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13 Best External Hard Drives for Photographers (Top Picks 2022)

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An external hard drive is an essential piece of the photographer’s toolkit. When you’re taking hundreds of shots at each photoshoot, SD cards and hard drives fill up fast. You need a storage system that can meet the needs of a busy photographer.

If digital storage is what you need, you’re in the right place. We’ve compiled a list of the best external hard drives for photographers. Whether you’re looking for something for your home or something portable, we have the external hard drive for you.

Woman at a laptop with an external hard drive connected
© Andrew Neel (Unsplash.com)

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How Much Storage Do You Need For Photos?

The amount of storage you need depends on how many photos you take. If you’re taking hundreds of photographs each week, you’ll need a lot of storage. But we also need to consider the size of a photo file.

The file size of a JPEG image is usually between 10 and 20MB. And this can be higher if you’re using a professional camera.

Many photographers prefer to shoot in RAW file format. They allow for more creative freedom in post-production. And they carry more information because they’re not compressed. But that means RAW files are larger than JPEGs.

If you’re using a high-resolution camera, RAW files can surpass 80MB per shot. A 16GB SD card will be full after just 200 photos. That’s not a lot of shots if you’re shooting on location.

You can take several SD cards when you’re shooting. But SD cards are small, fragile, and easy to lose. An external hard drive gives you more storage capacity and durability.

The exact amount of digital storage you need is an equation between how much you shoot and which file type you like to use. And you need to consider the camera resolution. It’s hard to come to an exact number, but we do know that it’s better to have too much than too little.

Bear this in mind when you’re buying external hard drives for photography. You don’t want to run out of space in the middle of a shoot. The bride and groom won’t be pleased if you only capture half of their special day.

Camera, hard drive, and glasses on an orange backdrop
© Oleg Chumakov (Depositphotos.com)

What Type of Hard Drive Is Right For You?

Standard portable external hard drives are very popular with photographers. They fit in your kit bag, offer plenty of storage, and they’re reasonably priced.

Many photographers are now using the solid-state drive (SSD) type. The storage space isn’t drastically different, but SSD units have a much faster transfer speed. It can be a huge time-saver when you’re transferring hundreds of images. The newer SSDs also tend to be more compact than standard drives.

If volume is what you need, a backup drive might be the hard drive for you. They have a vast amount of storage space. It means they’re larger units and less portable. But they’re excellent for backing up your library at home.

The type of external hard drive you need depends on how much storage you need and where you intend to use them. A backup drive will do if you’re looking for at-home digital storage. But if you need something on the job, a portable or SSD external drive is better.

Photography equipment laid out on a wooden floor
© Andrew Neel (Unsplash.com)

13 Best External Hard Drives for Photographers

These are the best external hard drives for photographers. Whether you want something portable and durable or something for your home office, it’ll be on this list. We’ll give you all the information you need to make an educated purchase.

1. Seagate Backup Ultra Touch HDD

Seagate Hard external hard drive for photographers

  • Storage Capacity: 1-2TB
  • Storage Type: HDD
  • Max Read/Write Speeds: 120/120MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎4.52 x 3.07 x 0.46 inches / 11.22 x 7.8 x 1.16 cm
  • Weight: 0.33lb / 0.15kg

For an external hard drive for photographers, the Seagate Backup Ultra Touch has it all. It has a stylish outer body with a woven exterior plate. And it has excellent storage while being compact and portable.

The Seagate Backup Ultra Touch comes in two sizes. The standard has 1TB of memory, which is pretty good for an external drive of this size and weight. But you can also go for the 2TB option if you need something with a bigger capacity.

The security features also make this external hard drive stand out from the competition. It offers password-activated hardware encryption. It protects your files, so you don’t have to worry about data theft.

This external hard drive uses and USB connection, so you can connect it to your laptop or desktop computer. Once connected, you get read/write speeds of 120/120MB/s, so you won’t be waiting hours for files to transfer.

As a portable drive, the Seagate Backup Ultra Touch is the full package. The memory space is impressive for the size. It’s secure and has a stylish touch that sets it apart. And the price is very reasonable for both the 1TB and 2TB options.

2. Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD

Sandisk extreme portable SSD product shot

  • Storage Capacity: 1-4TB
  • Storage Type: SSD
  • Max Write Speeds: 693/496MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎3.97 x 2.07 x 0.38 Inches / 10.08 x 5.25 x 0.96 cm
  • Weight: 0.111lb / 0.050kg

The Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD external hard drive lives up to the portable label. It’s compact and lightweight so it won’t take up much space in your photography bag. And we love the sleek and smooth body design.

As an SSD external drive, you get fast read/write speeds. The speed sets it apart from other portable hard drives. And while it will rarely reach the max speed in the real world, it can hit impressive transfer speeds.

The Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD has password-protected encryption for data security. And it’s shock-resistant, and water and dust protected for physical security. It can connect to computers and smartphones using a range of USB-C connections.

The storage size options range from 500GB to 4TB, with the 1TB version being our top recommendation. The 500GB will leave you wanting, and the 4TB is a little pricey.

While the Sandisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD might tempt many, this is still the better option. The Pro model has faster read/write speeds, but not all computers can utilize that power. Unless you have a very high-end computer, it makes little difference.

3. WD My Book Backup Desktop USB 3.0

WD My Book Desktop external hard drive for photographers

  • Storage Capacity: 4-14TB
  • Storage Type: HDD
  • Max Write Speeds: 5GB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎5.5 x 1.9 x 6.7 inches / 13.97 x 4.82 x 17 cm
  • Weight: 2.12lb / 0.96kg

The WD My Book isn’t exactly a portable hard drive. It’s a desktop hard drive for at-home backup storage. And it’s the best backup option currently available.

There are different options for storage size, ranging from 4 to 14TB. That’s a lot of memory. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of RAW file photos. But the price does increase with the storage capacity.

The hard drive requires the WD Backup software for device management. The process of downloading and installing the software is simple. And it gives you excellent control options for your stored files.

The WD My Book Backup includes 256-bit AES hardware encryption for security. And the device is USB 2.0 compatible so you can link it to your computer. The data transfer speed is also very pleasing.

4. Samsung T7 Portable SSD

Samsung T7 Portable external hard drive for photographers

  • Storage Capacity: 500GB-2TB
  • Storage Type: SSD
  • Max Write Speeds: 1050MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎3.3 x 2.2 x 0.3 inches / 8.38 x 5.58 x 0.76 cm
  • Weight: 0.13lb / 0.136kg

The Samsung Portable SSD has a sleek and professional design. It’s lightweight and the perfect size for your backpack or messenger bag. And it offers excellent storage and fast transfer speeds.

You have three size options to choose from with the Samsung Portable SSD. There’s 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. We’d recommend either the 500GB or the 1TB as there’s a big price jump from 1TB to 2TB.

As it’s a portable SSD device, the maximum read/write speeds are impressive. At least on paper. To achieve the maximum transfer speed, your computer must support USB 3.2 Gen 2. If you’re using a standard USB port and cable, the data transfer will be slower.

The hard drive is dust resistance and shock resistance for drops of up to 6ft. Its solid aluminum body keeps your files safe when shooting on location. This external SSD also has internal temperature control, so it doesn’t overheat.

5. WD My Passport Portable Hard Drive

WD My Passport external hard drive for photographers

  • Storage Capacity: 1-5TB
  • Storage Type: HDD
  • Max Write Speeds: 120MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎4.22 x 2.95 x 0.44 inches / 10.72 x 7.49 x 1.11 cm
  • Weight: 0.26lb / 0.118kg

The beauty of the WD My Passport hard drive is its simplicity. It has a basic, no-thrills design. The outer casing is strong and durable. And the dimension and weight make it the perfect portable hard drive.

The WD My Passport won’t break any records for transfer speeds. But it can store a lot of RAW file photos and it’s dependable. This model has been on the market for a few years, and it has a reputation for being reliable.

When you make your purchase, you need to specify if you have a PC or a Mac. There’s a different model for each OS. You can also choose between the storage options, ranging from 1 to 5TB.

The WD My Passport offers security and reliability as an external storage device. If simplicity is what you’re after, this is the one for you. And it’s one of the most reasonably priced options on the list.

6. Seagate Backup Plus Hub

Seagate Backup Hub Plus external hard drive for photographers

  • Storage Capacity: 14TB
  • Storage Type: HDD
  • Max Write Speeds: 120MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎7.8 x 1.61 x 4.65 inches / 19.81 x 4.9 x 11.81 cm
  • Weight: 2.34lb / 1.06kg

The Seagate Backup Plus Hub can satisfy your biggest digital storage requirements. It can store up to 14TB of data, which equates to hundreds of thousands of photos. That’s for JPEGs and RAW files.

You can use this external hard drive with Windows and Mac computers. You’ll need to install the NTSF driver for use with Mac. But once you’ve installed that, you can use the device interchangeably between the two systems.

The Seagate Dashboard software makes file management straightforward. You don’t have to spend hours rummaging through 14TB of files to find that old photo you need. The read/write speeds aren’t the fastest, but it’s a reliable machine.

7. Transcend StoreJet M3

Transcend StoreJet M3 external hard drive for photographers

  • Storage Capacity: 1-2TB
  • Storage Type: HDD
  • Max Write Speeds: 122MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎5.1 x 0.83 x 3.24 inches / 12.95 x 2.10 x 8.23 cm
  • Weight: 0.481lb / 0.218kg

The Transcend StoreJet M3 is durable and well-priced. It doesn’t have the sleek and professional design of other portable options. And it isn’t quite as fast as the SSD drives. But the StoreJet M3 is one of the best external hard drives for photographers.

If you’re looking for a durable hard drive, the Transcend Storejet M3 could be the one for you. It’s shock tested to a US military level, making it highly drop resistant.

To get the fastest read/write speeds, you’ll need to use the USB 3.1 Gen 1. And you’ll also need to download the Transcend Elite software for the data management options.

8. WD My Passport SSD

WD My Passport SSD product photo

  • Storage Capacity: 500GB-4TB
  • Storage Type: SSD
  • Max Write Speeds: 1000MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎3.54 x 1.77 x 0.39 inches / 8.99 x 4.49 x 0.99 cm
  • Weight: 0.101lb / 0.045kg

We’ve already seen the HDD version of the WD My Passport on this list. And WD has also produced some excellent solid-state drives. The reason they’re further down on this list is the price and the reliability. But the My Passport SSD options are still great for photographers.

The data transfer speed is much quicker than the HDD device. But this only makes a difference if you’re using a high-end computer. It’s cross-compatible with USB 3.2 Gen 2 and USB-C, which makes it versatile.

It has 256-bit AES hardware encryption for security. And it’s vibration and shock resistant for peace of mind when you’re out and about. It’s another excellent portable storage option for busy photographers.

9. iStorage diskAshur 2

iStorage diskAshur external hard drive for photographers

  • Storage Capacity: 500GB-5TB
  • Storage Type: HDD
  • Max Write Speeds: 143MB/s
  • Dimensions: 4.72 x 3.15 x 0.59 inches / ‎11.98 x 8 x 1.50 cm
  • Weight: 0.476lb / 0.215kg

The iStorage diskAshur 2 is an external hard drive with an emphasis on security. All data transferred to the device is encrypted for protection against unauthorized access. You even need a 7-15 digit pin to access the data stored on the device.

This hard drive is strong on the outside too. Its durable body is shock-resistant and dust and splash-proof. It keeps your files safe from harm no matter what you’re getting up to.

The iStorage portable hard drive works with any device with a USB port. There’s no problem with Windows, Mac, or Linux systems. And the transfer speed is fast for an HDD external drive.

The iStorage diskAshur 2 doesn’t offer the best price to storage ratio. But it’s the most secure external storage device you can find. It’s strong on the outside, and there’s no way anyone can steal your data from the inside.

10. LaCie Rugged Raid Pro

LaCie Rugged Raid Pro external hard drive for photographers

  • Storage Capacity: 4-8TB
  • Storage Type: HDD
  • Max Write Speeds: 240MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎3.58 x 1.18 x 5.51 inches / 9.09 x 2.99 x 14 cm
  • Weight: 1.06lb / 0.480kg

The LaCie Rugged Raid Pro combines storage capacity and durability like no other external hard drive. It’s made to last, and it can store thousands and thousands of RAW file photos.

The body has a robust outer casing that protects the hardware if dropped. And it’s water and dust-resistant. The Rugged Raid Pro is made for a life of work, which is perfect for a professional photographer.

The read/write speeds are quick for an HDD device. And it has a straightforward setup with Windows and Mac devices. It has a USB-C connection and an SD card reader, which is a handy bonus. The LaCie Rugged Raid Pro is a versatile device many photographers like to use.

11. Sandisk Professional G-Drive SSD

Sandisk Professional G-Drive SSD Product photo

  • Storage Capacity: 500GB-4TB
  • Storage Type: SSD
  • Max Write Speeds: 1050MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎3.74 x 1.97 x 0.59 inches / 9.5 x 5 x 1.5 cm
  • Weight: 0.45lb / 0.204kg

If you’re looking for a fast external hard drive, the Sandisk Professional G-Drive is worth consideration. It has data transfer speeds of up to 1050MB per second. If you’re using an older computer, you might not hit top speed, but it’s still quick.

The Sandisk Professional has a durable outer casing that protects your data from the dangers of professional life. It’s crush-resistant up to 2000lb. And it’s water and dust-resistant.

You can connect it to computers and laptops using the USB-C port. And you can download the G-Drive SSD software for full password-encrypted protection.

12. G-Technology G-Drive

G-Technology G-Drive external hard drives

  • Storage Capacity: 4-18TB
  • Storage Type: HDD
  • Max Write Speeds: 250MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎8.27 x 5.12 x 1.79 inches / 21 x 13 x 4.5 cm
  • Weight: 2.73lb / 1.238kg

The G-Technology G-Drive is another great hard drive to backup software and data at home. It’s a desktop external drive, not one for your kit bag. It’s a big unit, but it has plenty of storage space, with the smallest option being 4TB.

The G-Drive from G-Technology uses dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and a USB-C port. It also supports USB 3.1 Gen 1. As an HDD device, data transfer isn’t the quickest. But the G-Drive is reliable.

Despite being a desktop drive, it still has a durable aluminum body. It will survive a few knocks without any trouble. It’s a solid backup external hard drive for photographers.

13. LaCie Rugged Mini

LaCie Rugged Mini external hard drive on a white background

  • Storage Capacity: 2TB
  • Storage Type: HDD
  • Max Write Speeds: 130MB/s
  • Dimensions: ‎5.3 x 3.4 x 0.75 inches / 13.46 x 8.6 x 1.9 cm
  • Weight: 0.5lb / 0.226kg

Much like the Rugged Raid Pro, the Rugged Mini is built to last. The strong and durable outer casing protects your data from anything life can throw at it. It’s crush-proof and water and dust-resistant.

The 2TB memory gives you excellent storage space in a compact package. The transfer speed isn’t the quickest. But the LaCie Rugged Mini gives you peace of mind when it comes to protection. It also has a USB-C port that connects to any computer.

External hard drive connected to a laptop with USB
© Puravute Siriphiroon (Depositphotos.com)

Conclusion

Digital storage is an essential part of modern photography. You need space to store all your digital photos. And if you’re using RAW files, you’ll need a lot of space. Thankfully, there are some excellent external hard drives on the market.

We’ve included portable HDD and SSD options in our list. And there are some desktop hard drives if you want something to backup data at home. These are the best external hard drives for photographers available today.

Our Photography Unlocked ebook will ensure that every photo you ever take is worth storing for the future!

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