4 Best External Hard Drive for Plex Media Server in 2022

Plex is the perfect solution for seamlessly streaming your media to devices inside and outside your network. But, one key component in your Plex setup is where you choose to store the media you’re going to stream.

While it is possible to host Plex on an old computer or a NAS, these options may not be available to some. Instead, choose an external hard drive to host your media as it’s an affordable middle ground accessible to many. Today, we’ll show you the best hard drives for Plex.

Quick Summary

Here is a brief breakdown of each of the chosen products in this list, as well as some key factors to consider for each:

Who Should Get This?

Sometimes our favorite streaming platforms, like Netflix and Disney+, don’t have the movies or TV shows we want to watch. If you have the files locally, Plex is the perfect solution to this problem. If you don’t have the necessary funds to invest in a dedicated machine or NAS to run the media from, an external hard drive is a perfect compromise.

An external hard drive offers a generous amount of storage space without the tedious setup associated with NAS. Plug it into your computer, set up Plex, point towards your media, and you’re basically good to stream. From the average consumer to your die-hard tech enthusiasts, there are many options available for buying a Plex external hard drive.

Best External Hard Drive for Plex: Our Picks for 2022

1. Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB Portable External Hard Drive

The Toshiba Canvio Basic 4TB External Hard Drive is the first to be featured on our list of the best external hard drives for Plex. It comes formatted with NTFS for Windows computers, but it can just as easily be reformatted to be used on macOS and Linux systems. Its compact size ensures it’s easy to transport when the need arises. Additionally, it’s powered by USB, so you don’t need to plug it into the wall to use.

Inside, the hard drive is rated for 5400 RPM. Outside, it has a clean, black matte finish, making it low profile and smudge resistant. It may not come with auto backup or password protection features like the Canvio Slim and Canvio Advance in the same line. Still, these features are secondary, considering you can implement them using third-party tools.

What We Like:

  • Supports USB 3.0
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • One year warranty

What We Dislike:

  • Low-quality cable

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

2. Seagate Expansion Desktop 4TB External Hard Drive

Next, we have the Seagate Expansion Desktop 4TB External Hard Drive. If 4TB isn’t enough for you, options go up to 16 TB for heavy users. It’s a bit more powerful than the Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB hard drive, requiring power through an 18W power adapter.

The USB 3.0 can also be used with USB 2.0 ports, albeit with reduced performance. It features an all-black, textured design. It comes ready to use with Windows systems but can also be used with macOS and Linux following a format.

One gripe users have is that the internal drives use Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), which essentially allows for more storage space at the cost of reduced performance. However, this inclusion ultimately leads to a more affordable price tag, so consider your priorities when moving forward.

What We Like:

  • Various storage sizes
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • Generous length cable

What We Dislike:

  • Questionable warranty adherence
  • SMR drives are slower compared to others

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

3. Fantom Drives 6TB External Hard Drive

The Fantom Drives 6TB External Hard Drive is a heavy-hitting contender for the best external HDD for Plex. Inside, the hard drives are spinning at 7200 RPM, allowing for transfers of up to 250MB/s for your media files. It’s compatible with Windows as well as macOS after formatting. The fan-free design keeps noise levels minimum, even during heavy operation.

The hard drive is housed in an aluminum case. Given the 7200 RPM rating, the aluminum housing helps reduce temperatures during operation. Included is a stand, allowing you to store the external hard drive vertically on your desk, freeing up desk space. You can connect using the USB 3.0 interface, but it includes support for eSATA and FireWire too.

Overall, it’s a durable case with a free-flowing design that complements the heat sink properties provided by the aluminum casing.

What We Like:

  • Aluminum case for durability and temperature management
  • 7200 RPM allows transfers up to 250MB/s
  • Two-year warranty

What We Dislike:

  • Quite large, best for static placement

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

4. G-Technology 10TB G-DRIVE

The sleek-looking G-Technology 10TB G-DRIVE comes in an all-aluminum case that looks good in any environment. Featuring a USB-C and USB 3.1 port, as well as two Thunderbolt 3 ports, you’re given a range of connectivity options. It also supports daisy-chaining for up to 5 more devices, allowing you to further expand your storage without using additional connections to your computer.

Although the inclusion of Thunderbolt ports may lead you to think that this is a Mac-only drive, it can be reformatted using the included software to work with Windows. With a 7200 RPM, you’ll experience high-speed read and write speeds at all times, making media upload a breeze.

What We Like:

  • The aluminum case provides great durability.
  • Daisy-chaining allows for expansion
  • Attractive design

What We Dislike:

  • Can run hot due to poor ventilation

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

How to Choose an External Hard Drive for Plex in 2022

Now that you’ve taken a look at the best external hard drives for Plex take a look at the criteria we used to find and rank each product.

Storage Space

Storage space is one of the leading factors to consider when hosting a Plex media server on an external hard drive. After all, what good is having an external hard drive if you can only fit a handful of movies on it? External hard drives are only growing in capacity size, as seen with the Aegis Padlock DT FIPS, which goes up to a whopping 18 TB. Of course, 18 TB isn’t exactly intended for a Plex server at home, but you get the point. Look for an external hard drive that easily fits your existing media, plus more for future-proofing.

Performance

Performance is always a factor to consider when thinking about streaming media. The performance rating of your hard drive or solid-state drive will dictate how fast the Plex host can read your media. Additionally, it will help reduce wait times when moving files across. Although, it should be noted that the performance of your media drive isn’t going to have a huge impact on streaming. Instead, this heavily relies on the Plex host device for database management and transcoding.

Connection Interface

At a minimum, you need an external hard drive with a USB 3.0 interface or above. USB 2.0 generally maxes out at 480 Mbps. Contrarily, USB 3.0 can go up to 4,800 Mbps, with USB 3.2 going up to 20 Gb/s in ideal conditions. Ignoring the fact that USB 2.0 is gradually becoming obsolete, the connection interface you use will determine how fast media can be transferred and scanned.

How to Install an External Hard Drive for Plex

Plex cannot be installed on the external hard drive directly. Instead, you must install Plex Media Server to a computer or server, then point it towards the external hard drive to pull media from it. Doing so is fairly easy, making Plex one of the best media streaming solutions you can implement at home.

To install Plex and point it towards an external hard drive, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install Plex Media Server for your operating system. Open it and sign in to your Plex account.
  2. Name your server. If you wish to stream from outside your network, ensure that Allow me to access my media outside my home is ticked. Click Next.
  3. install an external hard drive for plex

  4. Click Add Library. Select the new external hard drive folder containing the media you want to stream. Click Next.
  5. click add library and next to install

  6. Click Done.
  7. click done to finish installing a hard drive for plex

Now, you’re ready to share your Plex with others. From any device your Plex account is signed into, you’ll now be able to stream the media from your external hard drive (as long as the client hosting the server is online).

FAQs About External Hard Drive for Plex

1. Can you use an external hard drive with Plex?

Yes, an external hard drive can be used to host Plex media. It cannot, however, be used to install and host Plex. The device that the external hard drive is connected to must be accessible by Plex to ensure the media can be streamed.

2. Does Plex work with external hard drives?

An external hard drive can be used with Plex to store media such as movies, music, and TV shows. As long as your Plex is configured to point towards the external hard drive, it will always pull media as long as it’s online and connected.

3. How do I connect an external hard drive to Plex?

If you have Plex Media Server installed on your computer, you can configure it so it pulls media from your external hard drive. This media can be streamed inside and outside of your network (provided streaming from outside your network is permitted).

Here’s how you can configure a path to your external hard drive in Plex Media Server:

  1. At the top-right, click the wrench icon for Settings.
  2. Under Manage, click Libraries.
  3. Click Add Library.
  4. Select the library type, then click Next.
  5. Click Browse for the media folder, then select the folder on your external hard drive that contains the files you wish to stream.

Conclusion

Setting up Plex at home is a great way of creating your own personal media library that can be streamed by you and your family. To ensure the server runs smoothly, be sure to invest in a hard drive that can not only store all the files you want to stream but perform well enough to be read by your host computer without overheating or lagging.

Leave a Comment