Best External Hard Drives for Mac in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update October 30, 2018
Anyone who uses a Mac computer knows that the included internal hard drive tends to fill up quickly. The best solution, especially for those using a portable Mac, is an external hard drive. Read on for our reviews of five of the best external hard drives for Macs. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Type
Capacity
Interface
Backup Options
Weight
OS Compatibility
Warranty
 
PROS

The USB cable is integrated inside the case, so you will never need to worry about losing it. All interfaces are securely closed with a dense plug.

CONS

Instructions are sparse.

OUR VERDICT

The LaCie portable external hard drive is one of the best protected from dust, sand, moisture and physical damage. Its body is made of durable aluminum with a sheath of shockproof rubber coating of a bright orange color, very pleasant to the touch.

detailed parameters
Type

Portable

Capacity

4 TB, 5 TB, 2 TB, 1 TB, 500 GB

Interface

1 x USB-C

Backup Options

LaCie backup software. compatible with Time Machine and Windows Backup

Weight

0.6 kg

OS Compatibility

Windows, Mac OS X

Warranty

3 year

PROS

The drive is equipped with two built-in USB 3.0 ports on the front panel, which allows you to connect and charge your gadgets, even if the system is off or in the standby mode.

CONS

Drive operation makes an annoying buzzing sound.

OUR VERDICT

The Seagate Backup Plus Hub for Mac external hard drive is reliable and has a fast data transfer speed, which will help you make backup copies quickly. Thanks to the large space in the cloud storage, you can easily share documents, photos and videos with your friends.

detailed parameters
Type

Portable

Capacity

4 TB, 1 TB, 2 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB, 10 TB

Interface

2 x USB 3.0

Backup Options

Seagate Dashboard backup software, compatible with Time Machine

Weight

0.9 kg

OS Compatibility

Windows, Mac OS X

Warranty

2 Year Limited

PROS

The drive is compatible with both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. You can protect the stored data with a password and apply hardware encryption to prevent unauthorized access.

CONS

USB cable is short.

OUR VERDICT

This ultra light portable WD My Passport hard drive in an attractive thin case with excellent build quality has enough storage capacity to store all your important data. The high speed of the device in particular will appeal to busy people.

detailed parameters
Type

Portable

Capacity

2 TB, 1 TB, 3 TB, 4 TB

Interface

1 x USB 3.0

Backup Options

WD Discovery™ software for WD Backup™, WD Security™ and WD Drive Utilities™, compatible with Time Machine

Weight

0.14 kg

OS Compatibility

Requires reformatting for other operating systems

Warranty

3 year limited

PROS

This drive can be used with both a PC and a Mac without the need to reformat. Includes a two month subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan.

CONS

USB cable has a loose fit.

OUR VERDICT

This Seagate portable hard drive, in a small and compact case, has excellent capacity and excellent performance. During operation, the device makes almost no noise and produces very little heat, so you can use it as much as you need.

detailed parameters
Type

Portable

Capacity

2 TB, 1 TB, 4 TB, 5 TB

Interface

1 x USB 3.0

Backup Options

Seagate Dashboard backup software, compatible with Time Machine

Weight

0.16 kg

OS Compatibility

Windows, Mac OS X

Warranty

2 Year Limited

PROS

Thanks to the thin aluminum case and light weight design, this drive easily fits in a bag along with other important things that should always be at hand. Ideal for the road.

CONS

Surface scratches easily.

OUR VERDICT

The G-Technology G-DRIVE hard drive is compact, rugged and extremely reliable. The drive provides fast data transfer and supports the Time Machine function for copying your files. This drive will give you the ability to store large amounts of video, photos, documents and music.

detailed parameters
Type

Portable

Capacity

1 TB

Interface

1 x USB 3.0

Backup Options

Compatible with Time Machine

Weight

0.1 kg

OS Compatibility

Requires reformatting for other operating systems

Warranty

3 year limited

LaCie Rugged (USB-C + USB 3.0)

Rugged and Classy

The LaCie Rugged (USB-C + USB 3.0) Portable 2.5 Inch External Hard Drive is an external hard drive that is sure to please any Mac user. Featuring a ruggedized external case with a beautiful orange bumper, this hard drive is extremely resistant to any kinds of drops or jolts, meaning that the drive operation will continue uninterrupted and that your data will remain safe. The drive connects to your Mac through a USB 3.0 connection, providing blazing fast transfer speeds of up to 130 MB/s. The 4 TB of storage capacity ensures that you have plenty of room to store all of your data, including large files common with photo and video editing. The speed of the drive also ensures that data transfers will happen quickly.

Along with the great looks and blazing fast speed, the drive comes with extras including the LaCie backup software, although the drive is fully compatible with TIme Machine as well. The LaCie backup software is easy to use and takes only a few moments to configure it to automatically backup all of your important data. The drive itself is also quite easy to use, operating in a true plug and play fashion. As this drive both looks and works great, it has positioned itself as one of the best external hard drives for Mac, and any Mac user should be pleased with it.

Review of LaCie Rugged (USB-C + USB 3.0) Portable 2.5 Inch Shock, Drop and Crush Resistant External Hard Drive for PC and Mac

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Seagate Backup Plus Hub

Drive and USB Hub Combined

The Seagate Backup Plus Hub for Mac Desktop External Hard Drive is one of the more unique external hard drives for Mac that is available. This 4 TB hard drive has plenty of storage capacity, being great for both regular use and for backups as indicated by its name. The drive also acts as a USB hub, as it contains two USB 3.0 ports on the front, allowing you to connect other devices to your Mac through it, including other external hard drives. This lets you chain up multiple external drives, something that those who commonly work with data-intensive applications will find necessary.

Along with the high storage capacity and USB hub capabilities, the drive comes loaded with extra features. Included with this drive is an NTFS driver for Mac, which lets both your Mac and Windows computers read and write to the drive without the need to reformat. The free Seagate Mobile Backup app for iOS and Android is also available, which lets your mobile devices use this drive for backups along with your computer. There is even a complimentary 2 month membership to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan, which gives you access to a wide range of apps and utilities from Adobe. Anyone looking for a great backup drive and who needs more USB ports will find this to be the perfect option.

Review of Seagate Backup Plus Hub for Mac Desktop External Hard Drive for PC and Mac with 2 Months Free Adobe Creative Cloud

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

WD My Passport

Great Classic External Hard Drive

Although there are a ton of options available on the market for hard drives with unique bells and whistles, some people prefer to just have a standard external hard drive that works great for them. The WD My Passport for Mac Portable Hard Drive is just such a drive, coming in a nice external enclosure that works fast and easily connects to your Mac. This 2 TB external hard drive for Mac includes plenty of storage capacity for those with large data needs, making it an ideal drive for photographers who need a good place to store thousands of photos. The drive comes directly compatible with Mac OS X, meaning that setup is simply a matter of just plugging it into your Mac.

The drive does have some great features included with it. For those who require their data to be protected, the drive comes ready with built-in 256-bit AES hardware encryption, providing maximum security for your files, and allowing you to password protect the drive. The drive also lets you set a "return to" message if the drive is accidentally lost or stolen, allowing anyone who finds it to send it directly to you. The exterior case is also quite rugged, meaning that it can handle shocks or drops without a high risk of damaging the drive. For a classic hard drive with great security features, this model is sure to please any Mac user.

Review of WD My Passport for Mac Portable Hard Drive

Additional Info

User Manual


 

Seagate Backup Plus Slim Portable

Sleek and Slim

Many Mac users who are looking for an external hard drive are looking for one with maximum portability. The Seagate Backup Plus Slim for Mac Portable External Hard Drive provides portability in spades with its small footprint and lightweight design. The drive is small enough to fit in a pocket, so it should fit easily in any carry bag for a laptop. Along with the high portability is a sleek design, making the drive look excellent when sitting next to your Mac. For those who like adding some extra colour to their computer setup, the drive can be ordered in one of six available colours.

The drive comes in different storage capacities ranging from 1 to 5 TB, making it appealing for many people regardless of there storage needs. The drive connects to your Mac through the USB 3.0 port, providing blazing fast transfer speeds that are sure to please any performance buff. Drive setup and operation is easy, and it comes out of the box ready to work with your Mac without any additional setup steps required. A complimentary 2 Months of Free Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan is included with the drive, which should make it appealing to anyone who uses their Macs for creative work. With all of these features combined, any Mac user should find this drive to be a brilliant solution to their storage needs.

Review of Seagate Backup Plus Slim Portable External Hard Drive

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

G-Technology 0G04451

Great Budget Drive

Not every Mac user needs an external hard drive that costs a lot of money. For those who have simple data storage or backup needs, a budget drive will work perfectly. The G-Technology 0G04451 G-DRIVE Portable Performance USB 3.0 Hard Drive is a great budget drive that will serve most users needs without a hitch. Featuring a beautiful aluminium enclosure, this portable hard drive for Mac will look great while sitting next to virtually any Mac model. The drive connects through USB 3.0, so data transfer speeds should be more than sufficient for most users, despite the slow spindle speed of the drive.

For those who require a drive for backup purposes rather than for general data storage, this 1 TB external hard drive for Mac comes ready to work with the Time Machine utility out of the box. Connecting the drive gives the user instant access to the full storage capacity of the drive, and it can be configured to work seamlessly with Time Machine in just a few seconds. It can also work with any other type of backup software, should you desire to use your own backup solution. Although this drive offers few extra features, anyone needing a great backup drive for their Mac should find much to like with this budget external drive.

Review of G-Technology 0G04451 G-DRIVE Portable Performance USB 3.0 Hard Drive for PC/MAC

 

What Is an External Hard Drive for Mac?

Most people who have used computers extensively know what hard drives are. They are devices, usually built-in to the system, that are used for storing large amounts of data. All software on a computer, including the operating system, is installed and stored on the internal hard drive. Many computers, including Macs, tend to come with small internal hard drives or solid state drives that will quickly become full, especially with heavy computer users, and the need for expanding the internal storage comes into play.

One of the best and easiest ways of increasing the storage capacity of your Mac is by connecting an external hard drive. External hard drives are generally the same as internal drives, in that they are a physical drive that stores data on spinning metal plates. In the case of an external hard drive, the drive itself is stored inside an enclosure that includes the proper ports for connecting it to your Mac. Most external hard drives connect to a Mac either through the USB port, or through the Mac's Thunderbolt port, and thus will likely come with the appropriate cable.

If you are looking for an external hard drive to connect to a Windows PC instead of to a Mac, check our reviews of five of the best external hard drives in the UK.

What Features to Compare

Most external hard drives that are available on the market are actually compatible with a Mac, even those that are labeled as being for Windows PCs only. A Mac is able to interface with and read data that is stored on an external hard drive that has been formatted for PC. However, Many of the tools that are included with the external hard drive may not be compatible with the Mac, which can be a problem if you wish to utilize those tools. For finding the best type of external hard drive to connect to your Mac, there are a few things that you will want to pay attention to before purchasing an external hard drive.

Capacity  

The total capacity of an external hard drive is going to be important, especially for those who work with lots of data. The larger a hard drive is, the more data that can be stored on it, so those who have large data workloads will want to buy the highest capacity hard drive possible. Thankfully, many of the hard drives featured in these reviews come in multiple capacities, so there should be plenty of choice for both low and high capacity hard drives.

Operating System Support 

Many external hard drives will show that they are compatible with both PCs and Macs, while others will show that they are compatible only with one or the other. As stated above, virtually any external hard drive will work with a Mac, including those labeled as being for PCs only. However, finding a drive that lists itself as being compatible with both will be ideal, especially if the hard drive is going to be shared between a Mac and PC computer. A Mac is able to read PC formatted hard drives, but a Windows PC can't read a Mac formatted drive, so if you need to share the drive between both types of systems, get one that is listed as being compatible with both.

Interface 

The interface is what the external hard drive will use to connect to your Mac. The two main interfaces you will find are USB and Thunderbolt. If you are using an older Mac that does not have a Thunderbolt port, then you will want a hard drive that connects through USB. Likewise, if you need to share the drive with a Windows PC, USB support for the drive will be a necessity.

Backup Support 

Many external hard drives will come with backup software that is ready to use, whereas others will come with no software at all. Almost any external hard drive is going to be compatible with Apple's Time Machine backup software, but if you prefer to use different backup software, you might want to opt for an external hard drive that comes with its own backup software solution.

Although most external hard drives should work fine with your Mac, keeping the above characteristics in mind when looking for the best external hard drive for Mac will ensure that you make the best choice possible.

Did you know?

Connecting an External Hard Drive to Mac

Those who are either computer novices or who spend much more time doing productive work on a computer than in getting to know the ins and outs of it may be unsure of what all needs to be done to connect an external hard drive. Thankfully, it is a relatively simple procedure, especially with a Mac. Most hard drives that advertise themselves as being Mac compatible will often come pre-formatted with a compatible file system, usually either HFS+ or NTFS (Windows file system). It should be noted, however, that Macs can only read data from NTFS formatted hard drives, not write to them. Some other hard drives may come without being formatted, although this is actually rare. For those that are already formatted, simply plugging the drive into the USB or Thunderbolt port should be enough. Once the drive is connected, the Mac should automatically recognize the drive and place an icon for it on the desktop.

Formatting an External Hard Drive

In the case of getting an external hard drive that is either unformatted, or pre-formatted for Windows as NTFS, the formatting procedure is still very simple. When the drive is connected to the Mac, it may or may not show an icon on the desktop. Drives that come pre-formatted as NTFS will display the icon, but usually give you a warning that the drive is read-only. If this is the case, or the drive is not appearing on the desktop, then you will need to open Disk Utility by clicking on the Go menu at the top, select Utilities, and then select Disk Utility.

In the Disk Utility window, you should see the external hard drive listed there, and labeled as an external drive. Select the drive, and then select Partition near the top. Here you can set a new name for the volume, choose the size of the partition up to the maximum possible size, and also select the file system to use for the drive. If you are needing to read and write data to and from the hard drive, then you want to format the drive as "OS X Extended (Journaled)". Once the drive has finished partitioning and formatting, it should be ready to go, which will be indicated by the drive icon appearing on the desktop.

For those who need further assistance with connecting and formatting a new external hard drive for Mac, this page has more detailed instructions on this process.

Backup Data to New External Hard Drive

Some of those who purchased a new external hard drive for Mac may want to use the drive for backup purposes rather than for extending their total storage capacity. If you are wanting to use the drive to make backups of your important data, this can easily be done through Apple's Time Machine utility. When an external hard drive is first connected to the Mac, you may see a pop-up asking you how you want to use the new drive. On this pop-up, clicking on "Use as Backup Disk" will automatically prepare the drive to be used for backups. If you want the backups to be password protected, then selecting the "Encrypt Backup Disk" checkbox will ensure that only you have access to the backup disk.

For detailed instructions on how to set up Time Machine to automatically backup data to the new hard drive, please read the Apple Support Page for How to use Time Machine to back up or restore your Mac.

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Publish Date: 2018-08-22 13:24:00