What Is The Best External Cd Drive For Mac

Posted By admin On 15.02.22

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Great tool for Apple MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iMac desktop. It is #1 best Apple Superdrive Alternatives. External Blue-ray Writer for Mac: Price – $88.90. LinGear USB 3.0 Portable for iMac Pro, All Mac’s. The wonder designed and slim look LinGear external CD/DVD burner supported with MacOS and Windows. This is basically the default external optical drive you will find in many offices, dorms, home offices, and pretty much everywhere else. Unlike most HP gadgets (ahem, printers) this external optical drive actually works without a hassle. A three-year warranty is the best you can expect from a consumer-grade external drive from a top vendor, regardless of whether it’s a mechanical drive or SSD.

  • Best Overall: Western Digital My Passport at Amazon, “Offers outstanding performance that rivals that of pricier competitors.”
  • Runner-Up, Best Overall:Samsung T5 SSD at Amazon, “The all-metal, shock-resistant enclosure is rugged and portable.”
  • Best for Business:WD 8TB My Book Desktop at Amazon, “Offers far more capacity than more portable drives for far less cash.”
  • Best Splurge:Seagate Backup Plus Hub 6TB at Amazon, “This drive offers a lot of capacity and it’s fast and flexible.”
  • Best for Gaming:U32 ShadowUSB at Amazon, “A USB 3.0 device that has plug-and-play compatibility with the Xbox One.”
  • Best for Apple:LaCie Rugged 2TB Thunderbolt USB-C at Amazon, “Super fast drive that can handle plenty of bumps, rain, and bounces.”
  • Best Portability:Toshiba Canvio Advance at Amazon, “Users delight in the small size, transfer speeds, and cool running temperature.”
  • Best Durability: Silicon Power 1TB Rugged Armor at Amazon, “Offering a tough exterior with a shockproof design.”

Our Top Picks

Best Overall, Best for Fast Transfers: Western Digital My Passport

4.2

What We Like

  • Excellent storage capacity for the price

  • Encryption built-in

  • Automatic backup

What We Don't Like

  • Slower than a portable SSD

  • No fancy features

My Passport is an inexpensive drive, but it offers outstanding performance that rivals that of pricier competitors thanks to a 3.0 USB port and excellent disk controller. This drive allows a maximum transfer speed of 174 MBps read, and 168 MBps write. It’s available in sizes ranging from 1 TB to 4 TB. Our tester thought it was a great overall value for the price: 'If you're on a budget and looking for a cheap and cheerful storage solution, the My Passport isn't very fancy but it does a reliable job of storing your precious files,' he said.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung T5 Portable SSD

What We Like

  • Compact design

  • Lightning fast transfer speeds

  • Compatible with multiple devices

What We Don't Like

  • Smaller storage space

  • Outdated aesthetic

  • Pricey

The Samsung T5 Portable DDS is on the pricey side (especially in the larger capacities), but the speed and security it comes with are worth it for those looking for durable performance. Weighing less than 2 ounces, the all-metal, shock-resistant enclosure is very portable. What really makes this device stand out, though, is its super-fast transfer speed, with up to 540 MB/s thanks to the SSD design, making it ideal for transferring giant files like 4K videos. Our tester, agreed, raving that its speed was 'unbeatable.' The T5 connects to just about anything, too, with its USB 3.1 Type-C and Type-A ports and works with Windows, Mac, and Android devices. Plus, integrated AES 256-bit hardware encryption ensures the safety of your data.

Best for Business: WD 8TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive - USB 3.0

What We Like

  • Automatic backup system

  • Fantastic storage capacity

  • Above average transfer speeds

What We Don't Like

  • Needs external power to function

  • Limited portability

The My Book Desktop External Hard Drive from Western Digital, while large, fits the bill for business owners in need of serious space: It comes in 3, 4, 6, 8, or 10TB varieties and offers Western Digital’s own backup solution for Windows users. It’s also compatible with Time Machine for Mac users (though you may need to reformat). It has 256-bit AES hardware encryption for strong security and has both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports to connect to a wide range of computers. You'll have to rely on the device's wall-based power supply, but according to our tester, that’s worth the trade-off for this spacious vault that holds your invaluable digital data: 'Though it's not really a portable hard drive,' he explained, 'it's definitely the best option if you want a static drive that sits on your desk storing and backing up your files in a secure manner.'

Best Splurge: Seagate Backup Plus Hub 6TB STEL6000100

4.6

What We Like

  • Massive capacity

  • Great value for size

  • Solid speed

What We Don't Like

  • A few interrupted connections

  • Must reformat for Mac OS

If cost is no concern, we recommend taking a close look at the Seagate Backup Plus Hub. It houses SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) drives, which allow more physical bits of memory in the same space without decreasing the size of the bits. This drive offers a lot of capacity — available in 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, and 8TB versions — and is fast and flexible. Our testers appreciated the two extra USB ports on the front where you can charge other devices while you work. One of our reviewers reported that it took 12 minutes to do a 9 GB transfer, which equates to a write speed of about 107 Mbps. “It feels like a good value to me,” one of our testers said.

Best for Gaming: U32 ShadowUSB Hard Drive

3.6

What We Don't Like

  • Limited color options

This USB 3.0 connective device has plug-and-play compatibility with the Xbox One, which means your gaming console will immediately recognize the drive as soon as it’s plugged in. Our testers took advantage of the drive’s 1TB capacity by storing Forza Horizon 3, Titanfall 2, Halo 5, Sea of Thieves, Fortnite, PUBG, and Madden 19 — and didn’t experience a single issue. If you plan to use this device to store more than just games, 1TB is large enough to hold 650,000 photos, 250,000 songs, and over 500 hours of video. The small black device is stylish and even comes with a three-year warranty.

Best for Apple: LaCie Rugged 2TB Thunderbolt USB-C Portable Hard Drive

What We Like

  • Extremely durable

  • Integrated connecting cable

  • Large capacity

If you’re looking for a Mac-friendly external hard drive that’s built for durability, take a look at LaCie’s Rugged Thunderbolt USB-C portable hard drive. With its distinctive rubber bumpers and brushed aluminum chassis, the drive offers drop resistance up to 5 feet, crush resistance that can withstand up to a 1-ton car, and IP54 water and dust resistance. You’ll never worry about losing your connecting cable, either, as this series of hard drives, available in 2 to 5 TB capacities, have an attached USB cord in your favorite flavor (USB-C, USB-C Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt, or USB 3.0). It's fast, too, with up to 510MB/s with the SSD version and up to 130MB/s with the HDD version.

Best Portability: Toshiba Canvio Advance 3TB Portable Hard Drive HDTC930XR3CA

What We Don't Like

  • Must reformat for Mac OS

Not much bigger than a deck of cards, Toshiba’s Canvio Advance portable hard drive offers 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB models to fill with as much media as can fit. It plugs into your Mac or PC with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. Some customers report seeing around 110 Mbps of throughput when using a USB 3.0 port. It also features an internal shock sensor that will make sure your data isn’t corrupted if the drive is jostled while in use. Users delight in the small size, fast transfer speeds, and cool running temperature of this little portable drive.

Best Durability: Silicon Power 1TB Rugged Armor A60 Military-Grade

What We Like

  • Water resistant

  • Drop-proof and shockproof

  • Reasonable price

Silicon Power’s Armor A60 external hard drive, in 1, 2, or 5 TB versions, is no joke, offering a tough, drop-proof (up to 4 feet) exterior with a shockproof design andIPX4 water-resistant protection. The textured casing is also scratch and slip-proof with a silicon bumper around the sides. The A60 reads and writes super fast thanks to the USB 3.0 cable, which conveniently affixes to the drive itself, and is compatible with Mac and PC devices courtesy of the FAT32 file system. While there might be higher performing everyday options, for photographers and others looking for a device that's adventure compatible, the A60 is a perfect choice.

FAQs

Why would I need an external hard drive?

External hard drives provide portable storage space for files, allowing you to increase the total storage of your computer, share files between computers, or simply keep backed-up files secure in case something happens to the originals. If your computer is slowing down or you’re getting warnings about low storage space, it might be time to invest in an external hard drive to free up some space on your computer’s internal hard drive.

What’s the difference between a hard disk drive (HDD) and a solid-state drive (SSD)?

You’ll find external hard drives in HDD and SSD versions, and they both perform the same function—with a few distinct advantages. HDDs have been around much longer and stores files by way of a spinning electromagnetic disk, whereas SSDs rely on flash memory chips for storage and therefore have no moving parts. This means SSDs are usually faster, more dependable, and more expensive. You can get much more storage for a fairly cheap price with an HDD.

How are external hard drives powered?

Some external hard drives get their power from the computer itself transmitted over the data cable, and others require the additional power from an AC outlet. All external hard drives connect to the computer either by USB, FireWire, eSATA, or wirelessly, and this connection type is directly linked to transfer speed.

Digital storage is changing. Internal storage drives are getting bigger, cloud storage is getting cheaper, and USB drives are getting less common. But that doesn’t necessarily negate the need for a good external hard drive — in fact, sometimes they’re the best way to go.

Buying a hard drive isn’t as simple as purchasing the first (or cheapest) one you see. There are a number of factors to consider when buying an external storage drive, and the kind of drive you ultimately end up buying could dictate what you’re able to do with it.

So what should you keep in mind? For starters, you’ll want to decide between a hard drive and a solid-state drive, both of which offer some major advantages and disadvantages. You’ll also want to think about drive speed, hard drive format, connectivity, and special protection features.

Before diving into our guide, there are a few terms you should know. You'll most likely be deciding between a drive of multiple gigabytes (GB), or multiple terabytes (TB). One terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes, and one gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes (MB). An MP3 file takes around 3.5MB, meaning that one gigabyte can store around 285 songs. One HD movie takes up around 3.5GB — so one terabyte can store 285 HD movies.

Here’s everything to consider when buying an external drive.

Storage Size

The most important thing to consider is the size of your drive. We’re not talking how physically big, but rather, how much storage you want. It’s hard to recommend a storage size because it varies from person to person and largely depends on what you plan on storing. A good rule of thumb, however, is to determine how much storage you think you’ll need and then buy a drive that’s double.

If you plan on storing documents only, you probably don’t need much more than 80GB. If you’re storing a small to medium music collection and photos, then up to 256GB should be fine. For storing movies and other video content, the amount you need could range into the multiple terabytes, especially if the movies are in 4K. Ultimately, it’s always good to get more storage than you think you’ll need — even if it means shelling out more money.

Types of External Drives

Next, it’s time to decide on the kind of storage drive you want. There are two main types of external storage drives, and while they ultimately serve the same purpose, the way they store files is markedly different.

Traditionally, if you wanted a storage drive it meant buying a hard disk drive. There are some advantages and some disadvantages to this. For starters, hard disk drives have been around for quite some time, so they’ve become relatively cheap. They function by storing files on an electromagnetic disk that spins around and is read by a moving arm.

Because of those moving parts, they’re much more likely to break with a lot of movement. The speed of a hard disk drive is essentially dictated by how fast the electromagnetic disk spins, and they're generally slower than solid-state drives. (We’ll get more into the different speeds later.) Hard disk drives are the way to go, however, if you want a lot of storage at a cheap price and don’t plan on moving them a lot.

Solid state drives do away with the moving electromagnetic disk, and replace it with what’s called “flash storage.” That’s the same kind of storage that’s used in smartphones, RAM in computers, and, these days, many of the internal storage drives in computers. Solid-state storage essentially uses microchips to store information, and as a result, there are no moving parts. That means there’s a lower failure rate, higher speed, and simply better overall performance. In particular, that means they’re great for running software or an operating system off of.

Of course, there is a downside to all of those advantages — and that’s price. Solid-state drives are much more expensive than hard disk drives, and while they are going down in price, you simply can’t get multi-terabyte solid-state drives without spending at least a few hundred dollars.

Performance

There are a few things that can affect the performance of a hard drive beyond simply what type of hard drive it is. That’s truer of a hard disk drive than a solid-state drive, but solid-state drives still have performance-related metrics that you should pay attention to.

The transfer speed of a hard drive largely has to do with the type of connector that the hard drive comes with. Newer connection standards have higher transfer speeds. The term “transfer speed” is technically a little misleading, as it doesn’t really dictate exactly how fast a hard drive can transfer files to and from your computer. Instead, it tells you how fast a hard drive can theoretically transfer files, based on the connection protocol the hard drive uses.

In the past, the connector was the main limiting factor in how fast a drive could transfer files: USB 2.0 hard drives, in the real world, could transfer data at up to 20 MB/second, while FireWire 800 drives limited things to 85 MB/second. These days, the newer USB 3.0 standard allows for data transfer at up to 460 MB/second, while Thunderbolt allows for speeds of over 1GB/second. Because of that, the connection type isn’t the bottleneck. Instead, the speed is dictated by how fast the hard drive can read and write data, which is referred to as the read/write speed.

Read/write speeds refer to how quickly a hard drive can access the files stored within it — not how quickly those files are transferred to or from a computer. The “read” speed refers to how quickly a hard drive can access a stored file, while the “write” speed refers to how quickly a drive can save a new file. Given the development in transfer protocols, read/write speeds are a much better indicator of how fast your hard drive will be able to actually transfer files than “transfer speed,” especially when it comes to hard disk drives.

Read/write speeds change a lot depending on whether it’s an HDD or SDD, and even within those categories there can be some variation. As mentioned, HDDs have a spinning disk inside of them, and the rate at which drives can access data depends on how quickly that disk spins. Commonly, drives spin at 5,400RPM, or rotations per minute, and drives at that speed generally have a read/write speed of around 100MB/s. Some HDDs have a physical speed of 7,200RPM, which allows for a slightly faster read/write speed of 120MB/s.

Read/write speeds can vary a lot with SSDs, but typically they range from 200MB/s at the slowest to multiple GB per second at the fastest. If all you’re doing is transferring files, then any of those speeds should be more than enough, but if you’re using your drive to store software or your operating system, then something on the fast end might help. In that case, look for speeds of 500MB/s or more.

Other Features and Considerations

While the type of hard drive and performance of the hard drive are perhaps the most important factors to consider, there are a few other features to keep in mind.

While most consumer-level hard drives connect to your computer through a USB cable, some offer network connectivity instead, meaning you can access your hard drive from any computer or phone that’s on the same network. That can be pretty helpful for those who have multiple computers set up and simply want to use an external hard drive to back up files and transfer files between computers.

You can actually give any external hard drive network features by simply plugging it into your router — providing your router has a compatible port on it — but it will require a little more tweaking to get set up properly. Still, special network-connected drives have some advantages. For example, so-called “Network Attached Storage” or NAS, can be used as a media server by apps like Plex, while standard router-connected drives aren’t necessarily able to do so. NAS is a little more expensive, but it’s also often expandable thanks to extra slots in the enclosure, which can accept more actual hard drives.

Check out our guide to the best NAS (Network Attached Storage).

The kind of port or ports that your hard drive uses to connect to a computer is very much linked to transfer speed. Most hard drives connect to a computer through a form of USB. That could mean the now-outdated USB 2.0 or the newer USB 3.0 or USB 3.1, and if it is USB 3.1, it could also connect through the newer USB-C connector, while still using the USB 3.1 standard.

Other ports, which are increasingly less common, include FireWire 400 and FireWire 800, though fewer and fewer computers support those ports, so you should be wary of that when purchasing.

We recommend looking for a hard drive with USB 3.1 support and a USB-C connector, especially if your computer is relatively new. It might mean having to buy an adapter to use with your current computer that may not have USB-C, but it means that when you upgrade to a new computer, your external hard drive will stay usable.

Check out our guide to the best USB-C adapters available.

External hard drives come in a few different formats, though it’s very easy to reformat a hard drive if you happen to buy the wrong kind. Hard drive formats are largely linked to the operating system that you’re going to be using the hard drive with. Here’s a quick rundown.

NTFS is the most common format for new external hard drives and can be used with Windows computers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as well with any other operating systems. Macs can read NTFS-formatted hard drives, but can’t write to them.

HFS+, which stands for “Hierarchical File System,” is a hard drive format that works much better with Macs, and it’s an improvement on the older HFS format in that it can support larger file types. Unfortunately, HFS+ drives don’t really work with Windows computers. HFS+ drives are the way to go for those who plan on using them with Macs that are running slightly older versions of macOS.

APFS is a newer hard drive format that works with Mac computers, but it only works with Mac running macOS High Sierra or newer. Like HFS+ drives, APFS drives can’t be read by Windows computers.

exFAT is essentially a mix of NTFS and FAT32, an older drive format that’s not used much anymore. There are a number of advantages to exFAT drives — namely that they can be recognized by both Windows and Mac computers, so if you need support for both, it’s worth formatting your drive to exFAT.

If you’re not sure what hard drive format to go for, then go for exFAT, since it works with most operating systems. Most hard drives come in NTFS, though, so you may need to buy one and then reformat it. Keep in mind it's not as easy to reformat a HFS+ or APFS drive if you need to use it on Windows.

The physical size of an external hard drive doesn't necessarily translate to the amount of storage space, particularly with the advent of flash storage. You really only have a say in the physical size of a hard drive when it comes to solid-state drives, as there are standard sizes for hard disk drives. Hard disk drives’ spinning disks can come in either 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch sizes. A standard size for a portable hard disk drive, for example, is the Western Digital Elements 2TB hard drive, which comes in at 4.35 x 3.23 x 0.59 inches. Smaller desktop hard drives come in at around 7 x 5 inches and range up from there.

Solid-state hard drives can be much smaller, making them much more portable. The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD, for example, comes in a size of 3.79 x 1.95 x 0.35 inches — a fairly average size for solid-state drives.

External hard drives can come with features designed to keep files more secure, which might be important if you plan on using yours to store sensitive information. For example, some hard drives offer password-protection by default, meaning you can easily set a password to keep all your files safe. Some also offer high-level encryption, rendering your files useless to those who don’t have your password, even if they manage to somehow hack into the drive.

A hard drive buffer is essentially storage that exists between the computer and the actual storage in a hard drive. Files stored by the hard drive in the buffer can be accessed far quicker than those stored in the main storage of a hard drive, and the bigger the hard drive buffer — sometimes called the cache — the better the overall performance the drive is likely to have.

Generally speaking, you really only need to care about the size of the buffer if you plan on running software from your hard drive. If all you’re doing is storing files, the type of drive and the speed of the disk will be much more important.

If you do feel as though you need a hard drive with a larger buffer, then we recommend getting one with at least a 64MB cache, though those with 128MB and even 256MB are pretty common, too.

Price

Depending on the type of hard drive and the amount of storage you opt for, the price can vary drastically.

Hard disk drives, as mentioned, are much cheaper than solid-state drives, so if you need a lot of storage at a reasonable price, a HDD might be the way to go. You can expect to pay around as little as 3 cents per GB for a HDD.

On the other hand, it's not uncommon to see a solid-state drive that runs into 25 cents per GB. Lower-capacity SSDs might range up to 40 cents per GB, while 2TB SSDs might come at 20 cents. Of course, that still makes for a drive that costs hundreds of dollars.

Conclusion

While there's a lot to keep in mind when buying an external hard drive, hopefully, this will help you narrow down your selection. Our overall recommendations? If you want lots of storage at a reasonable price, and don’t plan on moving your hard drive around a lot, go for an HDD. If you want fast performance and either don’t need a lot of storage or are willing to spend more, then an SSD is your best best. In both cases, it’s a good idea to find a drive that supports USB 3.0 or later, and a USB-C port might be helpful depending on whether your computer has a USB-C port.

There are a few brands that have built a reputation for quality external hard drives, including Western Digital, SanDisk, and Seagate. It’s often worth buying a hard drive from a reputable brand, as smaller companies may not offer much in the way of support for faulty drives.

Rest assured, no matter what your needs are there’s likely a hard drive out there for you, and hopefully purchasing is a little easier with your new-found knowledge of their key features.

The Right Connections

Buying an external hard drive for your Mac is not all that different from buying one for your Windows PC, except for one very important complication: Newer MacBooks and MacBook Pros only come with Thunderbolt 3 ports, but the arrival of Thunderbolt 3-equipped drives has been a trickle, rather than a flood. Most of the current models are designed for photographers and video editors who need to store mountains of footage and access it very quickly. As a result, they are typically SSDs or RAID arrays, which means they're also very expensive. So what's a Mac user who just wants to back up his or her files using Time Machine to do? Read on as we answer that question, and solve your other Mac external-storage quandaries.

A New File System

Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C are the latest innovations in the external storage market, but before we get to them, we need to address a basic building block of hard drives that has always affected compatibility, and probably always will: the file system.

An external drive's file system is the most important factor that determines whether or not it's readable by Macs, PCs, or both. With the release of the macOS High Sierra operating system, Cupertino ditched its venerable Mac OS Extended file system, commonly abbreviated as HFS+, and switched to an entirely new file format. It's simply called the Apple File System, and it's the first format to be across macOS products as well as the iOS ecosystem of iPads, iPhones, iPods, the Apple TV, and the Apple Watch.

There are many benefits to switching from HFS+ to the Apple File System, including better security thanks to native encryption, but the most important thing to note for external drive shoppers is backward-compatibility. Any drive formatted with HFS+ (which includes most Mac-specific drives on the market today) will work just fine with a Mac that's running macOS High Sierra or later.

Neither Apple File System nor HFS+ works with Windows, however. If you plan to use your external drive with computers that run both operating systems, you should consider a drive formatted with the exFAT file system. You won't get the security and efficiency of Apple File System, but you will get the convenience of being able to transfer files back and forth between Windows and macOS simply by plugging in and unplugging your drive.

Of course, you can easily reformat almost any drive you buy, so you're not limited to buying only those intended for use with Macs. If you really fancy a drive formatted for Windows (which will usually come preformatted in the NTFS format), you can use the Disk Utility in macOS to reformat it after you bring it home from the store. There are rare exceptions to this rule, such as the pro-oriented Akitio Thunder3 PCIe SSD, which uses a lightning-quick Intel SSD inside and relies on firmware that isn't Mac-compatible.

SSD Versus Spinning Drive

Once you've settled on a file system, you then have to determine which storage medium you want: solid state or spinning disk. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and—unlike the file system—the type you buy is the type you're stuck with for the life of the drive.

A solid-state drive (SSD) offers quick access to your data because it stores your bits in a type of flash memory rather than on spinning platters. SSDs are often smaller and lighter than spinning external drives, as well, which is also thanks to the lack of moving parts. Their small size means they can often fit into a jacket or pants pocket, which makes them a better choice if you're looking for a portable external drive that you'll be carrying with you frequently.

What Is The Best External Hard Drive

One major downside, however, is that they're more expensive. You could pay more than 30 cents per gigabyte for an SSD, while spinning drives can be had for less than 10 cents per gigabyte—and often much less. External SSDs also have lower capacity limits, with most drives topping out at 2TB. Compare that with external spinning drives, which are easy to find in capacities in excess of 8TB.

For professional videographers who edit lots of 4K footage and gamers or movie buffs who have large libraries of multi-gigabyte titles, an external RAID array is worth considering, since it combines the speed of an SSD with the gargantuan capacities of a spinning drive. An array typically contains as few as two or as many as eight spinning drives, which all work together to speed up throughput, or guard your precious files against corruption via drive redundancy if one of the drives fail. (Or both; it depends on how the array is set up.) The result is that you can get SSD-like speeds, with data throughput of more than 400MBps, and capacities that top out close to 50TB. You'll pay handsomely, of course. The Mac-specific Promise Pegasus3, for one, can cost as much as $5,000.

On the other hand, if you're looking to buy an external drive mainly to back up your files (which you should definitely do) and it will rarely leave your home office, an inexpensive spinning drive will work just fine.

What Is The Best External Cd Drive For Mac

Searching for Thunderbolt 3

Best External Cd Drive For Mac Uk

So, to recap: Faster, smaller (both physically and in terms of gigabytes) solid-state drives come at a premium, while spinning drives offer a much better value while sacrificing speed. But what happens when you throw yet another variable into the mix: the connection between your drive and your Mac? As you might have guessed, the answer is more tradeoffs.

Almost every Mac laptop sold today comes with USB Type-C ports that support Thunderbolt 3, but other than a headphone jack, they are the only connectivity options available, which means you'll need an adapter to plug in any device that doesn't have a USB Type-C cable. Fortunately, Thunderbolt 3 via USB Type-C supports a blazing maximum potential throughput of 40Gbps, double the speed of the old Thunderbolt 2 standard and many times the 5GBps that USB 3.0 offers. Unfortunately, you won't find many Thunderbolt 3-compatible drives on the market currently. Even some Mac-specific drives are still sold with USB 3.0 connectors. Moreover, the Thunderbolt 3 drives you can buy are constrained by the maximum throughput of the drive itself, rather than the Thunderbolt 3 interface. With the exception of the Samsung Portable SSD X5, all of the external SSDs we've tested recently top out at around 600MBps, for instance.

This means that for now, it's best to include Thunderbolt 3 support in your buying decision only if you're concerned about futureproofing. While it's nice of manufacturers to include a USB Type-C cable for people who own a USB Type-C-only MacBook, you can pick up a converter for a few dollars online if the drive you're eyeing doesn't offer one. Meanwhile, iMacs, Mac Pros, Mac Minis, and the entry-level MacBook Air all still come with USB 3.0 ports, so they won't require adapters.

Other Considerations

Drives intended for PCs sometimes come bundled with software that will automatically back up your files to the drive when it's connected, but such software isn't really a consideration for Mac users, who already have an excellent built-in backup option in the form of Time Machine. The first time you plug in an external drive, Time Machine will ask if you want to use it as a backup drive. While you can customize backup options in System Preferences, such as asking Time Machine to exclude certain folders, there's no action required on your part if you're happy with the default settings. The next time you plug in your drive, Time Machine will automatically set to work creating a backup.

Unless your drive is never going to leave your home or office, you should also consider its physical durability. Rugged, waterproof drives are a good option not just for surfers and BMX riders, as their marketing seems to suggest, but also for people who are carrying their drives to and from school or work, where they might occasionally get spilled on or dropped on the floor. (Check out our favorite rugged drives.)

Finally, you might want to consider how the drive will look when it's plugged into your Mac. Some drives come in a variety of colors. Many others feature copious amounts of aluminum and industrial-chic styling to match the design cues of your MacBook or iMac.

Ready for Our Recommendations?

What Is The Best External Cd Drive For Mac

Best External Cd Drive For Mac And Windows

We've selected a few of our favorite drives for Macs below; for more, check out our main list of best hard drives. You can also read our full list of hard drive reviews, as well as our top SSDs.

Best External Hard Drives for Macs Featured in This Roundup:

External Cd Drive For Laptop

  • CalDigit Tuff Review


    MSRP: $179.99

    Pros: Rated to survive 4-foot drops. Certified waterproof and dustproof. Comes with USB 3.0 and USB-C cables.

    Cons: Warranty limited to two years. SSD option is still unreleased.

    Bottom Line: Not only is the CalDigit Tuff a rugged hard drive designed to survive extreme conditions, it's also a terrific value.

    Read Review
  • Western Digital My Book Review


    MSRP: $249.99

    Pros: Comes in a variety of large capacities. Three-year warranty.

    Cons: Requires external power adapter.

    Bottom Line: With a full 8TB for less than $250, the 8TB version of the Western Digital My Book is a deep well of affordable storage for your photos, music, videos, and more.

    Read Review
  • LaCie Mobile Drive Review


    MSRP: $94.95

    Pros: Slick, faceted design. Solid-feeling aluminum enclosure. Useful LaCie Toolkit software handles backup and restore, as well as mirroring. On-the-mark performance.

    Cons: A little hefty. Toolkit utility requires a download.

    Bottom Line: A metal-skinned gem of a platter hard drive, the LaCie Mobile Drive looks great and performs on point. It's geared to macOS users, but it will please anyone with an eye for style in their gadgets.

    Read Review
  • Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch Review


    MSRP: $89.99

    Pros: Fabric-covered enclosure. Small and light. Seagate Toolkit provides handy backup/recover functions, as well as mirroring. Data protected by password and AES-256 hardware encryption.

    Cons: Fabric cover a bit slippery to grip. Seagate Toolkit a separate download.

    Bottom Line: Combining on-point performance and strong encryption, Seagate's Backup Plus Ultra Touch portable drive is a great choice for everyday backups and security-first use alike. Plus, a fabric coat adds appeal.

    Read Review
  • Samsung Portable SSD T5 Review


    MSRP: $799.99

    Pros: Excellent performance. Includes USB 3.0 and USB-C cables. Compact. Android-, Mac-, and Windows-compatible.

    Cons: While a comparable good per-gigabyte value, the drive itself is expensive.

    Bottom Line: Samsung's Portable SSD T5 drive has a speedy USB-C interface, plenty of reliable storage, and it takes up about as much room in your pocket as a short stack of credit cards.

    Read Review
  • Akitio Thunder3 RAID Station Review


    MSRP: $369.99

    Pros: Excellent connectivity options and transfer speeds. Solid build quality and attractive aluminum finish. Easy disassembly. Cooling fan can be disabled. No software required for Macs. Hardware RAID controller.

    Cons: Expensive. SATA interface limits read/write speeds. Only 27W of power delivery.

    Bottom Line: With its wealth of ports, the Akitio Thunder3 RAID Station is both a connectivity hub and a capacious external hard drive for multimedia content creators.

    Read Review
  • CalDigit AV Pro 2 Review


    MSRP: $249.99

    Pros: Relatively low cost per gigabyte. 7,200RPM. Drive is easily removable from its enclosure. Thunderbolt 3 support.

    Cons: Included Thunderbolt 3 cable is short. No DisplayPort or Thunderbolt 3 pass-through via USB-C.

    Bottom Line: Aimed at multimedia professionals, the CalDigit AV Pro 2 is a well-designed, Mac-formatted external drive that comes in SSD and spinning disk versions, and includes both a USB hub and Thunderbolt 3 support.

    Read Review
  • Promise Pegasus3 R4 Review


    MSRP: $1499.00

    Pros: Internal power supply. Little to no setup required. Supports daisy-chaining other Thunderbolt 3 devices. Lightning-quick file transfer times.

    Cons: Does not boast class-leading throughput.

    Bottom Line: One of just a few options for Mac-formatted external RAID arrays, the Promise Pegasus3 R4 is a good choice if you need to store mountains of data and access it quickly.

    Read Review
  • Samsung Portable SSD X5 Review


    MSRP: $699.99

    Pros: Extremely fast data transfer speeds, thanks to Thunderbolt 3 and PCIe NVMe interfaces. Multiple capacity options. Sleek design.

    Cons: Expensive. Heavy. No USB support. Difficult to connect to Windows PCs.

    Bottom Line: The sleek, expensive Samsung Portable SSD X5 offers the fastest single-drive external storage money can buy, but it's suited mainly to well-heeled content-creation pros using late-model Macs.

    Read Review
  • Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD Review


    MSRP: $499.00

    Pros: Durable. Built-in SD card reader and USB port. Plex support. Doubles as a power bank.

    Cons: Expensive. No Thunderbolt support.

    Bottom Line: The Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD is pricey, but this feature-packed drive can do much more than just wirelessly transfer files.

    Read Review