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Best hard drives 2022: the top HDD for desktops and laptops

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Seagate best hard drive on green background
(Image credit: Future / Seagate)

Keep your files safe by getting the best hard drive. Whether you're looking to expand your PC's storage, upgrade from those flash or thumb drives, or need an external HDD for your laptop, choosing a top-notch hard drive over sub-quality options is wise. After all, your files are important, and if you go for cheap instead of superior quality, you might end up regretting it.

The best hard drives are reliable and capable of retrieving, saving, and protecting your important documents and projects. However, unlike the best SSDs (solid state drives), which are faster and more robust, they have also been known to fail or break. So, if you go for something that's bargain-basement, you're likely getting something that's prone to failure.

Trust us; when it comes to hard drives, choose quality over price always. That's especially because they're already relatively cheap to begin with, which makes them the best value physical storage option for your PC. HDDs are so cost effective that a 4TB HDD and a 1TB SSD end up costing the same price. 

Whether you’re looking for an external hard drive or an internal one to upgrade the best gaming PC, you’ll be able to find one in our best hard drive picks of 2022. We’ve even included a price comparison tool so you can get the best hard drive deal available.

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The best hard drives 2022

Best hard drive: Seagate BarraCuda

Seagate BarraCuda drives offer a great gigabyte-per-dollar ratio and speed benefits to top it off. (Image Credit: Seagate)

1. Seagate BarraCuda

The best hard drive overall

Specifications

Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 2 – 3TB
Cache: 64MB
RPM: 7,200

Reasons to buy

+
Low cost
+
Fast spinning disks

Reasons to avoid

-
 Limited cache

It’s almost impossible to talk about hard drives without mentioning Seagate’s BarraCuda lineup – it’s a force to be reckoned with. And, it’s not hard to see why, Seagate BarraCuda drives offer a great gigabyte-per-dollar ratio and speed benefits to top it off. The 2TB model hits a sweet spot by balancing high performance and affordability. Since this drive combines 7,200rpm platters and high density data, computers outfitted with this drive will be able to read data extraordinarily fast.

WD Blue Desktop

2. WD Blue Desktop

The best budget hard drive

Specifications

Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 500GB – 6TB
Cache: 64MB
RPM: 5,400 – 7,200

Reasons to buy

+
An option for every budget
+
Faster option available

Reasons to avoid

-
Less value from smaller drives

Western Digital offers a solid bargain with its line of WD Blue hard drives. With a wide variety of storage options from a small 500GB to a capacious 6TB, the WD Blue is a viable pick for almost any type of PC build that’s sticking to a budget. The best value comes from the larger drives – they’ll give you much more storage per dollar spent. And, if you’re looking for a bit more speed, there are also 7,200rpm models available that don’t come with too much of a price hike. 

Toshiba X300

3. Toshiba X300

The best high capacity hard drive

Specifications

Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 4 – 8TB
Cache: 128MB
RPM: 7,200

Reasons to buy

+
Massive storage
+
High speeds

Reasons to avoid

-
Short warranty

Even if its laptops aren’t as popular as they used to be, Toshiba is still a huge name in computing, and has a lot to offer. When it comes to the best hard drives, the Toshiba X300 is a high-capacity, high-performance champ worth taking a look at. The X300 drives boast great gigabyte-to-dollar value without sacrificing on performance. These drives all spin at 7,200 rpm and include 128MB of cache for higher speeds. The only downside is the warranty only lasts two years, which feels short for a drive meant to store so much important data.

WD VelociRaptor

4. WD VelociRaptor

The best gaming hard drive

Specifications

Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 250GB – 1TB
Cache: 64MB
RPM: 10,000

Reasons to buy

+
Insane HDD speed
+
Built-on cooler

Reasons to avoid

-
Priced like an SSD

When it comes to PC gaming, it’s better to be fast than capacious. So, if you’ve been resisting the allure of an SSD, and looking to kick it old school with one of the best hard drives, the WD VelociRaptor should be up your alley. Not only does this drive have a whopping 10,000 rpm spin speed, but you’re going to want to pay attention to it. With capacities up to 1TB, the VelociRaptor drives are ready to store large game libraries, and the super fast platters will help your games launch and load quickly.

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Seagate FireCuda 

Seagate Firecuda Desktop

5. Seagate Firecuda Desktop

The best hybrid hard drive

Specifications

Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 1TB – 2TB + 8GB
Cache: 64 MB
RPM: 7,200

Reasons to buy

+
NAND-boosted performance
+
An already fast platter

Reasons to avoid

-
No competition

SSDs are incredibly popular, and it’s not hard to see why. But, if you need a lot of fast storage, and you don’t have a vault of cash, hybrid hard drives are a great option. The SeaGate FireCuda is the best hybrid hard drive on the market. It can fit up to 2TB of data, and then its 8GB of solid state cache storage learns which data you use most, so that you can access it quickly. That speed boost is even sweeter when you consider that this drive spins at 7,200rpm. With a 5-year warranty and an approachable price tag, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best hard drives you can buy today.

Seagate IronWolf NAS

6. Seagate IronWolf NAS

The best hard drive for networks

Specifications

Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 6 – 12TB
Cache: 256MB
RPM: 7,200

Reasons to buy

+
Ready for RAID
+
Faster than smaller options

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier than non-NAS drives

It’s a little unfortunate that the Seagate IronWolf NAS drives come at a premium, but they aren’t priced much more expensively than a standard hard drive at their capacity. However, their native NAS optimization makes that premium totally worth it. These drives are capable of running at a fast 7,200rpm spin rate 24/7 without having to worry about drive failure. Really, if you have one of the best NAS devices for your business or home, the Seagate IronWolf NAS really is your best bet. 

Seagate FireCuda Mobile

7. Seagate FireCuda Mobile

The best hard drive for laptops

Specifications

Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 500GB – 2TB + 8GB
Cache: 64 MB
RPM: 5,400

Reasons to buy

+
Multiple capacity options
+
Performance above a standard HDD

Reasons to avoid

-
Flash storage comes at a premium

Upgrading the storage in a laptop can be tough, since the hard drives are much smaller. There aren’t a lot of impressive 2.5-inch hard drives, as anything fast comes with a serious markup, but Seagate’s 2.5-inch FireCuda hybrid drive strikes a nice balance. It offers an easy way to add loads of storage to a laptop while also giving it a speed boost thanks to 8GB of flash storage. A five-year warranty on the drive will also help ensure it lasts a long time.

WD My Book

8. WD My Book

The best hard drive for game consoles

Specifications

Interface: USB 3.0
Capacity: 3 – 20TB

Reasons to buy

+
Massive storage options
+
Simpler upgrade solution

Reasons to avoid

-
Potentially slower

Game consoles hard drives fill up fast with massive libraries. And, like laptops, the upgrade path for 2.5-inch hard drives isn’t all that great, but that’s where an external drive comes in. The WD My Book strikes an amazing balance of storage and price, offering enough room for massive game libraries. Running on USB 3.0, it may not be quite as fast as an internal drive upgrade, but it will run games and offer more storage at a cheaper rate.

G-Technology G-Drive

9. G-Technology G-Drive

The best external hard drive

Specifications

Interface: USB 3.1 (Type-C)
Capacity: 4 – 10TB

Reasons to buy

+
 Fantastic performance 
+
 USB Type-C V2 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Bigger than expected 

A lot of people seem to think that the best hard drives are ancient and dead technology. However, with devices like the G-Technology G-Drive, you can show the naysayers in your life that spinning disks have their own place in the future. Not only does this external hard drive offer huge amounts of storage – up to 10 TB – but thanks to Thunderbolt 3 compatibility, it can even charge your laptop while you work. If you have a MacBook Pro, it’s hard to think of a better work companion.

Read the full review: G-Technology G-Drive 

What’s the difference between a hard drive and an SSD?

 There are a few differences between a hard drive and an SSD, but it’s important to first note that they pretty much have the same job, they just function differently. Traditional hard drives have a circular disk (platter) that stores your data - as the disk spins, the read-write arm reads data on the disc or writes data to it as it spins. Solid state drives (SSDs) have no moving parts, instead using NAND (Negative-AND) flash memory - the more memory chips an SSD has, the more storage capacity.

Price-wise, you’ll typically find that hard drives are less expensive than SSDs and offer quite a bit more storage capacity for a lower price. However, SSDs tend to be a lot faster than even the best hard drives because they don’t have to rely on moving parts like HDDs. The best SSDs can function up to 10 times faster than traditional hard drives.

There’s a third option in the SSD vs HDD conversation as well - hybrid drives (SSHDs) offer the speed of an SSD and the capacity of a traditional HDD in a single drive. An option like this would be great if you don’t have space for multiple hard drives and want the best of both worlds. 

Michelle Rae Uy
Michelle Rae Uy

Michelle Rae Uy is the Buying Guides Editor here at TechRadar. She's a Los Angeles-based tech, travel and lifestyle writer covering a wide range of topics, from computing to the latest in green commutes to the best hiking trails. She's an ambivert who enjoys communing with nature and traveling for months at a time just as much as watching movies and playing sim games at home. That also means that she has a lot more avenues to explore in terms of understanding how tech can improve the different aspects of our lives.