The Best Wireless External Hard Drives Reviewed
As smartphones and tablets aren’t comparable to hard drives when it comes to storing data, getting a wireless drive can be a lifesaver. They have all the great aspects of regular external hard drives but without the inconvenience of wired connections. Wireless drives have an internal battery which will need recharging but that’s about the only thing you need to know about them. They’re essentially a cordless version of portable hard drives you’re most likely familiar with. You might also be interested in our articles about the best hard drive docking stations or the best laptop docking stations.
Wireless hard drives come with dedicated apps for connecting it to smart devices through Wi-Fi and you can browse all of your favorite media files in no time. You can also connect these drives to computers and use them just like any other wired external drives. If you have any troubles with the wireless connectivity, there is the possibility to make the connection with a USB cable.
There are a few things to consider before you jump in and make a purchase for a hard drive with wireless capabilities. Check them out below:
This technology allows you to stay connected to your Wi-Fi network while the pairing with the hard drive is done. It’s basically like being connected to two networks simultaneously. Your wireless hard drive can detect the local Wi-Fi network and automatically connect to it. It will also act as a bridge so, for example, if you connect your smartphone to it and then have the hard drive connected to the router, your phone gets Internet access.
2. Data streaming
When shopping for a new wireless hard drive, something that you have to be aware of is the number of devices that can be wirelessly connected at once. It’s also important to know how many of those connections can reliably support streaming.
3. Card readers
Although lots of wireless hard drives are now equipped with an SD card slot, it’s often not reliable for quickly copying data by using a memory card. It’s usually recommended to not even bother with them as their real-world application is terrible. The point is that SD card slots on wireless hard drives shouldn’t be seen as great selling points because the file transfers are usually way too slow.
If you care about portability then battery life is definitely a factor to consider for any wireless hard drives out there. A good place to look at and get a rough idea about the battery’s capability is for how long it can continuously stream video. This number is usually between four and five hours (realistically speaking) so try to aim for that value.
Now that you’re familiar with the main things to evaluate for a wireless hard drive, let’s check the best products for the money. They’ve been carefully selected and are varied enough to fit multiple needs and budgets.
Best Wireless External Hard Drive For Mac
One of the best ways to backup your precious files, if you own a Mac device, is by using the Apple Time Capsule. As it works quickly and efficiently with Time Machine in OS X, you can wirelessly back up important information to a very large 2TB or 3TB drive. It also doubles as a Wi-Fi base station which can create a capable Wi-Fi network that’s compatible with any Wi-Fi device.
Setting up the Time Capsule is done very easily for a Mac computer as the unit is designed to work seamlessly with Time Machine in OS X Leopard and it can protect your data without issues. Initially, you set it up and then every photo, song, or any other kind of file is saved with the right setting and you will never again have to worry about losing precious stuff.
As a base station, this device can reach very fast data transfer speeds considering that it makes use of the three-stream 802.11ac technology which allows you to enjoy up to three times faster speeds than 802.11n Wi‑Fi. Thanks to the 80 MHz-wide channels, you also get more channel bandwidth for better data flow. Due to the fact that it’s able to transmit at two frequencies at the same time (2.4 GHz and 5GHz), the moment when a device connects it will have the best band available which means that you’ll always benefit from the best performance.
The antenna array of this wireless drive has an intelligent beamforming system that sets itself apart from competitors. It knows where the 802.11ac device can be found on the network and specifically targets the signal to it to make sure that you get a stronger and clearer Wi-Fi signal. This base station offers other goodies like three Gigabit Ethernet ports for times when you need wired connectivity and wireless printing. It’s also highly compatible with lots of Mac devices or any other Wi-Fi enabled units.
Considering everything about it, the Apple Time Capsule is certainly the best option for users who want a premium wireless hard drive. It provides the exceptional level of quality you’re used to with Apple products and also an amazing level of performance. If it fits your budget, this can definitely be a solid backup option.
- 2 and 3TB capacities
- Easy setup for OS X and iOS
- Three Ethernet ports
- Six-element beamforming antenna array
- WPA/WPA2 Security and MAC address filtering
Best Wireless Portable Hard Drive
One of the best travel companions for your mobile device, the RAVPower FileHub Plus is a wireless hard drive like no other. It offers many connectivity options and solid battery life, all in a very compact package. The price is also affordable for such a convenient device so let’s take a closer look at what this portable drive can do.
If you often find yourself in a situation where you wish to be able to share files more easily, this unit can be a lifesaver. Up to 5 mobile devices can all connect at the same time and you can stream media from USB or SD drives, or you can share files directly between two storage devices. Various files like videos and photos can be wirelessly streamed but there’s also the possibility to share through a secure local Wi-Fi network.
This drive is capable of converting a wired network into a wireless one so you can have a portable router wherever you go. It supports PPPoE and both static and dynamic IP. It also has a bridge mode which enables you to connect to a Wi-Fi network that already exists and broadcast it as a completely new wireless signal.
As this unit is Chromecast-friendly, it can easily play videos or music from a connected USB storage device to a bigger screen through Chromecast. It supports reading USB hard drives with a capacity of maximum 4TB and can play media from SD/SDHC/SDXC cards that don’t have capacities larger than 256GB which is more than enough to bring all your favorite files with you wherever you go.
When you also consider that you can use the RAVPower FileHub Plus as a power bank thanks to its 6000 mAh battery capacity, the final conclusion is definitely a highly positive one. There are so many features for the money that make this device an ideal solution for on-the-go file sharing, backup, and streaming.
- Wireless Router – bridge and extend Wi-Fi
- Share media seamlessly with multiple devices
- SD card USB reader
- RAVPower Filehub Plus App
- Upgraded chip
- Built-in 6000mAh power bank
SanDisk is a well-known manufacturer of storage drives and one of their best products for those looking to get their hands on a high-quality wireless drive, is the SanDisk Connect Media Drive SDWS1-032G-A57. The reason for that is due to the fact that it’s portable and delivers good performance for file streaming.
It’s a stylish little device but it can be a reliable entertainment companion as it allows you to enjoy movies in high-definition quality and your favorite music on-the-go, without requiring an internet connection. Lots of mobile devices can play nice with this drive and you can free up some space from them if you move certain files.
SanDisk equipped this model with expandable storage. The built-in 32GB of flash storage is probably not enough for storing many files though there is also a 64GB variant. The SD card slot can be used to get some extra capacity or to quickly share and download photos from a camera – without having to rely on a computer.
Accessing your media wirelessly is a nice feature as well as the ability to stream videos continuously but it’s important to consider the battery life. As this is a very portable unit, the integrated battery doesn’t have a huge capacity but it should last you for about 4-5 hours of video streaming. Even though the manufacturer promises approximately 8 hours of constant streaming, that’s a bit unrealistic so don’t expect such values. Overall, the battery life is acceptable but it could have been better.
A stylish little device that can fit nicely in your pocket, the SanDisk Connect Media Drive offers good sharing abilities, as well as the possibility to stream HD videos to five devices at the same time. The capacity is decent considering the expandable storage, and there are no complaints on compatibility either. It falls a bit short in terms of battery life, but all in all, this wireless drive deserves a spot on this list and is recommended for the cost.
- 32 GB built-in storage
- Up to 8 hours streaming on a single charge
- Expandable SDHC/SDXC memory card slot
- Pocket-sized and elegant design
- Optional Wi-Fi password protection
- Compatible with Android 2.3 or later and iOS 5.0 or later via the free SanDisk app
Toshiba is a leader in the industry of hard drives so it’s not surprising to see that they also have wireless models. The Canvio AeroCast is a powerful device that comes with 1TB capacity and allows you to access your favorite content wirelessly. The price is quite fair for what it offers so let’s see if this model is truly worth it.
The convenience of wireless devices is hard to match and this unit can act as a great method for all of your storing needs without constantly having to rely on cables. It helps you to manage your files, share them with others and make quick back-ups when you’re on vacation. The wireless hard drive can act as a central storage unit for all of your mobile devices.
It accepts SD cards as it’s equipped with a card slot so you can back up images from a camera more quickly if you prefer it that way. When you’re at home, you can use this drive’s ability to wirelessly cast files like pictures and movies to an HDTV by using the Cast Ready app from Google. Just sit back and control everything more comfortably by using the smartphone or a tablet.
An important feature that’s present in this device is the Internet Pass-Through Mode which lets you simultaneously gain access to the drive and the Internet which is very convenient. A downside of this wireless hard drive would be the Wi-Fi transfer speed which unfortunately is a bit slow. If you’re used to quick transfers like those from a wired model, you might be a bit disappointed. Still, if you don’t plan to transfer large batches too often, this shouldn’t be such a big issue.
The Toshiba Canvio AeroCast is a decent wireless hard drive for the money. It plays nice with lots of iOS and Android devices as well as the more recent versions of Windows and Mac OS. Despite the Wi-Fi performance issues, it has some solid features overall so it can be an ideal solution for many users.
- Support for PC or Mac
- Compatible with iPhone, iPad and Android devices
- 1TB capacity
- Toshiba mobile app
- Solid battery life
- 802.11n, 802.11G, 802.11B wireless type
One of the most popular choices for a wireless hard drive comes from Western Digital and it’s simply called My Cloud. It’s a personal storage unit that centralizes all your content in a single safe place that you can manage with ease. It does backups automatically and it offers varied capacities from 2TB to 16TB to suit more demanding needs.
With an Internet connection, your favorite files like videos and photos are quickly accessible as you only need to use the My Cloud app on your smartphone or sign in to the MyCloud website. If you want your content synchronized automatically, WD Sync comes to your aid. It does the job across all your computers and the hard drive so you can rest assured that your essential files are always a click away to access and your collection is permanently updated.
Everything seems good about this device so where’s the catch? Despite the promising features, this model doesn’t really deliver in terms of performance and can be needlessly difficult to set-up. When more than one user is trying to access the device, the network performance seems to degrade a bit too much. It’s not exactly a reliable unit but if you get over some of the less intuitive aspects and set it up correctly, it can provide you with a decent wireless drive experience.
Taking into account the benefits as well as the reliability issues of this unit, the final verdict for the Western Digital My Cloud is that it’s worth the money. It may not be perfect but if you want solid file storage and backup capabilities with remote access for a reasonable price, it can work well.
- Various capacities ranging from 2TB to 16TB
- Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0
- Auto Network Discovery
- Personal Cloud Storage
- Compatible with both Windows and Mac systems
- Compatible with Apple Time Machine
Finding a reliable wireless hard drive on the market can be a difficult task. The Western Digital My Passport can be a good solution for backup though the performance is not amazing. Let’s see what are the abilities of this model and if it’s worth the cost.
The first thing that you need to know about this model is that it has a built-in battery so it can work as a powerful power bank thanks to its 6400 mAh capacity. It allows you to easily charge your smartphone or other USB devices like using an external battery. The battery life is pretty impressive considering that it allows you to use the drive continuously for about 10 hours. This value is considerably reduced when doing something more demanding like streaming HD movies.
There are lots of capacity options for this wireless drive. You can go for 1, 2, 3, or 4 TB of storage space. Backing up your media can be done more conveniently on a wireless device, though the performance is affected somewhat. If you want to transfer very large files more easily, there’s always the option to use a USB 3.0 port.
Western Digital integrated an SD 3.0 card reader which can come in handy for media transfer from an SD card directly from a camera without the need for an intermediary like a computer. This is a nice feature if you’re a photographer who needs a way to be more productive and maintain a more efficient workflow when on-the-go.
If media streaming is an important reason why you need a wireless hard drive than you should know that this model plays nice with a Plex Media Server so you can stream your favorite content wirelessly to any supported device such as a smart TV for example.
While the Western Digital My Passport has some flaws, such as poor performance in certain cases and a few reliability issues, the drive can be a good travel companion due to its portability and has lots of quality features for the cost.
- 1TB or 4TB capacity options
- Built-in card slot
- Up to 6 hours of video streaming
- Up to 8 devices at a time can be connected via Wi-Fi
- 6,400 mAh power bank
The Wireless Plus hard drive from Seagate is the final entry in the list of the best wireless hard drives and although it is by all means not a flawless device, it gets the job done once you get over some hoops. The Wireless Plus is capable of creating a personal network where you can stream your files and media to your favorite devices.
Breaking free from wires can have a truly liberating effect. You can access all of your content without the need to search for Internet hotspots or having to rely on messy wires. Up to seven Wi-Fi enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets can connect and share a single connection. If you need to access your cloud files from Dropbox and Google Drive you can also do that easily.
This model finds a good balance between portability and storage capacity. There are multiple capacity options to choose from, though the 2TB option seems like the best one as it enables you to take your TV series collection and full music library wherever you go.
Thanks to the free Seagate Media app navigating through your media library is a breeze. It’s available for both Android and iOS devices as well as for Kindle Fire and Windows 8. There are some handy drop-down menus from where you can choose the content that you wish to view. Selecting files stored on your device and saving them on the drive is also a good idea for freeing up some space.
Overall the Seagate Wireless Plus is a solid device though it does need some more work for it to be a truly successful product. The app is well designed but it can stop responding sometimes and doesn’t allow for the best streaming experience for Apple devices. Although not perfect, this wireless hard drive can be a decent option but it depends on your particular needs if this is the right device for you. If you’re using lots of iOS devices, something like the Apple Time Capsule is more recommended.
- Synchronizes with Dropbox and Google Drive
- Can connect to DLNA devices, Smart TVs, and AirPlay
- Integrates with the free Seagate Media app for Android and iOS devices
- Capacities: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
- Easy to use