The Best WiFi External Hard Drive Choices for PC and Mac

When I begin my work in the morning, I love the clutter-free look that my work table sports. Almost everything I use is wireless; keyboard, mouse, headset and a Wi-Fi receiver dongle that allows me to have a great wireless Internet connection even though I can easily run an Ethernet cable to connect to a tethered internet connection.

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While this workspace devoid of wires never fails to charm me, I am always peeved when it comes to backing up my data as I have to crouch, use a flashlight and connect my external hard drive to a USB port that I have never successfully plugged in on the first attempt, ever! Then, I realize that there are some great Wi-Fi external hard drive choices out there, to go completely wireless, with absolutely no holds barred! Later on, you will find my findings on what I think is the best Wi-Fi external hard drive choices out there at the moment.

My personal choice; Seagate Wireless Plus 1 TB with Built-In Wi-Fi Streaming

I am of the opinion that you just can’t go wrong with Seagate hard disks, especially when it comes to their external hard drives. I have dropped them, pulled them out without hitting that tiny icon that says “eject device” and have even left them out in the heat and cold, always to plug them back in and enjoy uninterrupted access to my data backups.

What is a Wi-Fi Hard Drive?

Before I help you find a wireless hard drive that suits your needs, let’s first talk about what this device is and how it works. When these units were first released, they required a USB port that you connect to your computer to emit a Wi-Fi network. But now, there are many wireless hard drives on the market that don’t need a wire to operate. A Wi-Fi external hard drive essentially carries its own network so that you can use the Internet in times of need or during moments when you’re low on data. You can use them on a variety of devices such as laptops, computers, tablets, and smartphones, all of which are suitable for IOS or Android software.

These devices are rechargeable and powered by batteries to connect to a chosen device (some can connect to more than one). Depending on what you’re doing, some batteries can last up to 20 hours, but this also depends on the budget you have and the brand you opt for.

There are many occasions when you could use one of these devices, such as if you don’t have enough storage space of data on your smartphone. As these Wi-Fi hard drives are portable, you can conveniently store them in your laptop bag for an extra boost when traveling. Some of the top, most expensive devices can connect with smart TVs and allow you to use your TV’s interface to access your favorite shows, apps, music or videos.

Finding The Best Wi-Fi External Hard Drive

Seagate Wireless Plus 1TB

wifi external hard drive

Performance

This Seagate Wireless Plus 1TB hard drive is everything you could need and offers an incredible performance. On average, you can expect to receive 2MB sequential speeds using the Seagate wireless hard drive. It measures 115.50MB/s for reading and 114/42MB/s for writing, while its previous version, Seagate GoFlex, has a much worse overall performance. To use this wireless hard drive to the best of its ability, I recommended using a USB 3.0 to increase the wireless speed.

You can use this Wi-Fi hard drive to provide 1TB capacity using your own personal wireless network. This allows you to expand your mobile capacity by nearly nine times and means that you don’t have to worry about data plan, storage fees or additional wires. As a result, you can use the Seagate Wireless Plus on the plane, in your car, or anywhere else when you find you’re stuck for Internet connection. Plus, you’ll appreciate that you can still access the Internet while this device is in operation should you wish to. Merely switch the settings to adjust from one to the other.

Usability

There’s not much use in having a wireless hard drive if you don’t know how to install or operate the device to your laptop. Thankfully, the Seagate Wireless Plus is simple to use. Once you receive the device, you’ll simply use the drag-and-drop media to find everything you want to use on your smartphone or tablet. There are also free apps available to download on iOS, Android, and even Kindle. The interface is sophisticated and easy to use so there shouldn’t be any issues with getting used to this. The media view enables you to look at your most recent files, documents, music, videos or photos in preview-mode.

When you launch your tablet or smartphone, you’re presented with an overview screen of all the available media before then switching to the video view. This is a great setting for watching videos, although there are few other benefits to this feature. Also, you can easily copy a movie from iTunes to the Wireless Plus device, but it’s not possible to pull a video down to your tablet to then view. Usability is also made better with 10 hours of battery life when fully active, or 25 hours if using the WiFi hard drive inconsistently. This is a comfortable amount of time to watch a movie on a plane or get on with some work in a car. You can also charge the device via USB or into a wall with the included charger.

Design

Finally, how your WiFi hard drive looks makes a big difference to your opinion on it. Although it’s certainly designed for productivity and practicality, there’s no harm in the device looking appealing. The exterior casing provides a sophisticated look, while the two-tone colors on the body provide a smooth and elegant finish. This casing is also practical enough to take with you when traveling without any worries that it will easily break. All together, the Wireless Plus has a thickness of around two iPhones so it’s practical enough for people on the go.

The Wireless Plus also has activity lights that notify you of the device’s status. For example, the LED light flashes blue when the Wi-Fi is booting up, and a solid blue light reflects that it’s ready for use. It’s also handy to know when the hard drive is running out of battery, so there’s a light to show this too. If the device remains green, this shows that it’s in use, while red means that there’s little battery left.

Get Seagate Plus 1 TB Wireless from Amazon.com

wifi external hard drive

Apple Time Capsule

Performance

This is definitely a high-end wireless hard drive that offers Wi-Fi on 2.4GHz and 5GHz at the same time. As a result, this device can support an array of devices. If you purchase the 5GHz band, this will deliver speeds up to 1.3Gbsps, and it’ll also support data speeds of around 450Mbps. The Apple Time capsule has up to 3TB of storage space and it only takes a few minutes to back-up any important files and data from Macs. As you don’t have to worry about memory running out, this device helps to eliminate any unnecessary stress.

When using a NAS server, this device offers Internet speeds around 26MBps and 29MBps for writing and reading. This is about the same speed as using a USB 2.0 hard drive. Consequently, this device opens to many possibilities such as sharing data with others.

Usability

One major concern most users have with the Apple Time Capsule is that it uses USB 2.0 ports. If Apple upgraded its device to USB 3.0, you’d see a vast difference in Internet speed. But that doesn’t mean to say this device isn’t user-friendly. For example, you can connect the port to a printer or external storage device to extract data safely and quickly. This device is suitable for Mac users who are technologically-minded and considered themselves advanced users. This is a fairly pricey Wi-Fi external hard drive for most, although its high performance makes you feel much better about handing over your money.

It’s worth noting that this device weighs more than your average Wi-Fi external hard drive, although for such a slim shape and minimalist design, you wouldn’t think so by looking at it. As the Apple Time Capsule radiates a lot of heat after a long use, I recommend storing it in a cool location to prevent it from overheating.

Design

This Apple Time Capsule has a unique look compared to other Apple products, and we’re a huge fan of its overall appearance. Shaped like a rectangular tube standing 6.6 inches high and 3.85 inches wide, it’s not too bulky to store on your desk. When not in use, you can easily store it out of sight, although it looks stylish on show, patiently awaiting your return. There’s a status light on the front of the WiFi hard drive that beams green when everything is working as normal. Should the device require any attention, this light will flicker amber.

I’m also a fan of how the design keeps everything practical. Its overall design is eye-catching, but the main hard drive’s emphasis is on practicality and safety, rather than appearance. For example, the device features a PVC-free AC power cord and is flame retardant-free. The packaging alone is a nice touch to reduce your material footprint.

Buy Apple Time Capsule from Amazon.com

WD Passport Wireless USB 3.0

wifi external hard drive

Performance

The Passport Wireless hard drive is a great Wi-Fi external hard drive for people with an Apple product as some users reported difficulties connecting their device to Windows models. The Passport Wireless hard drive aims to offer incredible Internet speeds and I feel that it lives up to its promises. However, you’ll need to check that your devices are compatible with the Passport Wireless hard drive before continuing to the installation process. Specifically, the hard drive offers 802.11ac connectivity to allow you to transfer files faster than before – this is particularly so when compared to the previous version of this model.

The Passport Wireless hard drive also has a huge battery of 6,400mAh so you can use this device as a power bank. In fact, it can deliver up to 10 hours of connectivity, although streaming in HD will limit the amount of time it can operate for. All the time you’re using this Wi-Fi external hard drive, you can connect to a public Wi-Fi network. Finally, the Passport Wireless hard drive can support up to eight devices, making it suitable for small networks or to use as an Internet hotspot should you ever need one.

Usability

On top of the Passport Wireless device is a removable sticker with the SSID and passport for the device for easy access. If you flip the device onto the other side, you’ll notice the serial number and MAC address should you need access to this information during the installation process. On one side of the hard drive is an SD card slow and two square buttons. One button is to switch the device on and off, and the other it to open and close the SD card slow. Plus, you have the option to switch between a USB 3.0 and 2.0 connector depending on your availability and target Internet speed.

This Wi-Fi external hard drive is quick and easy to set-up and it’s even ideal for first-time users to operate. Simply turn the device on, find your Wi-Fi address in your chosen device and connect to the Wi-Fi. You’ll then need to enter the passport on the sticker and you’re good to go. Once the Internet is completely connected, you can follow a simple set-up guide to get you started and answer any of your questions.

Design

This Passport Wireless hard drive is a great size for people on the go, although it’s not quite small enough that you can store it in your pocket. The top of the device has a section for LED lights so you can see the drive status and Wi-Fi connection at all times. When the battery power reaches 25 percent, the LED lights will notify you that the device needs charging.

This device doesn’t come with a screen like some high-end options have, but you can download the mobile app to say some additional information about current Internet speeds, battery-life, etc. While a transfer is in process, you can see how long this will take and the speed it’s operating at via an IOS or Android device. There, it’ll also present you with a timeline of how long is left so you can get on with another task while you’re waiting for a document to download.

Buy WD Passport Wireless USB 3.0 from Amazon.com

LaCie Fuel Portable Hard Drive

wifi external hard drive

Performance

First, I’m impressed by the exceptional price of this hard drive, especially given its incredible performance ratings. Specifically, the USB 3.0 allows this Wi-Fi external hard drive to perform at the best of its abilities, although there are certain factors that can reduce the speed rate. For sequential speeds, you can expect around 2MB which is fairly close to the Seagate Wireless Plus I reviewed earlier. For reading, this device offers 98.3MB/s and 109.1MB/s for writing. Although, if you’re in an area with a good signal, you can push more than this data.

I’m impressed that multiple users can use this device at one time, which makes it great for a busy household or if you’re traveling with several others. Everyone also receives a mobile file server for areas where you struggle to get a steady Wi-Fi connection or data on your smartphone. This signal is highly reliable and ideal for times of need.

Usability

I’m pleased to report that the LaCie Fuel Portable Hard drive is user-friendly. Surprisingly, the device comes ready to use without the need for a wire, although I highly recommend programming one in when you’re fully set-up. You can adjust the power settings at any time during your usage of this device, and it offers up to 10 hours of use, which is great for most people. By switching to the Eco mode, this will turn off certain features so you can use the device for longer should you need to.

This Wi-Fi external hard drive comes with a free media app that you can download from laciefuel.com or the app store. This app has a huge focus on usability rather than design, and even novices will quickly get the hang of this layout. However, if you’re purchased an app from Seagate before, you’ll notice the format is standard across all devices. You can manage all of your content through a browser, though it’s easier and much quicker to operate through the connected app. Also, if you use the USB 3.0 cable, this will also make dragging and dropping files into folders much smoother and less time-consuming.

Design

Overall, I love the design of the LaCie Fuel Wi-Fi external hard drive. Its chassis is made of ABS plastic and doesn’t look or feel cheap. Finished with a charcoal coloring, this adds a professional and sleek appearance to the hard drive to make it attractive for everyone to use. The corners of the hard drive has some splashes of color to provide an appealing look and contrast against the deep charcoal. It’s details like this that make us want to purchase such a product.

Turning the device on and off is simple as the power button is on the front panel and easily spotted via an LED light. When the hard drive is connected to a computer, the LED light will illuminate green, and flash when it’s attempting to establish a wireless connection. Once it’s successfully connected to the Internet, the light will remain a solid blue until there are any technical issues or you choose to turn the device off.

Buy LaCie Fuel from Amazon.com

SSK Portable Wi-Fi Hard Drive

wifi external hard drive

Performance

This Wi-Fi hard drive is great for an array of people and occasions. Sporting 1TB of storage capacity, this device can comfortably store up to 200,000 HD photos, although you can further expand this capacity with an additional card reader.

With a USB 3.0, it’s never been easier to operate high-speed ratings, especially when you can get speeds up to 5Gbsps. This is great for transferring large files. At one time, eight people can use this Wi-Fi hard drive, making it great for a wide range of tasks.

Usability

There are so many incredible features of the SSK portable hard drive, but I’d like to focus on how simple it makes sharing photos, videos, documents and music with others. While offering incredible simplicity, this device provides a safe and reliable use so that you never have to worry about anyone previewing or accessing your information without any permission. You simply connect the hard disk to a router and the hard drive will act as a wireless router wherever you are.

This is an ideal external hard drive for the entire family because you can connect to a Smart TV, or via a TV dongle if you don’t have a Smart option, and see all of your videos and photos stored live on your TV. Setting up this hard drive is quick no matter which device you choose to connect it to. Plus, with a friendly app to manage all of your operations, anyone of any age and ability can use this hard drive.

Design

This high-speed external hard drive is portable and the perfect size and shape for carrying around with you at any tie. It also has a built-in battery so you can use the device as a power bank if you need to charge your USB devices. It’s a lightweight, slim design to not only look stylish and provide a professional finish, but to also make it easy for storage.

Buy SSK Portable Wi-Fi from Amazon.com

Have You Found a Suitable Wi-Fi Hard Drive For Your Needs?

I had a lot of fun researching the best external hard drives for you, but with so much diversity, how do you know which one is right for you? Consider your budget because everyone needs to know how much they can reasonably spend to narrow-down their choices. You should also opt for a brand that you’ve heard of and are comfortably purchasing from, because trust and reliability is everything in the technical world.

Have you found any devices from above that stand out to you? Share your thoughts and any tips on finding the best Wi-Fi hard drive for your needs in the comments.

 

About the Author
Michelle, author at Mach Machines. A tech lover and an insatiable latte drinker. Michelle blogs about improving the personal computing experience.
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  8. Syed Reply

    I feel that Seagate Wireless is better than Apple Time capsule.

    1) Apple Time capsule needs to be always connected to power supply; in that case it is useless if you need to enjoy movies/photos outside.
    2) Price is very high compared to Seagate

  9. Bill Boak Reply

    The last external seagate drive I purchased would not boot my iMac OS X, although my Lacie drive worked perfectly. Do you know if the new external drives will boot a Mac?

  10. Gionee Reply

    The only thing that Seagate doesn’t have is the uber-cool look of the Apple time machine.

  11. Gionee Reply

    Apple Time Machine is a good device but just not worth it when you compare its cost with the Seagate Wireless Backup plus…

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