Best External Hard Drive for Recording Music
You don’t need to be an IT security specialist to know that data safety is important, even more so when you have an emotional connection to the data you want to protect as well. This is probably the case with most music producers: they all love what they do. This is why any, even moderately professional musical artist or producer doesn’t leave their bedroom without an external drive. Your computer’s internal drives and storage spaces are already constantly under pressure to perform, since all your software, your operating system itself, and all others that came onto that, run from them. If you just turn your laptop on, your storage is already being used to access the data needed to open Windows or the Mac operating systems.
Though these are durable enough to handle a lot of wear and tear, for anyone, even a beginner music producer, it might be a better idea to own an external hard drive to which they can record music and place any important files. This way the workload is divided between the external and internal drives, so the process of music producing or recording will not strain the internal drive, keeping it healthy for longer. Another main reason for anyone recording or producing music is clearly, safety. It can be a horrible experience to see all your music files and projects lost after the internal storage of your computer crashes. Purchasing an external drive is one of the steps to take to ensure good music recording and production, so in this article, we will answer the question: what is the best external hard drive for recording music?
Best External Hard Drive for Recording Music – Overall
We have split this review into categories to help you choose the type of drive which is best for you. The “Overall” category is what the name suggests: the best all-around device. It isn’t an exceptionally fast, exceptionally small, or exceptionally safe device, but the harmony of all these put into one, overall good device.
In the category for “Best External Hard Drive for Recording Music – Overall”, we have chosen the Samsung T5 Portable SSD. Aside from a price some people might deem somewhat too high, this device doesn’t even really have any downsides. It is the perfect overall SSD device, fast enough to handle any sort of task a music producer would encounter, small enough to be hidden in plain sight, safe enough for you not to worry about losing your data, but still stylish enough to easily fit into the image of any music producer.
Let’s talk a bit about the specs first. The Samsung T5 Portable SSD can be ordered with different storage space sizes, from 250 GB to 2 TB, and in a couple of different colors as well (black, blue, and red). Samsung claims that its product is capable of transferring data at speeds of up to 540 Mb/s, which we have tested, but more on that later. The device is small (74 x 57.3 x 10.5 mm), sturdy and well designed, and also comes with two separate cables: one USB A to C, and one USB C to C. This way, you don’t have to worry about not having ordered an adapter to be able to connect the drive to a device that only supports USB A. A 1 TB model costs around 140 dollars on Amazon at the time of writing this article, which is not an unreasonable price for such a high-quality gadget.
We are, however, adamant about not recommending products we haven’t tried ourselves, so we decided to order a 1 TB model and see whether the device stands up to the hype or not. When we opened the box, we weren’t surprised to find that the device looks and feels really high-quality, just like most of the products made by Samsung. The two cables were included as described and after some reading of the manuals, we decided to test it. We plugged it into our iMac, since that is our main computer, and the device connected without a problem. We tested the device’s speed and got back 533 Mb/s reading speeds and 524 Mb/s writing speeds, which we were pleased with since this meant that the company’s claims were legit and that the T5 is really fast enough to handle the tasks we wanted to test it on.
First, we moved our 10 GB test folder onto the drive and back, which altogether took less than a minute, which was impressive. Then we decided to launch our music app of choice (Reaper), we created some basic tunes, recorded them onto the drive, and played them from the drive, all of which worked perfectly. Then we downloaded a sample pack onto our drive and used it directly from there, which also worked like a charm. The last test was downloading a demo version of FL Studio onto the drive and running the program directly from the drive, which also worked properly, though sometimes we got slight loading lags when opening larger libraries and instrument groups. All-in-all, our verdict is that the Samsung T5 SSD is a perfect all-around option for recording music and all other tasks one might do while making music. Check it out on this link to Amazon!
Best External Hard Drive for Recording Music – Budget Pick
In the category where the priority is maximizing affordability while minimizing value loss, our choice ended up being the same as Amazon’s choice: the WD 1 TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive.
The WD Elements 1 TB HDD is the absolute winner when it comes to getting as much value as possible out of as low a price as possible. This 1 TB storage space doesn’t cost more than around 50 bucks, to be more precise, it is listed at $47.99 at the time of this article’s writing. That is already a very good price to pay to get 1 TB of storage space, let alone with the quality and reliability that WD offers.
The company Western Digital is one of the 3 largest names in the industry, aside from Toshiba and Seagate. The reputation they have garnered is one of reliability, which is the reason all external drive lists can be considered empty without at least the mention of their products. They have bought SanDisk and G-Technology as well, which now makes the company a very well-rounded one, with expertise in all areas of external drive production.
The specs of the WD Elements 1 TB HDD aren’t all that spectacular, except that they are; compared to the price. As we mentioned, 50 bucks for 1 TB of space is already quite the feat, and paying only that much money for a decently performing HDD isn’t a big deal. This device has transfer speeds of up to 120-130 Mb/s, which is a good speed for any average HDD. It is a small device, with a USB 3 connection and a simple design. The only complaint by some people is that the device tends to be somewhat louder than other similar-caliber HDD-s, but it isn’t anything serious or exceptionally noticeable.
We ordered a WD Elements HDD to test it, and upon opening, it was exactly what we thought it would be: a simple, black HDD. No fancy design, no fancy colors, nothing. It did still look good, however, which actually did come as a surprise. There is nothing extraordinary about it, but it still is a very good-looking device. We connected it to our Acer laptop this time to test it, and with the help of the CrystalDiskMark program, we measured its performance.
We got back reading speeds of 121 Mb/s and writing speeds of 107 Mb/s. That is a pretty good speed for the price range we are talking about and is enough for most people for most daily uses. However, how does it fare with music recording? Is it fast enough? We first tried to move our 10 GB test folder to the drive to see the general speed and the stability of the drive’s transfer (how well it kept the same speed over time), which took a couple of minutes but it wasn’t anything overwhelming, and the stability was surprisingly good.
We managed to download and even use some instruments and effect folders from the device, but nothing that was even a little bit more power-intensive could be played or used directly from the HDD. However, recording music onto it went perfectly (regardless of the slower speed), we played it back with no problem or lag. This is the best budget pick for music recording or production since even though it is slow and real-time usage of a music production app from the drive might be impossible, it can still help your computer with the workload of saving and playing some songs, storing large sample files, etc. It is all-in-all a very easy-to-use, perfect budget option.
The other thing is that music producers who are looking for budget picks will probably be somewhere at the beginning of their career and are just making and recording tracks as a hobby. For that caliber of work, this device is a killer. We would highly recommend it for anyone who isn’t concerned about style or speed, but would just like to have a lot of space to move their files on. Check it out here!
Other Good External Hard Drives for Recording Music
The Industry Standard
If you were to enter almost any music producer’s studio, if not on the table, then in some drawer you would most likely find a LaCie external drive. More precisely, you would most probably find a LaCie device from the Rugged line, perhaps the LaCie Rugged Mini. The LaCie Rugged Mini is a statement piece, it excels even from the line of other LaCie Rugged devices since it is iconic. The iconic orange band around the drive itself is a recognizable element of any music enthusiast’s recording sessions or studios.
LaCie is the Apple of the external drive world. That isn’t even that far-fetched of an idea, since LaCie products are the recommended external storage spaces for Mac systems on the official Mac accessories webpage, and approximately the first 20 external drives available and shown on there are LaCie products. They are high-quality products that stand out from the rest of the external drive world.
The specs are not all that impressive, however. The LaCie Rugged Mini is a high-quality, shock-proof, sturdy device, which looks amazing as well. However, it isn’t as excellent in the areas of performance. It is no faster than an average HDD since according to the product descriptions online, it can handle speeds of up to 130 Mb/s. That really doesn’t seem like a near 100 dollar device, does it? You aren’t paying for speed with this device though. It is the style, quality, and durability of this device which is the main selling point, and it will remain that way.
We have also tested it, and we got the exact results we expected. The performance was none better than the WD Elements HDD’s, except with somewhat better transfer speed stability, however, the looks, feel, and build quality of this device really makes it feel like a premium item. We do recommend it for people who either love Apple devices or who don’t care too much about transfer speed, rather about style, quality, and durability. It will be able to complete similar types of tasks as the WD Elements device both in terms of general use and in terms of music recording. One thing is for sure, you can never go wrong with a LaCie! Check it out on this link to Amazon!
The Speed Racer
No external drive review which is broken down into categories is complete without a really fast competitor. The style of a device might matter to some, just like budget, overall performance, safety, or some other characteristic of the device, however, the one quality of external drives that everyone cares about at least to some extent is its speed. Modern technology got us used to things speeding up at an exponential rate, so we expect high speeds from external drives as well since it wouldn’t be fun to wait 5 minutes to transfer one movie in today’s world. The device we chose in this category is an absolute beast when it comes to speed. It is the G-Technology G-DRIVE Mobile Pro.
The G-Technology company is the property of Western Digital. They give a very much needed freshness to the company since G-Technology generally produces extreme machines (either it has 144 TB of space, perhaps insane durability or very high speed). The G-Drive Mobile Pro is no exception. It is a crazy piece of equipment that will serve you better than any other device on this list, should you need high speeds and exceptional performance. With this device, you can download the largest and most complicated music production software you know of, with all its extra downloadable content, and run it real-time with another 3 projects running at the same time. We didn’t try the aforementioned example but it is a good enough illustration of what this device is capable of.
The specs of this device are the numeric representations of the insane power we were just talking about, so be prepared for large numbers. According to G-Technology, the G-DRIVE Mobile Pro can hit transfer speeds of up to 2800 Mb/s. That is almost 3 GB per second. Apart from that, it can be ordered in 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB options, so it isn’t like you will be running out of space quickly. It is also really well-built, it is shock-proof, can withstand 3-meter drops, and up to 1000 lb of pressure.
We clearly had to test this gadget, if for nothing else than out of curiosity. We opened the packaging to find an absolutely gorgeous device with a premium but almost a sporty feel to it. Then, since we couldn’t wait to test the actual performance of this thing, we plugged it into our iMac and started testing it. The 10 GB folder took us around 3 seconds to transfer, and on the testing software, we got read speeds of 2721 Mb/s and write speeds of 2408 Mb/s. All the previously mentioned tests with musical programs, music recording, storing, playing, editing can be handled with ease with this device. We couldn’t even come up with any sort of task we could give it in the musical production sphere which made it lag.
You might be asking: why isn’t this the best machine overall? Because of the price. A 1 TB version of this masterpiece of electronics costs around 600 dollars on the official website, sometimes nearing 700 (Amazon has prices near 350 dollars as well, but with the near 200 dollar shipping fee, you end up the same). Unless you really need to use this for some heavy-duty task that you can’t complete without it, it seems to be an overkill to buy. In this way, its greatest virtue is its flaw. However, if you are interested and would like an absolute beast of a machine as your external drive, check out this link, which leads to Amazon!