Best external hard drives for music production 2024: Back up your music and boost your computer's performance

At a glance

Man records a synth into a laptop with an external hard drive connected

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Product guide
2. Buying advice
3. How we choose products

Right, let's get serious. Buying one of the best external hard drives for music production in 2024 may be no more exciting than arranging vehicle insurance, but when push comes to shove, you'll be glad you did your homework if you opt for one of our choices in this guide.

In our opinion, a decent external hard drive is crucial for musicians and producers; you can relax, safe in the knowledge that all your sounds, samples, projects and presets are secure and ready for action when you are. With a bad one, you run the risk of catastrophe striking when you least expect it.

Whether you’re recording huge multitrack DAW sessions, hammering a sample library running into multiple digits in gigabytes, or editing reams of 4K video footage for your latest YouTube banger, a reliable external hard drive for your Mac or PC is worth its weight in gold, saving you time and, potentially, serious heartbreak should the worst happen to your primary data store.

But what should you be looking for? Speedy data transfer and portability are key considerations, along with the amount of data you can store. In this guide, we'll cover the essentials - like storage capacity and durability - to help you make the best choice. With the perfect drive, you'll have your compositions secure and accessible wherever you go.

Best external hard drives for music production: Product guide

Best external hard drive for music production: Buying advice

Cose up of external hard drive sitting on a laptop

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to choose the best external hard drive for you

MusicRadar's got your back Our team of expert musicians and producers spends hours testing products to help you choose the best music-making gear for you. Find out more about how we test.

When it comes to seeking out an external hard drive for your music studio, musicians and producers need to consider several crucial factors to ensure they make the right choice. 

First and foremost, speed matters. As we know, music production often involves handling large files, from raw audio recordings to high-quality samples and virtual instruments. A hard drive with fast data transfer speeds is essential for smooth workflow and seamless playback. Look for drives with USB 3.0 or higher, as they offer faster transfer rates, reducing the time spent waiting for files to load or transfer.

Storage capacity is another critical consideration. As your music library grows and you accumulate more project files, you'll need ample space to store everything. Determine your storage needs based on the size of your projects and the volume of files you work with regularly. It's often wise to invest in a drive with more capacity than you currently need to accommodate future growth.

Recording on the go

Musicians and producers who are constantly on the move will value durability, and portability, from an external hard drive. Whether you're travelling to gigs or working in different studio environments, your hard drive needs to withstand the rigours of life on the road. Look for drives with sturdy enclosures and shock-resistant features to protect your data from accidental bumps and drops. Likewise, a compact, lightweight drive that fits easily into a laptop bag or backpack is ideal for on-the-go creativity. Consider factors like size, weight, and connectivity options to ensure your drive is convenient to carry and use in various settings.

Above all, prioritise reliability

Reliability is perhaps the most critical factor of all. As a musician or producer, your hard drive is the lifeline of your creative work, storing years of music projects, samples, and recordings. Choose a drive from a reputable manufacturer known for producing reliable, high-quality products. Read user reviews and resources like this guide. Seek recommendations from fellow musicians to ensure you're investing in a drive that will stand the test of time.

So, when you’re choosing an external hard drive for your music studio, prioritize factors like speed, storage capacity, durability, portability, and reliability. By considering these key factors and choosing a drive that meets your specific needs, you can ensure smooth workflow, secure data storage, and uninterrupted creativity for years to come.

How we choose products

At MusicRadar, our team comprises seasoned players and experts immersed in the world of music making, from drummers and guitar players, to producers and DJs. With years of playing and meticulous product testing, we bring a wealth of knowledge to the realm of music gear. We live and breathe everything related to music making, including the peripherals that make our workflows more streamlined and efficient.

When it comes to identifying the best external hard drives for music currently available, we employ a rigorous selection process. Our approach involves a fusion of hands-on experience, user reviews, and in-depth discussions with our editorial team to ensure a well-rounded evaluation of the top products in this distinctive category.

As dedicated music makers ourselves, our primary goal is to assist fellow musicians in discovering the perfect gear for their sound or workflow. We meticulously consider factors ranging from budget constraints to the intricacies of feature sets, ease of use, and the build quality. The result is a thoughtfully curated list representing what we confidently assert to be the best external hard drives for music on the market today.

Find out more about how we test music gear and services at MusicRadar.

Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar and bass gear, to synths, microphones, DJ gear and music production hardware.