AppleInsider may earn an affiliate commission on purchases made through links on our site.
If you need more storage space on your new Mac, you have plenty of different options to choose from. Here are our favorite external hard drive choices for Mac, from smaller, zippy options to rugged hard drives that will protect your data, drop after drop.
There are plenty of hard drives on the market right now, with brands that focus on portability, some that center on speed, and others that offer the most protection they can for your files. But they're not all cut from the same cloth.
Be sure the hard drive you decide to purchase ticks all the boxes, so to speak, when it comes to what you're looking for.
Which external hard drive is right for you? We've rounded up the best external hard drives for Mac, broken down by category. Included are suggestions for a wide variety of budgets too, so you don't have to break the bank to store your data.
If you don't fancy spinning metal and want extreme performance, you may want to check out our list of the best external SSD for Mac that you can buy.
Most durable drive
The LaCie Rugged Drive is famous for being housed in an orange rubber casing. The protective exterior is not only its signature feature, but it is also eye-catching and easy to spot, so you're not going to miss it.
The rubber isn't just for show, as it helps the drive survive tough everyday conditions, including crushing, drops, shock, dust, and water. If the worst happens, you also have two years of Rescue Data Recovery Services included with the drive.
Connecting over USB-C, the hard drive offers support for legacy connections using USB 3.0. With up to 5 terabytes of capacity, it offers fast transfer speeds of up to 130MB/s.
You can get the LaCie Rugged USB-C External Hard Drive starting from 1TB, rising up to 5TB for $179 on Amazon.
Best splurge drive
If you want a drive that makes a statement and matches up to the rest of your Apple hardware, the LaCie Mobile Drive is going to be your best bet.
Available in a choice of Space Gray or Moon Silter, this desktop-class USB-C drive has a sleek appearance, one that is also angular and space-age due to its diamond-cut design.
Able to connect over USB-C for works with older USB standards with an adapter, but it can also take advantage of enhanced data rates of up to 10Gb/s. It's also formatted to work with both Windows and Mac desktops straight out of the box, so you can transfer data or run backups practically straight away.
Best fast Thunderbolt Drive
If blistering speed over Thunderbolt is your thing, then the G-Technology G-RAID 2 will be the answer. Connecting to Thunderbolt 3 as well as USB 3.2 Gen 1, the G-Raid is capable of providing not only high capacities, but can transfer them to you quickly as well.
Equipped with two Thunderbolt 3 ports for daisy-chaining support, the G-RAID 2 can handle data transfer speeds of up to 400MB/s over the connection. It also includes an extra 10Gb/s USB Type-C port and HDMI for connecting more hardware.
The utility of the drive is in its all-aluminum enclosure, which houses a pair of hard drives. They can be set up in RAID 0 for high-speed disk striping, RAID 1 for redundancy with drive mirroring, and JBOD support.
It is also supplied preformatted for Mac and preconfigured to RAID 0 for speed.
A SanDisk Professional brand, the G-Technology G-RAID 2 is available from B&H Photo for $599.99 for the 8TB model, with variants available up to 40 TB in capacity. Amazon also sells the G-Raid 2, starting from $584.11 for 8TB.
Best large capacity with multiple drives
For applications with serious storage needs, the LaCie 6big is the best external storage device you can get before turning to full-blown fileservers.
Holding a total of 6 IronWolf Pro 7,200RPM drives in its hot-swappable SATA 3.5-inch drive bays, the 6big starts with a capacity of 24TB, but can be configured to a maximum of 108TB. Those drives can also be configured into RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, and 60, depending on your storage needs.
Using RAID 0's striping, it can offer read and write speeds of up to 1,400MB/s, while RAID 5 allows up to 1,200MB/s read speeds and 1,150MB/s writes.
Connecting using Thunderbolt 3, it has a second Thunderbolt 3 port for daisy-chaining, as well as a separate USB Type-C port. It also supports one 5K display or dual 4K displays.
The combination of speed and capacity makes it a very viable option for videographers and productions, with users able to edit multiple streams of ProRes 422HQ, ProRes 444 XQ, and uncompressed 10/12-bit HD video directly from the drive.
The LaCie 6big is available starting from $2,299 for 24TB from B&H Photo.
Best dual-purpose drive
Hooking an external drive to your Mac provides more capacity, but it could offer more functionality with its connection. The LaCie 2big Dock RAID Array does just that by offering extra features.
On a basic level, the 2big is a desktop enclosure that includes two IronWolf Pro 7,200rpm hard drives, starting at a total capacity of 8 terabytes and rising up to 36 terabytes at the top end. Connecting over Thunderbolt 3, it offers RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD configurations, with it able to offer transfer speeds of up to 550MB/s.
While that is immensely useful, the 2big goes further in offering a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports, enabling it to be used for daisy-chaining, along with a USB Type-C port for extra connectivity. Then there's the extra USB Type-A port, and a DisplayPort interface supporting a 5K display.
There are also two memory card slots at the front, with support for CompactFlash Type I and UHS-I SDXC cards. This makes it trivial to quickly ingest footage and images to the drive.
Best network drive
If you don't need to have the drive physically connected to your Mac, a good consideration would be a network-attached storage device, such as the WD My Cloud Pro Series 4-Bay NAS Server.
Fitted with four 3.5-inch SATA hard drives, the My Cloud Pro hosts your data on your home or work network, allowing it to be accessed from multiple computers and devices.
Starting with 8TB of capacity and rising to 72TB, the My Cloud Pro can be configured to work in RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, or JBOD, all managed by a 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Pentium chip with 4GB of memory. This is all fed to the network using two Gigabit Ethernet ports, with it able to be used for network-based Time Machine backups.
There are an extra three USB 3.0 Type-A ports for connecting other devices and drives. With a one-touch copying feature, you can connect a drive or a camera and automatically offload all content to its storage.
If you have an extensive home media collection, you can also use it for streaming video, accessed via the My Cloud mobile app. For piece of mind, it also has two power ports in case of power supply failure and offers 256-bit AES volume encryption.
The WD My Cloud Pro Series PR4100 4-Bay NAS Server is available for $849.99 from B&H for the 8TB model.
Best reliable desktop drive
The Seagate Expansion External Hard Drive is a USB 3.0 addition with support for USB 2.0 in older setups. Compatible with Windows and Mac from the box, the drive connects using an included 4-foot USB 3.0 cable, and is also supplied with a power adapter.
It is a very straightforward drive, with no distracting bells and whistles, housed in a textured plastic enclosure. It does include a built-in power management system, so it can run as energy efficient as possible when not in active use.
This no-nonsense approach makes it an ideal drive for a set-and-forget backup regimen, though you do have to format it for use with Time Machine.
Dependable for professionals
The LaCie d2 Professional is quite a popular model for professional use cases, so much so that it has undergone multiple updates and is sold by Apple itself through its retail channels.
The d2 Professional is a USB-C external drive with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port that works with Thunderbolt 4 as well as Thunderbolt 4. Coupled with a Seagate IronWolf Pro 7,200rom enterprise-class drive, it can offer users read and write speeds of up to 260MB/s.
That drive is formatted in exFat as well, so it will work out of the box with both macOS and Windows desktops, though you could easily reformat it to HFS+ or APFS if required.
As part of the reliability, it uses an all-aluminum enclosure made from a single sheet, giving it long-term durability and helping dissipate heat. It also has a quiet fan so it doesn't distract from any tasks.
It also has a limited five-year warranty, including a five-year Rescue Data Recovery Services plan.
Best external SSD for speed
Hard drives are good for mass storage and a good price per gigabyte metric, but they aren't known for speed. If you need speed, you need a SSD.
If speed is your main concern when it comes to choosing a new hard drive, the SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD is an excellent choice. It features pro-grade transfer speeds up to 1050MB/s read and 1000MB/s write capabilities.
That means you can create and save larger media and take it on the go with you anywhere. It includes simple 256-bit AES encryption and is super small in your hand for so much power. Plus, it's ultra-rugged, with IP67 water and dust resistance.
Read our hands-on SanDisk Professional G-Drive SSD review.
Best rugged external SSD
If keeping the data on your portable drive safe is all that matters, you can't go wrong with the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro. It's a bit pricier than some of the other options, and it writes a bit slower, but it's encased in silicone to help protect it from the elements as well as heat.
The thick layer of silicone also keeps out dust and helps deflect pressure. You can choose between 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities as well.
Best value external SSD
Sometimes, you don't need to break the bank to find the perfect product. The SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD is a great alternative to more expensive hard drives, and it's an excellent drive to take on the go. It offers NVMe solid state performance of up to 1050MB/s read and up to 1000MB/s write speeds, and it's sized in the perfect form factor for tossing in a bag and going out.
The SanDisk Portable SSD also features up to 2-meter drop protection and is IP55 water and dust resistant. Plus, it has a carabiner loop at the top to carry around on your favorite bag or belt loop. All this, and 256-bit AES encryption, for less than $150.
You can purchase the SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD via Amazon for $129.99.
Read our SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD review.