Best External Hard Drives for Photographers

Dec 2015

3 mins read

If there’s one thing today’s photographers have, it’s a whole lot of big files. RAW photos from high resolution cameras are pretty big files, which means they fill up a computer’s hard drive pretty quickly. Besides that, a single computer crash could mean losing all those hard-earned images. That’s why many photographers use external hard drives, both as a backup method and to archive older photos. However, with so many options from $50 to I-paid-less-for-my-camera, what are the best options for storing lots of big image files? These five are among the best external hard drives available for photographers.

WD Black My Passport Ultra-Portable External Hard Drive

** **Portable. Fast. Affordable. The WD Black My Passport Ultra is an excellent option for storing lots of photographs for Windows users. The USB 3.0 connection offers a pretty fast connection for transferring those large files. It’s a portable version, so it’s easy to travel with. But perhaps most importantly, it offers automatic cloud backup too. By saving images to both the external hard drive and a cloud location, photographers can prevent losing all their images in a computer crash, fire, flood or theft. 256-bit encryption is optional. Available in capacities from 500 GB to 3 TB, the 1 TB is likely the best balance of value and capacity at $99, but high volume photographers may wish to opt for an even bigger drive. The portable hard drive is also available in four different colours.

WD My Passport for Mac Portable External Hard Drive

Nearly identical to our first pick, the WD My Passport for Mac comes already formatted to work with a Mac. It’s also compatible with Apple Time Machine, so backing up your Macbook or iMac is easy and automated. The Mac version starts at $99 for 1 TB and reaches capacities of 3 TB for a $199 list price. The 3.0 USB port offers fast uploads, and while not as fast as Thunderbolt connections, it’s much more affordable. Unlike the Windows version, this one just comes in black.

Seagate Expansion Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0

While this particular Seagate isn’t portable, it offers much more storage for the same price. So, if your photos don’t travel often, the Seagate Expansion is a solid option. Where $99 gets you 1 TB with the WB passport, the same price gets you three times as much storage here. The tradeoff is a bigger, bulkier style. Speed isn’t sacrificed though, thanks to the 3.0 USB port. This version comes pre-formatted for Windows, so it’s ready-to-go out of the box from PC users. Capacities range from 2 TB to 5 TB, offering plenty of space for big photo files.

Transcend Store Jet 25M3 External Hard Drive

If the thought of carrying a hard drive around with you is a bit worrisome, look into the Transcend StoreJet external hard drive. This hard drive is packaged to withstand military grade drop tests, so you don’t have to worry about losing data if you have klutzy tendencies. That protection is possible through a three layer shock design. That’s not all this particular model offers though. The USB 3.0 makes transfer speeds up to 90MB/s possible. A one-touch auto backup option offers another level of protection for your files. This version is compatible for both Macs and PCs. The extra durability adds a little to the price, but perhaps not as much as you’d expect. The 1 TB version is listed for $117.99 and the 2 TB for $156.99.

Solo G3 Fireproof and Waterproof External Hard Drive

The Solo G3 takes durability up one more notch, encased in a water and fireproof package. While the Solo G3 is much bulkier than the other options, that’s due to the extra protection. Just keep in mind that the extra durability does nothing to protect from the loss of files due to theft, so it’s still a good idea to have a cloud-based backup of your best images. Speed certainly isn’t sacrificed, with a 3.0 USB connection. Both Windows and Macs work with the Solo G3. You pay a premium for that extra protection though, the 2 TB version is $349.99.

Keeping all your photos on your computer hard drive is a bad idea. Not only will those big files make your computer much slower, a single computer crash could mean you lose all those images. An external hard drive is a necessity for archiving old photos and offering another layer of protection from image loss.

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