Best External Hard Drive for Music Production
As a creator, your music is your baby. If anything were to happen to it, you would most definitely lose it. Theft, hacking, you name it. It’s a jungle out there and you need to stay vigilant. We’ve curated a list of the best storage solutions to ensure the worst never comes to the worst.
Without further ado, we explore the best options for you, your budget, and your production overall.
Best external hard drive for music production – Overall
Samsung T5 Portable SSD
A solid contender for the coveted crown of best music production hard drive. Samsung’s revolutionary T5 Portable SSD drive is an absolute must-have in your musical journey because of its style and uniqueness. The hard drive is available on Amazon with four different storage capacities as well as different colors.
The most eye-catching thing about the T5 is that it is unlikely to catch the eye at all. This hard drive is extremely small, and I mean EXTREMELY small. This hard drive can (literally) fit in the palm of an adult’s hand. In fact, the T5 measures 74mm (2.9 inches) in length, and 57.3mm (2.25 inches) in width. This makes it very portable for all your classes, meetings, and studio sessions. If you are trying to be economic with your workspace, the T5’s size will be a tremendous benefit. The device can be easily hidden behind your laptop or other equipment, completely out of the way.
Samsung haters will probably leap at the chance to deride the obvious compromise in a performance that comes with such a small footprint. Said haters would be advised to hold on to their seats because there is no whiff of compromise anywhere on the T5…especially where performance is concerned.
The drive’s solid-state functionality is driven by V-NAND technology, which enables high speeds at low power consumption levels. All that horsepower is harnessed by the USB 3.1 (“Type C”) interface to bring you supersonic transfer speeds. In fact, Samsung asserts that the drive is more than four times faster than a standard HDD. Moving large chunks of data such as games, films, and discographies is a welcome breeze in a world of overheating clunky, hard drives. Whether you’re using the 250GB, the 500GB, the 1TB, or 2TB models, the performance is of the same high standard.
This product would be a great buy for anyone because its specs and functionality are just that good. However, it is specifically aimed at young artists…or young-at-heart artists. The palette of colors you can choose from is a clear ode to creativity. You can pick from three colors for the 500GB and 1TB models. Unfortunately, the 250GB and top-of-the-line 2TB models are restricted to one color.
“Solid-state” is not just a reference to this thing’s memory capabilities. This little pipsqueak is made of seriously tough stuff. The body is made entirely of metal. Kudos to Samsung for anticipating the number of drops the drive is likely to face due to its high portability. The manufacturer also tested and asserted that the T5 can survive drops from a height of two meters (six-and-a-half feet).
Users can also opt for the optional password protection feature, which makes use of AES 256-bit encryption to protect your data from would-be intellectual property bandits.
Management software (for Windows and Mac) is also included with your purchase. Set your encryption passwords, download firmware updates, and more to help keep your T5 in tip-top shape. There is also a handy app for Android users.
Despite a host of competitive rivals, the Samsung T5 comes out on top as the best external hard drive for music production. Its output is so disproportionate to its footprint that it still blows my mind how Samsung made such a device. Peak engineering.
Best external hard drive for music production – Budget Pick
Western Digital Elements portable external hard drive
If you need a lot of storage, but can’t quite afford some of the options listed in this article, then you should check out this incredible value for money hard drive.
The WD Elements hard drive is a good reliable option for your storage needs. Hurry and get yourself a great deal on Amazon. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for specials involving this superb storage device. There are up to five storage capacities to choose from (1TB, 1.5TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, and 5TB). Each capacity is only available in the same matte black design.
Unfortunately, you should not expect SSD-levels of speed from this thing. However, for an HDD, it is still pretty quick. The WD Elements uses a USB 3.0 interface, with backward compatibility to USB 2.0. There is no USB-C either, which is disappointing but not heartbreaking. You probably won’t even mind, given the affordable price. Besides, if you are going to be using this HDD for music production, USB 3.0 is still perfect. The great thing about music is that it tends to be faster to move than most films, series, and AAA games. The drive will easily help you curate your awesome discography.
The WD Elements just requires simple plug-and-play for it to function on Windows. Mac users will have to get the hard drive reformatted before they can use it. Back up your key data easily and as frequently as you wish. With capacities of up to 5TB, you can easily back up your entire PC to boost its performance.
The drive is easy to carry wherever you go, so touring and working remotely will not be a challenge to your productivity. The material has a good feel to it and, despite its price, the hard drive feels solid and sturdy. The “non-descript black slab” look it sports is a good aesthetic feature for your studio as well.
Best of the rest
Seagate Fast SSD Drive w/USB-C
Thanks to this fun and functional hard drive, the choice for the best overall hard drive was a toss-up. The Seagate Fast SSD drive is probably the best external hard drive on the streets, in many people’s eyes. However, in my view, the Samsung T5 portable SSD’s incredibly tiny size just tips the scales in favor of the Koreans. Do not let that sully your opinion on the Seagate, though, because this drive is also a certified beast.
Coming in with a tidy storage capacity range, this sleek solid-state drive has more than enough room for your discographies and master files. You could even store your music videos, tour highlights, interviews, financials, and access it all within a blink of an eye.
The genius behind the hard drive’s technology lies in its incredible low voltage differential signaling (LVDS) interface. This technology, in simple lingo, allows for top tier data transfer while minimizing power consumption. Let’s not get into those pesky electric bills, but you and I know that every bit of efficiency counts. The LVDS interface allows the drive to dish out data at speeds of up to 540 MB/s, meaning you will be able to back up your portfolios as frequently as you choose.
The design is a simple yet stylish silver and black shell. The hard drive is quite slim for a device of such specifications. When laid flat, the hard drive occupies an area slightly larger than a slice of cheese. Classic efficiency from an industry giant that is a permanent pioneer in data storage technology. Style is married to the substance as well because the shell is shock-resistant while retaining its lightweight frame and sleek profile.
One other cool feature is the folder syncing software that comes loaded up on the hard drive. You can set the software to target and back up specific folders on your computer. Any changes to a designated folder will be replicated in the hard drive automatically the next time it is plugged in.
USB-C support on the SSD drive is another added bonus that suggests that this device is one for the long haul. You can easily hook this hard drive up to your smart TVs, your PlayStation 4 (and 5), Xboxes, and even your smartphone. The ability to add your own music to in-game soundtracks is a great feeling for any musician, and the Seagate SSD drive offers exactly that.
Seagate is also offering great deals along with a purchase, including free Adobe Cloud membership for two months. There is also an awesome 3-year warranty on this fantastic storage device.
The Seagate Fast SSD drive is available, and waiting for you, on Amazon. Models range from the 250GB drive all the way up to 2TB.
Western Digital My Cloud Home
This “external hard drive” may not be suited for globetrotting, but it is still a recommended purchase for the music producer who is going somewhere…with his or her career.
This beauty is an externally powered tower of storage that would be a great fixture for your production studio or office. Western Digital earns another special mention with the My Cloud Home Personal Cloud Storage tower (Available on Amazon), a device that can hold up to TWENTY TERABYTES of data. For music production though, the 8TB single drive model would be more than sufficient.
The little tower has a stand-out matted white design that resembles (if you look closely) a classic file cabinet. Talk about attention to detail. It is portable enough to carry from camp to camp (i.e. from studio to home or B&B). Not the best choice for quick meetings and classes. If you have an established studio with a reliable internet connection the My Cloud Home will be the best choice for you, maybe even better than the T5 and Seagate Fast SSD.
If 8TB doesn’t whet your appetite, you can up the ante a notch up to the wider dual drive models. The dual drives include the 12TB, 16TB, and 20TB models. A 12TB model would have two 6TB hard drives, a 16TB would have two 8TB hard drives, and so on. This is complete freedom to keep your computers fat-free and fresh for future feats.
The dual drive models feature mirrored hard drive layouts, with two hard drives placed side by side in the My Cloud Home tower. Data that is stored on one drive is automatically copied onto the other drive. This feature is largely unnecessary, but if you’re someone stashing the lost recordings of Prince, for example, you might fancy the additional security blanket.
A modest 2TB model is also available for a great bargain, and it also features most of the software and hardware perks of the bigger boys. Auto backup for you and your family’s smartphones is one such feature. Full back up for your Windows or Mac systems is available, of course, via the desktop sync software. A great USB 3.0 interface allows for direct access and uses as a standard external hard drive. However, this device’s crowning feature is its wireless accessibility. Just plug the My Cloud Home into your router and everyone at home, in your meeting, or studio session can store their stuff via Wifi Direct.
The frequency of the backups is fully adjustable, much like the restrictiveness of the access. Both are done through the WD My Cloud Home software that comes along with your purchase. You can even access the device when you are off-site as well. The My Cloud Home website and mobile app (available on both platforms) allow you to upload and stream any bit of music or film you have stored on the device. I think that just about compensates for the lack of quick portability, especially for music producers.
SanDisk Extreme Portable external hard drive
Simply built tough, the Extreme is true to its name in our rough concrete jungles. It is also quite useful in the storage department, as you would expect from such a renowned name in the industry. It’s also a great value-for-money pick and massive savings are awaiting you on Amazon.com.
A great serving of features awaits you too. In fact, I almost forgot to tell you that the Extreme is a solid-state drive that is more than four times faster than any standard HDD. Immediately compatible with any Windows or Mac system. You also have the ability to encrypt your files thanks to the 256-bit AES platform. USB-C is supported in all its glory, revving up the insane speeds even more.
This device is for the rule-breakers, those who wander off the beaten track. As such, it is incredibly durable and resistant to the elements. The drive can easily shrug off drops from up to two meters on most surfaces. It is certified IP55 dust and water-resistant, and the dotted outer shell has a rubbery feel that was built to insulate for years and years. The carabiner loop in the corner allows you to clip it securely to your person or luggage.
Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification (NVMHCIS) aka NVM Express (NVMe) is the name of the tech that fuels the Express SSD to speeds of up to 1000MB/s. The USB-C interface helps manage such rapid transfer rates, which can make all the difference in those 3% laptop battery moments. Smile at your dead computer screen reflection as you celebrate moving that last episode of The Grand Tour just in time.
The simple, ergonomically designed hard drive is classic SanDisk. It is available with 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB storage capacities. The manufacturer offers a five-year warranty, almost unheard of for external hard drives. That is further evidence of the confidence they have in their product.
VectoTech Rapid External USB-C SSD
This monster was developed for one primary purpose…gaming. Whether PC or console, VectoTech’s Rapid is right at home. Thanks to its USB-C connectivity you can connect the hard drive to a range of smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles.
The Rapid makes use of the same V-NAND flash memory platform we discussed for the Samsung T5 SSD. This propels data transfer rates to an awesome 540MB/s, which makes this device “rapid” by nature as well.
It features a sleek aluminum casing that is almost scratchproof. The metal casing allows for efficient cooling, and it is also shock and vibration resistant. How many classic songs has humanity been deprived of simply because a sound engineer placed a hard drive on a booming subwoofer? If every musician had always been using the VectoTech Rapid, then the answer to that question would be zero.
The Rapid is available with 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB capacities. As far as music production goes, that’s a great range. The device is durable, sturdy and it feels solid and high-quality in the hand. The Manufacturer offers a 3-year warranty on all models but that might as well be five. The quality of this hard drive is guaranteed to see it breeze past the 3-year mark and several marks after that.