In the age of digital audio, our music and audio recordings are stored on hard drives and/or in the cloud. External hard drives have become essentials in amateur and professional studios alike, allowing for the storage, backing up and transfer of our audio files. This is true whether the hard drives are used strictly for storage or for real-time use along with digital audio workstations and other software.
Since external hard drives are such commonplace components of music and audio systems, it’s no wonder there are so many options on the market. With such a wide variety of choices, knowing the market’s top brands is useful.
In this article, I’ll share my take on the top brands to produce external hard drives for music and audio production.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance and versatility of the external hard drives
- Longevity of the external hard drives
- Variety of external hard drives
- Accessibility of the external hard drives (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.
The top 11 best external hard drive brands for music and audio are:
Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best external hard drive brands for music and audio production. I’ll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example hard drive, and a link to their official website.
Seagate’s date of foundation is a very important piece of information since it tells that the company has been around to see all the different incarnations of data storage through the years. They survived throughout these technological advancements, being as dynamic as they are innovative. The company has proven its deep understanding of what the public needs and how to create it.
Therefore, you can expect only outstanding products from Seagate that can keep data safe and sound, work efficiently, and be reliable at all times.
Notable external hard drive: Backup Plus Portable Drive (link to check the price on Amazon)
Seagate’s Backup Plus family of products not only delivers top-notch data storing technology and reliability, but they also do it in style. Indeed, you can choose from several colours, textures, and capacities.
Although beautiful by design, these hard drives are more than just a nice-looking computer peripheral; they are fully USB 3.0 compatible to cope with intensive recordings on your favourite DAW. You can’t go wrong buying from Seagate; they are as reliable and sturdy as they are portable and visually appealing.
Related article: Top 7 Best Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) On The Market
Seagate was born under the name of Shugart Technology in 1978, founded by Alan Shugart, Tom Mitchell, Doug Mahon, Finis Conner, and Syed Iftikar. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Fremont, California, USA.
Official website: seagate.com
From the company’s early days, the three founders set out to innovate and solve the storage problems big companies and personal users were facing. Thus, in 1991, SanDisk developed the first flash-based SSD for IBM with a then-astonishing capacity of 20MB.
That same path of relentless innovation, passion for a job well-done, and impeccable manufacturing became SanDisk’s trademark. Moreover, they are famous for being among the most reliable data storage devices in the market. Trust your loved tracks to the best by buying SanDisk.
Notable external hard drive: Extreme Portable SSD V2 (link to check the price on Amazon)
With twice the speed of the previous generation and a construction that can withstand the hardships of a musician on the road, this is the perfect portable hard drive to take everywhere with you.
To begin with, this unit is capable of 1050MB/s2 read and 1000MB/s2 write speeds making it suitable for any sonic adventure. Also, it can endure a drop from a height of two meters. Finally, it comes with a limited two-year warranty.
When the tough gets tougher, the pros get a SanDisk Extreme.
SanDisk was founded under the name of SanDisk by Eli Harari, Sanjay Mehrotra, and Jack Yuan in 1988. Western Digital acquired the company in 2016, and its current headquarters are in Milpitas, California, USA.
Official website: westerndigital.com/sandisk
Parent company: Western Digital
Because of the quality of their products and the boldness of their innovations, they drew attention from giants Machintosh and became the go-to storage device for Apple computers. The same reputation brought the company to the top lives in each of the products of their rich catalogue of solutions.
If you’re serious about the storage of your tracks, you need a reliable partner; check out LaCie before buying any other brand.
Notable external hard drive: Rugged SSD Pro (link to check the price on Amazon)
With over 6 million units sold in the past 15 years, these portable SSD drives passed the public test and endured even in the hardest conditions imaginable. Thus, they were responsible for much of the music, photos, and videos we enjoy daily.
This is the perfect SSD drive for musicians and producers on the go. Not only because it is lightning-fast but also because you can travel at ease knowing that all your efforts are safely backed up in one of the sturdiest units in the market. You can see it in action in this video.
LaCie was founded in Oregon in 1987 by Joel Kamerman, Robert and Tudy Kamerman, and Roger Batesand. It was then acquired in 1995 by Électronique d2. Électronique d2 changed its name to LaCie and moved all operations to Paris, France, where the company’s headquarters are still. Nowadays, the company is owned by Seagate Technology.
Official website: lacie.com
Parent company: Seagate
Since its foundation, Sabrent has been in a quest to make its users’ lives easier, and therefore, better. This mission pursues certain objectives such as fast delivery, affordable prices, and cutting-edge technology. Also, they work with the highest standards in quality assurance and a large inventory level which allows them to ship solutions immediately.
Succeeding in the business niche Sabrent produces added value in is not easy. Indeed, only the strongest companies with core values, impeccable manufacturing, and great customer care thrive. Such is the case of Sabrent, a company you can trust your precious tracks to.
Notable external hard drive: Rocket XTRM-Q (link to check the price on Amazon)
This series of SSD hard drives are made of solid aluminum and can store from 500GB to 16TB in a 2x8TB configuration. Moreover, that storage space in an SSD unit means lightning-fast data transfer with enough room to store several records, including all tracks. Speaking of speed, these hard drives are capable of 1400MB/S through either Thunderbolt 3 or USB 3.0 connections.
For ultimate reliability, virtually infinite storage space, and a rugged design with an affordable price tag, these hard drives are a serious choice to bear in mind.
Sabrent was founded in 1998 by Sam Davis. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Official website: sabrent.com
G-Technology (SanDisk Professional)
In 2021, WD and SanDisk announced the creation of G-Technology, a company that could represent the highest standards these two storage giants could reach. Furthermore, it is the pinnacle of decades of hard work and restless innovation. In other words, G-Technology is the achievement of a lifelong career dedicated to storage.
You can expect from them the best solutions capable of outperforming all competition even in the most demanding situations. If it fits your budget, and you’re after excellence, you ought to check them out.
Notable external hard drive: G-Drive Pro (link to check the price on Amazon)
Going as fast as 2800MB/s, this is one of the fastest, most reliable units on the list. Furthermore, it can transfer up to a terabyte of information in 7 minutes or less. In the same vein, you can hook up multiple devices (with a daisy chain) to a single computer port. As a result, you can extend your storage capacity almost infinitely. This can be translated into limitless possibilities in terms of recording numerous tracks and projects.
Finally, it comes with a limited 5-year warranty from one of the most important storage companies in the world. This is a must-check before buying.
SanDisk was founded in 1988 by Eli Harari, Sanjay Mehrotra, and Jack Yuan. It was purchased in a $19 billion deal by Western Digital in 2016 and is now headquartered in Milpitas, California, USA.
Official website: westerndigital.com/brand/sandisk-professional
Parent company: Western Digital
This brand designs and builds all its products in the USA. Thanks to a strong ethos and impeccable manufacturing, it has become the go-to option for professionals in industries such as filmmaking, audio recording, broadcasting, photo edition, and IT. The company’s reputation for being elegant yet sturdy and reliable, with lightning-fast transfer rates, made them New York’s best-kept IT secret when it comes to storage.
If you’re looking for a smart device that can offer you a 3-2-1 warranty and get the job done every day, check Glyph Tech out before buying another brand.
Notable external hard drive: StudioRAID Thunderbolt 2 (link to check the price on Amazon)
Don’t let the outstanding retro look in this unit fool you; it is state-of-the-art technology that allows you to access your library’s files faster and easier than ever.
Furthermore, it is possible to daisy chain it with other devices. It is compatible with Thunderbolt 2, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 and is capable of up to 420MB/s of transfer speed. In the same vein, the intelligent quick fan can keep the unit’s 7200 RPM cool and silent like no other. Finally, it comes with 3-year hardware, 2-year level 1 recovery, and a 1-year advanced replacement warranty.
Glyph was founded in 1993 in Cortland, New York. Currently, the company’s CEO is Liran Schachi, and its headquarters remain in Cortland, New York, USA.
Official website: glyphtech.com
It is difficult to be a citizen of planet Earth and not have heard about or used at least one Samsung product. Indeed, by 2020, Samsung proudly escalated to have the 8th highest global brand value. The size of the Samsung Corporation has influenced and propelled forward the economy of the entire nation of South Korea by branching out to a plethora of business niches.
This holistic vision of data storage gave them enough insight to create some of the best storage solutions in the market. Plus, more than 8 decades back, each of their products up.
Notable external hard drive: T7 Portable SSD (link to check the price on Amazon)
Portable enough to fit in your pocket, yet powerful and fast enough to solve all of your data storage needs, the T7 is a major upgrade from its predecessor, the T5, in many ways.
For example, it is twice as fast in data transfer, offering up to 1,050MB/s for reading and 1,000MB/s for writing. This means that you can use these colourful tiny devices to perform even in the most demanding scenarios. Finally, it can withstand a fall from 2-meters and is backed up by Samsung’s 2-year warranty.
The Samsung Company was founded by Lee Byung-chul in Seoul, South Korea, in 1938. The company’s headquarters are currently located in the same city.
Official website: samsung.com
Samsung is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Soundbar Brands On The Market.
Because it was founded in the century before the last, Toshiba was not only a privileged witness but also partially responsible for most of the technological evolution that shaped the world as we know it. For example, and especially speaking of storage, the Toshiba Corporation invented the now-common flash memory.
Moreover, since it also manufactures medical equipment, you can expect nothing but the highest quality standards from all its products, from the smallest home appliance to the most complicated medical machine imaginable.
The evolution of Toshiba’s solid-state flash technology has come a long way, and the Canvio Advance line represents the summit of that journey.
For starters, this unit features up to 4TB of lightning-fast solid-state storage in a small, portable, easy to use package available in several textured colours. Also, the backup software package is easy to use and can be combined with the security software that keeps your data safe and sound behind a password. Finally, it also features Toshiba’s Storage Backup Software with an intuitive interface to make data storage easier than ever.
Toshiba was founded in 1875 by Tanaka Hisashige. The company’s current headquarters are in Tokyo, Japan.
Official website: toshiba.com
It is paramount to say that it is a company that is thoroughly devoted to the preservation of the environment as well as creating top-notch tech devices. It was founded by Larry O’Connor at age 14 and has grown to be a solar and wind-powered company with over 130 employees across several facilities in the USA.
This astronomic growth came from an impeccable reputation based on groundbreaking products, commitment to excellence, and uncanny care for the environment. In case you haven’t already, check out OWC’s outstanding catalogue.
Notable external hard drive: Envoy Pro Elektron (link to check the price on Amazon)
According to OWC, the Pro Elektron is the fastest and toughest mini-sized SSD in the universe. This slogan is based on its construction’s dustproof, waterproof, and crushproof qualities. But that’s not all; it can also transfer files at 1011MB/s speed while sitting easily on the palm of your hand.
If you are on the road a lot and you need the toughest, most reliable solution to store your beloved, hard-worked tracks in, this is an option you can’t overlook.
Other World Computing was founded by Larry O’Connor in 1988. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Woodstock, Illinois, USA.
Official website: owcdigital.com
Since this brand has been in the memory and storage business for decades, it has gathered enough leverage to understand consumers’ needs from a wider perspective. Combining this leverage with the passion for a job well done, it is safe to say that every product leaving the factory is ready to make history.
Perhaps, you haven’t heard of this groundbreaking company, but it is one of tech’s best-kept secrets.
Notable external hard drive: X6 4TB Portable SSD (link to check the price on Amazon)
Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand but powerful enough to store your entire life with up to 4GB of storage space, this portable SSD is the perfect way to take your tracks and projects with you everywhere. Furthermore, thanks to its rugged construction and high-speed transfer rates, it is the smallest, most powerful solution in the market, offering 800MB/s at only 40 grams (less than a car key).
Crucial Technology is a subsidiary of Micron Technology, Inc., which was founded in 1978 by Ward and Joe Parkinson, Dennis Wilson, and Doug Pitman. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Boise, Idaho, USA.
Official website: crucial.com
Parent company: Micron Technology
Western Digital is one of the largest companies in the world dedicated to the design and manufacture of storage devices, with almost 64,000 employees worldwide. Moreover, it purchased other competitors like SanDisk, which grew its leverage and reputation as the go-to option for professionals around the globe.
Furthermore, since it started as an integrated circuit maker, the know-how accumulated over more than five decades of experience building hardware allows them to manufacture some of the sturdiest, most reliable portable hard drives in the market.
Notable external hard drive: My Book Duo (link to check the price on Amazon)
This external hard drive can be the perfect solution for busy studios needing massive storage in the smallest footprint possible. Indeed, with models ranging from 16TB to 36TB and a transfer rate of 360MB/s using a single cable, you can go crazy on tracks and plugins and never run out of storage space.
Suppose you are a professional needing to store substantial amounts of data securely. In that case, this unit also offers 256-bit AES hardware encryption to keep data safe, sound, and out of reach behind a personalized password.
Western Digital was founded in 1970 by Alvin Phillips. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in San Jose, California, USA.
Official website: westerndigital.com/wd
Parent company: Western Digital