What’s The Best External Hard Drive for TV Recording?

You might have noticed that your new TV has a feature called USB Recording. What this feature does is allow you to record live programs to an external hard drive. With a proper hard drive, your TV can even pause and rewind programs. It makes it very convenient to save a TV show for later.

The good news is you probably already have a TV with this feature. The problem is you need a relatively fast hard drive that can write and read data fast enough to keep up with your TV.

Here are the best external hard drives for TV recording:

Best External Hard Drives for TVs (Samsung, LG, Sony, etc):

Keep in mind, these portable hard drives can be used with gaming consoles, computers, Macs, and other devices. Although we focus on the TV USB feature, you can use them for many other purposes. We’ll talk a bit more about how to use and buy a portable hard drive later on.

Top picks

1. Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive

2. Seagate 1TB Black Portable Hard Drive

3. WD 1TB Elements Portable Hard Drive

4. Transcend 1 TB Slim StoreJet 25M3S

5. Maxtor 4TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive

1 - Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive


Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive

Key Selling Point: Budget-Friendly

Toshiba is a Japanese electronics company that’s well known for creating hard drives. The Toshiba Canvio Basic is a sleek, standard, USB 3.0 hard drive.

This hard drive weighs 150 grams and has a storage size of 1,000 GB (1 TB) and it uses HDD technology. These hard drives can also support up to 4 TB of data.

Most importantly, this hard drive uses USB 3.0 which has a max recorded transfer speed of 5.0 Gbps a second, more than enough to record TV shows. It’s also backward compatible with USB 2.0 ports, although the speed will be a little slower.

Overall all, if you’re looking for a basic, reliable, and “good enough” hard drive, then I recommend checking out the Toshiba Canvio Basic portable hard drive.

2 - Seagate 1TB Black Portable Hard Drive


Seagate 1TB Black Portable Hard Drive

Notable Feature: Compact Shell

Seagate is probably the most popular hard drive manufacturer. They are well-known worldwide for manufacturing high-quality hard drives. Most tech enthusiasts are quick to recommend Seagate hard drives.

Our particular model here is a very basic Seagate 1TB black portable external hard drive. You can also choose from a wide range of hard drive sizes, from 500 GB to 5TB.

This Seagate portable hard drive weighs about 181 grams and it uses USB 3.0 technology. It’s slim, very lightweight, and you can transfer data in seconds. For mac users, you might need to click on “show all devices” to find the hard drive and reformat it.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with Seagate hard drives.

3 - WD 1TB Elements Portable Hard Drive


WD 1TB Elements Portable Hard Drive

Best Feature: Lightweight (130 Grams)

The WD Elements portable hard drive is another good choice for TVs. You can choose from a wide range of sizes, all the way up to 5 TB. This particular model has a nice black case with a small white LED notification light, so you can tell when the hard drive is in use.

The hard drive is incredibly light, weighing only 130 grams. The case is black with a sleek plastic finish and the company’s logo on one side. As usual, it uses USB 3.0 which is also backward compatible with USB 2.0.

To summarize, it’s a very nice, budget-friendly, portable hard drive.

4 - Transcend 1 TB Slim StoreJet 25M3S


Transcend 1 TB Slim StoreJet 25M3S

What We Liked Most: One Touch Auto Backup

Transcend is another well-known electronics brand, it’s up there with Seagate. Transcend 1 TB Storejet 23M3S portable hard drive is one of the rugged series, ideal for outdoor adventures.

One notable feature is the casing is not the usual plastic, but anti-shock rubber. It offers complete protection, making this particular hard drive extremely durable.

The specifications are similar to the other portable hard drives, except this drive uses USB 3.1 instead of the standard 3.0. The upgrade offers slightly faster transfer speeds.

Another cool feature (requires the Transcend software) is the One Touch Auto-Backup button. When you press the physical button, the hard drive will automatically backup your data. Very convenient.

5 - Maxtor 4TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive


Maxtor 4TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive

What Customers Love: Storage Capacity

Now, if you’re looking for a stylish portable hard drive with lots of space, the Maxtor 4TB is worth a look. The most notable feature of this portable hard drive is the capacity, 4 TB of space. It’s a great set-and-forget hard drive.

Other than that, the specifications are almost identical to the other drives on our list, with USB 3.0 and a blue LED activity light. It’s a great choice for saving lots of TV shows.

What to Look for In a Hard Drive:

When buying a new portable hard drive, there are a few features you need to know about. One is the hard disk RPM rate. Mechanical hard drives have a disk inside that rotates when in use, the faster it rotates, the faster your hard drive.

RPM Rate

The most common RPM rates are 5400 and 7200. Generally, both of these RPM rates are “Good” but 5400 RPM hard drives are cheaper. 7200 RPM is about 35% faster. On the other hand, if you just need a portable hard drive for storage, such as videos and images, a 5400 RPM drive will do the trick.

Note: Not every portable hard drive manufacturer will reveal its hard drive RPM rate. You’ll have to either test the drive or open the case to find the exact hard drive model.

USB Version Compatibility

You also want to make sure your device (TV, Console, PC, etc) has the same USB version as your hard drive. In most cases, USB 3.0 ports are blue, while 2.0 ports are black. If you’re not sure what USB port your device uses, check its manual.

Most modern laptops and TVs use USB 3.0 ports. Likewise, most modern portable hard drives use USB 3.0 too. To make sure you get the best speed, make sure to plug the USB 3.0 hard drive into a 3.0 USB port, it’s usually blue.


You might have heard about SSD drives, they’re many times faster than normal mechanical drives because they use a different technology with no mechanical parts. Nowadays, most computers come with at least one SSD drive to handle important tasks, such as the operating system.

SSD Pros:

  • Very fast. Average read rate of 550 MBs a second (vs. 7200 RPM 120 Mb/s)
  • Durable, No Spinning Parts, Cooler

SSD Cons:

  • More Expensive than HDDs

SSDs are highly recommended for computers, but if you just need something portable, then a portable HDD is more than enough. SSDs also tend to be more expensive than mechanical hard drives. We don’t recommend an SSD for recording TV.


Is a Portable SSD Worth It?

In my opinion, since portable hard drives won’t be in use most of the time, and mainly they’re used for storage, there’s no point in buying a portable SSD. An HDD will meet your requirements, and they’re much cheaper too.

How Long Do Portable Hard Drives Last?

There are many factors that can affect a portable hard drive’s lifespan, so it’s impossible to provide an exact answer. However, most portable hard drives can be used non-stop for at least three years before you might run into issues.

Do I Need to Format a Portable Hard Drive?

In most cases, portable hard drives will arrive in a plug-and-play condition. But many customers choose to manually format the hard drive just to make sure there’s no malware on them. You don’t need to format a portable hard drive, but some people prefer to do it.

How Much Space Do I Need?

That depends on what you plan to use the hard drive for. Content such as games and videos will take up much more space than family pictures. Generally, we recommend buying a portable hard drive that has at least 1 TB of space.

Is It Okay to Leave a Portable Hard Drive Plugged in 24/7?

Even when plugged in, most portable hard drives will go into standby mode when not in use. It’s totally fine to leave a portable hard drive plugged in. It won’t damage the components. As a matter of fact, hard drives are meant to always be plugged in.

Photo by Mishaal Zahed on Unsplash

About S. Santos

Tech columnist and tech blogger, audiovisual aficionado trying to keep up with the ever-evolving world of gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology. If not fiddling with AV cables at home or in front of the computer, he can be found playing tennis or padel.

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