Best External Hard Drive Wirecutter
The Wirecutter, a product review website owned by The New York Times, has been testing and researching different external hard drives for nearly a decade now and is one of the most trusted pages when it comes to reviewing different electronic products. That’s why you can fully trust the people behind the page whenever they tell you which external hard drive is the best in the market today.
Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB – Overall
The Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB is the best external hard drive that The Wirecutter recommends for a lot of different reasons. From their reviews, they love the Backup Plus Slim 2TB because it is fast, very light and small, and is quite reliable. But for us to truly believe The Wirecutter’s word, we tested it out ourselves to see what it has to offer in terms of its overall performance.
In terms of its design, there is nothing that truly stands out about the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB because it does have the usual box-type form that most external hard drives come with. But what makes it a bit different is that its enclosure has a brushed metal finish on top of the usual plastic casing that most external hard drives have. This makes it more stylish than most of your other picks on the market. On top of that, it comes with a lot of color options that will surely fit your style and tastes.
While it does have a pretty good design due to the color choices that match the Backup Plus Slim’s brush metal finish, what makes this external hard drive a good choice is that it really lives up to its “slim” name. The 2TB variety is one of the lightest portable hard drives we have ever had in our hands and it is quite thin as well. It is only about .46 inches thick and fits well in most pockets and bags because of how it is 4.6 inches long and 3.1 inches wide. On top of that, it is only 4.5 ounces.
In comparison, the 2TB variant of the Seagate Portable measures 4.60 x 3.15 x 0.58 inches and is 6.72 ounces. Meanwhile, bestselling WD Elements 2TB may be shorter but it is wider and thicker and is slightly heavier than the Backup Plus Slim. As such, the Backup Plus Slim 2TB trumps all of the others in terms of its slim and lightweight build.
At the end of the day, most external hard drives are measured by their performance because that is what they are supposed to do. That is where the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB stands out from the rest of the pack as one of the leaders in speed when you look at the playing field in the 2TB 5,400 rpm scene.
When moving large files, the Backup Plus Slim 2TB performs admirably well on both ends as it can read and write files really well with consistency. On average, it tested at somewhere close to 125 Mb/s when reading and writing files but it can easily reach 130 Mb/s when it comes to smaller files. The only external hard drive we tested that is faster than this one is the more advanced big brother of the Backup Plus Slim, which is the Backup Plus Ultra.
While the Ultra may be faster and has a lot of extra features you might not find in the Sim, it is much more expensive and doesn’t come with the same reliability and consistency as the slimmer and more affordable younger brother. And the speed difference between them was just a few seconds, which means that you probably don’t have to pay for the more expensive option just to get something that is only a few seconds faster.
The one that is closest to the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB in terms of performance is the WD My Passport Portable 2TB. But the problem with the latter is that it is a bit slower and doesn’t come with the same kind of reliability as the Backup Plus Slim. It still is one of our favorites, though.
The Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB already comes pre-loaded with Seagate’s Toolkit program, which will allow you to back your files up in case something wrong happens. However, you can still also use other backup programs if you aren’t really too familiar with the Toolkit. This external hard drive also comes with a one-year subscription to Mylio Create, which is a photo organizer program that is great for creators and photographers who are always on the go.
As to why The Wirecutter chose the 2TB option over all of the other options, it is because it is a lot more affordable per terabyte when compared to the 2TB option. Meanwhile, it is a lot slimmer and lighter than the 4TB variant although the option should still be open to you if you need larger storage space for your files. But if you are not an avid gamer or if you don’t have a lot of videos and movies to store, the 2TB already fits the bill and is also our choice when it comes to the casual person who doesn’t really require large storage spaces to work with.
The only downside to the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB, however, is that it doesn’t’ come with the password protection that other products with a similar price come with such as the WD My Passport Portable. You may also include the fact that it was formatted to be exFAT instead of NTFS, which makes it slower when moving smaller files. However, the reason for the exFAT format is to allow it to be a plug and play hard drive on any computer regardless of the operating system. If you want it to be faster, you can easily reformat it to NTFS especially if you are using Windows but you may want to download another software if you want your Mac computer to read and write on it.
From an overall perspective, we understand and see why the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB is The Wirecutter’s favorite. It is light, fast, and very reliable. It even looks good when compared to other choices even though it does come with a vanilla design. On top of that, it doesn’t cost a lot of money and is one of the most affordable 2TB options for you.
While we didn’t really see this factor when we tested out the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB, what made this external hard drive The Wirecutter’s top choice is that it has one of the lowest failure rates among all of the verified purchased external hard drives up to date. That means that, even though it might fall a bit short in some of the factors when compared to its competitors, it promises a much lower failure rate and will not suddenly die out on you.
If you want to get your hands on the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB, you can check it out on Amazon.
WD My Passport Portable 2TB – Budget Pick
The WD My Passport Portable 2TB was one of The Wirecutter’s runners-up behind the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB but we regard it here as our favorite for the budget picks among The Wirecutter’s choices for the best external hard drives on the market. And we have a good reason for choosing it as it is not only a bit cheaper than the Backup Plus Slim 2TB but also performs nearly just as well.
You’re not going to get a lot of flair with the WD My Passport Portable 2TB’s design because it does come with the standard plastic enclosure that is similarly boxy when it comes to its overall form. But the enclosure does make things a bit more interesting by providing us with a diagonal ribbed design in the lower half, which makes it easier for you to grip it. Meanwhile, it also gives you three color options to choose from in case the usual black design doesn’t fit your style.
Surprisingly, although it usually lagged behind in the past, the newer WD My Passport Portable is actually now slimmer and lighter than the Seagate Backup Plus Slim, which makes it a better option for those who are looking for something that is easy to carry and small enough to be stored just about anywhere. At 4.22 x 2.95 x 0.44 inches and 4.23 ounces, you aren’t going to find other 2TB options slimmer and lighter than this one.
When it comes to its performance, the WD My Passport Portable performed really well and almost just as fast as the Seagate Backup Plus Slim with average transfer speeds of 125 Mb/s when transferring large files to and from it. Meanwhile, transferring smaller files can easily boost the speed up to nearly 130 Mb/s from time to time but it still is a few seconds behind the Seagate Backup Plus Slim.
Even though the WD My Passport Portable isn’t the fastest external hard drive, it performed admirably well in the HD Tune test and was actually far ahead of the competition in that category. This makes it one of the better external hard drives in overall performance and is certainly closer to the top when compared to the other 2TB options available considering that it doesn’t even cost a lot.
One of the best features that the WD My Passport Portable comes with is the fact that it has 256-bit AES hardware encryption to protect your passwords. This means that you will be able to safely protect your external hard drive’s files in case someone tries to access them. A person who is always on the go and has sensitive files in the WD My Passport Portable will be able to feel confident knowing that there is no way for any person to access the drive in case it gets lost. And you don’t even have to input the password over and over again because you can have it remember the devices and computers that you trust.
The WD My Passport Portable also comes with WD Discovery, which is software the allows you to seamlessly connect with your social media accounts and your cloud storage accounts so that you can back your files up and import photos and videos to your external hard drive.
The biggest downside to this external hard drive, however, is that it isn’t the most consistent in terms of its reliability. You probably won’t expect it to be as reliable and as consistent as the Seagate Backup Plus Slim. And, for Mac users, you might need to install a program that lets you read and write on NTFS hard drives or have the WD My Passport Portable reformatted to a readable format so that you can use this external hard drive.
From our perspective, there are a lot of things to love about the WD My Passport Portable over the Seagate Backup Plus Slim because it is slimmer, lighter, usually cheaper, and is nearly just as fast or even faster. Moreover, it also comes with password protection to allow it to be nearly unusable by anyone other than you.
But what we understand is that The Wirecutter ranks their favorites higher the more reliable they are. The fact that the WD My Passport Portable doesn’t have a failure rate as low as the Seagate Backup Plus Slim makes it just a shade lower in terms of its overall ranking. Still, because we love what the WD My Passport Portable 2TB offers in terms of its features and its price, we decided to make it our budget pick among all of The Wirecutter’s favorite external hard drives.
If you are interested in the WD My Passport Portable, check it out on Amazon.
Other good external hard drives reviewed by The Wirecutter
In case you are not too interested in either the Seagate Backup Plus Slim or the WD My Passport Portable, there are other choices laid out for you by The Wirecutter so that you can have a wider range of different options.
- Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim
The Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim was always one of the favorites of The Wirecutter in terms of its overall capabilities. Not only does it look a lot better than Backup Plus Slim but it also has better features.
In terms of its appearance, the Backup Plus Ultra Slim has the same box-type case but stands out with the unique textured metal enclosure that makes it a lot more stylish than any other choice you have on the market today. It looks sleek and classy and is one of the slimmest external hard drives available today. At .38 inches thin, it is even slimmer than the Backup Plus Slim.
When it comes to its performance, the Backup Plus Ultra Slim performs better than any of the favorites that The Wirecutter has mentioned. It is faster by a few seconds compared to the Backup Plus Slim but it is more expensive.
Still, even though the Backup Plus Ultra looks better and is faster than the Backup Plus Slim, it doesn’t have the same kind of reliability as its failure rate has seemingly increased over the past few years. On top of that, it is more expensive even though you aren’t going to get a lot other than the fact that it looks stylish and is a bit faster.
If you are interested in the Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim 2TB, you can visit the Seagate store on Amazon.
- WD Elements 2TB
The WD Elements 2TB has long been a favorite and will always be a best-seller on the external hard drive market particularly because of how small and affordable it is. On top of that, it actually performs really well despite its affordable price tag
Design-wise, the WD Elements departs from the usual box design because of its curved edges. It is shorter than most external hard drives but it is bulkier. Still, it works well as a light and portable external hard drive that you can easily carry around anywhere.
In terms of its performance, the WD Elements performs close to what the WD My Passport Portable is capable of as it does come with respectable speeds that seem to be better than what its price tag would suggest. This makes it a no-nonsense hard drive that works well and does its job considerably better than the other choices that may be more expensive than it is.
The only downside to this hard drive is that it lacks features aside from the fact that it is a plug and play storage device. But, with the price that it comes with, you would easily understand why that is the case. In other words, it works well as a great external hard drive for those who are merely looking for some extra storage space.
For those interested in the WD Elements 2TB, you can check it out on Amazon.