The Best External Hard Drives for Photographers 2021

Photography is a genuinely fascinating activity, whether done professionally or for fun.

The photographer thrives by capturing the best moments on camera, and the worst thing that can ever happen to a photographer is running short of storage space just when the best moments crop up. To avoid this eventuality, a good photographer will always invest in high capacity external storage drives to store their photos.

These external hard drives will enable the photographer to capture all the moments that they find worthy, without the worry of insufficient storage space. Also, the drives allow photographers to sort their work into specific folders for easy access during processing. However, there are some features that one should look out for when selecting the preferred external hard drive.


Our Favorite External Hard Drives for Photos

Here are our picks for the best external hard drive for photographers this year.

ProductStorageSpeedInterfaceOur Rating
WD My Passport for Mac 1TB Portable External Hard Drive Storage1 TBN/AUSB 3.04.8
WD My Book Studio 3TB Mac External Hard Drive Storage USB 3.03 TBN/AUSB 3.04.7
WD 2TB Mac Ready Portable Storage with FireWire and USB Interface2 TBN/AUSB 2.04.6
LaCie Rugged Triple USB 3.0 / Firewire 800 2TB Portable Hard Drive2 TB130 MB/sUSB 3.0 and USB 2.04.7
Seagate Backup Plus Portable External Hard Drive for Mac USB 3.02 TB120 MB/sUSB 3.04.6
Seagate Expansion Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.02 TBN/AUSB 3.0 and USB 2.04.6
Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable Hard Drive2 TB5400 rpmUSB 3.04.7
Toshiba Canvio Connect II1 TB5400 rpmUSB 3.04.6

1. WD My Passport for Mac 1TB Portable External Hard Drive Storage

A beautifully designed hard drive for the stylish photographer, this product has more to offer than just the sleek appearance. It offers an additional 1TB of storage, an excellent strong point especially for the photographer with loads of files to store. The speed is also high, reaching ultra-fast transfer rates with the USB 3.0 interface. Although it has been specially formatted for use with Mac systems, the drive can be reformatted to Windows systems compatibility.

It enhances the security of files with the password protection feature and hardware encryption. This means that there is no unauthorized access to data. The disk comes with a 2TB and 500GB choice, and the photographer can choose the one that fits their budget and storage space requirements. It has a sleek and compact design that makes it easily portable as part of a photographers kit.

Another great feature is the Apple Time Machine compatibility, which makes it possible for the photographer to back up files with the Apple Time Machine easily. It also comes with WD special utilities thus enabling the user to customize the drive usability.

Generally speaking, this is arguably the best portable hard drive for photographers.




2. WD My Book Studio 3TB Mac External Hard Drive Storage USB 3.0

Another high capacity drive suitable for photographers, this product from Western Digital provides photographers and videographers with an unrivaled combination of space and efficiency. It is a compact package that has been designed to endure the outdoors and long hours of use. The Apple Time Machine compatibility adds to the storage options that this product offers, and it is also top rated for data and file protection. The USB 3.0-speed capability enables the photographer to upload photos and video files with lightning speed thus saving time.

It is compatible with Mac systems and with the massive storage capacity, assures the user of exceptional performance.

The 3TB of storage also makes this perfect for videographers; for those that are recording with cameras or for storing your drone footage.

The product is sturdy, with an all aluminum casing for use in areas with impact likelihood, and also has a WD special security system that allows the user to set password lock for enhanced file protection.




3. WD 2TB Mac Ready Portable Storage with FireWire and USB Interface

For the photographer who needs a compact, rugged yet efficient hard drive, this product is an option worth checking out. It features a high-level security system, with customized password protection and hardware encryption. The hard drive also offers high capacity storage space, with 2TB of storage space. The drive is also designed with a Dual Firewire 800 connector interface and a single USB 2.0 port.

The hard drive is FW/ USB bus powered and has a data transfer rate of up to 800 Mbps through the Firewire interface. It is pre-formatted for Mac systems but can be reformatted for Windows systems compatibility. The hard drive comes with a one-year replacement warranty from the manufacturer and includes Firewire and USB cables in the package.




4. LaCie Rugged Triple USB 3.0 / Firewire 800 2TB Portable Hard Drive

For the photographer in the field with a high risk of impact, this HDD is well worth looking at. It is fitted with a shock absorbent cover that protects from falls of up to 6ft. It comes with a triple interface feature, with speeds of USB 3.0 and Firewire 800. Full backward compatibility features speeds of up to USB 2.0 and Firewire 400.

Designed to last and withstand shock, the hard drive is encased in scratch resistant aluminum with shock absorbent rubber sleeves, internal rubber bumpers, and a 1000 G shock resistant drive. These features conform to military standards 810-F and together with the LaCie AES-256-bit encryption software make this one of the most secure hard drives in the market.



Also check out our best rugged external hard drives buyers guide.



5. Seagate Backup Plus Portable External Hard Drive for Mac USB 3.0

Photographers who are looking for a sleek and stylish hard drive without compromising on the intricate details are welcome to check this product out. It is a thin 2TB capacity drive that is compatible with Apple Time Machine technology and provides one of the best file protection solutions. With speeds of up to USB 3.0, the drive is a great choice for the photographer who needs to upload files quickly and safely, and it is powered by USB bus, thus eliminating the need for extra cables.

The product supports the Seagate Dashboard software that allows the user to create and customize file back up systems for enhanced file protection.For the user who is always on the move and needs a light kit, this drive will offer unrivaled convenience due to its slim build and light weight.



Also check out our Seagate external HDD buyers guide.

6. Seagate Expansion Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0

For the photographer who needs a hard drive that is configured for Windows systems, this is a model that might arouse their curiosity. It features the trade mark slim design that Seagate drives are known for, and a 2 TB storage capacity (1TB & 4TB options are also available). This means that the user won’t have to worry about insufficient storage space. The drive also features a Super speed USB 3.0 port which is also compatible for backward USB 2.0-speed transfers.

The ease of access feature that allows the drive to be instantly recognized by Windows operating systems is a plus since the user does not have to wait for any software configuration. The drive is extremely lightweight and portable and forms a great addition to a photographer’s travel kit. The drive can also be easily configured for use with Mac systems.




7. Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable Hard Drive

The Toshiba Canvio external disk drive is an innovative product that offers 1TB of easily accessible storage space. It is a compact product that can snugly fit in the photographer’s bag and the light weight adds to its portability. This drive is easy to use and will instantly be accessed on Windows operating systems without the tiring software installations.

With speeds of up to USB 3.0, the drive is excellent for the photographer who needs to save files within a short time. The drive features an innovative Internal Shock Sensor and Ramp loading feature that helps protect from shock damage due to accidental drops.It can also be formatted to Mac system compatibility and comes with a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.




8. Toshiba Canvio Connect II

Photographers, especially those working in the field will find it necessary to have a rugged external drive that is capable of handling shock and the elements with minimal or no damage. One of the drives that can fit the description given above is the Toshiba Canvio Connect II. This drive combines stylish aesthetic features with efficiency and comes in a small enough size to fit in the palm of the user’s hand. It includes a cloud file back up option that is encrypted to enhance file security and file transfer speeds of up to USB 3.0. One of the best features of this drive is the compatibility with both Mac and Windows systems, with no reformatting required for either.The user can schedule data back up to run automatically hence further securing important files.

For enhanced security and file safety, the drive is designed to withstand shock and long hours of use out in the field. The internal shock sensor and ramp loading technology help protect the drive from impact damage in the case of accidental drops. To wrap it all, the drive comes with a two-year warranty from the manufacturer.



Features of a Good External Hard Drive for Photographers

A photographer needs to move from different positions to capture the best moments. For this reason, they need to have a compact kit that will not become a tiresome burden when working in the field. The best external hard drive for a photographer should be compact to suit the conditions and area of use. It should be easily carried along as part of the kit to be readily available for use when needed.


The best external hard drive for photographers should have a high transfer rate to enable the efficient transfer of files. USB upload speeds should be high, from 3.0 upwards.


Software Compatibility
The best external hard drive for photographers should be compatible with the software used. The compatibility enables the photographer to easily transfer files without the risk of corrupting or destroying them.

If you are a mac user, you should be looking for the best external hard drive for photographers for mac.


Every photographer’s dream of a good external drive is brought about by the need for expanded storage space. It is therefore imperative that one acquires a drive with enough storage space to handle all files as needed.


The photographer should consider a hard drive that is within their budget. The budget, however, should not necessarily compromise the quality of the drive chosen. You can still get really good external HDDs at a cheap price point.


Sturdiness and Durability
When it comes to the best hard drive for photographers, one of the most important factors that a photographer should keep in mind when selecting an external hard drive is sturdiness and durability. This is particularly the case for field photographers based in dangerous and highly volatile areas, where the risk of drive damage is high.


Security and Warranty
For the photographers working on special interest programs, an external hard drive for photographers with security encryption is a crucial asset. The secure encryption of files keeps them out of reach of prying eyes.

Hard drive manufacturers also give warranties for their products. It is important to confirm the warranty status of the drive before purchase to avoid inconveniences.



Benefits of External Hard Drives for Photographers

External drives have numerous benefits to photographers. The most important benefits include:

  • Expanded storage space.
  • Ability to separate and sort files into different folders.
  • Enhanced file security.

There are many more benefits as will be seen in the reviews below.

Photographers looking to acquire external drive storage need not find it difficult anymore. With the reviews and the mini guide above, the process of choosing the right drive to suit individual needs is much easier, and any photographer is bound to make a much more informed decision after reading this piece.


We have a variety of guides on external hard drives for various uses, such as the best external HDDs for music production and best gaming external hdds. Go check them out!

Looking for something a bit smaller? We have a buyers guide of all the best 500GB external HDDs on the market today.

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