A few also have water resistance. Buy a larger drive, though, and you're more likely to get other features. Desktop units may have a built-in "hub", letting you plug in memory cards or peripherals using USB ports. These are particularly useful if your current setup has limited connectivity, or the USBs you do have just aren't that handy. Matching the hard drive's connector to those of your laptop is desktop is also essential. Not all USB-Cs are the same, though. However, in most cases you don't need to worry too much whether a hard drive uses USB 3. The disks themselves just aren't quick enough to break through the data speed limits of normal USB 3.
Aside from one special wireless hard drive from Western Digital, below you'll find predominantly "normal" external hard drives.
There's another category you may want to consider too: a NAS. These network-attached storage drives connect to your home Wi-Fi to share their data with other devices in your home. A NAS is particularly useful if you want to set up a media server at home. This is like a wireless jukebox you can fill with videos, photos and music. Read our best NAS drives feature for more.
Desktop-style hard drives may not seem that appealing when relatively high-capacity ones that fit in a pocket are affordable. However, there's still a real appeal to them particularly if they are never, or rarely, going to leave the office. The Seagate Backup Plus Hub is a classic 3. It is available in sizes up to 10TB, and we're using this ultra-high capacity version. There's no difference in physical size between these variants, though. It's mm deep, mm tall and 41mm deep, so not much larger than the 3. The sides are glossy black, the top, bottom and back a heat-dispersing honeycomb that looks fairly good.
There are a few practical unique selling points too.
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Place the drive intelligently in your setup and these could become the most convenient ports in your office. Just run the Mac user file pre-loaded on the drive and it'll install a driver that lets you write to the drive using OS X. You can read a Windows-formatted drive with a Mac, but not normally write files to it. It only takes a minute. This is a relatively long-standing model in the Seagate line-up, so it doesn't have a connection designed for Thunderbolt or USB-C 3.
A microUSB 3. The 1. There's a Seagate Barracuda Pro drive inside, which costs more than this drive when bought alone. Makes no sense, right? This is far better than the speed of a rival 2. The LaCie Rugged Secure that we reviewed from LaCie last year is still on sale, and is a good option if you need a really tough portable drive that can take plenty of punishment when you're travelling or working on location.
However, there's now only one version left - with 2TB storage - and LaCie introduced a newer range of Mobile Drives at CES earlier this year that provides a much wider range of options and also introduces a new 'diamond cut' design. Rather than the neon-orange rubber bumper of the Rugged drives, the new Mobile Drives are wrapped in smart aluminium. They're available in two colours: 'moon silver' and, of course, 'space grey' that is intended to match the latest Mac models and is only sold through the online Apple Store.
The 'diamond cut' design simply refers to the exaggerated angular edges and corners of the drive, which look a bit like the facets of a carved diamond.
Best external hard drives for Macs in 12222
Looks aside, the aluminium casing feels really sturdy - in fact, the 5TB model that we tested weighs in at g, and could give someone a serious concussion if you whacked them over the head with it. There are smaller and lighter alternatives, though, depending on how much storage you need. Those two drives measure just 10mm thick, 88mm wide and mm long, and weigh a more modest g.
This is a good option if you use your Mac at work, and have individual projects organised in their own folders. Any folder that is 'mirrored' is automatically backed up and updated as soon as you make any changes to any file within that folder. This ensures that your backups are always up to date with the most recent versions of your files whereas Time Machine still leaves a one-hour gap between backups.
Our only complaint here is that LaCie's skimpy manual doesn't provide much information about the ToolKit app, or the various formatting options for the drive, simply leaving you to wade through a bunch of FAQ files on its website. Buffalo's MiniStation Extreme is slightly more expensive than some of its portable rivals, but it's a seriously tough and rugged little drive that will be a great option for people who work outdoors or who enjoy trekking across the Pennines for their holidays.
It does stick with a standard USB 3. However, there are still millions of people who have USB 3 laptops, so there's certainly an audience for a rugged portable drive such as this. It's not the smallest or lightest portable drive we've ever seen, measuring a rather chunky 21mm thick, 90mm wide and mm deep, and weighing in at g. You can't just slip it into your pocket when you're on the move, as you can do with some of the portable drives that we review here, but it won't be any trouble to carry it in a case along with your laptop when you're travelling. And the size of the drive reflects its sturdy design, as the internal drive is wrapped up in a rubber-padded and shock-resistant casing that meets US military standards and is capable of resisting falls from a height of 1.
The case is also rated IP53, which means that it's both water- and dust-resistant, so it'll be ideal for use on building sites or in muddy fields at music festivals. For extra convenience, the drive has an integrated USB cable that is permanently attached, and wrapped in a thick layer or rubber to help keep it safe.
The cable is only about six inches long, but we were pleased to see that Buffalo also includes a USB extension cable in case the fixed cable isn't long enough. That's perfectly adequate for routine backups when you're out and about, and the drive worked fine with Time Machine on my trusty old MacBook Air as well. Our only minor complaint is that - once again - Buffalo seems a little uncertain about the Mac side of things. Enter a valid email address.
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