We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

13 best portable hard drives 2014: what's the best portable hard drive you can buy in the UK?

We review and chart the top 13 best portable hard drives

Other than the overall price, there are a couple of other things that you should look out for when buying a portable hard drive. So before you take a look at our Best portable hard drives chart, you may want to quickly find out what to look out for when buying a portable hard drive.

First of all is the type of the drive in the portable hard drive, it's easy to think that bigger is better, but you should also consider whether the hard drive is an SSD (solid state drive) or a spinning HDD (hard disk drive). An SSD is likely to be more expensive, but the benefits of this are that it will be significantly quicker than a HDD as there are no moving parts in a solid state drive.

Once you've decided whether you want an SSD or a HDD portable hard drive, it's always worth checking out the devices actual read/write speeds before you make a decision, as these vary wildly from model to model.

Equally important in terms of speed is what type of connection is on offer on the portable hard drives. In 2013 you really should be looking to buy a portable hard drive that is USB 3.0 compatible as it can deliver up to 10 times faster transfer speeds than USB 2.0. Alternatively if you have a computer that supports Firewire connections then you should look out for a portable hard drive that supports these connections also as it offers extremely fast transfer speeds too. Mac users will want to look out for a Thunderbolt port.

13 Best portable hard drives

13. G-Drive mobile hard drive

G-Drive mobile hard drive
  • Reviewed on: 2 January 13
  • RRP: £109 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 6 out of 10

G-Technology’s G-Drive mobile is a competent external drive with a longer-than-average warranty. Although it has been updated to offer the faster USB 3 technology, the transfer speeds over this connection were average. There are other drives that are more affordable and offer higher performance, more security, and higher capacity. Ultimately, though, if you like the design, and you're happy with its 1TB capacity and reassured by its three year warranty, the G-Drive mobile will serve capably as a general purpose bus-powered external drive.

12. Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive
  • Reviewed on: 12 January 11
  • RRP: £139.78 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive is a fantastically versatile storage system. It allows an investment in compact and portable hard drives up to huge capacities, that can then be easily connected to any computer with a USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire or eSATA connector. No other hard drive manufacturer has devised a system so simple yet effective. We hope to test the network adaptor kit in a later review. In our tests, the 1.5TB version of the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive had incredibly quick performance, nigh-on 100MBps with USB 3.0, and it was also one of the fastest FireWire 800 drives we’ve tested too. This drive comes heartily recommended.

11. Western Digital My Passport Studio 1TB

Western Digital My Passport Studio 1TB
  • Reviewed on: 13 October 11
  • RRP: £110 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

We’re almost inclined to excuse the 2011 WD My Passport Studio’s continuing omission of Thunderbolt. This sturdy example of high-tech engineering may stretch the pocket in more way than one, but it’s worth every pound and gramme of it. Formidable FireWire performance and finally some worthy software all underline the whole tidy package. The WD My Passport Studio sets a new high benchmark for such pocket drives.

10. Freecom Mobile Drive Sq

Freecom Mobile Drive Sq
  • Reviewed on: 6 December 11
  • RRP: £85 inc VAT = 500GB
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

The slimline design of the Sq drive is certainly attractive, and it’s quite reasonably priced.

9. ioSafe Rugged Portable

ioSafe Rugged Portable
  • Reviewed on: 27 March 12
  • RRP: £157 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

ioSafe's Rugged Portable sacrifices a bit of bulk and weight to add some serious protection to a fast USB 3.0 hard drive.

8. iStorage diskAshur 500GB

iStorage diskAshur 500GB
  • Reviewed on: 8 August 12
  • RRP: £159 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The iStorage benefits from a USB 3.0 interface to give transfer speeds around twice that of its USB 2.0 predecessor. The bottleneck to moving data in and out is only the internal disk itself.

7. LaCie Rugged USB 3

LaCie Rugged USB 3
  • Reviewed on: 26 November 12
  • RRP: £169 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

The Rugged drive also surged back when copying smaller files, pulling well ahead of Elgato in those tests. That combination of results made the Rugged drive the overall winner on performance – and at a considerably lower price than the Elgato drive.

6. Freecom Mobile Drive Mg

Freecom Mobile Drive Mg
  • Reviewed on: 9 April 13
  • RRP: £179
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

It’s a shame that the Mobile Drive Mg doesn’t fully exploit the speed of that Thunderbolt interface. However, Apple introduced Thunderbolt on the Mac more than a year before it finally got around to adding USB 3.0, so this is still a good choice for people who don’t have the option of using a less expensive USB 3.0 drive.

5. WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB

WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB
  • Reviewed on: 27 June 13
  • RRP: Price £75 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The WD My Passport Ultra is a very compact way of carrying a terabyte of data around, and which can be accessed rapidly thanks to its USB 3.0 interface. Power users may be more frustrated by slower performance when tasking it with several operations at once, but it works wonderfully in a more tape-like situation, for the mass storage of a large computer backup, for instance.

4. Toshiba Stor.E Basics 2 TB

Toshiba Stor.E Basics 2 TB
  • Reviewed on: 10 July 13
  • RRP: £100 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Toshiba Stor.E Basics 2 TB is a straightforward little black box that can take care of portable bulk storage for not a lot of cash.

3. Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 240GB SSD

Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 240GB SSD
  • Reviewed on: 20 December 11
  • RRP: £750 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

The Little Big Disk Thunderbolt SSD isn't without its flaws. Its price will keep it out of the reach of most users – though it's well worth the cost if you can stretch to it – and while Thunderbolt can certainly deliver power, the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt SSD has to be plugged into the mains. Even so, its blistering performance alone makes it a winner.

2. G-Technology G-DRIVE 4TB

G-Technology G-DRIVE 4TB
  • Reviewed on: 13 June 13
  • RRP: £250 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The addition of USB 3.0 to the G-Technology G-DRIVE is very welcome. Previously the only way to match the performance of the disk was through eSATA, almost entirely limited to Windows systems. Now both Windows PC and Apple Macs can take advantage of the high-performace Hitachi disks inside, in a robust and stylish chassis.

1. WD My Passport Edge for Mac 500GB

WD My Passport Edge for Mac 500GB
  • Reviewed on: 20 November 12
  • RRP: £69.99 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

The WD My Passport Edge for Mac 500GB is a fast and stylish portable drive, embued with category-defining build quality and attractively slim dimensions. This covetable piece of storage technology is also competitively priced given its performance and supreme finish.

IDG UK Sites

Where to buy iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the UK: Launch day price, deals and contracts

IDG UK Sites

Is Apple losing confidence in itself?

IDG UK Sites

Professional photo and video techniques for perfect colours

IDG UK Sites

How (and where) to buy an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus in the UK. Plus: What to do if you pre-ordered...