Editor choice

How to Choose The Best External Hard Drives for MacBook Pro

Best External Hard Drives for MacBook ProYour Macbook might be an impressive piece of technology, but even Apple products have limitations.

One of the biggest limits that all computers have is with the internal hard drive storage.

While cloud storage offers some relief from this issue, you still have to trust a 3rd-party to keep track of your files and data.

One way to alleviate this concern is by getting an external hard drive which allows you to safely backup your files and data on a physical device you keep.

That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best external hard drives to backup your MacBook Pro.

Top pick
Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0BAM

  • Superfast Read-Write speeds of up to 540 MB/s
  • AES 256-bit Hardware Encryption
  • Shock Resistance & Password Protection

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We’ve tested 5 external hard drives for MacBook Pro and the winner is above!

External Hard Drives for MacBook Pro Comparison Chart

Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM

Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0BAM

WD WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN

WD WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN

WD WDBWLG0080HBK-NESN

WD WDBWLG0080HBK-NESN

SanDisk Extreme SDSSDE60-500G-G25

SanDisk Extreme SDSSDE60-500G-G25

Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA

Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA

Capacities

500GB

1TB

2TB

8TB

1TB

Run Time

120 TBW

200 TBW

500 TBW

Unk

Unk

Read/Write

550 MB/s

540 MB/s

480 MB/s

480 MB/s

480 MB/s

Chipset

SSD

SSD V-Nand

HDD

HDD

HDD

Interface

USB 3.1 Gen-2 (10Gb/s)

USB 3.0/USB 2.0

USB 3.0/USB 2.0

USB 3.0/USB 2.0

USB 3.0/USB 2.0

Weight

41 g

51 g

130 g

2.01 lbs

149 g

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5 Best External Hard Drives for MacBook Pro (as of July, 2019)?

1. Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM External Hard Drives for MacBook Pro – Editor’s Choice Review

Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AMSamsung is one of the clear leaders in hard drive technology, whether external or not, and continues to dominate the market with their T5 models.

That said, Samsung is notorious for their pricing which also continues to sit at the top of the market, and this is the most expensive external hard drive that we reviewed.

Moreover, the Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM is not really that significant of an upgrade over the Samsung T3s.

Still, the Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM is easily the best performing hard drive we saw and is our Editor’s Choice best external SSD hard drive.

Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM is best external SSD hard drive

From the technical specs to the extras, the Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM is a great choice if you can afford it.

Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM Review, Pros and Cons.

Great Specs

From an all-around perspective, the Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM offers impressive speeds with read/write speeds of 540 MB/s. While not strictly the fastest hard drive we saw, the Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM offers the most consistent speeds.

Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM has read/write speeds of 540 MB/s

A big part of this comes from the V-Nand SSD chipset that Samsung uses in all their contemporary hard drives.

Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM is one of the most portable hard drives

On top of that, the Samsung T5 is a hearty little hard drive with a run time of 120 TBW. What is even more impressive is that the Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM is one of, if not, the most portable hard drives we saw with a weight of 51 g and a profile that is less than 9 sq. in.

Main Features

  • Superfast Read-Write speeds of up to 540 MB/s
  • Top to bottom metal design that fits in the palm of your hand
  • Optional password protection and AES 256-bit hardware encryption
  • Includes USB Type C to C and USB Type C to A cables
  • Shock Resistance & Password Protection
  • Requires Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks), Android 4.4
    (KitKat), or higher
  • Older versions of the Windows, Mac and Android operating systems may not be supported
  • 3-year warranty
PROS:
  • Has a read/write speed of 540 MB/s
  • Only weight 51 g
  • Has a 120 TBW runtime
  • Is an SSD hard drive
  • Has a small profile
  • Has numerous protections

CONS:
  • The most expensive hard drive review
  • Must be reformatted

Introducing Samsung Portable SSD T5:

Samsung Portable SSD T5 Unboxing:

2. Western Digital WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN External Hard Drives for MacBook Pro – Review

WD WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESNWestern Digital, or WD, is one of the biggest manufacturers of hard drives of any type or format.

While they are not necessarily seen as the absolute best performing, they do often provide a superior value for most people’s needs.

Unless you are working with server stacks or databases, chances are you do not actually need your hard drive to function at blistering speed.

On top of that, you actually save significant money by opting for the previous hard drive technology over the most modern form.

WD WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN has a the most modern form

That is why we rated this as the best external HDD hard drive that we reviewed.

Price Drop

While external hard drives have gotten cheaper and will continue to do so, WD WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN leads the way in this regard.

WD WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN Review, Pros and Cons.

They are able to still produce solid performances for most people with read/write speeds-so long as you make sure to get a better transfer cable than the one provided.

WD WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN has a transfer cable

What is even more impressive is that the WD WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN has a run time of 200 TBW.

Just make sure to be careful with the WD WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN as it does not provide the same kind of shock resistance that some of the other hard drives we saw do. This is especially relevant considering how small of a profile this hard drive has.

Main Features

  • Read/Write Speed of 480 MB/s
  • USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 compatibility
  • Fast data transfers
  • Improve PC performance
  • High Capacity
  • WD quality and reliability
  • Works with Windows/Mac Reformat
  • 2-year manufacturer’s limited warranty
PROS:
  • Has a 200 TBW runtime
  • A less expensive hard drive
  • Has a small profile
  • Has a read/write speed of 480 MB/s
  • Comes with WD Cloud storage
  • Weighs 130 g

CONS:
  • Subpar cables included
  • Not that durable

3. Western Digital WDBWLG0080HBK-NESN External Hard Drives for MacBook Pro – Review

WD WDBWLG0080HBK-NESNSometimes, a couple extra terabytes simply will not do the trick, and you need a heftier amount of memory.

This is especially true if you work with video or any program that renders audio or image data.

This is where the WD WDBWLG0080HBK-NESN comes into play with a capacity that portable hard drives could only dream of.

In fact, the capacity of this series is so impressive that the smallest drive sold is offered the same capacity as the largest portable hard drives that we saw.

WD WDBWLG0080HBK-NESN is the best big capacity HDD

As such, it should come as little surprise we ranked this the best big capacity HDD on our list.

Bigger is Better

While the capacity itself is nice for those of you who have hundreds of gigabytes of data to back up, the other specs of this hard drive are equally impressive.

WD WDBWLG0080HBK-NESN Review, Pros and Cons.

For instance, while not the fastest that we saw, the read/write speeds of 480 MB/s are still not far off the pace and more than adequate for most people’s purposes.

WD WDBWLG0080HBK-NESN has USB 3.0

Even better, this hard drive has the longest runtime that we saw at 500 TBW which is more than double that of the next closest competitor.

Just make sure that you do not need to take this drive with you as its size and weight are not portable and it requires an AC outlet to power rather than bus-powered.

Main Features

  • Fast data transfers: Read/Write Speed of 480 MB/s
  • High-capacity add-on storage up to 10 TB
  • WD quality inside and out
  • Universal connectivity with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices
  • Plug-and-play ready for Windows PCs
  • Works with Windows/Mac reformat
  • 2-year manufacturer’s limited warranty
PROS:
  • Has the largest capacity
  • Has a 500 TBW runtime
  • Has a read/write speed of 480 MB/s
  • Is USB 3.0 compatible
  • Spins at 5400 RPMs

CONS:
  • Is a more expensive hard drive
  • Is a larger hard drive

WD Elements 8TB USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive UNBOXING:

4. SanDisk Extreme Most Cheap External SSD for Macbook (SDSSDE60-500G-G25) – Review

SanDisk Extreme SDSSDE60-500G-G25SanDisk Extreme SDSSDE60-500G-G25 is far more well-known for their flash drives and secure digital, or SD, drives than they are their standard hard drives-regardless of whether the drive in question is internal or external.

That said, SanDisk is beginning to improve the quality of their larger drives to the point that they can legitimately compete with Western Digital – though they still have a ways to go before they can truly challenge Samsung’s dominance.

Regardless, the SanDisk Extreme lives up to its name by providing the best cheap external SSD on our list.

Great Value

This hard drive nearly ranked as our Editor’s Choice and would likely have done so if not for the fact that SanDisk is a bit slower than Samsung when updating the firmware after an OS update.

SanDisk Extreme SDSSDE60-500G-G25 Review, Pros and Cons.

This can cause the files on the drive to be unreadable and potentially even corrupt them.

SanDisk is a bit slower when updating the firmware after an OS update

However, if you wait until SanDisk releases a driver update, you will find the blistering read/write speeds combined with one of the smallest profiles we saw to be an incredibly convenient external hard drive solution.

SanDisk has the blistering read/write speeds

On top of that, this is easily the most durable external hard drive we saw with a waterproofing of IP55 as well as included 128-bit AES encryption.

Main Features

  • High-speed transfers with up to 550MB/s read speeds
  • Ruggedized, water- and dust-resistant (IP55-rated) (IEC 60529 IP55: Tested to withstand water flow (30 kPa) at 3 min.
  • Shock-resistant solid state core for greater durability (Shock-resistant (up to 1500G) and vibration-resistant (5g RMS, 10-2000 HZ)
  • Non-Operating Temperature(from ‐20°C to 70°C), operating temperature (from 0°C to 45°C))
  • Compact and pocket-sized
  • For PC and Mac users ; PC & Mac computers — no driver needed Compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Mac OS 10.4+
  • 3-year limited manufacturer warranty
PROS:
  • Has a read/write speed of 550 MB/s
  • Only weighs 41 g
  • Is an SSD hard drive
  • Has a small profile
  • Is IP55 waterproof
  • Is fairly durable

CONS:
  • No provided TBW
  • Slow firmware updates

SanDisk 500GB Extreme Portable External SSD:

5. Toshiba Best Macbook Cheap External HDD (HDTB410XK3AA) – Review

Toshiba HDTB410XK3AAToshiba is not really known as a high-end hard drive manufacturer, but they do provide a solid baseline quality for electronics in general.

In fact, there is a pretty good chance that one or more of your other electronic devices contain OEM Toshiba components.

This issue with Toshiba hard drives, including the Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA, is that the provided specs are not always consistent, and there is not really a great way of figuring out if your particular product is a dud or not ahead of time.

Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics has USB 3.0

Still, that is a risk you have to be willing to take when looking for the best cheap external HDD.

Surprisingly Solid

A quick glance at the specs provides a stat line that seems fairly comparable to most of the other hard drives on our list. The read/write speed sits at a decent 480 MB/s, though this is actually the primary spec that can fail over time.

The read/write speed sits at a decent 480 MB/s

Specifically, numerous customers have reported the Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA slowing down to a quarter of its reported speed.

Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Review, Pros and Cons.

What makes this a bit odd is that this slow down does not even seem to be consistent as the hard drive will perform as advertised the very next time you use it.

Main Features

  • Sleek profile design with a matte, smudge-resistance finish
  • USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 compatible
  • Simple add-on storage
  • Plug & Play – Easy to use with no software to install
  • Quickly add more storage capacity to your PC and other compatible devices
  • USB 2.0 compatible with no external AC power cord needed
  • Ready to use with your PC4 and no software installation required
  • Includes Toshiba 1-year standard limited warranty
PROS:
  • Has a read/write speed of 480 MB/s
  • The least expensive hard drive reviewed
  • Is USB 3.0 compatible
  • Weighs 149 g
  • Has a small profile
  • Easy to use

CONS:
  • No provided TBW
  • Inconsistent read/write speeds

Best External Hard Drives for MacBook Pro – Buyers Guide

Run Time

Run time is essentially how long the hard drive will function before failure and is rated in “terabytes written” or TBW. This is obviously an incredibly important consideration as it determines how long the hard drive will function.

However, most manufacturers are fairly protective of their product’s runtime ratings, and many do not even provide the runtime standard. On top of that, the different memory sectors of a given hard drive can corrupt asymmetrically.

As such, the hard drive may lose smaller chunks of memory well before the entire drive fails.

Speed

This is generally considered one of the most important factors when choosing an external hard drive regardless of where or for what you intend to use the drive.

That said, the speed of a hard drive is generally broken up into 2 functions which each have two types.

How to choose external hard drive for macbook pro // External hard drive for macbook pro buyer’s guide

The functions are reading the data and writing new data onto the drive while the types are sequential and random.

Of the two, most people will want a higher random read/write speed as most of their data is probably stored this way considering a given app will actually have numerous data partitions.

Size

This may be one of the most important factors in determining which is the best external hard drive for you depending on where you intend to use the hard drive.

Basically, if you are looking for an external hard drive that you can take with you on the go, then the size of the hard drive will be paramount.

How to choose external hard drive for macbook pro // External hard drive for macbook pro buyer’s guide

Keep in mind, that the size of the hard drive covers both the physical dimensions of the hard drive as well as the weight. Of course, the lighter and more compact the hard drive generally the smaller the capacity, so you may need to find the right balance between the two.

Chipset

The chipset used will have a major impact on how your external hard drive performs in a couple of different ways. The most notable to the everyday user will be how quickly the hard drive can read, write, or retrieve the data stored on the drive.

That said, the durability, as well as the ability to recover corrupted data, differ significantly as well.

SSD – This is seen as the premier chipset used these days for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason that people prefer SSD hard drives is that they are significantly faster than HDD drives.

How to choose external hard drive for macbook pro // External hard drive for macbook pro buyer’s guide

This has a bit more to do with the entry and exit point for the data signals, but the fact remains that SSDs are faster than HDDs. This is due to the fact that an electronic controller performs the drive’s functions and does not require moving parts.

On the flip side, due to the way that data is stored on an SSD hard drive, if something happens to the drive, there is little to nothing you can do to retrieve your data in most instances.

HDD – This is the classic type of hard drive and relies on the data being stored on a magnetic disk which then spins during the read, write, or retrieval process. The quicker the drive can spin will impact how quickly the drive can perform each function.

How to choose external hard drive for macbook pro // External hard drive for macbook pro buyer’s guide

The two standard disk spin rates are 5400 RPMs and 7200 RPMs with the higher number being the better. Still, even 7200 RPM HDD drives cannot truly compete with the speed of an SSD drive all other things being equal.

That said, the HDD drives are significantly easier to retrieve data from should the drive fail-though it can be expensive depending on the drive in question.

Conclusion

In the end, the whole point of an external hard drive is to be able to backup and protect your data without slowing down your computer.

In this regard, the only real choice is the Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM since it not only leads in the most relevant specs but also provides the most consistent performance too.

On top of that, the T5 uses the V-NAND SSD chipset for quicker retrieval all while still maintaining one of the smallest profiles that we saw. If you can bite the bullet and pay the high cost, this drive will last without fail and protect your data with its 256-bit AES encryption.

Best External Hard Drives for MacBook Pro

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