Best brands of external USB hard drives

What is the best brand of external USB hard drives?
IT GuyNetwork EngineerAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I use Western Digital and they work fine. Seagate are good as well.

ANY top brand with a 3 year warranty is fine. "Best" will be in minute incremental degrees of difference.
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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
John is right on the money as regards warranties.  Warranties have dropped from five years, to three years, to two years, to one.  If it doesn't have a three year warranty, you're buying an invitaton to disaster in the next two years.  Manufacturers warrant based on the life expectancy of a product ... or perhaps what is worse, they say "We'll build to a quality level that justifies a 12 month warranty."

Note that warranties often run from the day the drive is made, not from the day you buy it.  A drive may sit in a container on the dock in Singapore for a couple of weeks, come across the Pacific on a container ship for another month, sit in a warehouse here in the US for four to five months, then sit on store shelves for two months before sale.   Boom.  Most of the one-year warranty could already be gone when you buy that drive.

I prefer WD drives to Seagate, as Seagate has put some quite bad drive models on the market over the past five years or so.

Buy something with a decent warranty and start putting away money now to replace it at the end of the warranty period when it starts generating SMART errors.

Side note:  In my opinion you're better off buying a highly rated internal drive and putting it into a $10 USB enclosure, than buying a USB external drive with God only knows what inside.
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dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Endorsed Dr Klahn's comment mainly for this statement:

Side note:  In my opinion you're better off buying a highly rated internal drive and putting it into a $10 USB enclosure, than buying a USB external drive with God only knows what inside.

Other points in his comment are relevant as well.
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serialbandCommented:
Note that warranties often run from the day the drive is made, not from the day you buy it.

That's not how warranties work.  You must not have ever read a warranty.  The warranty applies to the purchase date in most cases.  They're usually based on your purchase date by the original purchaser as shown on a receipt.  They generally ask you to register the purchase date for convenience, but as long as you have your receipt as proof of purchase, they must cover it if they offer the warranty.  The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act covers the minimum warranty they must offer if they do offer a warranty.

Nobody intentionally makes a drive that will actually fail in 1 year.  The warranty is usually based on the expected failure rate during a certain time period.  I've had drives, with 1 year warranties, last 7 years, before I replaced them with larger capacity drives or another system.  I've had drives with 5 year warranties that failed in 1 year, but the replacement outlasted the warranty period.  Sometimes they mess up and have a mass of failures, which is why they have warranties to cover them.  The Seagate 1.5 TB drives were one batch of massive failures.  Back in the day, there were large batches Hitachis and IBM DeskStars and Western Digital drives that failed.   Sometimes they offer the 1 year warranty because it hits a better price point, but they may have the same drive as the 5 year warranty.

The warranty periods also didn't drop.  It depends on the models you purchase.  There were disk with 5 year warranties and disks with 1 year warranties, over a decade or 2 ago, back when CompUSA, Circuit City, and Good Guys were still all around.  You purchased the 1 year warranty disks because you didn't want to pay more for the 3 or 5 year warranty models.  They still, mostly, had a similar lifespan, just with different costs.  It's like insurance.  How much is that extra warranty worth to you?
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Nitin SontakkeDeveloperCommented:
And I second dbrunton!
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WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
Maybe some qualifying questions to consider... Since we are on the subject of USB, One would gather that we are taking about 3.0 ports?  Also when you say best, are considering best bang for the dollar? or are we talking about longevity?  One could consider SSD drives inserted into a USB enclosure and potentially have a nice fast very portable drive. Just something to consider.
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RaminTechnical AdvisorCommented:
The Best External Hard Drives of 2017
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2400958,00.asp
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Natty GregIn Theory (IT)Commented:
Second Dr. Khlan with the side note, when it comes to warranty it is over rated, 3-2-1 yr warranty drive fail, if not made properly, the only thing warranty done is to replace HD, not your time or data. So anyone of the Western Digital, I'm not a fan of seagate, though I have them. My WD ran for years on end, while my seagate cause me grief.

Pick a drive and an enclosure or buy a western digital enclosure with hard drive
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nobusCommented:
i have had bad experiences with WD drives too - my last one was a 4 TB internal drive; just to mention the fct they ALL can fail)
imo there's no better or worse brand - unless it's proven by test on thousands of drives; and even then, you may just pick a "monday" drive
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
What we are dealing with is Mean Time to Failure. In theory, the longer  MTBF, the better the drive. But drives can and do fail early in their life. I can tell the same stories as everyone else.

So good brand name drives with good warranties are usually a good deal.
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serialbandCommented:
Every brand has had bad batches at some point or another.  Backblaze has released their real world drive lifespans every year for a while now.  https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hard-drive-benchmark-stats-2016/
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tliottaCommented:
"Best"? For what usage? In what environment? For technicians in a server farm? For lawyers in a corporate firm? For a simple desktop in an average user's home in the northeast U.S.A.? What's the room climate? For basic storage of music files? For legally restricted documents? General backups? Is there a desired price range?
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nobusCommented:
best is to have multiple backups - = Redundancy
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MereteCommented:
Agree the western digital  USB by far the most reliable. But often times the supply is limited.
Stay away from WD  usb HDD that state My Book and Elements as these differ from the standard USB.
I can now also give my approval of the 5 terabyte Seagate expansion USB 3 drives. Good warranty and support .
http://www.seagate.com/au/en/consumer/backup/expansion-hard-drive/
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