongly recommend but in our opinion, the best consumer priced SSD external arduous drive for Mac you can presently get in 2021 is the Samsung T5 Portable SSD. The Samsung T5 Portable SSD is an SSD external hard tug for Mac with read-write speeds of up to 450 Mbps which is at least twice vitamin a fast as most mechanical drives. It ’ randomness incredibly small being not much bigger than a credit card and weighs equitable 1.8 ounces. It works on Mac, personal computer and Android devices but note that it ’ s not ready formatted for OS X. The Samsung T5 is shock immune and there ’ second less prospect of it burning-out that a mechanical hard drive because there are no moving parts. In fact, Samsung claims it can withstand 1500G of G-force equivalent to being dropped from 6.5 feet. It ’ mho besides one of the few external drives for Mac that supports USB 3.1 connections. It has a USB-C port which means you can use a Thunderbolt 3 cable with it although it can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate deliver anything conclude to Thunderbolt 3 transfer speeds. eminence that the T3 comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable in the box. If you ’ re looking for fabulously fast transfer speeds, the latest in SSD technology, portability and lastingness, the Samsung T5 is the one SSD external drive for Mac we would recommend if we had to pick one. Pros:
- Super fast SSD drive technology
- Silent hard drive
- Incredibly small and compact
- No Thunderbolt port
Buy on Amazon If you ’ rhenium looking for the ultimate in focal ratio, the G-Tech Mobile 2TB G-DRIVE Mobile SSD is the fastest external hard drive you can get for Mac with transfer rates of up to 560 MB/s. In fact, it ’ s well american samoa fast as any MacBook Pro ’ s home heavily drive so the G-Tech G-Drive Mobile SSD is one of the few external drives out there that lives up to the Thunderbolt 3 bill. It ’ south besides fabulously durable with IP67 water/dust resistor, 3M cliff tested and 1000lb crushed leather resistance. The G-Tech Mobile SSD has a USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection but besides comes with a USB 3.0 Gen 1 cable for backward compatibility. It besides supports Apple File System ( APFS ) with encoding. The downside is that like most SSD drives, you don ’ thymine get much memory space for your money. The G-Tech G-DRIVE Mobile SSDs are available in 500MB-2TB size but are expensive for such gloomy capability. however, if you ’ re editing lots of video recording or doing lots of heavy duty creative study in your Mac, the speed and lastingness of the G-Tech Mobile SSD range can ’ metric ton be beat. G-Tech drives besides come with a 5 year guarantee so you ’ ll get a surrogate drive within 5 years for free if it fails. Pros:
- Fastest SSD we’ve tried
- Silent hard drive
- Incredibly small and compact
- Very strong and durable
- 5 year warranty
- Maximum of 2TB storage space
Buy on Amazon If you want the biggest and best encrypted external difficult available on the grocery store in 2021 at consumer prices, then go for the WD My Book Duo Desktop RAID. The Duo consists of two drives in one enclosure which can be combined as RAID drives to double capacitance and travel rapidly. The biggest 36TB driveway for model is actually two 16TB WD Red HDDs packed together in one shell. By combining both drives in one, it offers super fast transfer speeds of around 324 Mbps. The WD My Book Duo Desktop is the cheapest and most reliable external hard drive for Mac which allows you to choose RAID disks. RAID ( Redundant Array of Independent Disks ) is fair a means of combining two heavily drives into one superintendent hard drive. You can choose between using both drives as RAID 0 ( identical firm ) or RAID 1 ( more guarantee ) or divide them both using JBOD. By nonpayment, it is configured in RAID 0 but you can easily change it to RAID 1. If you want to take out or replace on the drives you can besides push down on the top of the enclosure and the lid will pop up allowing you to remove the drives. however, note that you can lone use the lapp drives with the same enclosure. If the enclosure fails for any reason, you can ’ t equitable pop out the difficult drives and pop them in a newfangled one to save them as each hard drive has a singular encoding key for each enclosure. enclosure failure is identical rare though. WD SmartWare will automate backups for you and flush integrates with DropBox for mottle backups excessively but you can use Time Machine or any other Mac stand-in software. note that this detail WD arduous drive does not come ready formatted for Mac but you can well format it for Mac in a few minutes using Disk Utility in OS X or by following these instructions. Although it ’ s a bite on the costly side, considering you ’ ra getting two western Digital 8TB hard drives in one enclosure, it ’ s actually a very dear deal. If 16TB is excessively big, you can besides buy it in models ranging from 4TB to 24TB. It ’ mho besides amazingly repose for such a large heavily drive and there ’ s no noisy fan as it ’ s cooled from the buttocks vents with warm air flowing out of the top vents. Pros:
- Very reliable
- Surprisingly quiet for such a big drive
- Incredibly fast data transfer rates
- Huge storage capacity
- No Thunderbolt port
Buy on Amazon Thunderbolt 3 drives are still pretty expensive in 2021 and USB 3.0 offers better value for money with transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbps. however, if you want a Thunderbolt 1 ( 10 Gbps ) or a bombshell 2 ( 20 Gbps ) external drive for Mac and are uncoerced to pay that act supernumerary, the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo is an impressive nibble of kit. The WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo is designed specifically for Thunderbolt 1 connections delivering transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps. Like the WD My Book Duo, it ’ sulfur actually two drives combined and has two Thunderbolt connections so that you can access both drives at once if you need to ( although notice that it merely comes with one Thunderbolt cable ). Outside of SSD drives, the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo is probably the quietest external hard drive for Mac we ’ ve try and is fix formatted for use on Mac. It ’ mho besides RAID 0 ready although it can be configured for RAID 1 excessively. Note though that if equitable one force is configured as RAID 0 and the early as RAID 1, you will lose any data on the RAID 0 drive if anything goes improper then we strongly recommend using RAID 1 on both which treats them both individually even if it does deliver slower performance. The WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo is merely available in 4TB size though. If you want a reasonably priced Thunderbolt external drive for Mac that quiet and reliable, wear ’ t expression any further than the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo. Pros:
- Very reliable
- Thunderbolt port
- Very quiet external hard drive
- Only goes up to 4TB
Buy on Amazon The OWC ThunderBay Raid is pretty a lot the fastest and biggest external hard drive for Mac you can get with a maximum of a massive 40TB of storage. There ’ s an tied bigger exemplary the ThunderBay Raid 8 which goes up to an incredible 128TB. It ’ sulfur besides one of the lone external unvoiced drives to support Thunderbolt 3 which gives incredible top speeds of 1.3Gbps although in reality, you ’ ll probably get sustained speeds nearing to 827Mbps which is about vitamin a debauched as it gets for an external mechanical hard drive at the moment. The OWC ThunderBay besides supports RAID 0, 1, 4, 5 and 1+0 meaning you can use each drive individually or combine them for fastest speeds. The OWC ThunderBay Raid is however one of the most expensive external hard drives you can get for Mac with the largest 40TB of storage costing well over a few thousand dollars. The OWC ThunderBay is chiefly aimed at video editors, enterprises and little businesses that need massive storehouse and extremist fast rock upstanding performance. The Thunderbolt 2 connection is enough for television editors to edit and stream 2K or 4K footage from although note that it doesn ’ thyroxine back Thunderbolt 3. Like all OWC external drives, the OWC ThunderBay 4 RAID comes with a 5 year guarantee which is the longest you ’ ll discover for a quality external hard repel on Mac. overall, the OWC ThunderBay Raid is easily the biggest and most authentic external storage drive for Mac available so if you need some good storage space, it ’ s the ultimate external hard drive for Mac. If there ’ s no handiness on Amazon, you can besides buy the OWC ThunderBay 4 RAID direct from OWC excessively. Pros:
- Offers the biggest storage space of any external hard drive
- Thunderbolt 3 compatible
- 5 year warranty
- Not formatted out of the box for Macs
Buy on Amazon G-Tech is a sword of western Digital aimed specifically at the Macintosh and creative professional market. G-Tech drives are already formatted to use with Macs ( although you can re-format them for use with Windows excessively ). Like most western Digital products, G-Tech products are dependable, solid and look commodity. The G-Tech 4TB Thunderbolt 3 drive can be daisy chained to up to 5 drives and is available from 4-12TB. If you daisy chained 5 12TB drives that gives you a massive 60TB of very eminent speed storage space. The Thunderbolt 3 claim is a bite mislead however. Although G-Tech drives have a Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C port with support for USB 3.1 Gen 1, the reality is it can ’ t achieve the maximum transfer accelerate offered by Thunderbolt 3. This is because inside it ’ south still only a 7200RPM SATA hard drive which is only adequate to of delivering transfer speeds of up to 180MB/s whereas Thunderbolt 3 can go up to 250MB/s.
If you very want to get anything close to Thunderbolt 3 transmit speeds, you ’ ll be better going with a G-Tech SSD drive which is more expensive and have less repositing space but because it ’ s a solid State Drive, can achieve a lot faster transfer speeds. Pros:
- Made by Western Digital
- Supports Thunderbolt
- 5 year warranty
- Doesn’t fully achieve Thunderbolt 3 speeds
Buy on Amazon
How To Choose An External Hard Drive
With internal Mac hard drives becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to upgrade internally, an external unvoiced drive provides the perfective solution. however, the technology of external arduous drives and the connection port types on Macs have changed a bunch in the past few years so it can be quite confusing knowing what to go for, and how to to use them with Macs. Going for the cheapest hard drives with the most storage outer space is definitely a false economy in our experience and the loss of your cherished data can be invaluable. by and large, the best external storehouse devices for Mac users fulfill similar criteria to those that are best for PCs but there are some specific things that make some more Mac compatible than others. here then are some necessity points to consider when bribe and using an external hard tug on Mac to help you decide which one is best for you .
dependability is credibly the most important consideration when purchasing an external hard drive for your Mac. The worse thing that can happen to an external storage device is disk failure. When this happens, you ’ ve normally lost everything stored on it which can be a total catastrophe if you ’ ve got valued syndicate photos or significant documents on there. Manufacturers rate the dependability of their hard drives with “ Annualized Failure Rates “. however, these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt. Although manufacturers sometimes quote an Annualized failure Rates of less than 1 % ( AFR is a percentage of total intemperate drives sold that fail per annum ) any figures on reliability aren’t worth basing your decision on in our opinion because everyone uses hard drives in different ways. For model, those that leave their external unvoiced drives switched on all the time or use it constantly for video recording edit are going to experience more frequent failures than those that alone switch them on occasionally for backups. Most manufacturers will guarantee at least two years of reliability and the best manufacturers like Western Digital (WD) offer 3 years and OWC offer five year guarantees although in reality, all external hard drives should outlast this with moderate use. Of course, any such guarantees are short recompense in terms of your cute data in the case of failure. You will have lost all of your files anyhow but at least you’ll get a free replacement from the manufacturer. If you want to learn more about why difficult drives fail, you can find an matter to look at hard drive dependability here .
Buy A Decent Brand
This is probably the most important piece of advice when buying an external hard drive. There is decidedly a difference between established brands and lesser known newcomers to the market. In 2019, the cosmopolitan consumer external intemperate drive market is dominated by two boastfully players – Western Digital and Seagate – both of which have been in the business over 20 years. At MacHow2, we use western Digital ( WD ) external hard drives on a regular basis and would not hesitate to recommend them such as the highly dependable WD My Passport range of external hard drives. note that Hitachi drives are now owned by Western Digital indeed if you buy a Hitachi external hard drive, you ’ re effectively getting a westerly Digital product. There are other brands such as LaCie, Fujitsu and Toshiba but they ’ rhenium well behind the big two when it comes to external hard drive market share and reputation .
Schedule Backups & Usage
Do not use your external hard drive more than is absolutely necessity. If you have it switched on all sidereal day, and peculiarly if you keep accessing it all day, it ’ south going to burn out far more quickly than if you good switch it on once daily or weekly to make backups. quite merely, the more you use an external hard drive, the quicker it will eventually fail. Those that edit video on their Mac directly from an external drive can therefore expect their hard drive fail quick and should decidedly invest in higher end quality hard drives featured here such as the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo or OWC ThunderBay .
Use A Second Backup Solution
If you ’ re using an external hard drive on your Mac for performing backups, you should consider using a moment stand-in solution. The chances of two external hard drives failing at the same moment are extremely slender thus if your backups are very important, using two drives is the best thing you can do for backup. If you don ’ thyroxine want to purchase a second drive, alternatively you can make indisputable you ’ re using a cloud backup solution in tandem with your external hard drive. The WD My Book Duo for example besides allows you to backup to it ’ s own Cloud service Western Digital MyCloud although this of course costs extra. For Mac and io users however, the easiest solution is to backup using Apple ’ s iCloud alongside your external hard tug. You get 5GB of free on-line repositing with iCloud with plans starting at barely $ 0.99 per month for 50GB .
Get A Power Surge Protector
One thing that can immediately destroy your hard drive is a power surge in your home or position electricity supply. however, you can easily protect against this with a bum Surge Protector Power Strip which is well worth the investment ( for your Mac excessively ). note that a common occurrence with cheaper brand external hard drives is that the inverter inside fails which basically allows excessively much office to short-circuit and destroy the arduous drive. In these cases, a tide defender won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate help you which is another cause why we only recommend buying an external hard drive from a reputable brand .
Never Move A Drive When Its Switched On
Try never to move an external hard drive when it is switched on. External hard drives have moving parts which read the magnetic open of the drive. There is a danger that the read/write heads can move and make contact with the hard force in which shell, it will break immediately. The entirely way to avoid this is to buy a Solid State Drive (SSD) which has no moving parts although there are more expensive and have less memory capability although this is slowly changing as the technology advances. The home hard drive on all new Macs are SSD drives which is why it ’ randomness absolutely safe to carry around a MacBook and not worry about damage from movement .
Buy The Most Storage Space You Can Afford
External hard drives now offer massive amounts of storage quad and the starting luff in most external arduous drives is now generally at least 1 Terabyte or more. 1 TB equals 1000GB and is roughly equivalent to 488,000 photos and 220 full duration movies so a 5TB hard drive could be enough for a life of photos or music for most people ( see the table below ). There ’ s no right or incorrect answer when it asking yourself “ how much storage storage space do I need ? ”. But our advice is simply to buy the biggest you can afford. Cloud memory solutions such as iCloud and OneDrive are surely reducing the need for physical storehouse but the bigger your external memory device is, the more it can grow with you. As photos and television increase in size ( most high-end digital cameras and flush iPhones can film in 4K for case which eats massive amounts of heavily drive quad ) the bigger the better. Nowadays, 1TB of hard drive can cost less than $ 100 while one of the biggest consumer priced external hard drives, the WD My Book Duo 20TB, costs around $ 700. For those looking for unplayful memory space for enterprise backups or 4K video edit, the OWC ThunderBay goes up to 56TB but will set you back over a few thousand dollars .
Desktop vs Portable
There are two types of external hard drives for Mac : 3.5 inch desktop drives that have their own mains power source and 2.5 inch portable external drives that take their power from your Mac. portable drives will well fit in your jacket pocket. At the consequence, background drives go up to a maximum of around 56TB and Portable go to about 5TB. Some of the biggest desktop external drives such as the WD My Book Duo and OWC ThunderBay are actually a combination of 2 drives in one enclosure which can be used as RAID ( Redundant Array of Independent Disks ) drives. This basically means you can combine them both for double the speed, storage and operation .
SSD vs Mechanical Drives
about all external unvoiced drives nowadays are hush mechanical drives which means they have moving parts inside. mechanical external hard drives feature moving parts which can deteriorate and break more well. Solid State Drives have no moving parts, are consequently less probably to break and they ’ ra fabulously fast but there are less available and are expensive for the little storage distance they offer. There ’ s no doubt that SSD drives will finally replace mechanical drives in the external hard drive market but the economies of scale hush aren ’ t there so far . All new Macs since 2012 ( except iMacs, Mac Minis and non-retina MacBook Pros ) have inner SSD hard drives fitted as standard and anyone that ’ s used older Macs with mechanical internal hard drives will tell you how much faster and effective SSD drives are. SSD drives are besides silent and run cool compared to mechanical drives which whir and buzz due to the tug spin which besides creates more estrus . There are besides some hybrid drives that are a mix of solid state and SSD drives although these are less park. As the engineering improves, prices come down and capacity of SSD increases, it ’ s likely that finally all external hard drives will be SSD drives. But at the moment, mechanical drives silent rule the external drive market and offer the biggest capacities for the best prices. presently, we rate the best SSD external arduous drive for Mac as the Samsung T5 Portable but you lone get 2TB and the list price is $ 479.99 .
External Hard Drive Speeds
The accelerate of backups or data transportation from your Mac to your intemperate driveway depends on two things – the connection port type ( see below ) and the hard drive’s physical speed denoted in Revolutions per Minute ( RPM ). Most external hard drives are 5400RPM but there are some faster high-end drives that are 7200RPM. A 7200RPM drive will be faster than a 5400RPM drive because the drive revolves faster and therefore can be read by the drive head quicker. If you ’ re connecting a 7200RPM hard drive via a superintendent fast Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 association, then you ’ ll enjoy the hard drive ’ s maximum transfer rush. however, a 7200RPM mechanical drive can ’ thyroxine achieve anything near Thunderbolt 3 speeds. A good example is the G-Tech Thunderbolt 3 external drive which has a 7200RPM mechanical drive but still can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate achieve the utmost transfer accelerate of Thunderbolt 3. The G-Tech 2TB Mobile SSD can however because it ’ s a solid State Drive ( SSD ). All new Macs have Thunderbolt ports although the number of external heavily drives that can take advantage of Thunderbolt speeds is still relatively small. however, if you ’ rhenium connecting with an older Mac via a USB 2.0 or Firewire port, then your connection cable won ’ t even be able to deliver the utmost focal ratio of the arduous repel so you might a well save some money and get a 5400RPM with greater capability than a fast repel with less capacity. The reality is that whichever hard drive you get, you’ll probably get around 100-200 Mbps transfer speed from most mechanical drives and about doubling this from an SSD drive. This is well below the capabilities of most modern connection ports and cables but as we ’ ll excuse concisely, external hard drive engineering distillery hasn ’ t in full caught up with them. Our advice is don’t worry too much about hard drive speed on external drives. Most external hard drives have a USB 3.0 connection which will deliver fabulously fast remove speeds. Most consumer priced external drives are 5400RPM anyhow so it ’ s not something you can easily be choosy about. 7200RPM external drives tend to be more expensive, noisier and most manufacturers are concentrating on trying to deliver more speed by designing hard drives that can take full advantage of connection types, than arduous drive speeds as we ’ ll see below .
Connection Port Types
The occupation of external hard drive connections can be extremely confusing as engineering changes and Apple apparently keeps changing ports on every new coevals of Mac. All new Macs since 2012 have ditched Firewire in favor of Thunderbolt 3 connections offer staggering utmost data transfer speeds of up to 40 Gigabits per second base ( Gbps ). Port connection speeds are measured in “ Megabits per second ” ( Mbps ) or “ Gigabits per second base ” ( Gbps ). 1000 Mbps equals 1 Gbps. however, the problem is that most external hard drives don’t even support the transfer rates of the latest generation of Thunderbolt yet (Thunderbolt 3). There are some SSD drives however that now do such as the G-Tech G-DRIVE Mobile SSD but it ’ second expensive and lone allows a maximum of 2TB storage distance. There are besides high end drives such as the OWC ThunderBay which supports the slightly slower Thunderbolt 2 ( 20 Gbps ) and the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo which supports the even slower Thunderbolt 1 ( 10 Gbps ). however, it is USB 3.0 ( 5 Gbps ) that presently dominates the external hard drive grocery store which has superseded the USB 2.0 ( 480 Mbps ) ports that about everyone has used at some steer. bewilderingly, USB 3.0 has nowadays been renamed USB 3.1 Gen 1. All Macs from 2012 have at least one USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 port and two Thunderbolt 1 or 2 ports although the good news is that most external drives with USB 3.0 are besides back compatible with USB 2.0 ports found on all older Macs. To complicate things however, USB 3.1 Gen 2 ( 10 Gbps ) is besides nowadays available which is even faster but faces the same trouble as Thunderbolt – there are silent very few manufacturers that support USB 3.1. Firewire meanwhile has pretty much been abandoned by most external hard repel manufacturers although there are a few that still support it. As you can see, it seems that larboard connection standards, normally driven by Intel and Apple, are changing faster than external hard drive manufacturers can keep up with but to clarify things, hera we ’ ll take a closer expression at the sometimes bewilder world of external hard drive port connections on Mac .
USB 2.0 & USB 3.0
about all external difficult drives for Mac immediately use a USB 3.0 port. If your Mac is from 2012 onwards then it will have at least one USB 3.0 port. You can check this by doing the following :
- Go to the Apple logo in the top left of your Mac and select “About this Mac”
- Click on “System Report” on the Overview tab
- Select USB down the left hand margin
There you will see if you have a USB 3.0 port. Macs before 2012 only have USB 2.0 but the commodity newsworthiness is that all USB 3.0 external hard drives are backwards compatible with USB 2.0 ports. The entirely remainder is you will get a maximal datum transportation speed of 480Mbps compared to 5 Gbps with USB 3.0 ( see the port connection speed comparison board below for an overview of amphetamine differences between connection ports ) .
USB 3.1 was released a few years ago and offers more than double the amphetamine of USB 3.0 at 10Gbps ( roughly the same as Thunderbolt 1 ). The trouble is that most external hard drive manufacturers merely do not support it. There are some models such as the Samsung T5 Portable SSD which is both an SSD drive and 3.1 compatible but merely goes up to 2TB and is quite expensive. Our advice is, preceptor ’ thymine look for a USB 3.1 drive at this stagecoach – the adoption by manufacturers and economies of scale just hush aren ’ t there .
Thunderbolt 1, 2 & 3 / USB-C
Since 2012, new Macs have Thunderbolt connections. Thunderbolt replaces the older Firewire connections and is now standard in all new Macs. The latest MacBook Pros from late 2016 onwards have Thunderbolt 3 connections which offers speeds of up to 40 Gbps per second. This is fabulously fast and easily allows you to edit television from your Mac as if it were on your Mac ’ s inner hard drive or even connect a 4K external monitor to. Thunderbolt has been developed by Intel and Apple but uses the same connection port and cable type as USB-C which was developed individually by the USB Implementers Forum. USB-C will finally replace USB 3.1 although USB-C devices can only handle a top rush of 10 Gbps. If you ’ ve got a pre-2016 Mac with a Thunderbolt 2 port, you ’ ll need a conversion cable from Apple to connect it to Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports. If you ’ re backing up large amounts of data, a Thunderbolt compatible external hard drive is decidedly worth the investment because it makes backup much flying. Or if you ’ re planning on regularly remove or backing-up 4K video, a Thunderbolt connection makes creating backups and editing in real-time from an external hard tug much quicker. however, there ’ mho one big problem with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C. At the moment, there are still no external drives that actually support Thunderbolt 3. The closest we ’ ve line up is the OWC ThunderBay which supports Thunderbolt 2 capable of speeds of up to 20Gbps. beware that there are some manufacturers that claim to be “ Thunderbolt 3 ” compatible but this is misleading as it merely means it can plug into a Thunderbolt 3 larboard – it does not deliver Thunderbolt 3 transfer speeds. Always check the belittled print what the maximum transfer amphetamine is – if it’s not at least 40 Gbps then it’s not Thunderbolt 3 compatible. For this argue, at the here and now in 2019, we advise against making Thunderbolt a priority when choosing an external hard drive for your Mac for respective reasons which can be summarized as :
- External hard drives still haven’t caught up with the speed of Thunderbolt connections. A Thunderbolt port can transfer at a staggering 40Gbps but even the fastest hard drives can’t get anywhere near this.
- There are three types of Thunderbolt – version 1, 2 and 3 each faster than the last. The problem is that those Thunderbolt drives that do exist still use Thunderbolt 1 or 2 which is the slowest standard so you’re not even getting the best that Thunderbolt on the latest generation of Macs can offer.
- Those Thunderbolt drives that currently exist are mainly only Thunderbolt 1 compatible (10Gbps) and expensive for very little capacity compared with USB 3.0 drives which transfer at a very respectable 5Gbps. For example, LaCie offer a 4GB Thunderbolt 1 external hard drive but we would never recommend LaCie drives anyway to Mac users. If you must have a Thunderbolt drive, the best thunderbolt external drive for Mac is the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo or if you want something really big, the OWC ThunderBay.
Macs before 2012 besides have Firewire ( 400 and 800 ) ports but this standard is gradually being phased out and we don ’ thymine recommend getting a Firewire external hard drive. The majority of manufacturers that hush produce Firewire drives are not established brands either and therefore dependability may besides be an issue. however, if a Firewire port is crucial for you, we can recommend the well-respected and dependable OWC stove of Firewire drives for Mac which support both Firewire and USB 3.0. OWC have been in the clientele over 25 years. Apple has replaced Firewire ports on all Macs made after 2012 with Thunderbolt ports. note that if the external hard drive has a Firewire connection but you lone have a Thunderbolt connection port on your Mac, you can use a Firewire to Thunderbolt arranger cable to connect it to your Mac although transfer speeds will be at Firewire speed, not Thunderbolt speed. The conclusion from all this is that in 2019, the fastest, most widely used and economical external hard drive connection that Mac users should focus on is USB 3.0. All external drives use at least a USB 3.0 connection but many now support the fast Thunderbolt ports a well. To summarize the rush difference between the different connections check the comparison table below which is done in order of accelerate. Speeds are measured in Megabits per second ( Mbps ) and faster devices such as USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt in Gigabits per second ( Gbps ). note that these are maximal speeds and real populace speeds may be 10-20 % less depending on the type of data being transferred and other factors. As mentioned earlier, there are no external drives that can achieve these speeds yet and the best you can expect is around 100-200 Mbps transfer focal ratio from most mechanical drives and about duplicate that from an SSD drive .Connection TypeSpeedFirewire 400400 MbpsUSB 2.0480 MbpsFirewire 800800 MbpsUSB 3.05 GbpsUSB 3.110 GbpsUSB-C10 GbpsThunderbolt 110 GbpsThunderbolt 220 GbpsThunderbolt 340 Gbps The world of association ports is changing quickly and there ’ s an ongoing debate over which will finally win out between USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt / USB-C. At the moment though, it ’ s USB 3.0 that ’ s out in front. For more on using USB 3.0 on Mac, check out Apple ’ s USB 3.0 FAQ .
You can format an external hard drive so that it works on both Mac and PC or Mac only. The best models are ready formatted for manipulation on Mac. however, you can easily format any external hard drive on your Mac to work with both Mac and PC or Mac merely. If you want to use the repel with both a Mac and personal computer it must be formatted in exFat or FAT32 format. The trouble is that FAT32 is limited to 4GB therefore for drives of 1TB or more, you have to use exFat. If the drive you buy international relations and security network ’ metric ton formatted for Mac and Time Machine you can find easy to follow instructions here .
Mac Backup Software
This could be an article in itself but we have absolutely no problem using Apple ’ s Time Machine software for backing up Macs and strongly recommend using it. Time Machine is free in macOS, it ’ mho quick and it ’ sulfur easy to use. If anything happens to your arduous repel, everything on your Mac including setup and shape is saved in Time Machine. just plug Time Machine in lawsuit of data passing, operating system problems or plug it into a fresh Mac if your hard drive failed, and you can instantly roll back to the stopping point work version of your Mac with all your files and booklet. There are other more manual solutions however, the best being CarbonCopy Cloner or SuperDuper for Mac. Most external hard drive manufacturers besides include their own backup and management software but they can be un-intuitive, uncompromising and you in truth don ’ t need them.
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Seagate ’ s Dashboard software for exercise is quite bloat and doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate make it easily to customize backups. We hope you ’ ve found this guide to buying an external hard drive on Mac utilitarian but if you have any questions, let us know in the comments below.