External Hard Drives

Howdy folks,

Does anyone have advice or opinions on external hard drives? It is for personal and research related use only. I’m primarily getting it for the extra storage space. My needs are:

-Minimum 500GB

I know there are differences in speed but I don’t know much about that. I also don’t know what brands have what reputations. I’m looking to do well for myself without breaking the bank as well. So price is a huge factor, but NOT at the expense of a product that meets all of my listed needs.


I also need it to be compatible with my MacBook Pro AND various PC laptops and desktops because of the nature of my research and travel. So USB port is probably the go to but someone else might know better than I do.

As you have said its for storage I wouldnt be too concerned with speed. These days its fairly redundant in something external. My advice, would be simply a 2.5in usb3 any brand with good reviews. 2.5s are more expensive per GB but powered via the usb cable where 3.25s while cheaper are bulkier and need an extra external adapter for power.
I personally dont get involved in the brand hype. All too many times you see reviews for any brand that are bad but more people take the time to leave a bad review than not + fanboys like hyping them up. Just look at different ones and pick the best avg review.
As with anything personal or of value MAKE BACKUPS!
I cant make comment on compatibility between pc brands but devices are more x-compatible than ever.

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Can you link me to an example of what you’re specifically describing. This is not my area at all so I’m super behind on the lingo.

I’ve had great luck with a couple of Transcend 1TB portable hard drives that I felt were very reasonably priced. Here’s an Amazon link:


These are compatible with both Mac and Windows machines. They operate on USB 3.0, so they are quite fast. Both of mine are a couple of years old and showing no signs of failing.



Sorry for the long link but even the 1st in that list is good. Anything around $100. Another factor can be warranty but they don’t care about your data, just the hardware.

Western Digital Passport. They are so cheap now. Go bigger than you think you want. You won’t reget it. I bought a 1 and then a 2 TB my book (not passport, the one that plugs into the wall as passport capped out at like 500GB at this point) several years ago
in college and they are both still going strong. I keep some things I really can’t afford to lose and I also back up family photos for my parent and keep the 2TB in a fire safe (with the good Pokemon cards). The 1TB is my every day, but the power cable is a pain. I will drop the $90 before too long to upgrade my 1TB my book to a 2TB passport linked below.


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@reinasierpe - Responding to you via this:

Do you and @gottaketchumall think this exact thing linked here meets all of my needs?

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I’ve only skimmed this thread but don’t get a 500gb external. 1tb externals are only $10-$15 more.

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Yeah, no. Not even taking a chance with that. I’m a bit confused why this doesn’t work like a big old flashdrive. Someone should ELI5 that while we’re picking me out what I need. Haha.

You can have separate partitions right? I don’t know shit about macs at all, but if you are windows only this would be no issue. I know nothing about needing to format for mac. My roomate in college used my mybook in college with no issues. We also used it on the community desktop that we had ubuntu running on. @reina serpe


After reading this quickly… www.cnet.com/how-to/the-best-ways-to-format-an-external-drive-for-windows-and-mac/

FAT32 format will work on both. NTFS is windows only. HFS+ is mac. FAT32 is slower than both of those, but works for both OS. That is the format all of my storage media is in as it is the only format PS3’s are compatible with. I never notice speed issues.

Thing is FAT32 can only be formatted up to 4GB via windows. Not sure why but you can format the 2TB FAT32 from your mac no issues and then use it interchangeably with all. The link shows some options and walks you through them.

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I have the most recent OS. Marie is spot on about not wanting to deal with partitioning. The more like a beefy flash drive this is, the better for me.

the small issue is that you want it to use it on two different systems. But the cnet link is good, you just gotta find what suits you best. I would pick which system you use most and install the application on the other system to read it.
If there is a 1tb or 2tb for the same or less than a 500gb, get it.
But one thing I saw in 15+ years of tech work was people not having backups of important files, no matter what type of storage you have. But thats another conversation but an important one if you dont do it.

And how does that one power itself? Also, does that have the protective outside thing you were talking about so I can take it with me without worrying?

I have a very low risk tolerance. Nothing I do goes without a backup. :blush: No worries there.

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Awesome. I’m super grateful for all the help.

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Passport is nice as it powers via the USB alone. I would have gone with passport, but it was several years ago and I think the biggest size under $200 at the time may have been 100-250GB. My next will definitely be a 2+TB passport. I use a desktop at home primarily on my tv, so having the power supply needed isn’t a big deal. Only time it bit me was when it fell out of a loose shitty outlet at a college apartment and corrupted the whole thing. Ended up saving it with some program I found online at the time and the good stuff was backed up anwyays.

Definitely could not recommend enough having a few 64GB sandisk flash drives for the most absolutely important and/or cherised documents you have. I go with WD for hard drives and Sandisk for flash drives all the way. I researched a lot when I bought them and they have not let me down. My sandisk has been through the wash multiple times and dryer. It has spent a few weeks lost in the snow in my driveway and never had issues. For less than $20 you can store thousands of photos, several hours of home video or anything sentimental like that. Important files can be endlessly stored essentially. Solid state is uncorruptable essentially.

I have two 64gb Patriot Flash Drives that I use to store important things. Keep one in my desk and one in my wallet. They’re extremely small, durable, and I love the heck out of them. Haha

The Transcend model that I pointed out also powers itself through the USB port on your Mac. No worries there. And the drive is formatted for FAT32 right out of the box, so it will work on both your Mac and Windows machines.

If I remember correctly, it comes with some backup utility preinstalled, but you can simply drag that to the trash and start with a nice, clean drive.

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