Best external hard drives: 10 top large-capacity drives to boost your storage

Keep your files safe with these USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt hard drives

5. Samsung D3 Station 3TB USB 3.0

£96, AU$165, US$130

Best external hard drives 10 top large capacity drives for boosting your storage
A good enough performance for everyday use

If you're looking for a no-nonsense desktop drive that ticks most boxes and will stand up well to scratches and the odd bump, then Seagate's Samsung-branded D3 Station is worthy of attention.

While it doesn't set the performance charts alight, it copies data quickly enough. Its robust, solid case will suit those with clumsy tendencies quite well.

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One thing we were disappointed with was a lack of energy-saving features with the drive, but it offers an inexpensive way of quickly adding huge amounts of storage to your system, and the performance is good enough for day-to-day use.

6. Freecom Tough Drive 3.0 1TB

£82, AU$141, US$132

Best external hard drives 10 top large capacity drives for boosting your storage
Small enough for a large pocket and light, too

Portable hard drives by their very nature need to be transportable, but that often means wrapping them in cotton wool.

The Freecom Tough Drive 3.0 1TB comes in a rubberised silicone case with an anti-shock mechanism, both of which provide surprisingly effective protection against drops and bumps. Yet despite this, it's small enough for a large pocket and light too, at just 200g/7oz.

With real-world transfer times rivalling that of desktop drives, the only drawback is the Tough Drive's integrated USB cable, which is just 8cm/3in long. That's fine for plugging into a convenient laptop port, but where's the extension cable for other purposes?

7. Western Digital My Passport Ultra 1TB

£65, AU$112, US$105

Best external hard drives 10 top large capacity drives for boosting your storage
Fast read/write times in a reasonably attractive slim casing

Western Digital's My Passport range of drives has impressed us with its performance over the last year, and this portable drive, the Ultra 1TB, continues in that vein, delivering fast read/write times in a reasonably attractive slim casing.

We say reasonably because it's not as slim - or sturdy - as the appropriately titled My Passport Slim, but offers much better value, offering you 1TB capacity for the same price as the My Passport Slim 500GB model.

Also in its favour is the existence of a massive 2TB model, giving you loads of capacity in a portable-friendly package. Now you really can take your media collection anywhere.

8. Freecom Mobile Drive Mg 1TB Thunderbolt/USB 3.0

£210, AU$360, US$338

Best external hard drives 10 top large capacity drives for boosting your storage
We'd suggest looking at the USB 3.0-only model, which is much cheaper

If you want maximum performance from a Thunderbolt drive, then you'll need a desktop 3.5-inch drive rather than the smaller 2.5-inch drive housed in the Freecom's Mobile Drive Mg's slim and chic case.

The presence of USB 3.0 alongside it merely reinforces the fact the limitation here is the drive itself, but to be fair there is a small performance gain to be had when connecting through Thunderbolt, and those with older Macs that sport Thunderbolt but not USB 3.0 can at least see what all the fuss is about with this pocket-friendly, if slightly disappointing model.

9. WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo

£520, AU$914, US$750

Best external hard drives 10 top large capacity drives for boosting your storage
You get what you pay for, hence the high price tag

They say you get what you pay for, so it's no surprise this powerful 2TB drive (consisting of twin 1TB 10,000rpm drives) costs so much.

There's the premium for Thunderbolt obviously, plus the twin drives, of course, which use RAID for superior performance of around 365MB/s read/write performance when the drives are striped as one logical volume.

There are other nice touches: two additional Thunderbolt ports for daisy-chaining additional drives or peripherals, plus you have easy access to the drives inside, allowing you to upgrade or replace them when the time comes.

If you're looking for one of the fastest mechanical drives out there, the VelociRaptor Duo fits the bill perfectly.

10. LaCie 5big 20TB

£1,799, AU$2,799, US$2,099

Best external hard drives 10 top large capacity drives for boosting your storage

As its name implies, the LaCie 5big brings together five 4TB drives to attain its 20TB capacity.

By combining the drives in a RAID array and using a Thunderbolt interface, you can enjoy peak transfer speeds of over 750MB/s with larger files, but these speeds are cut dramatically when smaller files are involved, making it comparable to the Velociraptor Duo, although its average read/write speeds of around 350-360MB/s make it very consistent.

The drive suffers from a lack of hardware RAID controller, which means it only supports basic striped and mirrored configurations. It's a good - if expensive - choice for pro-video, but most people will get better value looking elsewhere.