Recommend an external back up HDD or SSD Quality Brand (for Mac desktop)

Jul 10, 2012
North Carolina Coast
Just thought I would ask a quick last minute question and hope I get enough replies before I go buy something which can be today or 5 days from now.

The external drive would just be to back up photos. Im about to go through and delete almost 2 decades worth of photos on a mix of Windows Desktops and my latest Apple devices with the intention of saving the ones I dont delete but I am going to save at most mabye a couple hundred (if that much) out of thousands so size of the drive not important and I can make that decision on my own.

I actually think for this long term storage the HDD might be a better idea. Im not to concerned with it being super fast and chances are this drive may just get tucked away for up to a year or more at a time unused but I cant say that for certain.

Anyway, for those in the know and I know a few of you in here, any thoughts on quality drives? I honestly never paid attention this "quality" and never had a HDD fail but thought it couldn't hurt to ask if its proven one brand is more durable then the other as so many products have been cheapened up and companies sold off, rebranded ect.

I was thinking 1TB should be plenty but based on price most likely 2TB or even more if its a deal. I have no idea how much storage I need but I am sure 1TB off the top of my head should be enough.

I dont know why but for some reason, maybe because of a story a long time ago, I heard that Samsung drives are top of the line now. I see what is marketed as a super durable Samsung shock proof T7 model around.

Sure I know the names of Seagate and WD. I actually have both external drives now, the WD is really old and the Seagate maybe about 5 years old. More or less I want to get everything together in a nice neat package.
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I don't think there's any difference nowadays between the various, well-known brands - Seagate, W-D, Samsung, etc, etc. I'd buy any of them without hesitation. Stories from one person about "my Seagate drive crashed" or "I lost everything on my W-D drive" are anecdotal and mean nothing (to me).

With hard drives, there's always that price point where smaller capacity drives don't make sense so just look at the capacity and price and you'll see that sweet spot. It could be 2TB or 4TB or whatever. Odds are that the drive that's the best price will be 2-4x more storage than you need but who cares ?

Get an SSD over a mechanical drive for sure though. Mac, Windows, Linux makes no difference when it comes to external drives.
I make my own.

Drive enclosure from Other World Computing,
Drive from New Egg…

These are $49 on Amazon…
OWC Mercury Elite Pro 7200 RPM Storage Solution w/USB 3.2 5Gb/s

Drive is either a Samsung 870 EVO SSD
Western Digital Black…
My Mac is old enough that Firewire is the fast connection. That led me to Other World Computing's Mercury Elite Pro Mini for a 1TB backup. I only use it a few times per year, but it seems well-built and matches my iMac's finish. I also use their Mercury On-The-Go drive to back up a Windows laptop.
NVME 2.0 SSD in an enclosure.
Only useful if it isn't bottlenecked by the read speed of the internal drive and the connector standard and cable. And a lot of nvme controllers can be slow too. I explored ssd's when finding something to replace my old but good 500gb wd that'll fill up soon but I'll get another wd hdd on sale. They're fast when just used as an external drive and wd drives are very reliable. I've got a an 11 year old wd spinning away almost 24/7 as a dvr drive and it's still good. Once it gives the ghost I'll check the smart data. The only "bad" hdd's are those smr ones that can be slow but in real world use it isn't a big deal. It's bad in enterprise environments but not household.
I certainly do to know as much as a lot of people in here, I have played with computers though, since 1995, changed mother boards, HDDs at times, all things "modems" back then. But that is the extent of it. Oh, yeah and I have been shopping online since the times that people would freak out that I give my credit card number over the internet!! *LOL* I kid you not!

I thought I remember some time back @OVERKILL posting the reliability of drives on a spread sheet for something.
Anyway, I know those drives were commercial (I think) but the name Toshiba stuck out in my mind or it was so long ago I am confusing that with another review.

Anyway, yeah, for my limited use I am sure any of them are ok, Im thinking right now I might just pick this one up. Im going to print many of the photos but would like to keep a copy on a drive "just because" ... I was under the impression if its a SSD that it needs to be turned on at least every few years to insure the data doesnt get corrupted, Is that true.
Just curious Im going to go with a HDD, it's only for storage and should meet my needs. Seagate, WD or this Toshiba.
I find it attractive because it's not loaded with promotional products I will never use. Keep in mind it will only be used on Apple devices and that is what interests me most. (no reformatting) claims cross platform use.

Just a general suggestion for your backup...

If you're open to the idea of buying two (2) drives, I would suggest that. Photos are irreplaceable and having more than a single copy is always a good idea. One step further would be to have one copy of your photos "off-site" (maybe with a family member?) so if anything happens to your copy (maybe the hard drive fails, home fire or flood, etc.), you'll have another copy available. Finally, once you've made the copy, keep it "off-line" whenever possible and not attached to your Mac. That way the drive and its contents wouldn't be vulnerable to ramsomware, viruses, etc., if it's off-line!


That 2TB samsung drive at 149 is not a bad price.

I prefer cheap external 2.5" hdd for backup. still well over 100MB/s can afford 2 and bigger size.
the 2.5" means no power adapter.

If its a backup you are carrying with you ssd is nearly indestructible.. has advantage.
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I'd get a name brand 2.5" SATA SSD and a USB3 to SATA enclosure. Reason why, vs a prebuilt solution, is that if the USB controller fails, you can move your SSD into a different enclosure or connect it to literally any PC to get your data back. Even if you decide to go with a mechanical hard drive (HDD) I'd go the path of a standard 2.5" SATA HDD and the USB3 to SATA enclosure because most mainstream portable external drives have the USB controller/port soldering onto the same board and if that has an issue, your data is most likely gone, unless you spend the big bucks and send your disk to a data recovery lab.

Sure, these solutions aren't as quick compared to an NVMe-based offering, but it's a backup drive, so it doesn't really matter that much.

I have many years of experience working with computers both professionally and personally, and as far as brands go, anything and everything can fail, no matter what logo is on it or how much it costs. SSDs that I like and recommend include Crucial, Hynix, Intel, Kingston, Samsung, Seagate, Toshiba, and WD. In alphabetical order as I really don't have a huge prefence for one or the other. HDDs, really it doesn't matter whether you go Seagate, Toshiba, or HGST/WD. All of these brands have made at least one lousy model of drive, but overall they are fine products and should serve you well.
Just a general suggestion for your backup...

If you're open to the idea of buying two (2) drives, I would suggest that. Photos are irreplaceable and having more than a single copy is always a good idea. One step further would be to have one copy of your photos "off-site" (maybe with a family member?) so if anything happens to your copy (maybe the hard drive fails, home fire or flood, etc.), you'll have another copy available. Finally, once you've made the copy, keep it "off-line" whenever possible and not attached to your Mac. That way the drive and its contents wouldn't be vulnerable to ramsomware, viruses, etc., if it's off-line!


Yes. Actually I expect most any photo I want to keep will be in Shutterfly, so that’s back up one, second is actual prints and 3rd will be a HDD.
I think I settled on Western Digital for no other reason than the comments in here that they are all about equal and for the same price I can actually buy one with specific made for Mac on the front of the box.

Yes I know they are compatible with all operating systems but out of the box most of them are geared for windows machines and you have to reformat the drive for Mac, no big deal but it’s just one less step for me at the same price.

I’ll probably decide by tomorrow.
I actually have another back up which would be iCloud but I just want one central place to have my photos that I don’t have to give it any thought, however if something Does go wrong with the HDD I know I could piece things back together anyway
WD used to have the worst reputation for drive makers, but they've become the most preferred option now, with reasonable pricing and good availability.

Business machinations resulted in them ending up with Hitachi/IBM's drive business, though IIRC Toshiba might have got a small part of that pie as well.

In any case, among the three major consumer brands, Seagate is the one that's least favored.

For SSDs, Samsung or Crucial, and avoid the cheapest lines.

Backblaze runs their business on consumer-grade drives, and publishes their findings, if you wish to dig into that.
I would not do ssd for backup unless you want a small and portable solution. They cannot be cost effectively recovered if they fail and in an enclosure, failure rates seem to be a lot higher than in a normally connected system.

HDD external enclosures are very similar, high failure rate, but can be recovered.

I’m done with external enclosures, I just use bare 3.5 drives and an adapter.

This is the one I use.

For temp storage/backup on a portable - I use WD Blue 1TB SSD with a USB-SATA cable and it served me very well for years.
Timetec 1TB SSD 3D NAND TLC is my late fave for price/size, speed and reliability.
The cable I use is like this:

With PC, I have an SSD and two HDDs. One HDD is for data and the other is for backing up SSD and data HDD. Workflow is: entire SSD image is saved to HDD1, SyncToy backs up select folders from SSD to HDD1 and then HDD1 to HDD2.
I tend to be a minimalist regarding nearly everything, including computer use. I settled on using the system mattwithcats describes: an OWC enclosure with a WD hard drive installed. Very simple. None of the garbage that some of the off-the-shelf external drives have (when I researched this years ago, some of the off-the-shelf units had a proprietary connection between the enclosure's electronics and hard drive, making recovery more difficult. As already stated, with mattwithcats system, if the enclosure fails you pop out the hard drive and install it elsewhere.

I also do the redundancy/off site thing. My needs are simple, my wants are less.
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I've been a WD fan for a while, but in all honesty in the modern 3.5"(desktop size) HDD space now all the offerings are really solid.

Heck, just for example I can remember years ago that IBM/HItachi/whatever they are now had the nickname of "Deathstar"(officially called Deskstar) because of how unreliable they were. Quantums(long gone) use to not have great reliability reputations, but I have good luck with them when I resurrect old computers, plus as weird as this is the seek sound on them is like nothing else and I love it(the computer I used as a kid in the early-mid 90s had a Quantum hard drive in it so it's what a computer "should" sound like for me).

For long term storage where access speed isn't a concern(exactly as described in the OP), first of all there are some good arguments for traditional platter drives over SSDs. Just as a personal observation/preference if it's a drive to be used mostly at home, I'd opt for a 3.5" form factor drive as IME the reliability is much better over 2.5" drives(laptop drives) plus the price/capacity ratio is MUCH better. I put an 8tb internal in my iMac not too long ago(Toshiba, breaking my rule) and I think I paid like $150 for it, but don't hold me to that number. A lot of 3.5" USB externals will have their own separate PSU, although bus-powered Firewire ones existed back in the day and I suppose someone could build a USB-C one if they were so inclined(haven't seen one but then also haven't looked).

There are "Mac Certified" drives out there, but honestly I've never seen a compelling reason to pay extra for one for that fact alone. Most FW and TB1/2 externals I've seen/owned did carry that badge, but I think that was as much as anything because Apple pushed Firewire like no other company and shipped it on most of their computers from about 2000 to 2011, and were the only ones to really adapt TB1/2 in a big way(TB3 is a different story).
I bought a 5TB WD Black USB3 drive for less than $100 on Amazon or newegg.