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 slow down 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!
- WD 5TB My Passport Portable is the best hard drive if you need a large amount of storage but don’t need to edit files directly on the drive.
- G-Technology 1TB G-DRIVE is the best option if you’re worried about physically damaging the device. This has a tough construction that helps protect it from accidents other external hard drives wouldn’t survive.
- Samsung T5 Portable SSD is for those who need something small and portable. It is compact, but still extremely reliable.
- Seagate Fast SSD is a great option if you’re looking for something sleek that comes with plenty of size options.
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: What to Consider
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.
Best External Hard Drive for Video Editing: Our Picks for 2020
If you want to go the HDD route and need a lot of storage, the Western Digital 5TB Passport hard drive is a great option. It will take you a long time to fill up the storage, supports automatic backups, and you can encrypt it if you’re working on sensitive projects. It uses a standard USB A port to connect to your computer.
- Offers a huge 5TB of storage for all your projects
- Password protection option as well as 256 bit encryption
- Small and portable
- Uses a USB A port, and it’s USB 2.0 tech, so you don’t get very fast transfer speeds.
Tiny but powerful, this SSD for G-Tech offers the best solution if you’re commuting with your drive, consider yourself a clumsy person, or want the maximum protection for your files. It has an IP67 water resistance rating, can withstand 1000lbs of crushing force, and has been drop tested from up to 10 feet. The 1TB size is a good choice for those who need something portable as well.
- Extremely durable design protects your files from the physical and digital elements
- Read and write speeds are up to 560 MB/s
- Uses a USB-C port to connect to your computer
- 1TB may not be enough storage for long term use
Samsung has been making fantastic SSDs for quite a while now, and this tiny portable drive is no exception. The T5 series comes in sizes ranging from 500GB to 2TB, so whether you want multiple small drives or one larger one, there’s plenty of options. The drive is also ultraportable since it’s about the size of your palm, and there are numerous carrying cases that can fit it. Plus, the 3 year warranty means you won’t worry about your files for a long time.
- Extremely compact design is great for travel and keeping your desk free of clutter
- Connects via USB-C and includes a converter cable for USB-A computers
- Read and write speeds up to 540 MB/s. A great option for editing directly on the drive
- Must be reformatted for use on Mac
Sleek and stylish, this SSD from Seagate is made for creators. So much so that it even comes with 2 months of Adobe CC Photography. The read/write speeds reach up to 540 MB/s, allowing you to work on your projects directly on the drive, and it comes with its own formatting tool so you won’t have to struggle with using it on multiple computers.
- Ready for the future with a USB-C connection (and backwards compatible with a USB-C to USB A cord included)
- Available in three sizes (500GB, 1 TB, and 2TB)
- Bonus of two free months of Adobe CC Photography
- Seagate sells this SSD as “Fast SSD” and “Old Model”, but the naming convention is misleading because both drives have the same read/write speeds.
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 to 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 computer manufacturer 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.
Chris is a lifelong tech enthusiast with a broad range of interests including coding, data analysis, traveling, and more. He used to work as a software programmer immersing himself in the world of codes, now he finds it more interesting talking to real people.