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It’s amazing how the cost of a 2 TB external hard drive has come down to the point where it’s an affordable alternative for most computer users. A 2 TB external hard drive is an easy way to add high-capacity storage to your desktop PC or laptop offering a simple plug-and-play solution that can go virtually anywhere with you. Just like your desktop PC or laptop hard disk drive, an external portable hard drive can hold your personal data such as photos, music, videos, documents, and more. It can also be used to back up the internal hard disk on your laptop or desktop PC. The difference is that a 2TB external hard drive can be much larger than your internal drive and is portable so you can take it with you.
Given the cost and reliability, there’s almost no excuse these days for laptop users not to have a portable external backup and storage solution and a 2 TB external hard drive is in the sweet spot for size and value.
The big question is, which one should you buy? Here are some features and specifications you should consider when buying a 2TB hard drive.
All of the drives we looked at are 2 TB capacity. External hard drives are available in a variety of capacities that has grown to around 8 GB or more and continues to grow. Your best choice is to estimate your future data usage and backup requirements and then purchase a drive with double the capacity you think you will need. It’s an arbitrary number, but you won’t pay that much more and you will have more storage and backup flexibility in the future.
All of the drives that we considered are hard disk drives meaning that they have a physical spinning drive inside. Keep in mind that solid state external drives are also available which are much more compact, travel better, but are considerably more expensive per terabyte.
Size and Portability
In general, we don’t consider any of the standard 2 TB portable external hard drives to be anything other than compact and portable. If size is a consideration for travel, either buy the smallest drive you can find, or consider a solid state drive which are much smaller and lighter than hard disk drives.
Interested in other drive solutions? Be sure and see our other articles about some of the best!
- Thunderbolt SSD Hard Drive: Top 5 External Thunderbolt 1TB SSD Drives
- External Solid State Drive: Top 5 External 512GB SSD Storage
Data Transfer Interface
All of the drives we considered use a USB 3.0 connection which is about 10X faster than USB 2.0. Even if all you have are USB 2.0 connections, you should buy one designed for USB 3.0 because it’s backward compatible and it provides you a little bit of “future-proofing.”
Most newer models of 2 terabyte external hard drive are plug-and-play which means you simply plug them into an available USB port and they will become available for use automatically without the need to install any software or configure the drive.
In some cases, if you’re a Mac person, you may need to reformat the drive for the Mac as many come pre-formatted for PC use.
Other data transfer interfaces are available such as Thunderbolt, but in general they aren’t much faster than USB 3.0, but they are much more expensive and are not backwards compatible with USB 2.0.
If you’re looking for the absolute fastest data transfer rate using USB 3.0, you will need to switch from a hard disk drive to a solid state drive. In many cases, hard disk speed can be a limiting factor on data transfer rate.
There is a reason that some brands are more popular than others and it’s usually because of value and warranty. The best brands provide good value for your dollar and they offer a warranty that they stand behind. Some of the best brands include Seagate, Western Digital, LaCie, and Toshiba.
These are not solid state drives. That means they have moving parts. Whether they are ruggedized or not, bouncing them around in a car, boat, or plane subjects them to vibration and shock. Drives can fail. Make sure the drive you buy is from a manufacturer and/or vendor who provides a great warranty and has a history of standing behind their products.
We scoured forums, retail sites, review sites, consumer testing sites, and manufacturer sites for products that are highly-rated, popular, and have a track record.
Take a look at our list and see if one of these drives is the best portable hard drive for your needs!
2 TB External Hard Drive: Top 7 Best Rated sPortable External Hard Drives
Toshiba has a reputation for long-term durability and reliability. The plug-and-play Toshiba Canvio Basics 2TB Portable Hard Drive provides a simple, reliable way to add the storage capacity you need without having to install any software on any computer that uses it. Large enough to keep all of your important digital content in one place, it’s powered directly from your available desktop or laptop USB port. Here’s what you need to know.
- 2 TB external, portable hard drive
- Internal Shock Sensor and Ramp-Loading Technology provide protection against damage from accidental drops
- Plug-and-play installation without the need for software installation
- Plugs directly into any available USB 3.0 port but is also backward-compatible with USB 2.0 interfaces
- Compact, smudge-resistant design
- 1-Year standard limited warranty
- 1 – USB 3.0 cable (compatible with USB 2.0)
#6 – Silicon Power 2TB Rugged Armor A60 Shockproof / Water-Resistant 2.5-Inch USB 3.0 Military Grade Portable External Hard Drive, Black (SP020TBPHDA60S3K)
Tough and durable are probably the best words to describe the Silicon Power 2TB Rugged Armor A60 Shockproof/Water-Resistant 2.5-Inch USB 3.0 Military Grade Portable External Hard drive. Although Rugged Armor is a great name for it. It’s all about the enclosure which includes an ultra-rugged rubber casing that stretches from the internal structure to the exterior adding an extra shield to withstand shocks, crushes, and water splashes. Tough enough to pass the U.S. Military’s MIL-STD-810G transit drop test and rated at IPX4 waterproof level, this is a great portable drive for outdoor users in addition to those who tend to abuse their equipment. Bundled with its cable, it has a high-speed USB 3.0 interface that saves time when transferring large data files. Here’s what you need to know.
- Rugged, shockproof and water-resistant 2 TB external, portable USB 3.0 hard drive
- Enjoy fast USB 3.0 speeds, but use USB 2.0 when necessary thanks to backward-compatibility
- Its enclosure which includes an ultra-rugged rubber casing that stretches from the internal structure to the exterior adding an extra shield to withstand shocks, crushes, and water splashes
- Hard disk drive has an advanced hard drive suspension system that adds to survivability
- Armor A60 also passes the US military MIL-STD-810G (122 cm transit drop test) and IPX4 waterproof level
- Handy silicone slot design provides special cable-carry capability that keeps everything together important when traveling
- Special surface texture provides anti-slip, anti-fingerprint, and anti-scratch protection
- Compatible with PCs and Macs
- Comes with SP exclusive, free Widget download software, providing 7 major back up and security tools
- LED indicator shows transferring status
- Advanced internal hard drive suspension system
- 3-Year manufacturer’s warranty
Possibly better known for SD cards, memory modules and flash drives, Transcend also makes a number of other high-quality data storage solutions including the Transcend 2 TB StoreJet M3 Military Drop Tested USB 3.0 External Hard Drive. It features three-layer shock protection and a compact, rugged, lightweight, portable design. It’s included Transcend Elite software enables its One Touch Auto-Backup button and 256-bit AES file & folder encryption. This is a great, hard-working, backup and data storage device that you can take with you without worrying about data corruption due to shock or vibration. Here’s what you need to know.
- 2 TB rugged, lightweight, easy-to-carry, reliable, military drop-tested USB 3.0 portable external hard drive
- Drive is protected by an advanced 3-stage shock protection system using a slip-resistant silicone material outer shell, reinforced hard casing, and an internal hard drive suspension damper drop-tested to U.S Military MIL-STD-810G 516.6 standards
- USB 3.0 fast transfer speeds with USB 2.0 backward-compatibility
- Handy LED power/data transfer activity indicator
- Unique Transcend Elite software enables drive’s One Touch Auto-Backup button functionality, 256-bit AES file & folder encryption and compression, digital lock functionality, and incremental backups
- One Touch auto-backup uses Transcend Elite software to perform an instant data backup and synchronization at the touch of a button
- Quick Reconnect Button re-enables safely removed USB hard drive without unplug and reinsert
- 10-minute power saving mode
- 3-Year limited warranty
- 1 – USB 2.0/3.0 cable
Western Digital builds the internal workings of a drive like its Western Digital Elements 2TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive to their demanding requirements for durability, shock tolerance, and long-term reliability and wrap it in a durable enclosure featuring stylish design and tough protection. It features an ultra-fast USB 3.0 interface, compact size, and a free trial of WD SmartWare Pro local and cloud backup software. It’s a simple drive that’s also a great value. For its low price you don’t get encryption so as long as you’re not planning to store data you want secured, this is a great choice. Here’s what you need to know.
- Compact, durable, 2 TB USB 3.0 portable external hard drive
- USB 3.0 data transfer performance with USB 2.0 compatibility
- Free trial of WD SmartWare Pro local and cloud backup software
Seagate is the global leader in data storage solutions and one that provides businesses around the world with the means to create, share, and preserve corporate memories and business data. They bring that mission-critical experience to their consumer drives like their Seagate Expansion 2TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive. Whether you need extra storage for your expanding file collection, want to consolidate your files in a single location, or just need to free space on your computer’s internal drive for better performance, the Expansion 2 TB drive will server your needs. It’s plug-and-play design means you can just plug the unit into an available USB 2.0/3.0 port and the drive is useable immediately without the need to install software. Then it just becomes another resource with plenty of space to drag-and-drop files to. Its USB 3.0 interface means you will be moving and copying files faster than ever before. Here’s what you need to know.
- 2 TB USB 3.0 portable external expansion hard drive
- Ultra-fast USB 3.0 interface is backward-compatible with USB 2.0 and powers the drive
- Plug-and-play installation means that you can be up and running in seconds
- Lightweight and compact, this expansion drive is ready to go where you need it without worry of damage from shock or vibration
- 1-Year Warranty
- 1 – 18-inch USB 2.0/3.0 cable
Western Digital My Passport drives have been around for years and have established a reputation for quality and reliability. Their new WD 2TB Black My Passport Ultra-Portable External Hard Drive carries the legacy forward providing extra storage that securely and dependably safeguards your private files. Use an optional password to activate strong 256-bit hardware encryption adding an extra layer of security. Backups couldn’t be easier thanks to their WD Backup software that allows you to tailor backups specifically to your needs. Available in 4 exciting colors, you can personalize this drive to your tastes. Here’s what you need to know.
- 2 TB ultra-portable external hard drive with hardware encryption
- Drive is capable of performing automatic local and cloud backups
- Automatic local and cloud backup to your Dropbox cloud-service account
- Password protection and 256-bit AES hardware encryption without impact to drive performance
- 3-year limited warranty
- WD Backup software makes it easy to backup important files, photos, videos and music on your schedule, automatically
- Customize the drive with a WD Grip Pack which lets you choose among 5 available colors and a flat, colored USB cable
- Comes pre-formatted for MS Windows
- 3-Year limited warranty
#1 – Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Portable External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup USB 3.0 (Silver) STDR2000101
Another great drive from Seagate and our personal favorite, the Seagate Backup Plus Slim USB 3.0 2TB Portable External Hard Drive and Mobile Backup provides easy, automatic backup capability along with extra storage space that you can take with you. It features a slim, metal design that is both durable and easy to carry even in your pocket, purse, or briefcase. The Seagate Dashboard gives you a one-click Protect function for scheduling automatic local backups. A unique Save feature allows you to backup user-generated content from your favorite social networks. It simplifies your backups by protecting your entire digital life locally, in the cloud, or from social networks. Here’s what you need to know.
- 2 TB, USB 3.0, portable external hard drive
- You get ultra-fast USB 3.0 data transfer speeds while maintaining USB 2.0 backward-compatibility
- Durable, slim metal design slides easily into pocket, purse, or briefcase
- Seagate’s Dashboard provides a Protect function that allows you to setup a one-click plan or schedule your automatic local backup
- Unique Save feature gives you the capability to backup user-generated content from social networks even photos you are tagged in
- Backup mobile device photos and videos automatically using the Lyve App
- Comes pre-formatted for MS Windows
2 TB External Hard Drive Comparison
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