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As the back to school season approaches, many students are facing a semester of online or hybrid learning, relying heavily on laptops and other learning devices. Having enough storage space is imperative, but anyone who keeps a robust photo, video, and audio library knows that space goes fast. Having a 1TB external hard drive gives you a generous storage capacity so that you don’t have to limit your entertainment library in order to free up space for school projects or new software downloads.

The best 1TB hard drives are great to store files for photographers and filmmakers, and for people working from home who don’t want to keep everything on their work laptop.

How Much Does 1TB Hold?

1TB (terabyte) is equivalent to 1,000,000 megabytes. When put in the context of other electronic devices, 1TB has roughly the same amount of storage as eight (128 GB) iPhones. That would also be equivalent to four Windows or Mac laptops with 256 GB of storage. The best external hard drives with 1TB of storage are especially useful for storing a variety of file types at once, whether its Word files, digital media, or Adobe Creative Suite projects. However, if you were to measure 1TB in video footage alone, it would equal 500 hours worth of movies. In terms of music, that’s about 200,000 songs.

What Are the Best External Hard Drives?

Some of the best 1TB external hard drives are compatible with a variety of laptop brands and other external devices. Having a hard drive that is compatible with both Windows and Mac laptops (and even Xbox consoles) leaves you assured that you can connect with your own device, but also the devices of peers or colleagues should you need to collaborate on a project (or just want to swap favorite movies).

Some external drives will need to be reformatted when switching between a Windows and Mac device. If you plan to work across devices of different brands, it is best to opt for an external hard drive that does not need reformatting.

Another major factor to consider is privacy features. Some external hard drives allow you to set up a password and even come with hardware encryption to keep your stuff safe when stored.

For the easiest user experience, it’s best to select a model that doesn’t require additional software for setup. The most user-friendly hard drives are automatically recognized by your laptop computer once they are plugged into the USB port.

1. Seagate Portable 1TB External Hard Drive

Not only is this external hard drive compatible with Windows and Mac, but it can also hook up to your PS4 or Xbox. No additional software is required in order to start using this device. Laptops will automatically recognize it, and you can back up your files immediately by just dragging and dropping them. Its interface speed runs at 5.0 Gbps. While this hard drive does support Macs, you will need to reformat it in order to do so.

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Buy:Seagate Portable 1TB External Hard Drive$144.99Buy it

2. Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB External Hard Drive

This external hard drive is automatically formatted for Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7. As long as you are operating on those systems, you can simply plug in this device and get started, dragging and dropping your files in order to back them up. Windows users can also install a password to ensure their files are protected. It weighs just over five ounces and we like its slim design – perfect for travel. Mac users will need to reformat the hard drive in order to use it.

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Buy:Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB External Hard Drive$59.99Buy it

3. Western Digital 1TB My Passport External Hard Drive

Western Digital gives you peace of mind when it comes to your files’ security. This hard drive offers password protection plus hardware encryption for extra privacy. This hard drive also has automatic backup software, and to get started, all you have to do is plug it into your device. No extra software downloads are required. We also love this model because it comes ready for both Windows and Mac devices. Its durable casing also protects your hard drive from accidental dings and drops.

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Buy:Western Digital 1TB My Passport External Hard Drive$114.95Buy it

4. LaCie 1TB External Hard Drive

There’s no need to reformat this external hard drive before using it with a Mac; in fact, this hard drive can be used seamlessly between Windows and Mac devices, making it ideal for users that are collaborating frequently with others. Not only does this hard drive automatically back up your files without the use of additional software, but you can actually schedule backups so you never forget. We also love this model for LaCie’s partnership with Adobe Creative Cloud, which gets you access to cloud storage in addition to file storage on this device.

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Buy:LaCie 1TB External Hard Drive$72.49Buy it

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