If you are into video editing, you must be aware of how significant external hard drives are in ensuring you have enough storage space. Finding the best hard drives has never been easy as there are many factors to consider, such as storage size, portability, drive connectivity, speed, and security. External hard drives come in two varieties: solid state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs). Video editors are better off with SSDs because of the speed and portability they promise. Still, HDDs are attractive options despite their older technology since they are reliable and robust.

The best external hard drives should have high storage capacity and fast data transfer speeds. Enough storage space will enable you to work on high-resolution clips with large file sizes. However, you may pick on a slow external hard drive, if you only focus on the drive’s storage size without considering its speeds. A slow drive is usually problematic when combining essential video material such as camera footage, sound, and graphics. For this reason, we took our time to review different external hard drives in the market today to create a list that will help you land the best of the best depending on your needs. Whether you seek a budget-friendly, the most secure, or portable hard drive, here is a list that will make things easy for you. 

Sale
Seagate Portable 5TB External Hard Drive HDD – USB 3.0 for PC, Mac, PS4, & Xbox - 1-Year Rescue Service (STGX5000400), Black
  • Easily store and access 5TB of content on the go with the Seagate portable drive, a USB external hard Drive
  • Designed to work with Windows or Mac computers, this external hard drive makes backup a snap just drag and drop
  • To get set up, connect the portable hard drive to a computer for automatic recognition software required
  • This USB drive provides plug and play simplicity with the included 18 inch USB 3.0 cable

The Seagate Portable External Hard Drive HDD is everything a video editor would need from an external hard drive because it’s fast, durable, and portable. The drive is designed with a minimalist brushed metal cover to provide a unique look while ensuring its durability. It’s compatible with Windows and Mac computers, making it ideal for video editing as you are not limited to a single PC. Additionally, it is compatible with USB 3.0 and backward compatible with USB 2.0 standards to provide a fast data transfer speed of up to 120MB/s. 

Despite its small size which makes it easily portable, Seagate Portable External Hard Drive has a massive storage capacity that provides options up to 5TB. The Seagate drives come at different prices depending on the storage size. So, be sure you will find a perfect drive even if you plan on a small budget. 

Apart from its incredible features, this drive has a special offer that no video editing expert would want to miss. You get complimentary membership to Mylio Create for one year and a membership to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan for four years. If you are wondering about the drive’s data backup plan, it provides two years of data recovery services. Also, it has the drag-and-drop feature to enable you to save your files quickly. 

Although the drive is easy to connect with Windows and macOS, our hands-on expertise in video editing had a challenge with the drive’s data transfer rate. The drive was slow but didn’t fail to complete any data transfer processes. Based on our experience with the drive, we give it a plus in performance, its significant features, unique video editing offers, and its affordability. So, we recommend getting this drive if you seek a hard drive with the overall best performance. 

Pros:

  • Backup utility
  • Support Windows and Mac
  • Inexpensive recovery service
  • Affordable 
  • Huge storage size
  • Portable 

Cons:

  • Slow
  • Inconsistent data transfer rates

Specification

CompatibilityUSB 3.0/2.0
Item dimension4.61 x 3.25 x 0.79 inches
Works withWindows & Mac
Read/Write speed120 MB/s
Maximum capacity5TB
weight9.2 ounces

Check out Seagate Portable External Hard Drive on Amazon.

Sale
Toshiba Canvio Flex 2TB Portable External Hard Drive USB-C USB 3.0, Silver for PC, Mac, & Tablet - HDTX120XSCAA
  • Designed for PC, Mac, and Tablet (check compatibility at Toshiba's Consumer HDD website).
  • Formatted exFAT for cross-device compatibility (2).
  • USB-C ready, USB 3.0 compatible.
  • Versatile design. Includes USB-C and USB-A cables.

Hard drives with unique features that guarantee fast data transfer speed, security, huge storage capacity, and more are usually expensive. But that’s not the case with Toshiba Canvio Flex. It offers impressive features essential for video editing at a surprisingly low price. Firstly, Toshiba Canvio Flex provides a three-year limited warranty, unlike other drives, which are limited to one year.

The drive is compatible with Windows PCs, Macs, and tablets (Android and Apple with USB-C ports) and responds fast once it’s connected. We also checked on its read/write speed and maximum capacity since they are significant features in video editing. It has a maximum speed of up to 150 MB/s which is reasonably good for fast data transfer of even 4k files. You also get a maximum capacity of 4TB, which is significant considering its low price. However, based on our hands-on experience, the drive is relatively slow in transferring long clips with high resolutions videos. 

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Three-year limited warranty
  • Portable
  • Compatible with USB-C and USB-A
  • Cross-device compatibility

Cons:

  • Not suitable for long clips 

Specification 

CompatibilityUSB-C & USB-A
Item dimension4.37  x 3.15 x 0.53 inches
Works withWindows PC, Mac, & Android, and Apple with USB-C ports
Read/Write speed150 MB/s
Maximum capacity4TB
weight5.3 ounces

Check out Toshiba Canvio Flex on Amazon.

Sale
WD 5TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive with backup software and password protection, Black - WDBPKJ0050BBK-WESN
  • Slim Design
  • Software for device management and backup with password protection. (Download and installation required. Terms and conditions apply. User account registration may be required.)
  • 256-bit AES hardware encryption
  • SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port (5Gbps); USB 2.0 compatible
  • 3-year limited warranty

When it comes to the best external hard for portability, WD 5TB My Passport Portable is a solid option. This tiny drive has a dimension of 4.22 x 2.95 x 0.75 inches and a weight of 7.4 ounces, so you can carry it around when working outdoors. If you like to edit video on the go, it, therefore, merits serious consideration. Of course, many drives are designed in small sizes, but this drive became our top ranked because of its unique features that you would rarely find on such a small device.

The WD My Passport has a hardware encryption chip with 256-bit AES and password protection that keeps your digital life secure. With My Passport, you can activate password protection and designate your own password all thanks to Western Digital’s software. The WD My Passport boasts a proven track record, and password security, and is available in capacity sizes of 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 5TB with a 3-year limited warranty.

Also, with WD Discovery software, you will find download links for WD’s Drives Utilities enabling you to configure and check your drive’s health to ensure it is always secure. Additionally, the software allows you to store data directly from your social media platforms and cloud services such as Facebook, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Besides providing password protection, the drive has backup software enabling you to schedule automatic backup.

The drive boasts a read/write speed of between 120-140 MBps. However, we noticed the data transfer rate was inconsistent during our video editing testing. Another drawback is that the drive is designed for windows. Based on our hands-on experience, We had the challenge of organizing data since we couldn’t work on a Mac and Windows computer using the same drive. Nonetheless, considering the drive size with its many features, especially data security and storage size, it is the best drive for portability in the market today. 

Pros:

  • AES 256-bit hardware encryption
  • 3-year limited warranty
  • Small sized
  • Advanced data security
  • Competitively priced
  • Free backup software
  • High storage capacity

Cons:

  • Dated Micro USB connection
  • Slides around while working on the desk
  • Slower than other HHDs.
CompatibilityUSB 3.0 & USB-2.0
Item dimension4.22  x 2.95 x 0.75 inches
Works withWindows PC & Mac (depending on the model you buy)
Read/Write speed120- 140 MB/s
Maximum capacity5TB
weight7.4 ounces

Check out WD 5TB My Passport Portable on Amazon.

G-Technology 1TB G-DRIVE Mobile Pro SSD Portable Professional Grade External Storage - Thunderbolt 3 - 0G10311-1
  • Edit and export faster with sustained transfer rates up to 2800MB/s; As used for transfer rate, megabyte per second (MB/s) = 1 million bytes per second; Performance will vary depending on your hardware and software components and configurations
  • A shock resistant design to help protect your content anywhere
  • Latest generation Thunderbolt 3 connectivity
  • Cool, aluminum core for sustained performance

Need even fast speeds? Utilizing a speedy Thunderbolt 3 connection, the G-DRIVE Mobile Pro SSD can transfer data at up to 2800MB/s. Other than its great speed, you can easily connect to multiple devices thanks to its compatibility of 3x thunderbolt 2, 1x USB 3.1, 1x SD card, 1x DisplayPort, 1x USB 3.0 (type A) and 1x CF card. It’s both Mac and Windows compatible (after a reformat for Windows) and while there’s no waterproofing, it can withstand a three-meter drop and is crush-proof at up to 1000lbs.

The drive is perfect for video editors who store files on different devices and platforms. Firstly, you can directly transfer files from your memory cards, import photos, and connect a shuttle drive or digital camera. Since video editing focuses on speed and storage size, this drive gives up to 36TB storage capacity to ensure all your data is organized in one place. One of the drawbacks is the drive is expensive. Also, it’s not weatherproof, meaning you must protect it from dust and water for durability. 

Pros:

  • Read/write speed of up to 2800MB/s
  • Multiple input and output connections
  • High storage capacity 

Cons:

  • Not weatherproof
  • Expensive
  • Noisy fans

Specifications

Compatibility3x thunderbolt 2, 1x USB 3.1, 1x SD card, 1x DisplayPort, 1x USB 3.0 (type A), and 1x CF card.
Dimension217  x 118 x 93 mm
Works withWindows PC & Mac
Read/Write speed440 MB/s
Maximum capacity36TB
weight2900 grams 

Check out G-DRIVE Mobile Pro SSD on Amazon.

Sale
WD 8TB Elements Desktop External Hard Drive, USB 3.0 external hard drive for plug-and-play storage - WDBWLG0080HBK-NESN
  • High-capacity add-on storage
  • Fast data transfers
  • Plug-and-play ready for Windows PCs
  • WD quality inside and out

WD Elements Desktop is ranked the best external hard drive for capacity in our list because it offers up to 20TB storage capacity. Of course, there are other external hard drives with high storage capacity on our list. But when we focus on cost-per-gigabyte, this drive is the winner.

The drive is formatted to NTFS, meaning it is designed to work with windows. But that shouldn’t bother you if you have a Mac PC because you can reformat the drive to work with Mac. In addition, the drive has USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 connectivity to enable you to work with different devices. We had an easy time working on our Windows PCs since the drive responded almost immediately once connected. It offers a data transfer speed of up to 120MB/s which is fairly good if you edit short clips of videos. 

However, the drive is pretty slow compared to other competitive HDDs. We had to wait an extended period to transfer high-quality files and long clips during our testing. But considering its pricing, this is the best drive you can get with such a huge storage capacity without breaking the bank. 

Pros:

  • High storage capacity
  • Budget-friendly
  • Plug-and-play ready for windows

Cons:

  • Slow data transfer
  • No weatherproofing

Specifications

CompatibilityUSB 3.0/2.0
Dimension135 x 48 x 165 mm
Works withWindows & Mac
Read/Write speed120 MB/s
Maximum capacity18TB
weight950 grams

Check out WD Elements Desktop on Amazon.

How To Pick The Best External Hard Drive For Video Editing: Step by Step

Here are factors to consider to get a perfect external hard drive for video editing.

  • Speed
  • Storage size
  • Drive connectivity 
  • Portability 
  • security

Speed

You should focus on the drive’s data transfer speed since much of the video editing work deals with sharing multiple files.  To ensure you get the most out of your storage space, look for a drive with a higher RPM (revolutions per minute). The faster the RPM, the faster data can be copied and moved around. This can also help reduce wait times during backups or transfers between devices.

Storage Size

Video editing entails storing lots of raw data, meaning you should find an external hard drive with enough storage size. SDDs are still powerful if you seek to find the best external hard drive for capacity ranging between 120GB to 30TB. However, they are highly priced compared to HDDs which provide a storage size of 250Gb to 20TB. When you compare the two drives, HDD is the winner when measuring cost per capacity. The perfect drive for your video editing work will depend on the size of data you use. If you deal with heavy files, we recommend going for an SSD because they provide more storage space and are fast. 

Drive Connectivity 

Drive connectivity is crucial, especially for video editors. There are three major connections which are eSATA, USB, and Firewire. It would be best to understand them in order to pick a perfect external hard drive for video editing. 

  • USB: Most external hard drives are designed with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 compatibility. This means you can connect to any device if it supports USB 2.0/3.0 connectivity. It also offers fast data transfer speed and quasi-universal compatibility.
  • eSATA: It is a better version of the USB connectivity. It provides all the benefits of a USB connectivity hard drive. However, they are relatively fast and use fewer resources for data transfer. 
  • Firewire: It offers the best performance of the three. Therefore, It should be among the first considerations when buying your external hard drive if your video editing involves using heavy files. 

Portability 

Having your external hard drive with you at all times is essential to enable you to store or retrieve data whenever necessary. That’s why you should check the drive size that will fit comfortably in your palm and pocket. Identifying a portable external hard drive is easy, but ensure you find one with features suitable for your video editing work. Also, don’t forget to pick one that is weatherproof to avoid the risk of losing your data in case the drive is exposed to harsh conditions.

What To Know Before Buying an External Hard Drive For Video Editing

Finding a perfect external hard drive is quite challenging, especially when you are not decided on the type of drive to purchase. SSDs are robust and promise fast speed and high storage capacity, but they are too expensive for beginner video editors. On the other hand, HDDs are budget-friendly, but you will have to work at slow data transfer speeds. So, buying an SSDs or an HDD depends on your planned budget. 

Once you have figured out the type of external hard drive you will buy, the next step is understanding your needs. For instance, if you are working on high-quality videos and long clips, you will need a drive with huge storage size and high data transfer speeds. 

Finally, pick an external hard drive that will work with your computer. Some are compatible with Windows and Mac, Android and Apple tablets, while others are designed for a single PC. Therefore, finding a model that works with your computer is crucial. 

Using External Hard Drive For Video Editing: What it’s Like 

We tested multiple external hard drives on Windows, Mac, Android, and Apple Tablets. Our emphasis was on the transfer speed, storage capacity, and connectivity. 

SSDs were impressive, with high data transfer speed and massive storage capacity. For instance, the G-Drive Mobile Pro SSD could transfer data up to 2800MB/s. We tried to send and resend 4K and 8K resolution videos to and from the SDDs, and it was fast. 

On the other hand, the HDDs were a bit slower compared to SSDs. It took a longer period to transfer the 4k and 8k videos to and from the drive, but it still was above average in performance. The HDD was fast in sharing short clips, most having the drag-and-drop feature enabling us to save files quickly.

Both drives have massive storage capacity, most offering over 1TB. Also, most of the tested drives had excellent connectivity. It responded almost immediately when connected to our computers and tablets. 

Last update on 2022-11-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best External Hard Drives for Video Editing FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Which External drive is the best, HDD or SSD?

The best external drive depends on your needs and budget. Both drives have significant features enabling you to store data safely. HDD is a perfect option if you are on a tight budget, but they are not as powerful as the SSD. Therefore, if you need a super-fast drive, it would be best to go for an SSD.

Do external hard drives get outdated?

The short answer is Yes. External hard drives get outdated and need to be replaced within a certain period. The estimated lifespan of an external hard drive is about 3-5 years if not damaged.

Why do people still use hard disk drives?

HDDs rely on spinning disks, or platters, to read and write data. They are still used today in many mainstream systems. Hard drives are mainly used because of their excellent storage capacity. The SSDs are designed to be more reliable in data storage, but they are highly-priced, causing many people to settle on HDDs.

Is external hard drive good for video editing?

Editing a ton of high-quality clips can take a toll on your computer; that’s why video editors need a fast and reliable system. Since 4K videos can have pretty large file sizes, an external hard drive is essential for anyone working as a video editor.

How big of a hard drive do I need for video editing?

For most videographers and video editors who work on a few HD1080p and some 4K projects, a 1TB SSD/HDD may be enough. But if you are regularly working on video projects, especially high bitrate 4K and even 8K video, you’ll want a higher capacity SSD.

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