Best External Hard Drive 1 TB in 2020 (October Reviews)

To help you find the best 1 TB external hard drive, we’ve tried out a slew of different models, testing them out for plug-and-play simplicity, high build quality and drive speed, choosing products that allow you to store a whole bunch of files with very little hassle. To that end, we were attracted to small, light drives that offered portability, just in case you find yourself in different locations, and drives that were compatible with a variety of different formats, such as gaming consoles. These days storage devices are essential, whether you are gaming or just using them for work.

The best 1 TB hard drive we tried was the Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics, which is truly plug-and-play, with no drivers to install, comes in at a low price point and operates via USB 3.0, eschewing the need for a power cord. It’s also light, just five ounces, and features a sleek matte finish design. Keep reading to learn more about the Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics and the other hard drives on this list.

Top 7 Best External Hards Drive 1 TB Compared

 #1  Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1TB Hard Drive – Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: Truly a plug-and-play device, with no drivers to install, and is powered via USB 3.0 connection, though it is backwards compatible to USB 2.0. The light form factor and sleek matte finish add to making this our top pick.

Pros
  • Best Budget
  • Extremely light, at 5 ounces
  • Low price, given the features
Cons
  • Included USB cable is pretty short
  • Some issues with Windows 10
  • One year warranty on the lower side

The Toshiba HDTB410XK3AA Canvio Basics 1 TB hard drive boasts a speedy 5,400 RPM design, with true plug-and-play simplicity and absolutely no drivers to install in order to get it to work. It is compatible with just about every operating system, including gaming consoles, and features a light form factor, coming in at five ounces, and a sleek matte finish design. It also powers via USB 3.0 connection, so doesn’t need a power source, and is backwards compatible to USB 2.0.

Though the product does come with a warranty, it is only for one year, while many similar products offer warranties in the two year range. Additionally, we had some issues connecting it to Windows 10 computers, but these issues were resolved. Also read about the best external hard drives for Xbox One.

 #2  Toshiba Canvio Advance HDTC910XW3AA 1TB Hard Drive – Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: Comes in four vibrant color options, allowing for placement in nearly any bedroom or workspace, and boasts a two year warranty, in addition to coming with a suite of backup and security software. This is a great product for those who are picky regarding aesthetics.

Pros
  • 2 year warranty
  • 4 color options
  • Comes with backup and security software
Cons
  • Does need drivers
  • Included USB cable is short
  • Aluminum casing is option, but much more expensive

The Toshiba Canvio Advance 1 TB hard drive is a fantastic product that is available in four vibrant color options. It also comes with a two year warranty, which is nice, and a robust suite of backup and security software, helping to keep your data safe and secure. The 5,400 RPM drive integrates nicely with just about every operating system and it is powered via USB 3.0 connection, so you won’t need to plug it in to a power source.

In order to access the robust security and backup features, you will have to download some drivers, which was fairly simple. Additionally, Toshiba does offer a sturdy aluminum case as an option, but it costs significantly extra. For console playing gamers, read the best external hard drive for PS4.

 #3  Seagate Portable HDTC910XW3AA 1TB External Hard Drive – Most Capacity Options

WHY WE LIKE IT: Boasts a wide variety of size options, beginning at 1 TB and ballooning to 8 TB, plug-and-play simplicity, with no drivers to install, and compatibility with all major computing platforms. This is a fantastic product for those looking for massive amounts of storage space, above and beyond 1 TB.

Pros
  • Mac or PC
  • Up to 8 TB
  • No drivers to install
Cons
  • Drive is somewhat noisy
  • 1 year warranty, our number 2 pick has two years
  • Included USB cable is rather short at 18 inches

The Seagate Portable 1TB External Hard Drive is available in an array of size options, beginning at 1 TB and going all the way to 8 TB, suiting a variety of needs. It’s slim and light, weighing around six ounces, and offers plug-and-play simplicity, with no drivers to install. The 5,400 RPM drive also operates nicely with Windows PCs and Mac computers, delivering drag-and-drop functionality.

Though it does come with a one year warranty, other options on this list boast warranties in the range of two or three years. Additionally, the included USB cable is just 18 inches, which may not fit every layout. Mac users will want to read best external hard drive for Mac.

 #4  Samsung T5 MU-PA1T0B/AM Portable SSD – Fastest

WHY WE LIKE IT: Solid state drive that offers super fast read and write speeds up to 540 MB/s, with an extremely light form factor and boasting a three year warranty. This is just an amazing solid state drive.

Pros
  • Best SSD
  • Extremely compact and light, 1.76 oz
  • 3 year warranty
Cons
  • Most expensive item on list
  • Not usable with older operating systems
  • Will need drivers for some operating systems

The Samsung T5 Portable SSD is the solid state drive to beat, offering extremely fast read and write speeds, up to 540 MB/s, and an incredibly convenient form factor, fitting in the palm of the hand and weighing under two ounces. It’s also available in four neat color options and comes with an astounding three year warranty, which we love.

This is a high end product and, as such, is the most expensive item on this list by a fairly large margin. Additionally, due to the innovation of solid state technology, this drive cannot be used with older operating systems. For Macs, make sure you have updated to at least Mavericks and Windows users need Windows 7 or above. Browse more external hard drives and compare.

 #5  Silicon Power Armor A30 – Most Durable

WHY WE LIKE IT: It is designed, first and foremost, to keep your data safe in the event of an accident, featuring a military-grade shockproof case, a scratch-resistant surface and a three year warranty. This is a great product for those who value data safety above all else.

Pros
  • 3 year warranty
  • Extremely rugged design
  • Still light, at 7 ounces, despite robust safety features
Cons
  • Needs drivers in some situations
  • No waterproof rating
  • Shortest USB cable

The Silicon Power Armor A30 boasts an incredibly rugged design, with a military-grade shockproof case that that double shields the interior via a secondary silicon layer, and a scratch-resistant surface. Despite all of these features, the 5,400 RPM drive is still on the lighter side, clocking in at around seven ounces. The company also throws in a three year warranty, adding to this product’s stellar safety rating.

Though the drive does feature an innovative cable carry design, allowing the included USB cable to wrap around the exterior of the product, the included cable is the shortest we received, at just three inches or so. Additionally, it does not feature a waterproof rating. Check out more computer accessories.

 #6  Western Digital My Passport WDBYNN0010BBK-WESN Portable 1TB Hard Drive – Best Value

WHY WE LIKE IT: Boasts a great features to price ratio, offering high end features at a slightly lower price point, with a small and light form factor (4oz) and a three year manufacturer’s warranty. This is a great hard drive if you are looking to save a few bucks.

Pros
  • Small and light, just 4 oz
  • 3 year warranty
  • Fantastic value
Cons
  • Requires driver to access certain features
  • Some issues with Windows 10
  • USB cable on short side

The Western Digital My Passport Portable hard drive is a great value, offering high end features at a slightly lower price point. It is small, fitting in the palm of the hand, and light, weighing just four ounces, making it a truly portable product. It is also available in three cool colors and comes with a three year manufacturer’s warranty, tied for the best warranty available on this list. It is also password protected, so your data will be safe.

Though this drive is plug-and-play, requiring no additional power source to function, the included USB cable is on the shorter side, at around 12 inches. Additionally, it will require driver downloads in order to access certain features, including the password protection. Speaking of storage, check out our micro SD cards list.

 #7  Maxone Ultra Slim Portable Hard Drive – Best Portable

WHY WE LIKE IT: Features an incredibly slim, 0.4 inch thick, aluminum anti-scratch enclosure that is available in several space age colors, with a three year warranty and nice integration with gaming consoles. This is a great hard drive with an equally great metal design.

Pros
  • Sturdy Metal Design
  • 3 year warranty
  • Integrates nicely with gaming consoles
Cons
  • 8 oz is still somewhat light, but heavier than others on list
  • Could use shock proofing
  • Requires driver download in some instances

The Maxone Ultra Slim Portable Hard Drive features an extremely slim, 0.4 inch thick, enclosure that is made entirely from aluminum, giving it a pleasing look that maximizes data safety. The hard drive integrates nicely with every major operating system, in addition to providing flawless use to gaming consoles, such as the PS4 or Xbox One. The three year warranty is also tied for being the longest on offer.

This hard drive weighs a bit over eight ounces, which is still fairly light, though slightly heavier than the other models on this list. Additionally, though the metal enclosure is extremely sturdy, we couldn’t help but wish they had upped the ante with some form of shock proof technology. Another on the go storage option are USB flash drives.

How We Decided

To help narrow down to the above list, we favored durable, well made hard drives, ones that shouldn’t fail with the slightest provocation. To that end, many of the products featured on our list are made from high quality, long-lasting components, such as aluminum, and others boast sleek form factors, such as those with a matte finish. Additionally, many are very light, making them shine as portable hard drives. You can use them with your best gaming PCs.

We also wanted to make sure that most of the above products boasted plug-and-play functionality, meaning that they don’t require an external source of power, being charged via USB connection. We favored models that did not require the downloading of drivers, preferring drives that just worked as soon as you plugged them in, allowing for drag-and-drop functionality. We were okay with models that required a driver download, so long as downloading said driver provided access to additional features, such as suites of security software.

On the warranty front, we made sure that each and every hard drive on the above list featured, at the very least, a one year warranty. Many of the products ascend to two or three year warranties. Finally, though most of the above hard drives are flash drives, we did sneak one SSD in, as that will get you the fastest read and write speeds, despite the high cost.

1 TB External Hard Drive Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Speed
    HDD drives have continued to get speedier and more reliable, despite the ascendance of their expensive SDD cousins. As long as you purchase a drive with a minimum of 5,400 RPM, and the associated read speed of 100 MB/s, you will download and transfer content at a good clip and retrieving files will be smooth and error fre. If you have an undying need for speed, choose a model that boasts 120 MB/s and 7,200 RPM or a solid state drive.
  2. USB Powered
    Most modern gadgets boast USB 3.0 ports nowadays, with some newer devices featuring USB 3.1 ports. In order to get the most out of both your computer and the external hard drive, make sure you pick a product also supports USB 3.0, thus maximizing transfer speed and power management. Most of the above products on our list are powered through USB connection, so you don’t need an external power supply.
  3. Warranty
    It’s just a fact of life. Hard drives fail. Be sure to pick a hard drive with, at the very least, a one year warranty, just in case the worst happens. Many companies also throw in data recovery as part of their warranty plan, so you won’t lose your save files and anything else of importance that you’ve loaded to the drive. Check the fine print.

External Hard Drive 1 TB FAQs

Why do hard drives fail, and what can I do to prevent this from happening?

Hard drives have several mechanical components that can wear down over time, causing failure. The read/write heads, spindle and actuator assembly are particularly sensitive, and a slight offset will prevent the drive from reading data correctly. Likewise, the hard drive's electronics can fail due to an electrical event or improper operating conditions. There are some common sense steps to prevent hard drive failure, including keeping it clean and trying not to drop it on to hard surfaces. Even the best nas hard drive can fail.

Why are solid state drives faster than standard hard drives?

Solid state drives have no moving parts, while a hard disk drive uses a mechanical arm with a read/write head to move around and read information from the right location on a storage platter. The end result? SSDs end up anywhere from 5-20 times faster at reading and writing than HDDs.

How long do hard drives last?

Though results may vary, your average hard drive should last anywhere from three to five years. Research shows that 90 percent of drives last for three years, 80 percent last for four years and so on.

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Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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