Top 6 External 4TB Hard Drives You Can Buy - 2015

 

With 10TB hard drives on the horizon, 4TB models have gone down in price. Those looking for an external to backup a good amount of data have more choice than ever. But choosing a suitable model can be daunting: not only are there several brands producing the things, but there are different kinds of external drives, varying from physical size to connectivity options.

So, I have done a little research, and have compiled a list of what I deem the Top 6 External 4TB Hard Drives: my recommendation in each of six "categories" of external drive. All you have to do is choose the one with the feature set that best fits your needs. We'll start with the classic desktop external, a 3.5" hard drive in a box with no extra perks.

 

1. Seagate Expansion 4TB STBV4000100 (Basic Desktop External Drive)

 

 

Seagate's Expansion series drives have USB 3.0 interfaces and matte black cases. Plug in the AC adapter and USB cable to your computer, and you're ready to go.

Really, externals in this category are all generally identical, but I've chosen the Seagate over, in particular, WD's Elements, because the former is designed to sit flat. The Elements is disturbingly easy to tip over - the last thing you'd want to do to a running hard drive - and you'll scuff up its glossy finish by flattening it.

 

2. Seagate Backup Plus Fast 4TB STDA4000100 (Portable External Drive)

 

 

As 4TB 2.5" hard drives don't exist yet, you'll have to settle for two 2TB drives crammed inside one case if you need portability. Seagate's Backup Plus Fast nonetheless doesn't need an AC adapter, can still fit in your pocket, and delivers an unusually speedy 220MB/s of throughput over USB 3.0.

Some words of warning, however: if one of the drives in the Fast's case croaks, all of your stored data is gone. This is because of the RAID 0 array the device employs to pair its drives. Those who need more reliability will want to wait for single-drive solutions.

 

3. G-Technology G-Drive Gen 6 0G02927 (Specialty External Drive)

 

 

Most enthusiasts pair bare HDDs with off-the-shelf enclosures for external storage, but G-Technology provides the best pre-built alternative. Its G-Drive Gen 6 combines a durable aluminum enclosure, an unparalleled three interfaces (USB 3.0, eSATA, Firewire 800), and a 7200 RPM rotational speed, up from the 5400 RPM used in many other externals.

G-Technology also makes a Thunderbolt edition for those who want that interface. These are actually pre-formatted for Macs, but any enthusiast worth his/her salt knows you can easily reformat for use with other OSes.

 

4. WD My Book Duo 4TB WDBLWE0040JCH (Double-Bay External Drive)

 

 

Like the Backup Plus Fast from earlier, WD's My Book Duo employs a pair of drives, but the Duo is a much more substantial device, built for flexibility. Users can switch the Duo's RAID level between 0, offering the full 4TB capacity and 290MB/s throughput; and 1, which halves the capacity and throughput, but mirrors data between the two internal drives, increasing reliability.

The Duo also runs 3.5" desktop hard drives from WD's own reliability-focused Red range, encrypts data with 256-bit AES, and is user-serviceable. Did one of the drives crash? No problem: flip up the Duo's lid and swap it. You can even upgrade to bigger drives in the future.

All of this plugs in with USB 3.0 and includes auto-backup software. WD isn't the only one putting out double-drive externals, but their Duo combines a good balance of features with a fair pricetag.

 

5. Iosafe Solo G3 4TB SK4TB (Rugged External Drive)

 

 

If you need exceptionally high security for particularly sensitive data - home videos, financial documents, things like that - they don't get much more rugged than Iosafe's Solo G3. It's bulky and you'll pay out the nose for one, but the Solo G3 is fireproof, waterproof, and (mostly) childproof.

And if it does break, Iosafe's Data Recovery Service (DRS) is included as a one-time-use thing with every Solo. The alternative of buying a cheaper drive and keeping it in a safe becomes less appealing with that in mind.

 

6. LaCie Blade Runner 4TB 9000119 (Form-Over-Function External Drive)

 

 

You'd be hard-pressed to find another external drive - no, another piece of consumer electronics - that looks quite like LaCie's Blade Runner. Designed by the "world famous" Philippe Starck, the finny case not only looks cool, but also acts as a gigantic heatsink for the drive within.

Unfortunately, you'll pay nearly triple the price of the feature-barren Seagate Expansion featured at number one on this list, despite the Blade Runner only adding auto-backup software and an energy-saving eco-mode (besides its unique fascia).

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Found something you like? The next step up from external drives are NAS, or Network-Attached Storage, devices, which also come in the 4TB size. These can plug into your network and act as file servers, torrent downloaders, WordPress hosts, and more. They're outside the scope of this article, though. When you just need to backup your data, any of the choices on this page will do the job with minimal fuss.

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