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Choose Smarter: Ten… USB 3.0 External Hard Drives

Big storage

Security for virtualized datacentres

Samsung M2 Portable 3.0

RH Numbers

I’m not going to even bother beating around the bush with the M2, this is the best USB 3.0 portable hard drive currently on the market. It’s the fastest, best value and near-as-dammit the smallest, with only the WD My Passport Essential SE beating it by around 1mm in width - like it matters? More to the point though, is the three-year warranty that comes with this drive.

Crystal DiskMark showed this HDD reading at an impressive 112MB/s and writing at 106MB/s. I am also very fond of Samsung's no-gimmicks approach – there’s no bloatware or additional licenced software to fill the drive or rack up the price. Currently, only the 1TB model is available, but expect more capacities soon.

Samsung S2

Reg Rating 85%
Price £100 (1TB)
More info Seagate Samsung

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable


RH Numbers

It may not be the slimmest drive in this round-up but when you stop to consider that you can hold 1.5TB of storage in your hand it puts things into perspective. Go back only a couple of years and 1.5TB in a single drive for internal use was wishful thinking, let alone something you could have in a portable drive.

The FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable can be set up with optional adapter cables so it can connect to FireWire 800 and eSata ports, as well as the bundled USB 3.0 link.

Seagate includes Memeo Instant backup for Windows and the ever-useful Paragon NTFS driver for Mac users to allow the interchange of files between a Mac and a PC.

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable


Reg Rating 70%
Price£68 (500GB), £107 (750GB), £110 (1TB), £154 (1.5TB)
More info Seagate

Verbatim Store‘n’Go Executive

RH Numbers

Another sleek external drive, Verbatim’s Executive is the latest member of the company's Store‘n’Go range and features 256-bit AES hardware encryption for improved data security.

The top of the drive has a button for various pre-set functions: starting auto backup or synchronisation, enabling the AES 256-bit encryption or even opening your favourite web site.

There is also power-saving Green Button software on the drive. 
For backups, it comes with Nero BackitUp, plus Nero Burn Essentials and Nero RescueAgent, a damaged-file recovery utility.

Verbatim Store‘n’Go Executive

Reg Rating 85%
Price£87 (500GB), £102 (750GB), £128 (1TB)
More info Verbatim

Western Digital MyPassport Essential SE 1TB

RH Numbers

The first thing that strikes you when looking at WD’s MyPassport Essential SE drive is just how compact the thing is. Even the 1TB version measures just 110 x 83 x 18mm.

It may not be the fastest drive around, but it is very competitively priced and it comes with a two-year warranty.

The software bundled with the drive comprises WD’s Quick Format, which does what it says on the tin and is quite frankly not really necessary, and SmartWare, a backup and drive management tool that also includes 256-bit data encryption to protect your data.

Western Digital MyPassport Essential SE

Reg Rating 70%
Price £97 (750GB), £102 (1TB)
More info Western Digital

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