As resolutions skyrocket from the old 320p to 4k and higher, video files take up more and more space. While that won’t affect most people, it is a problem for editors, videographers, designers, and other creatives.
Even desktop computers quickly run out of storage for the files, and if you’re working with an older computer you may have definitely noticed a slowdown in performance.
One of the easiest solutions to that problem is to use an external hard drive to store your videos on, both while you’re editing and after you’ve completed a project!
- Who Should Get This
- Best External Hard Drive for Video Editing: Our Picks
- How to Choose an External Hard Drive for Video Editing
- Other Useful Tips & Tricks
Who Should Get This
Any user who needs additional storage can make use of a great external hard drive.
Even so, the ones in this guide have features specifically tailored to video editors and come with features like storage space for large files, the ability to edit directly on the drive, and future-proof designs that will last from project to project.
These drives might be a good fit for other creatives as well, but do note they might be overkill if you just need somewhere to store your old photos and essays.
Best External Hard Drive for Video Editing: Our Picks
This section covers a range of amazing external hard drives and analyzes their niches.
- Best For: Overall
- Key Features: Slim, portable design. Automatic backup. Simple interface. 256-bit AES hardware encryption.
- Connectivity Technology: USB
- Hard Disk Size: 5TB
- Dimensions: 4.22 x 2.95 x 0.75 inches
The My Passport from WD is an excellent external hard drive for all of your video editing needs. It’s a slimmed-down device with massive amounts of internal space and excellent connectivity. You also get USB-A 3.0 support and 2.0 compatibility. Everything is intuitive as well.
Another reason this gets such high marks is from the protection. This device ensures your data stays safe in two different ways. Not only do you get automatic backup, but there’s password protection 256-bit AES hardware encryption. Whatever you put on this stays secret.
One drawback you should know about when using this hard drive is that it uses a USB A port and USB 2.0 technology. As such, the transfer speeds may be a bit slow for some people’s taste.
- Best For: Toughness
- Key Features: USB C connectivity. Extremely durable. Power protection and pro grade performance. Quick read and write speeds.
- Connectivity Technology: USB
- Hard Disk Size: 1TB
- Dimensions: 3.74 x 1.97 x 0.59 inches
If you’re someone looking for an external hard drive with a focus on durability, the G-Drive is excellent towards that end. This machine isn’t just well-made, it’s both water and dust resistant. It also comes with 3-meter drop protection and 2,000-pound crush resistance.
Beyond the outer shell, this drive comes with premium 1050MB/s read and 1000MB/s write speeds. There’s plenty of internal storage and the 5-year limited warranty gives you an extra layer of protection should something go wrong. It’s quite portable as well.
Just be aware that this hard drive only comes with 1TB of space. That should be fine in the short term, but if you want a more long-term solution you might want something with more space.
- Best For: Portability
- Key Features: Incredibly tight design. Easy to use and operate. Fast 540 MB/s read-write speeds. Password protection and hardware encryption.
- Connectivity Technology: USB
- Hard Disk Size: 2TB
- Dimensions: 2.3 x 0.4 x 3 inches
The Samsung Portable SSD, as you would imagine from the name, is a smaller device that’s easy to take with you just about anywhere. You can put this into a bag, backpack, purse, or pocket without any issues. It also sits on a desk without causing any extra clutter.
That compact shell is backed up by 540MB/s transfer speeds, a shock resistant construction, as well as secure encryption. The top-to-bottom metal design is a great touch, while the different USB options do a great job of increasing usability. There’s even a 3-year warranty.
This is a strong external hard drive, but Mac users should know that it does need to be reformatted if you want to use it with an Apple device. Not the end of the world, but annoying nonetheless.
- Best For: Versatility
- Key Features: Three size options. Two free months of Adobe CC Photography. Stylish look. Strong read/write speeds. Shock resistant.
- Connectivity Technology: USB
- Hard Disk Size: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
- Dimensions: 3.7 x 3.11 x 0.35 inches
The Seagate Fast SSD is a powerful hard drive made with creators in mind. Not only does this come with stellar 540 MB/s read and write speeds, but you get 2 months of Adobe CC Photography with a purchase. That gives you great power, as well as a way to fully use it.
Another big bonus of this device is that it comes in three different sizes. That enables you to fully match the internal space with what you need. Despite the lighter design, it’s also pretty solid thanks to the shock resistant build and solid construction.
The only area where this falls short is the connectivity. You get the usual options with this device, but it can be a bit spotty from time to time.
- Best For: Usability
- Key Features: Excellent read speed. Forged aluminum chassis. Works well under pressure. Drop protection and water resistance.
- Connectivity Technology: USB
- Hard Disk Size: 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
- Dimensions: 0.41 x 2.22 x 4.36 inches
The SanDisk Extreme Pro is a compact hard drive with a ton of power. The 2000 MB/s read and write speeds are both fantastic for any video editing needs. This also comes with full password protection featuring 256-bit AES hardware encryption. Here, your data will stay safe.
To back that up, this comes with a forged aluminum chassis, which acts as a handy heat sink, as well as full drop, water, and dust protection. The IP55 rating is extremely important for people who travel a lot, as is the useful carabiner loop.
One drawback you’ll see here is the SSD can be tricky to encrypt. SanDisk also doesn’t have the best customer service. If you have an issue, it might take a while to get it resolved.
- Best For: Durability
- Key Features: Multiple storage options. One month of Adobe Creative Cloud. Drop, crush, and rain resistance.
- Read Speed: 130 Megabytes per Second
- Hard Disk Size: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB
- Dimensions: 1.02 x 3.39 x 5.32 inches
This hard drive from LaCie is another tough device that’s made to survive just about anything you throw at it. Not only is that handy for jumbled bags or accidental bumps, but it ensures everything you store on it will remain safe against just about any threat.
It’s well-made, resists water, and has both drop and crush protection. It utilizes a USB-C connection as well. As an added bonus, the entire model is simple to use. You even get a one-month membership to Adobe Creative Cloud with the purchase.
As this is focused on strength, the read and write speeds aren’t the best. They’re serviceable, but this isn’t the best choice for users who want top notch specs.
- Best For: Storage
- Key Features: Sleek, compact design. Extremely fast transfer speeds. Ample storage space. USB/Thunderbolt connectivity. BarraCuda Pro enterprise-class drive.
- Connectivity Technology: USB, Thunderbolt
- Hard Disk Size: 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 14TB
- Dimensions: 7.42 x 2.36 x 5.12 inches
If you’re a video editor with a huge library who needs ample storage, the Lacie d2 Professional gives you plenty of space. The lowest model comes with a staggering 4TB of memory, while the largest option has a stunning 14TB. Whatever you need to store, this drive can do it.
However, this is more than internal storage. The design is surprisingly compact, and it’s incredibly easy to plug in. There’s no sound thanks to the unique heat sink design, while the BarraCuda Pro enterprise class creates a lot of reliability.
This is a solid model if you need space and quality, but know that the price goes up with the storage. You can get the larger models, but you’re going to pay a lot for it.
- Best For: Affordability
- Key Features: Compact design. Great encryption. Solid, protective design. Integrated USB 3.0 cable. NFC technology.
- Hard Disk Form Factor: 2.5 inches
- Hard Disk Size: 1TB, 2TB
- Dimensions: 2.99 x 4.53 x 0.76 inches
If you’re after a solid external hard drive at a more affordable price, the Buffalo MiniStation provides you with a lot of value. This model doesn’t lack any key features. It has quick read and write speeds, amazing security features, as well a solid, well-rounded design.
The item is surprisingly durable, comes with USB PC compatible plug and play, and manages to be compatible with both Mac and Windows. The integrated USB cable is also important in terms of both usability and cutting down on wear and tear.
The only issue users might have is the 1TB storage. It’s a bit limited for editors with larger libraries. You can go up to the 2TB to get around that issue, but that’s going to mess with the low price point.
How to Choose an External Hard Drive for Video Editing
HDD vs SSD
There are two types of hard drives: HDDs and SSDs. An HDD is a traditional spinning disk hard drive, with physical moving components to store data.
On the other hand, an SSD acts as a giant flash drive that uses digital storage. The biggest difference is that HDDs are significantly cheaper, but they’re also much more likely to fail and much slower than an SSD.
As you’re probably aware, video takes up a lot of space. You want a hard drive that’s at least a terabyte, but depending on your workflow you might want more.
For instance, if you keep projects for multiple years and like to store everything in one place, a larger size would suit you. In contrast, someone who just needs to store projects temporarily doesn’t need to shell out for a lot of extra storage.
Many drives come preformatted to work on both Mac and Windows computers, but that’s not always the case. It’s easy to reformat if you need to, but make sure the drive’s supported by your operating system.
For instance, some drives come preformatted only for Windows, which may work great for your current setup but pose a problem when you attempt to access the file to demo from a coworker’s Macbook.
With the rise of USB Type C connections, it’s important to look for a drive that supports them. USBC is generally faster than the legacy A type, and it’s supported on everything from newer cell phones to televisions.
Plus, many USBC hard drives also come with a C to A adapter cord, which means if you don’t have a type C port on your current machine you’ll still be able to use the device.
Other Useful Tips & Tricks
If you picked an HDD drive, there are some important things to know.
First, since this drive has an actual disk inside it that spins, you’ll want to make sure to take extra care of it. A physical disk is more susceptible to drops, and it also requires a few upkeep processes.
One such upkeep process is defragging. Normally, your hard drive stores data in the first available space. However, over time that causes files to spread across the disk and makes them hard to find.
Defragging forces the disk to reorganize in a more meaningful way. You can read about how to do it in this article from Crucial.
Never defrag an SSD. An SSD can access all areas of its data at the same speed, so it doesn’t matter where it’s located. In fact, forcing the drive to rearrange everything creates unnecessary wear and tear.
Instead, just make sure to leave about 10 percent of your SSD unused. As an SSD often moves chunks of data around to make space for new data, this extra unused space will allow it to continue performing that task without taking any speed hits.
Overall, an SSD is probably the best choice for most video editors, but in the right circumstances, an HDD can do the job as well. We’ve recommended some of the best options on the market to help you find the best possible option. As long as you do your research, you’ll be happy with your choice.
Do you have a favorite external hard drive? Are there any others you wanted us to cover? Let us know below.