Buying Guide
By Nick Caruso
on 11.27.13

The best desktop hard drives have, to steal a phrase from our favorite genie, “phenomenal saving power; itty bitty stylish case[s]“. Truly the magic lamps of the data storage world, these desktop vaults hold a great deal of files while taking up a small amount of real estate, yet look good enough to keep front and center in the ol’ workspace.

These days it’s commonplace and often necessary to have fast data-transfer ports — USB 3.0 and/or Thunderbolt interfaces — on your devices. You’ll find one (or both) of those remarkably quick superhighways of data transferring speed on each of these hard drives, which means a little more moolah but a lot of speed. Keep in mind these specific devices don’t sport any sort of RAID backup, which maintains simplicity but means they’re not a great long-term backup solution. They also don’t feature the newest wi-fi capability or network connectivity either — we’ll get to those another time. No, these are straightforward supplementary hard drives, ever the boon to the data-heavy, data-transient lifestyle. Should you need a little extra room (actually, a lot of room) to move large files from one place to another, or or if you’re storing files temporarily for some other reason, look no further than these, the best external desktop hard drives around.

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Buffalo DriveStation DDR

Buffalo-DriveStation-DDR

Storage Space: 2TB to 3TB
Editor’s Choice: Faster than a speeding bullet (were the speeding bullet in question actually a Thunderbolt connection, that is), this USB 3.0-based device works with both Macs and PCs to deliver quick transfers at a pedestrian cost. It’s monolithic in a modern desktop-meets-Space-Odyssey kind of way, and will evolve the way you move files.

LaCie d2 USB 3.0

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Storage Space: 3TB to 4TB
Best Combination Hard Drive: If you were to buy a car that could whip everything else at a stoplight but also flew circles around an F-22, you’d probably expect to pay a premium. Same goes for this WALL-E’s girlfriend-lookin’ thing. It handles both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 protocols but you pay a pretty penny for the pleasure.

Western Digital MyBook Studio

Western-Digital-MyBook-Studio-External-Hard-Drive

Storage Space: 1TB to 4TB
Best Hard Drive for Your MacBook: Available in terabyte increments from 1-4TB, this setup will match most anyone’s storage preferences, though Mac users will appreciate it most: the brushed aluminum look fits in well with Apple gear. There’s no Thunderbolt connection, however, so plan on that USB port having a standing date.

Seagate Backup Plus

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Storage Space: 2TB to 4TB
Best Bang-For-Your-Buck Hard Drive: Less design-heavy and more frugal, Seagate’s model has only a USB 3.0 port, but a Thunderbolt adapter is available separately if you want to keep your options open. A unique feature allows your social media content to be backed up directly to the drive so you can keep private and secure what you’ve shared with thousand of your Facebook friends.

G-Technology G-DRIVE Professional Strength

G-Technology-G-DRIVE-Professional-Strength-External-Hard-Drive-gear-patrol

Storage Space: 2TB to 4TB
Best Hard Drive for the Photographer: It’s no wonder pro photogs swear by this thing — it’s got a decidedly professional look to it, especially if you’re into the Mac Pro aesthetic. USB 3.0 and Firewire (you old holdout, you) are the connections of choice here, and you’ll pay a bit extra for the experience.

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