These are the best external hard drives and SSDs for Mac

These are the best external hard drives and SSDs for Mac

Adding more storage while purchasing a new Apple product can be incredibly pricey. This is true for all Apple computing devices, especially the Macs. The new 2021 MacBook Pro notebooks, for instance, have 512GB SSD storage as a standard for the base configurations. Upgrading to a 2TB SSD storage from there adds as much as $600 while adding 4TB storage adds an eye-watering $1,200 to the overall cost.

Creative professionals and power users including photographers and video editors need that kind of storage to save piles of footage and RAW files. Well, if you need more storage for your MacBook then we recommend buying an external storage drive to instantly have more storage at your disposal. Depending on your budget and use case, you can choose to go with either an external hard drive or an SSD. These external storage drives for the best Macs also come in handy to move files from one location to another.


Choosing the best external hard drive or an SSD isn’t a complex task. Here are a few things you need to consider before buying an external drive:

  • Capacity: It boils down to how much storage you need to save your files. We recommend buying a drive with at least 1TB capacity to get the best value for your money.
  • Storage type: You can either buy a solid-state drive (SSD) or a hard disk drive (HDD). SSDs are all the rage right now mainly because of their speeds. They’re much faster than conventional mechanical drives. However, SSDs are also relatively expensive and are limited when it comes to maximum capacity.
  • Portability: Irrespective of the storage type, you can either buy a portable or a fixed desktop drive. Portable drives are smaller in size and some of them can fit in your pockets. Fixed desktop drives, however, need more space and they need their own power source. These are cheaper and often have higher capacities.

Now let’s take a look at some of the best external hard drives and SSDs for MacBook Pro:

Best external hard drives for MacBook Pro

    Best overall HDD

    The Seagate Ultra Touch HDD is a reliable external hard drive with a decent amount of storage. It's also very easy to carry around and doesn't look like ancient tech. It comes with up to 2TB of storage and also a USB-A to USB-C adapter in the box. The drive also comes with great backup software that you can use to schedule backups.

    Rugged desktop HDD

    If you don't mind leaving your storage drive on the desktop then the Western Digital Black D10 is our recommendation. This eye-catchy rugged drive comes with 8TB of storage and uses a USB 3.2 Gen 1 interface. It's rated at 7200 RPM and uses active cooling technology to maintain thermal conditions. It's also equipped with two 7.5W USB Type-A charging ports.

    Budget HDD

    The Western Digital My Passport is a portable budget hard drive known for its slim design and affordable price tag. It supports USB 3.0 and comes with 256-bit AES hardware encryption to keep your data safe. You can get this with up to 5TB of storage.

    Portable Rugged HDD

    Storage drives tend to be fragile, so it's never a bad choice to buy a rugged unit. The LaCie Rugged Mini is shock and drop resistant to a height of up to 1.2 meters. It's included with a variety of connection options and you can buy it with up to 5TB of storage. It's compatible with both Windows and Mac.

    Best portable SSD

    The Samsung T7 Portable SSD is one of the best compact SSDs you can buy for your MacBook Pro. It comes with both a USB-C to USB-C and a USB-C to USB-A cable. It's also one of the fastest external SSDs out there with sequential read/write speeds of up to 1,050/1,000 MB/s, respectively. You can get it with up to 2TB of storage.

    Portable SSD for content creators

    The Crucial X6 Portable SSD is a fantastic option for content creators working with large files. Despite its small form factor, you can get it with up to 4TB of storage. It's not as fast as the Samsung T7 portable SSD, but it comes with read speeds up to 800MB/s. Besides Macs, this external drive also works with PC, Android, gaming consoles, etc.

    Smallest external SSD

    The Sabrent Rocket Nano is one of the smallest external drives in this collection. It's the most compact SSD you can buy right now and it comes with up to 2TB of storage space. It comes with a USB Type-C to Type-C and a USB Type-A to Type-C cable. This drive is smaller than your credit card, but it comes with ultra-fast 10Gbps throughput. You can also buy it in a bunch of different colors.

    Fastest external SSD

    With sequential read and write speeds of up to 2,800 MB/s and 2,300 MB/s respectively, the Samsung X5 is one of the fastest portable SSDs you can buy on the market right now. The drive also comes with a heat sink to keep it cool at all times. The Samsung X5 is pocketable and looks better than a lot of drives.

    High capacity drive

    The Western Digital 'My Book' is perfect for those who're looking to add a lot of storage to their system at a reasonable price. It uses USB 3.0 interface meaning it'll also allow for faster transfer speeds. This drive also offers 256-AES encryption when you download the security software. It's not a portable solution since it demands a power source to work, but you get get plenty of storage at your disposal.

Final Thoughts

You’ll find a lot of external drives for your MacBook Pro, but these are our picks for the best drives on the market. We’ve included both external hard drives and SSDs, so you can choose the right for you based on your budget and requirement. If you want a portable hard drive, then we think nothing beats the simplicity of the Seagate Ultra Touch HDD. But if you want something more compact and faster then you can’t go wrong with the Samsung T7 portable SSD.

Which external drive are you planning to get for your MacBook Pro? Let us know in the comments below. Also, check out our recommendations on the best MacBook Pro cases if you feel the need to add some protection to your notebook.

About author

Karthik Iyer
Karthik Iyer

Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.

We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.