Best External Hard Drive for MacBook Air

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Best External Hard Drive for MacBook Air

Apple’s bite-sized MacBook Air is already a modern classic machine. Looks, styling, functionality, and speed. It has it all. Some would even say that the Air is Apple’s most boundary-pushing product in recent times (see the clever scissor-switch keyboard). We love everything about it…except for the storage.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the SSD is super-fast and super-efficient in both of the laptop’s 256GB and 512GB iterations. Everything runs smoothly and silently as if the folders might open before you click. There’s no hint of a whisper from the internal hard drive, even in a quiet library. Hats off to the Apple engineers and design team…as usual. However, I need more space for my One Piece (anime AND manga), as well as my Vinyl-conversion Bootsy Collins discography.

Best Buy External hard drive for MacBook Air – Overall

Silicon Power Rugged Game Drive

Drumroll please…as we dive right in and announce the best hard drive for your MacBook Air. Introducing Silicon Power’s Rugged Game Drive, the ultimate solution in Mac-friendly external hard drives.  

This tough nut comes with military-grade protections and features that are wedded to the technology of a high-end modern hard drive. You can get this device with one of six storage capacities (1TB, 1TB USB-C, 2TB, 2TB USB-C, 4TB, and 5TB). No SSD here, but your MacBook Air’s blistering performance ought to ensure the difference is blurred.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am no stranger to exaggeration, but you have to believe me when I say this hard drive is one of the deals of the century. This thing is so affordable, I want to buy one for everyone I know. The prices are that ridiculous.

The name “Rugged” is well and truly earned by this tough-as-nails hard drive. It is shockproof, scratchproof, and water-resistant. This device passed the U.S. military-grade shockproof test with flying colors. The same goes for the waterproofing test. If it’s good enough to make the cut at recruits, it will be excellent for your liberal arts tutorials. 

The rubbery exterior is a great way to minimize fingerprints and you needn’t worry about scratches and scrapings either. Long gone are the days of clutching your heart as you heard the sickening crack of yet another dropped hard drive. Maintain your composure, full of confidence in the Rugged Game Drive’s durability. Well done to the manufacturer for taking the extra care to consider the hustle and bustle society their product is meant to face.

A blue rubber band runs along the edges of the Rugged Game Drive. The band loosens up in two opposing corners to form an elastic carry-cable system. The rubber is extremely flexible, yet taut enough to help you carry items like cables and stationery items. Useful for students, and professionals, who cannot seem to carry a pen on their person.  

The interface is USB 3.2 Gen 1, a high-speed connection platform that will have you accessing your lecture notes, movies, and music at breakneck speed. Backward compatibility is available so you can easily share files with your PC peasants- er, friends. Kindly note that the USB Type C interfaces are only available on the 1TB USB-C and 2TB USB-C models. 

Boosting your local storage by four or even five terabytes is a fantastic move, and each model of the Rugged Game Drive would be a great accessory for your MacBook. However, for Air users, I would recommend the 2TB USB-C model because of the direct USB-C connectivity, and the speed that comes with it. The 1TB USB-C may also be adequate if you factor in the cloud.

If you are a penny-pincher, you will find incredible value here. You, unlike most Apple fanboys (or girls), secretly resent paying Tim Cook’s lofty hardware (and accessory) prices and will stop at nothing to get him back. I can’t promise you revenge, but I can guarantee that the great deals you can get for this hard drive will restore your faith in humanity. Silicon Power sweetens the deal even further by including a 3-year warranty for the Rugged Game Drive.

The current solid-state craze has somewhat skewed the market in favor of HDD customers. SSD prices continue to shoot up, while the more competitive HDD market forces prices to remain more fixed. At the same time, that same level of competition is driving the rapid development of HDDs, resulting in a lot of value for money options like those listed in this article. 

Best Buy External hard drive for MacBook Air – Budget Pick

Toshiba Canvio Basics

If you are just looking for quick and easy backup storage without overly investing in some of the pricier drives, or if you’re near-broke after purchasing an expensive 13-inch computer, then you should get the Toshiba Canvio Basics external hard drive. It’s that simple. Just get it.

It’s cheap, but I cannot see why. This is not only one of the best and most user-friendly storage solutions out there, but it is one of the best value-for-money computer peripherals you can get. The capacity range is perfect for most Air users. Choose between the 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities and back up your data in peace. The annoying bit about the Canvio Basics hard drive is that it still uses the old USB 3.0, meaning you will have to get a USB-C-to-USB-A adapter.

The design is a simple rectangle with rounded edges. The hard drive is only available in a cool matte black.  The coating on the drive also protects it from smudges and light scratches. It has good size, measuring 4.3 inches in length, 3.10 inches in width, and 0.55 inches in depth. It weighs 5.28 ounces (150 grams), which is impressive for hard drives in this class. All of these features add up to a level of portability which goes hand-in-hand with that of the MacBook Air itself.  

The Canvio Basics is plug and play on most Windows computers. Mac users will have to reformat the drive before they can use it. The process is basic enough though, and many YouTube tutorials are available. Once you’ve set it up, you are up and running and can transfer files between your Mac and other Macs, as well as PCs. 

The Toshiba Canvio Basics is a no-brainer pick for the best budget external hard drive. Solid and reliable, this is a great storage solution that will help you ease the strain on your laptop’s limited internal drive. If you already have an external hard drive, this one could be a useful secondary option.

Best Buy External hard drive for MacBook Air – Best of the rest

Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD

Over the years, the phrase “never judge a book by its cover” has been beaten into a bloody pulp by all sorts of bumper stickers, Instagram captions, movie one-liners, and gimmicky souvenir t-shirts. That said, I’m afraid the classic line will have to don the gloves once more thanks to the remarkable efforts of a certain Korean titan.

Sorry, Kim Jong Un, but I am referring to Samsung in this instance. Apple’s main rival in the smartphone arena is, ironically, a manufacturer of one of the best external hard drives for their MacBook Air. The Samsung T7 Touch Portable (Available on Amazon) is an absolute phenomenon and is easily one of the best external drives ever made. A super-compact design that is sturdy and durable is combined with advanced security features and out-of-this-world data transfer speeds.

The hard drive is perfect for desktops, laptops, smart TVs, phones, and gaming consoles. It is available with a 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB storage capacity, a pretty good range if you ask me. Simple plug-and-play USB-C means that you can directly connect this munchkin to your Mac without any adapters or dongles. You can take this device anywhere you can take your laptop; such as portability.

Aesthetically, the “cover” itself is not too shabby at all. Available in a sleek silver or black aluminum, the T7 measures 3.4 inches in length, 2.2 inches in width, and 0.3 inches in depth. For context, this thing is smaller than the Air’s trackpad!  However, the untrained eye might overlook this as one of those cute, but hardly significant, mini-hard drives. That would be a massive mistake, as there is nothing “mini” about what this thing can do. 

Let’s talk speed. The T7 is packing Dothraki-levels of horsepower thanks to its top of the range SSD technology. The SSD runs on a PCIe Non-Volatile Memory Express (PCIe NVMe) interface that catapults read and write speeds to 1000 MB/s and beyond. If you are familiar with Samsung’s awesome T5 SSD external drive, you will be shocked to know that the T7 is twice as fast as that speedster. The T7 is also a mind-warping NINE TIMES faster than your run-of-the-mill HDD.

The T7’s USB 3.2 interface is the perfect freeway for the blazing traffic of data, and the USB-C connector is heaven-sent if you are a permanent resident of the anti-dongle camp. Unfortunately, the drive is not equipped to fully utilize Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 USB-C speeds, so you can expect slightly lower read and write numbers on your MacBook Air. This shouldn’t, and probably won’t, be a problem for most users but it may be slightly annoying to the overly pedantic.

T7’s secondary selling point is its security features. Password protection is available and is the base layer of protection. The drive also features a square fingerprint sensor on the top, hence “T7 Touch Portable”. You can register several of your own fingers, or you can register multiple people’s fingers if the device is to be shared regularly. 

Both the password and fingerprint sensor run on AES 256-bit encryption technology. Once the fingerprint security feature is enabled, the T7 will prompt the user to place their finger on the sensor by blinking the LED status light that runs around it. This is a cool futuristic function that is oddly satisfying to the eye. Much like the sensors on modern smartphones, the T7’s sensor responds immediately to input, and you can instantly access your device and files. Failure to input a recognized fingerprint will result in the device granting read-only access to the drive. 

The drive’s security is so tight that it is impervious to aftermarket hard reset attempts. If, for some reason, access via fingerprint or password is unobtainable, users will have to contact Samsung for help.

The drive comes with two connecting cables, one USB Type C-to-C and a USB Type C-to-A, which makes it easy for you to share files with devices that do not support USB-C. The T7 drive comes preloaded with support software, which allows you to install drivers, setup and manage passwords and fingerprints, and download updates. 

There is also an Android app you can get for your phone or tablets. iPhone and iPad users will be disappointed to learn that there is no iOS app for the T7. This could well be a fire-stoking jab from Samsung, as their titanic tech tussle with Apple roars on.  

This SSD drive is simply glorious and it perfectly encapsulates what technology is all about.  I would even go as far as to say that the T7 is the best external hard drive for any computer, period. The only reason it loses out to the Silicon Power Rugged Game Drive is because of pricing, and overall value for money.

The range of capacities is also disappointing for such a device. We get that it’s a tiny device, but I’m sure the boys and girls in Samsung helmets could think of a 4TB model. The lack of Thunderbolt 3 could either be another annoying rivalry snub, or a classic Samsung gaffe (RIP Note 7).

Like most SSD drives, the T7 is rather pricey in comparison to HDDs. Even the 500GB model demands a pretty penny, so you might want to note that. However, for the speed, security, and durability you get, the drive is still a great value for money purchase.

G-Technology G-RAID

Also known as the G-RAID Removable Dual Drive Storage System, this device is for the user who doesn’t mind an externally powered hard drive. Even staunch supporters of portable external hard drives will have no choice but to turn their heads at this monster. I’m serious… “monster” is the best word I could come up with to describe the incredible G-RAID, which delivers a masterclass in storage overkill.

Where do we even begin? Let’s discuss capacity. The base model G-RAID begins at 8TB. Yes, you read that correctly. EIGHT TERABYTES. If that is too humble for you, you can pick one from the 12TB, 16TB, 20TB, 24TB…and 28TB iterations. If you are a recent lottery winner or a recipient of a significant inheritance, the 28TB model you’re going to buy will ensure that you never run out of space again.

In fact, you are not limited to one of these. The G-RAID can be daisy-chained to four other G-RAIDs through a single connection on your computer. That means, in theory, you could hook up five 28TB G-RAIDs for a total of 140TB! You, your kids, and your kids’ kids would have enough storage for life.

Design-wise, the G-RAID is a solid rectangular prism that is wrapped in solid aluminum. There is a large vent on one of the width faces, which doubles as the cover for the dual drive housing. You can find the power button, connection interfaces, and the fan on the opposite face. The device also features a Kensington lock slot, a clear hint at the sedentary lifestyle this hard drive was meant to lead. All in all, the device measures 9.88 inches in length, 5.12 inches in width, and 3.58 inches in depth. It weighs in at 8.65 pounds (4 kilograms). Hefty.

The G-RAID system makes use of dual-drive storage. Two removable Ultrastar 7200rpm drives work in tandem to bring about one of the fastest storage systems in this class of hard drive. You can comfortably run your photo editors, video and cinematography software, and enterprise resource planners…all at the same time, if you wish. The system can be programmed via RAID 0, RAID 1, or simple JBOD (just a bunch of disks).

The G-RAID features two Thunderbolt 3 interfaces that will allow seamless interaction with your Mac. You can hook up another G-RAID, or another Mac, to the remaining port. There is an additional USB-C port next to an HDMI port. The stainless-steel power button rests above the power supply. 

You can connect 4K monitors and view your photographs or home videos with futuristic ease. You can run heavy apps from the G-RAID system directly, instead of copying the apps to your machine and devouring precious space.

On paper, G-Technology offers a 5-year warranty and full return policy, no questions asked. On the ground, I can assure you that you can expect at least a decade of peerless performance and storage. How many I.T. products can you say that about in this era of planned obsolescence? Of course, like all I.T. products, great performance comes at a great price. You’re going to have to take a bit of a hit in order to take this baby home. Luckily, you can keep an eye on some special promotions on Amazon.

This storage system is not just a brash, stat-waving poser, ladies, and gentlemen. This thing is the real McCoy when it comes to performance and reliability. G-Technology themselves have marketed this product to enterprises and professionals with huge amounts of digital data. 

However, all work and no play would certainly make the G-RAID a dull toy. The hard drive is just as trusty at home as it is at work, and the whole family can easily store and transfer movies, games, and much more.  

LaCie Mobile Drive

Incredibly, the LaCie Mobile Drive is considered a sleeper in the portable storage game, but such is the competitive nature of this high-speed market. However, its design, capacity, and user-friendliness are worth an extra minute of your time.

The hard drive is stylishly designed with perfectly chiseled edges, and the aesthetic gets better every time you look at it. The Mobile Drive is available in Space Gray or Moon Silver across all four of its storage capacities. The drive weighs in at 0.88 pounds (400 grams) and has dimensions of 4.88 inches (length), 3.59 inches (width), and 0.79 inches (depth). 

The Mobile Drive is available with 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 5TB capacity. A healthy selection for many different needs. Your storage fears will be eased for good thanks to this handy hard drive. The essence of the MacBook Air is free-spirited portability and spontaneity, and you want to get a hard drive that matches that philosophy. You want to pump your favorite mixes during your free period? The drive has you covered. 

All storage capacities come with a USB-C port and cable for dongle-free connectivity with your Mac. In addition, there is no need for you to reformat the hard drive for it to work with macOS. There is a USB Type C-to A cable for connectivity to machines with older interfaces.

LaCie offers a 2-year warranty and return-or-replace policy, but I do not expect any need for all that. The Mobile Drive is very durable and will stand the test of two years at least. Creative users are in luck as well because every purchase comes with a free month of Adobe Creative Cloud (all of the apps).

A true all-rounder, the Mobile Drive ticks all the boxes and looks great while doing it.

Jetzz Ultra Slim 

The Ultra Slim is arguably the MacBook Air of external hard drives. Its size and shape even resemble an iPod, further underlining its credentials as the Air’s spiritual hard drive.

The super-slim drive is available with 1TB or 2TB of storage space, and it boasts USB-C as well as backward compatibility to USB-A. Transfer speeds can reach 400 MB/s, which is far beyond most full-sized HDDs. No software installations are required, just simple plug and play. 

Ultra Slim is also very sturdy and durable. It is wrapped in a matte aluminum case that comes in gray, silver, blue, red, or black. It is very satisfying to the touch and feels very high quality. The design helps the drive to slip in and out of most pockets easily and securely. Spec-wise, the drive is 5.7 inches long, 3.3 inches wide, and only 0.8 inches deep. It also weighs in at 3.2 ounces.

The high-speed performance does not drain power any more than any modern HDD. In fact, the Ultra Slim incorporates some clever tech and functions to cut down on power consumption. One such feature is the auto-sleep function that activates when the drive has been idle for a certain time.

I cannot speak highly enough of this incredible storage solution. It is very affordable and great deals can be found online. A great gift item for friends and family.

Seagate Desktop

This is another externally powered beast, although this device is a bit easier on your wallet than the G-RAID we discussed earlier. The Seagate Desktop External Hard Drive is a great storage solution and data library for any MacBook Air user. Portability is the obvious compromise, of course, but having a drive like this will enable you to store the bare essentials on your laptop to prevent it from filling up and becoming laggy.

Unfortunately, there are some hoops to jump through before you can use this hard drive on the MacBook Air. First, you will need a USB Type C-to-A adapter, if you didn’t have one already (which, to be honest, you do). Secondly, the device must be reformatted for use on macOS. Once that’s done, you’ll be set for simple drag and drop file transfers for the foreseeable future.

The device weighs in at 2.4 pounds and measures 7 inches in length, 4.65 inches in width, and 1.63 inches in depth. The shell is made of metal and is available in black or silver. No USB-C, though, which is disappointing on a device of this size. It makes use of USB 3.0, which is a little dated but still fine for most day-to-day things. A little delayed gratification doesn’t hurt.

The data transfer speeds are a little underwhelming as well. The drive clocks in at about 160 MB/s. Again, that won’t be the end of the world but it is still a far cry from the speeds that can be reached by other, more portable, hard drives in the market.

Seagate offers a one-year warranty for the hard drive, as well as one year of their Rescue Data Recovery Services free of charge. Not the worst deal out there. 

If you prioritize space much more than you do speed, then the Seagate Desktop is the ideal choice for you. This product has awesome value for money and could even be a more sedentary secondary hard drive if you are insistent on having a more portable drive.

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