The best hard drives for video editing will help you get through your workload more quickly and store masses of footage in one easy-to-access place. As the profession increasingly moves from 4K to 8K, you'll need faster transfer speeds and greater storage. Below, we've hand-picked the best HDDs and SSDs to help you do just that.
So what's the difference between the two types? In simple terms, SSDs (Solid State Drives) are faster and can be made more portable – making them very attractive to video editors. The downside, however, is that they tend to be more expensive.
HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) are an older technology that uses spinning disks to write and read data. But while they're not as advanced as SSDs, they're still reliable and reasonably fast. Plus HDDs can be combined to form a multi-drive RAID (redundant array of independent disks) array, to increase speeds.
Be aware, though, that the moving parts can generate heat, which can require noisy fans. And while HDDs are cheaper than SSDs, you'll still need one fast enough to handle video, lest you be stuck in front of your computer all day.
To help you out, we've included both types of external drives in this guide and covered options for a range of budgets. So, read on to discover the best hard drives for video editing available today.
The best hard drives for video editing in 2023
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This tiny drive weighs just 45g, so is easy to pack up and take with you wherever you're going. If you like to edit video on the go, it, therefore, merits serious consideration. Capacities go from 500GB to 2TB, and realistically it's only the upper ones that video editors are going to be concerned with.
In our review of the LaCie Mobile SSD 2TB, we liked it a lot about the drive. It achieved impressive transfer speeds, and while 2TB is on the lower end of capacities in this guide, it still equates to about 65 hours of video – which almost anyone should agree is quite a bit. We did note that while the drive is compatible with Windows and Mac, everything from its styling to its bundled software seems to have been designed with a Mac user in mind, so do bear that in mind.
Read our full LaCie Mobile SSD 2TB review (opens in new tab)
There are a lot of expensive drives on this list, but we know that not everyone working in video editing has a huge budget. If you're looking for something a little more affordable, then we'd definitely recommend the Toshiba Canvio Flex range, which runs from 1TB to 4TB – plentiful capacity for any video user.
In our review, we were reasonably impressed by the 150 MB/s transfer speeds we achieved with the Canvio Flex. Okay, that's nothing on some of the SSDs on this list, but that's also why it's so much cheaper. Bear in mind though that these speeds will slow as the cache fills up, so it's not ideal if you plan to fill it with loads of data. For storing and backing up short clips, though, it's a solid choice.
Read our full Toshiba Canvio Flex review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Want an extremely portable SSD? Here's our top pick Fast transfer speeds of up to 2000MB/s, a USB-C connection with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 speeds, and it's small enough to slip into your pocket; even that tiny one inside your jeans pocket.
It features a handle in which to fit a carabiner to attach it to another kit or a backpack, and it’s designed to be rugged and water resistant, with two-meter drop protection and an IP55 water/dust ingress rating. The only downsides are that you won’t be able to daisy chain this with other devices and there’s a capacity limit of 4TB. But this is still a solid SSD for this size, and the price is absolutely incredible.(opens in new tab)
Need even faster speeds? Utilizing a speedy Thunderbolt 3 connection, this portable SSD can transfer data at up to 2800MB/s, which is fast enough to multi-stream 4K and 8K footage at full frame rates without issue. You also get a five-year limited warranty on these drives for added peace of mind.
It’s both Mac and Windows compatible (after a reformat for Windows) and while there’s no waterproofing, it can withstand a three-meter drop and is crush-proof at up to 1,000lbs, which is pretty darned rugged indeed.(opens in new tab)
Looking for capacity above all else? WD's Elements Desktop offers from 8TB up to a whopping 18TB of capacity.
This hard drive is formatted to NTFS, so it will work with Windows by default, but also works with Macs on reformatting. Best of all, the prices have recently dropped, so in terms of cost-per-gigabyte, this hard drive represents excellent value. On the downside, this is a conventional hard drive rather than an SSD, so won't transfer video quite so quickly, and it doesn't offer to weatherproof.(opens in new tab)
Another traditional spinning disk hard drive, this storage device is built to withstand anything you can throw at it. Encapsulated in LaCie’s iconic orange rubber protective barrier, the hard drive is protected from drops up to 1.2m and is IP67-rated for protection against the elements such as water and dust. It's even crush resistant up to 2205lbs.
It’s fast enough to transfer 8K full frame video, but topping out at 130Mb/s it likely will struggle with any kind of multi-streaming without dropping in resolution or bit depth. This drive is best used as a storage device for single camera shoots or for backing up video data on-the-fly.(opens in new tab)
For users that require fast backups and quick video transfer speeds – whether straight from the camera or from a standalone memory card – this hefty device has you covered. Three Thunderbolt 2 connectors are complemented by a USB 3.1, USB 3.0, SD, and CF card ports. It also offers a DisplayPort connection for more versatility, too.
This is certainly a device destined for a desktop, as it’s large and heavy. But a huge capacity range and fast transfer speeds of up to 440MB/s make it one of the most flexible systems on this list. Just steer clear of dust and water, as that stylish metal housing isn't weatherproof.(opens in new tab)
This dual drive hard drive is ideal for home or in-studio use since it’s rather large and has no weatherproofing to protect it from the elements outdoors. It’s both RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD compatible which makes it effortlessly flexible to a range of users whether the priority is fast transfer, important instant backups, or extra storage space.
Daisy-chain up to five additional devices using the onboard connections and connect up monitors using the in-built HDMI port. A fast transfer speed of 500MB/s (limited to 360MB/s in the 8TB model) can handle multi-stream 8K videos. There’s also a huge 8TB to 36TB capacity range to choose from, though things do get predictably pricey as you move higher up that storage scale.(opens in new tab)
Destined for heavy workloads and professionals, this storage device doesn’t come cheap. However, it does boast some very impressive specs and performance stats. Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports allow daisy chaining of up to five additional devices, while up to 85W of charging power is delivered via the USB-C connection for compatible MacBook or MacBook Pro devices.
Sustained maximum read/write speeds of up to 1000MB/s and 1100MB/s respectively mean it’ll handle almost anything you throw at it. Though its 7,200RPM hard disk drives aren’t technically the fastest you can get, all four are removable for a quick workflow switch-up. It comes set to RAID 5 as default but it’s also reconfigurable to RAID 0, 1, and 10 for maximum flexibility.
What we look for in the best hard drives for video editing
Picking out the best hard drives for video editors is a different matter from picking out the best hard drives for anyone else, or even the best hard drives for photographers. The speed and storage needs of those working in the video are much greater than most other creative disciplines, simply because the video is so data-intensive.
Below, we've listed the main criteria we looked at when selecting our favorite hard drives for video editing. If you're relatively new to hard drive shopping, this is a good primer on the key features you should be looking out for.
Capacity: The headline feature of any hard drive is its capacity – the amount of data it's capable of storing. Most average consumer hard drives these days sit somewhere between 500GB and 4TB, though you can get ones with a lot less or a lot more storage if you prefer.
Video files are big, so a video editor will want a hard drive with as much storage as possible. Of course, bigger hard drives are pricier, so it's a matter of getting as much storage as you can for your buck. In general, though, we'd recommend video editors get a minimum of 1TB. Anything less than that will simply fill up too fast to be useful.
Speed: Hard drive write and read speeds refer to how quickly data can be transferred on and off the drive. Ideally, you want to get speeds as snappy as possible – not just so you don't have to spend half your life in front of the computer waiting for files to copy across (though that is a factor), but also so that you can play and edit your files directly off the drive without any stuttering.
An SSD is the faster drive type, though these come at a cost premium compared to HDDs. Another solution is a RAID array, which is essentially a rig that spreads data across multiple hard drives, improving capacity and performance and adding a layer of redundancy in case of drive failure. It's big, and once again expensive.
Interface: As well as the drive's own read speed, the interface it uses to connect to the computer will affect how fast you can access the data. Different drives will offer different connections – USB-C and USB 3 are good, but Thunderbolt is better, and having a drive/computer combination with Thunderbolt 3 or 4 compatibility will see a marked improvement in transfer speeds.
Portability and toughness: There are all sorts of reasons you may want to transfer your data from place to place on a drive – to edit on the go, to bring it to a client, or to create an offline, off-site copy, for example. As such, you may want to think about how easy a drive is to carry around. Again, solid-state drives have the edge here, as they can be built smaller.
Also, some drives are equipped with layers of physical protection against impacts, heat, water, and other nasty things that can damage them. If you're buying a drive for data protection or backup purposes, this could be worth thinking about for the sake of peace of mind.
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