When asked about external hard drives I’ve seen many photographers say:
Why do I need an external hard drive, I got all the images saved on my laptop?
Wrong! Your photographs are only stored on your laptop and if something might happen with it (getting stolen, wet, beaten, forgotten) your images are gone forever. Imagine traveling around the world for large amounts of money, taking as many pictures as you can and then stand there empty-handed – this must be the worst situation for any photographer. To avoid this worst-case scenario you should always do backup of your files and take at least one external hard disk drive with you if you need more space than even the best SD Card can offer. As photographers are on the road all the time, finding the best external hard drive for photographers is not as easy as it might seem!
What should the best external Hard Drive for Photographers have?
As we’re traveling around the world, we have certain requirements for the best external hard drive for photographers:
- Durability: As we’re carrying around our external hard drive all the time in backpacks or similar, it needs to be extremely rugged and reliable to withstand these conditions perfectly.
- Size/Weight: We’re traveling light – which means we need very lightweight equipment in general. This also applies to a hard drive of course.
- Value: Although we want to have the best equipment that is out there, its prices can also limit our choices. Therefore we need an external hard drive for photographers that offers great value.
Top 5 Photographer’s best external Hard Drives:
Rank 5: ADATA DashDrive
The ADATA DashDrive is an entry-level external hard drive for photographers. It is a great piece of equipment though: for around 90 USD you will get a military-grade hard disk that will withstand life on the road quite well. With its silicone material it is waterproof, shockproof and passed the necessary military tests in order to be called this way. It’s very small (so bonus points on the size/weight category) and holds up to one terabyte. If you’re short on cash and just need a very basic backup, the ADATA DashDrive might be the best external hard drive for photographers out there.
Main strength: Good entry-level all-around hard drive
Rank 4: LaCie Rugged Triple HD
If the best external hard drive for photographers means “durability first” for you, you should have a look at the LaCie Rugged! It is drop resistant up to around 78 inches (two meters) and also “military-grade” of course. The shock-absorbing rubber sleeve and the protective aluminum shell withstands most of the things you might face on the road. It also scores quite well concerning connectivity: besides the usual USB 3.0 plug, you can also connect it to your laptop via a FireWire cable. If you need more speed, the LaCie Rugged is also available with 7.200rpm instead of 5.400 for even quicker data transfer.
Main strength: Durability, FireWire plug
Rank 3: Transcend StoreJet 25M3
The Transcend StoreJet has a very durable construction that provides awesome security for your photographs. It consists of three parts: an external rubber case, a reinforced hard casting and an internal suspension damper. It is still very lightweight though (only 7.7. ounces) and has a relatively small size. Another nice thing besides the high data transfer speed: with the “one touch auto backup button” and the hard drive’s software you can get your data synchronized on your laptop very quickly. All in all a great allrounder among the best external hard drives for photographers.
Main strength: Complex durability features
Rank 2: Silicon Power Rugged Armor A15
If “weight” is the decisive factor for the best external hard drive for photographers, the Silicon Power Rugged Armor A15 is your HDD of choice! With a weight of only seven ounces, it is the most lightweight out of the five presented here. It is not as durable as others in the test (free fall test from “only” 1,22 meters), butfor normal photographers this should be enough anyway. Where this external hard drive for photographers shines is the data transfer speed: you can get lots of data onto your laptop extremely fast, which is a big plus if you’re doing HDR or RAW photography. All in all the Silicon Power Rugged Armor A15 is a great value!
Main strength: Fast transfer speed, light-weight
Rank 1: IoSafe Solo
The clearly best external hard drive for photographers is right here: the IoSafe Solo! Of course we’re not talking about “entry-level” for this one, but “high-end”. If you’re a professional, this is the one for you. It is not only waterproof up to a depth of ten feet, but also fireproof(!) up to 1.550°F! It’s basically like an aircraft’s black box for you photographs. And if the worst case should come in and you lose some data, the IoSafe Solo comes with a warranty that will help you recover your data. If you’re a serious photographer, you should definitely think about investing the money into this one to get the best external hard drive for photographers there is!
Main strength: Everything except size/weight