Best Hard Drives for Photo Storage — Reviewed

Hard drives for photo storage

Best Hard Drives for Photo Storage — Reviewed

Key Points

  • The right hard drive for storing your photos will have to operate with sufficient speed. The parameter to look at here is the RPM or revolutions per minute. The higher the figure, the better.
  • The capacity of your hard drive will also be important since it will also affect the speed at which it is able to function in addition to the quantity of images it is capable of storing.
  • The more ports the hard drive comes with, the better. This is because they will enable connection with multiple devices and prevent compatibility issues.

Hard drives are an integral part of digital photography, as they provide an easy and safe way to store all your digital images. Hard drives come in various sizes, speeds, and capacities—even in the same brand. Knowing which one is right for you requires knowing what your photo storage needs may be and how to find the one that best meets those needs. When it comes to hard drives, bigger isn’t always better, as you’ll want to ensure the hard drive you purchase has fast read/write speeds and enough storage space to accommodate all your photos. To help you find the best hard drive for your photos, we’ve put together a list of some top-rated hard drives photographers often use.

Best Hard Drive Overall: Seagate Backup Plus

Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch HDD 2TB External Hard Drive – White USB-C USB 3.0, 1yr Mylio Create, 4 month Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan and Rescue Services (STHH2000402)
  • ANDROID READY Easily manage phone content using the included Android app
  • UNIVERSAL COMPATIBILITY: External drive includes a USB-A to USB-C adapter and an integrated USB cable for Windows and Mac* laptops *Reformatting may be required for use with Time Machine.
  • COMPACT FABRIC SSD: Featuring a palm-sized, lightweight, fabric design, this portable SSD delivers high-speeds for streaming stored videos directly to a laptop and backing up on the go
  • ADOBE & MYLIO: Edit, manage, and share photos with a one-year complimentary subscription to Mylio Create and a two-month membership to Adobe CC Photography plan (not available in all countries)
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12/01/2023 04:36 pm GMT

The Seagate Backup Plus is the best external hard drive for photo storage because it’s affordable and durable. It comes with a USB 3.0 interface so that it will transfer files quickly and easily. The backup drive has up to 14 TB of storage space, which is suitable for storing photos, videos, and documents.

It’s not as fast as external SSDs, but it performs about as well as most modern hard drives in terms of read/write performance. What it lacks in speed, it makes up for in capacity and affordability. This discounted external hard drive offers an excellent cost per gigabyte value at under $200. It requires an external power supply, so it isn’t the most portable external drive, but its durability means you can charge your phone or other low-power devices from its front USB-A 3.0 ports, and it works with both Mac and Windows PCs for added convenience.

Interface  USB 3.0
Capacity4T B, 6 TB, 8 TB, 10 TB, 12 TB, 14 TB       
Size98.1 x 41 x 118 mm   
Max. Data Transfer160 MB/s       

Check out the Seagate Backup Plus on Amazon.

Fastest Hard Drive: Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 Portable SSD (MU-PB, 2TB)

SAMSUNG X5 Portable SSD - 500GB - Thunderbolt 3 External SSD (MU-PB500B/AM) Gray/Red
  • THUNDERBOLT 3 AND NVMe POWER: First ever NVMe-based portable SSD from Samsung featuring Thunderbolt 3 technology, the X5 delivers up to 40Gb/s data transfer speeds
  • LIGHTNING FAST READ WRITE SPEEDS: Sequential read and write performance levels of up to 2,800 MB/sec seq. read and 2,100 MB/sec seq. write
  • DURABLE DESIGN: Full metal body with glossy top and non-slip bottom mat withstands drops of up to 2 meters; Shock resistant internal design features Dynamic Thermal Guard technology to help maintain...
  • SECURE ENCRYPTION: Optional password protection and AES 256-bit hardware encryption keeps your personal and private data more secure
  • Only compatible with Macs and Windows PCs with Thunderbolt 3 ports, Mac OS X Sierra, High Sierra (10.12 or higher) Windows 10 64bit RS 2 or higher. Not compatible with PCs with only USB interface.
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12/01/2023 04:22 pm GMT

If you have a Thunderbolt 3 port on your computer and money isn’t an issue, the Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 Portable SSD is the best external hard drive for you. The Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 Portable SSD (MU-PB, 2TB) comes with a storage capacity of up to 2TB which means that you will have ample space for all your data needs.

It is designed for stratospheric speeds (2,800 MBps read, 2,300 MBps write). It is larger and heavier than a typical external SSD, with a glossy exterior, sloping lines, and a fiery-red undercarriage.

What are the drawbacks? The performance of the Samsung X5 is inconsistent, ranging from mind-blowing to just above average. You won’t be able to see everything it can do unless you have Thunderbolt 3 (which uses the same ports as USB-C).

The drive is pricey, starting at $200 for 500GB and rising to $600 for the 2TB configuration. You can save money on other drives that are still quite fast, so the X5 isn’t worth it for most people. However, if you want to be on the cutting edge and are willing to pay for it, there is no better option.

InterfaceThunderbolt 3
Capacity500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Size4.7 x 2.4 x 0.8 inches
Max. Data Transfer2,800 MBps read, and 2,300 MBps write

Check out the Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 Portable SSD on Amazon. 

Best Rugged Hard Drive for MacBook: SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD

SanDisk Professional 4TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD - Rugged, Durable Portable External Hard Drive HDD, USB-C, USB 3.1 Gen 1 - SDPH81G-004T-GBAND,Space grey
  • USB-C (5Gbps) drive for quick file backup and storage.Specific uses: Business, personal
  • USB 3.0 and USB Type-C compatible
  • Premium, anodised aluminium enclosure for strength you can feel
  • Built tough with an easy-grip bumper for pro-grade durabilty you can trust
  • Triple-layer shock resistance for added protection,Rain-and dust-resistant (IP54) enclosure with a 1000lb crush resistance
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12/01/2023 04:26 pm GMT

If you’re looking for a tough and rugged hard drive for your MacBook, the SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD is an excellent option. It’s water-resistant and drop-resistant, so you can rest assured that your photos will be safe even if you accidentally drop your hard drive or get caught in a rainstorm. The SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD is an external hard drive with capacities up to 5TB that is cost-effective and semi-rugged. As a rotating platter drive with a speed of 5,400 revolutions per minute, its performance falls far short of that of solid-state drives.

This makes the ArmorATD less-than-ideal for users who need to back up a large number of files quickly, but it should work well for travelers or mobile workers who need more capacity for their money than an external SSD would provide. This drive comes with an impressive 3-year warranty, which means you can trust that it’ll withstand whatever life throws at it. And regarding durability, this drive is just as good as any other hard drive you can buy—it’s also designed to handle extreme temperatures and shocks!

InterfaceUSB 3.1
Capacity1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB
Size5.12 by 3.43 by 0.83 inches
Max. data transfer140MB/s

Check out the SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD on Amazon. 

Best Budget Hard Drive: WD 2TB Elements

WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive HDD, USB 3.0, Compatible with PC, Mac, PS4 & Xbox - WDBU6Y0020BBK-WESN
  • 2TB Storage Capacity
  • USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 compatibility
  • Extra storage for your photos, videos, music and files
  • Formatted for Windows 8, 7, Vista & XP; Easily Reformat Drive for Mac
  • WD quality and reliability
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12/01/2023 09:22 pm GMT

The WD 2TB Elements is hands down the best budget external hard drive you can buy. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles other drives have. However, it’s still an incredibly reliable, fast, and affordable option for backup or storage. 2TB is significantly more than most flash drives. Yet, this portable HDD is only three inches wide and four inches long, making it easy to slip into your pants or laptop bag’s pocket and carry plenty of data with you.

It is rated for both Windows and macOS, and its USB-A 3.0 connection makes it universally compatible and provides ample bandwidth for the standard read/write speeds of the WD Elements hard drives. It also comes with a two-year limited warranty, so you can easily obtain a full refund or replacement if you encounter any problems.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive external hard drive that won’t break the bank when it comes to reliability and performance while still allowing you access to all of your files without having them stored online somewhere else or being accessible only through software programs like Dropbox, then this may be just what you need.

InterfaceUSB 3.0
Capacity1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB
Size110.5 x 84.3 x 15.0 mm
Max. data transfer480 Mb/s

Check out the WD 2TB Elements on Amazon. 

Best Hard Drive for Security: iStorage DiskAshur DT2

iStorage diskAshur DT2 3TB Secure encrypted portable desktop hard drive, FIPS Level 2 certified - Password protected, dust and water resistant, military grade hardware encryption IS-DT2-256-3000-C-G
  • Easy to use: Perfect solution to protect your digital assets. Simply enter a 7-15 digit PIN to authenticate and use as a normal portable HDD. When the drive is disconnected, all data is encrypted...
  • Government certified to the highest standards – The diskAshur DT2 is the world’s first and only PIN authenticated, hardware encrypted desktop HDD to be certified to FIPS 140-2 Level 2/3, NCSC CPA,...
  • The diskAshur DT2 is the perfect solution for storing your personal or company data. Carry the diskAshur DT2 with you wherever you go (universal mains adapter and protective carry case included)....
  • The diskAshur DT2 will work on any device with a USB port, no software is required. Compatible with: MS Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome, Android, Thin Clients, Zero Clients, Embedded Systems, Citrix and...
  • Transfer your files in seconds Lightning fast backwards compatible USB 3.2 data transfer speeds. Up to 277MB/s Read speeds Up to 271MB/s Write speeds.
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12/01/2023 08:51 am GMT

With the iStorage DiskAshur DT2, you can get more than enough storage for your security needs. The drive is designed to be shock-proof, waterproof, and dustproof — so it’s perfect for protecting all your important files and documents.

It can hold up to 18TB of data and has a speed rating of 225MB/s. This will allow you to transfer files quickly and easily, so you don’t have to worry about delays in getting your work done.

The iStorage DiskAshur DT2, a desktop-style, hyper-secure hard drive, is a formidable solution for businesses, institutions, and government agencies that need to secure sensitive data. With a multitude of security features and an impressive list of certifications, this PIN-authenticated external drive is easy for authorized users to access but resistant to intrusion attempts.

If you’re looking for an external hard drive that is both durable and secure, then this product is perfect for you!

InterfaceUSB 3.1
CapacityUp to 18TB
Size1.7 by 4.4 by 7.3 inches
Max file transfer225 MBps (Read) and 223 MBps

Check out the iStorage DiskAshur DT2 on Amazon.

How to Pick The Best Hard Drives for Photo Storage: Step by Step

If you’re looking to store a lot of photos on your computer, it’s important to pick the right hard drive. A hard drive can hold a lot of data, but it must be reliable and durable. When you’re choosing a hard drive, there are several things to look for:


If you’re going to store a lot of photos and videos on your computer, speed is key. A slow hard drive will leave a lagging experience when viewing or editing your 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.


The capacity of your drive is important because it determines how many photos and videos you can store on the device. The higher the capacity, the more storage space you can buy for your money. It also affects the speed at which data is read and written to the drive, so if you have a large amount of content that needs to be read at once, go with a larger-capacity drive.


The price of a hard drive depends on its size and speed. Larger drives will cost more than smaller ones, but they’ll also perform better, especially in terms of reading and writing speeds. If you need fast performance and don’t care about capacity or price, go with an SSD (solid-state drive).

Advanced Features and Functions

Ruggedization is one of the most obvious features that will help travel photographers. Many manufacturers have created product lines or accessories that protect against drops and bumps your drive may experience. These typically rubberized constructions will help provide a little bit more assurance that your drives won’t fail disastrously in the middle of your journey. The G-Technology ArmorATD Hard Drive and the LaCie Rugged Mini Portable Hard Drives are two excellent examples of this.

What to Know Before Buying the Best Hard Drives for Photo Storage

The first thing you need to know is that while some of the most popular hard drives are great at storing large amounts of data, they may not be ideal for storing photos. This is because the type of media used to store photos can vary widely in size and format, so what works well for streaming movies might not work well for storing your vacation photos.

To get the most out of your photo storage experience, you should look for something with a high storage capacity and a fast read/write speed. This will allow you to view and transfer files quickly without having to wait around too long between transfers or having any data get lost in transfer delays or errors. You’ll also want something equipped with extra ports such as USB 3.0 support so that you can use it with multiple devices simultaneously. This will help avoid compatibility issues or slowdowns caused by overloading ports with multiple devices trying to connect at once.

Using Hard Drives for Photo Storage: What it’s Like

Hard drives are one of the most popular ways to store photos. They’re affordable, reliable, and offer a lot of storage space. Plus, they’re easy to use – just plug them in and start transferring files. You can find them in various sizes depending on how many photos you want to store. You can also find different types of hard drives that use different formats, so check out what type is best for you.

Up Next…

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Frequently Asked Questions

What size external hard drive do I need for storing photos?

An external drive in the 2TB to 8TB range is sufficient for most photographers, but we advise always buying more storage than you think you need. Most HDDs are compatible with both Mac and Windows computers, but double-check. Some come preformatted in one or both operating systems, so check that as well.

Are hard drives good for photos?

If you shoot even a moderate amount of photos and videos, you’ll quickly realize that you need a place to store all of this data because they take up a lot of digital space. Portable hard drives can be a great option even if you already use cloud storage.

How long does an external hard drive last?

For HDDs, the average lifespan is about five years. That is assuming no accidental damage has occurred, and the drive has been properly maintained. On the other hand, SSD failure rates are determined by the amount of data written over time. The truth is that there are numerous and unpredictable reasons for a drive to fail. There are also reasons why it could last much longer than expected. Take care of your HDD/SSD, and it will take care of you.

What size hard drive do I need?

Estimate the amount of data you are backing up and leave some room for growth in the future. 1TB is an excellent place to start and, in many cases, enough space for additional files as they are added. A little extra storage wouldn’t hurt, though, if you work on large projects like videos or have thousands of RAW photos.

What is the best hard drive to store photos?

Seagate Backup Plus is the best overall hard drive for photo storage. It comes with a USB 3.0 interface so that it will transfer files quickly and easily and offers 14 TB of storage space, which is suitable for storing photos, videos and documents.

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