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4 Best USB Hard Drives for Linux Backups in 2021 (Buying Guide)

Looking to get a hard drive to store your Linux backups and personal files on? Frustrated with all of the hard drive choices on Linux? We can help! Here’s a list of 4 USB hard drives to use for Linux backups!

Something to keep in mind

Most external USB hard drives are created with the Windows audience in mind. For this reason, any of the hard drives you purchase off of this list will come in the NTFS filesystem format.

Do not worry! Linux fully supports NTFS, and it is totally safe to use on your Linux PC.

Still, even though NTFS is well supported on Linux, hard drives generally perform better on Linux when they’re using a native file system. Check the Gparted partitioning tool, it’ll help you partition your new external hard drive to a Linux format. For best results, format to Ext4.

Best USB Hard Drives for Linux

If you’re looking for a quick answer on the best USB hard drives for Linux readers, here’s what our research has revealed:

1. WD Elements Portable External Hard Drive

The WD Elements portable USB hard drive is an excellent, affordable little device perfect to use for Linux backups. For starters, it comes has a high capacity and can hold a lot of data. Storage goes from 1 TB all the way to 14 GBs. Second, the device is USB 3.0 for fast data transfer and has high performance via a fast 7200 RPM hard drive.

If you’re in the market for an affordable USB hard drive to store your Linux system backups on, you won’t be disappointed if you go with the WD Elements. However, it should be said that the drive comes with Windows software (a WD backup tool) that cannot be used on Linux.

While using the WD Elements Portable External Hard Drive, we found that the hard drive read/write rate was excellent and speedy thanks to the 7200 RPM disk speed and USB 3.0. However, it should be said that lower capacity versions of the drive (1 TB and 2 TB) may have a 5400 RPM drive instead, which is adequate but not as fast.

Pros

  • Comes in varying sizes, so users are able to get the hard drive size that is right for them without overspending.
  • Drive speed is very speedy thanks to USB 3.0 and fast hard drives.

Cons

  • Smaller capacity models run a 5400 RPM hard drive which is considerably slower than the larger capacity ones.

2. Seagate Portable External Hard Drive

Seagate makes some excellent hard drives and as a result, they’ve become a staple in the computing community. The Seagate Portable External Hard Drive is no exception. It packs an exceptional amount of speed and storage in a small, affordable package. The smallest drive that Seagate offers is 1 TB, but it can go to 16 TB, and it communicates over USB 3.0 offering decent transfer rates, which is great to use to backup your Linux photos, music files, and other data.

Inside of the Seagate Portable External Hard Drive is a 5400 RPM hard drive — not the fastest hard drive out there. That said, the throughput is still adequate and impressive given the price. If you’re on a budget and need a good external hard drive for backing up Linux data, the Seagate Portable External Hard Drive is one to check out!

While using the Seagate Portable External Hard Drive on Linux, we found that it was plug-n-play on Linux, and there’s no need to format the NTFS filesystem on the device to get full use out of it. However, users may get more use out of the device if it is formatted in a Linux filesystem like Ext4, XFS, or others.

Pros

  • Incredibly affordable for the size it offers.
  • Is USB 3.0, ensuring speedy file transfer rates.
  • Comes in varying sizes, so users are able to choose what is best for them.

Cons

  • Hard drives are 5400 RPM which while adequate is not nearly as fast as 7200 RPM or SSD.

3. PNY Pro Elite USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C Portable Solid State Drive

Looking for speedy external storage for your Linux PC backups? Check out the PNY Pro Elite. It’s an excellent external SSD drive powered by ultra-fast type C. You’ll be able to transfer enormous amounts of Linux data in minutes, rather than hours!

Aside from the fact that the PNY Pro Elite is powered by USB-C, it has other impressive features too, such as the fact that it comes packed with an SSD, rather than the traditional spinning disk HDDs prevalent in USB hard drives. In terms of capacity, the PNY Pro Elite goes from 250 GB all the way to 1 TB.

There are many great external SSD hard drives out there. However, the PNY Pro Elite is one of the few Linux-compatible ones that support USB-C while staying affordable. While using the PNY Pro Elite, we found that it worked excellent on Linux despite being formatted in NTFS. With that in mind, Linux users will get much more use out of it by formatting it to Ext 4, XFS, or other Linux-centric file systems.

Pros

  • Supports USB-C ensuring throughput 4x faster than the fastest USB 3.0 hard drives.
  • Has an SSD that can deliver super-fast data read/write.

Cons

  • The form factor is a bit large.

4. THU 128GB External SSD Portable

Are you on a budget but want a super-fast external SSD to store all of your Linux backups on? Do yourself a favor and check out the THU 128GB External SSD Portable. You’ll get 128 GBs of super-fast storage at an affordable price.

The THU 128GB External SSD Portable is powered by a 128 GB MVNe SSD and can deliver transfer rates up to 4x faster than external spinning HDDs for the same price. Also, it is powered by USB 3.0, ensuring ultimate compatibility.

When using the THU 128GB External SSD Portable, we found that it worked pretty well on Linux and handled data transfers at blistering speeds. That said, THU format the drive in the Windows NTFS file system, and while that file system is compatible with Linux, Linux users consider formatting it to Ext4 or XFS for even better compatibility.

Pros

  • Small and compact, great for traveling.
  • While the 128 GB model is the best value, users can also choose to get even more storage via the 256 GB or 512 GB version at only a slight cost increase.

Cons

  • Some might find it too small.

Conclusion

In this list, talked about 4 really great USB external hard drives that you can use to backup your private Linux data with. That said, there are a lot more than 4 external hard drives on the market.

So tell us, what is your go-to external hard drive to use for Linux data backup? Tell us in the comment section below!

1 Comment

  1. I purchased the recommended Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch hard drive, but when I plugged it into my desktop, I got an error message that it was “Unable to mount Backup Plus.” I have a rather old desktop computer running Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon (Version 2.2.16) with an AMD Athlon(tm) II X3 455 Processor x 3.

    Is the problem that the new hard drive can’t link up with the older desktop?

    Will I need a newer machine to be able to use this hard drive?

    Finally, are there any older portable hard drives that you think would work with an older Linux desktop like mine?

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