Best MacBook M1 Pro and MacBook Pro M1 Max external hard drives

Expand your MacBook's storage.

Image via iStorage

External hard drives are a practical way to increase the storage capacity of a MacBook Pro. They are also useful for backing up critical information to prevent it from getting lost if the laptop is damaged or stolen.

The latest 2021 MacBook Pros use Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors to deliver the fastest performance yet. When it comes to storage capacity, the 2021 MacBooks start at 512GB and go up to an 8TB SSD. While there are many storage options available, users often choose the lower to mid-range sizes to save money. This leaves budget-conscious buyers the option to upgrade the storage capacity with an external drive later.

These are the best MacBook M1 Pro and MacBook Pro M1 Max external hard drives. 

Best overall external hard drive for MacBook M1 Pro and MacBook Pro M1 Max

G-Technology G-Drive 4 TB

The G-Technology G-Drive is designed to work with Apple products and shares the same silver aluminum aesthetic. It’s also plug and play on macOS and supports USB Power Delivery to charge the MacBook Pro and other Apple devices.

One of the main reasons to buy the G-Drive is for its storage capacity. The device contains a 3.5-inch Western Digital Ultrastar hard disk drive (HDD) with a 4TB capacity. While 4TB isn’t the largest capacity possible, it sits in the sweet spot of having enough space for most applications while still being reasonably priced. As an HDD, the G-Drive is slower than newer solid-state drives (SSDs), with read and write speeds of around 260MB/s.

Since the G-Drive contains a 3.5-inch drive, it’s quite bulky. The device measures 7.72 by 5.06 by 1.39 inches (196 by 128.5 by 35.3 millimeters) (LxWxH). It also requires an external power adapter, which may be inconvenient for some users.

G-Technology’s G-Drive is a viable option for most users because of its large storage capacity and reasonable price. That said, it doesn’t have the fastest speeds, and some users might find it too slow for copying large amounts of data.

Best backup external hard drive for MacBook M1 Pro and MacBook Pro M1 Max

LaCie 2big Dock RAID 16TB 

Image via LaCie

Anyone who’s lost critical data knows the importance of backups. LaCie’s 2big Dock RAID 16TB is designed as a one-stop backup solution for audio and video professionals who can’t risk losing their information.

The 2big Dock RAID has a massive storage capacity and three operating modes. It contains two 8TB Seagate Ironwolf Pro enterprise-class HDDs spinning at 7,200 RPM. Users can choose between three operating modes when configuring the drives. The first mode allows the computer to display both drives as one large drive with a massive storage capacity. In its second mode, the computer only displays one drive, and all information written to it is mirrored onto the second drive. In its third mode, each drive is displayed separately in the operating system, and users can store data on each of them independently. 

Apart from its dual drives and multiple modes, the 2big Dock RAID has other features to safeguard users’ data. It comes with a five-year warranty and five years of access to Rescue Data Security services. Users get some peace of mind that their data should be safe between the warranty and data retrieval services.

There’s no doubt that the 2big Dock RAID isn’t for everyone. Most users don’t require so much space or multiple safeguards to back up their work. On the other hand, professionals working with important data need the best protection possible to keep their work safe. Whether the 2big Dock RAID’s high price is worth it or not depends on how much data the user needs to back up. 

Best secure external hard drive for MacBook M1 Pro and MacBook Pro M1 Max

iStorage diskAshur PRO2 HDD 4TB 

Image via iStorage

With so many users storing sensitive information, like login details, financial information, and medical records, on their MacBook Pros, keeping it safe from prying eyes makes sense. iStorage’s diskAshur PRO2 HDD 4TB allows users to store their data safely with government-approved security standards, and it has a large 4TB capacity.

Unlike most drives, the diskAshur PRO2 requires a PIN to gain access. All the data stored on the drive is encrypted and can only be unlocked with the correct key. There is also an auto-lock feature if the drive is left unattended for some time and a self-destruct feature to prevent unauthorized access to the data. All the security is hardware-based and doesn’t require software to work.

DiskAshur PRO2 looks different from most drives because of its keypad. The numeric keypad on the front can unlock the drive and three LEDs indicate whether the device is locked, unlocked, or in admin mode. This drive also features IP56 certification, meaning it’s resistant to dust and water jets from all directions. 

All the security features on the diskAshur PRO2 add to the price and make it quite expensive. It also has an integrated USB 3.1 cable, so Apple users need an adapter to make it work. Like the 2big Dock RAID, this device is targeted towards users willing to pay for the best protection possible for their important data. Most users are better off with a regular storage device, like the G-Drive or T7 Touch Portable. 

Best high-speed external hard drive for MacBook M1 Pro and MacBook Pro M1 Max

SAMSUNG T7 Touch Portable SSD 2TB

Samsung’s T7 Touch Portable SSD 2TB is much faster than the previously-mentioned options, and it offers some data protection, like the diskAshur PRO2. 

Some of the best features of the T7 Touch are its speed and capacity. Its 2TB capacity can’t compete with the other drives mentioned so far, but it’s adequate for most day-to-day storage requirements. Where the T7 Touch shines is its fast read and write speeds. It has a read speed of up to 1,050MB/s and a write speed of around 1,000MB/s, making it ideal for copying large data files. 

Another standout feature is fingerprint security. While the T7 Touch isn’t in the same league as the diskAshur PRO2, it still offers users AES 256-bit encryption to keep their data safe. Users need to install the Samsung Portable SSD app to set up the security and create and password. They can then access the drive with either a password or their thumbprint.

Despite the T7 Touch’s compact size, it’s still durable. The exterior of the T7 Touch is made from aluminum, and it can sustain drops of up to six feet (1.8 meters), according to Samsung. Unlike the diskAshur PRO2, it has USB-C connectivity and connects directly to M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pros.

The T7 Touch comes in at a reasonable price and has faster speeds than any of the alternatives listed here. It also offers data protection for security-conscious buyers and has a sturdy construction. The only drawback of this drive is its 2TB capacity, which may be too small for some users. 

Best value external hard drive for MacBook M1 Pro and MacBook Pro M1 Max

Seagate Ultra Touch HDD 2TB

Image via Seagate

While some users require large storage capacities and fast speeds, others need a safe and affordable way to store data. The Seagate Ultra Touch HDD 2TB doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but it remains a viable option for budget-conscious buyers. 

Both the T7 Touch and Ultra Touch have the same storage capacity. The Ultra Touch has a 2TB capacity, but its speeds are much slower at around 120MB/s. While this capacity is more than enough for the average user, buyers with extensive media libraries are better off with larger drives, like the G-Drive or diskAshur PRO2.

Considering the Ultra Touch’s low price, it’s surprising that it offers data protection. Buyers can use Seagate’s software to password-protect the drive with 256-bit AES encryption to keep the data safe. They can also use the Toolkit app to create automated backups and manage passwords.

For an inexpensive drive, the Ultra Touch adds some flair to its design. Instead of a plastic exterior, like other drives in its price range, the Ultra Touch has a fabric trim on the exterior in white or black. While it uses an older USB Micro B connector, there’s also a USB-C adapter included to work with Thunderbolt ports. 

Seagate’s Ultra Touch provides adequate storage space for a low price. While it offers data encryption as an extra, it doesn’t have the fastest speeds. Considering its low price point, the speed is acceptable, and it’s still a practical storage solution.

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