Last updated: August 11, 2021

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The Wi-Fi hard drive is a convenient external hard drive because it allows you to transfer data without cables. Thanks to its own battery, the WLAN Hard Drive is perfect for travelling and on the road. Whether Android, Apple or Windows, its Wi-Fi allows you to quickly connect all your mobile devices as well as computers or TVs.

With our big Wi-Fi hard drive test 2021 we want to help you find the best Wi-Fi hard drive for you. We have explained all the most important features of a Wi-Fi hard drive, compared different types and listed the advantages and disadvantages. This should make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




The most important

  • A WLAN hard drive is no different from an external hard drive that is equipped with an internal battery and a Wi-Fi module. Any device connected to its Wi-Fi can use it to back up files or stream the content stored on it. They are usually 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) and are perfect for mobile use.
  • There are two different types of WLAN hard drives: HDD and SSD. Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is the classic technology of a hard disk. They contain an arm with a read and write head that processes data onto one or more magnetic spinning disks. They are cheaper and can be found up to 10 terabytes. Solid state disks (SSDs) are solid state storage devices that work with a chip, without moving parts (like a USB stick). They are faster, more secure, energy-saving, but more expensive.
  • Since there are many models of WLAN hard drives, you should pay attention to several factors when buying: Capacity, battery, speed, portability. Depending on your needs, you can choose the right model and connect it to any WLAN-enabled device (mobile phone, tablet, PC, TV).

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Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a WLAN hard drive

What is a WLAN hard drive?

A WLAN hard drive is an external hard drive that also contains a WiFi module in its housing.
Because it has its own battery, it is ideal for mobile phones or tablets

It does not need a cable to connect to WLAN-enabled devices. In appearance, it is not so different from a normal external hard drive with a cable. There are different models and each has its strengths and weaknesses.

The big advantages of a Wi-Fi hard drive are:

  • Mobile use (wireless data transfer, own battery, light, compact);
  • Connect to up to 8 devices simultaneously (depending on model);
  • Streaming from mobile devices possible (without downloading the data);
  • Some can also be used as a hotspot or powerbank.

The big disadvantages:

  • Security: If you don't have good encryption, there is a risk of your data being read or stolen. When it comes to personal data, you should really take good care of it;
  • As with most mobile devices, Wi-Fi hard drives can be lost or stolen;
  • Sensitive to external factors such as liquids, heat, humidity, dust, magnetic fields, etc.;

How does a WLAN hard drive work?

A WLAN hard drive works like a standard hard drive except for the way it connects because it uses a wireless local area network instead of a cable. This is how you connect your devices to a Wi-Fi hard drive:

  • through their own network (like a router);
  • by connecting the WLAN hard disk to your router;
  • with cables;

Once connected, you can store, download or view data, share content with other users and stream videos or movies. There is a wide variety of Wi-Fi hard drives. Some models also have a slot for SD memory and others can even be connected to a media player (Playstation, Xbox) or camera. How exactly to connect a WLAN hard drive to the various devices (PC, smartphone, tablet, TV) and operating systems (Windows, MacOS, Android) I will discuss in the "Trivia" section.

What does a WLAN hard drive cost?

There is a wide price range between the different WLAN hard drives, and the price really depends on many factors:

  • Capacity;
  • SSD or HDD;
  • Battery life;
  • Data transfer rate;

Other special features such as an SD card reader, possible parallel wireless connections and use as a power bank also play a role.

Wlan Festplatte-1

The best models allow simultaneous wireless connection with 8 devices. This allows you to share the hard drive with your family or flatmates as well as with friends on the road.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Csaba Nagy)

That's why, before buying, you should know exactly what I need it for and how much I can spend. I have therefore split the price range like this:

price range price in €
low € 100 - 150
medium € 150 - 300
high € 300-700

Be careful with the first price range, because the associated products often have limited performance. On the contrary, in most cases, SSD hard drives with more than 1-2 terabytes are placed in the highest price range.

Decision: Which types of WLAN hard disk are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can decide between two types of WLAN hard drives:

  • HDD WLAN hard disk
  • SSD WLAN hard disk

Although many people overlook this point, the difference between the two types of WLAN hard drives mentioned above is important because they contain two different technologies. Each of them comes with their own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on what you need the Wi-Fi HDD for, an HDD or SSD is better suited for you. In the next sections, I will go into more detail on this topic so that you can make a better decision later.

What are the characteristics of an HDD WLAN hard drive and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive and has been on the market for more than 50 years. This technology is based on one or more magnetic disks, an arm with a read and write head and a motor that makes the two parts run. This system communicates through firmware - its non-physical components - which transmits what the hardware - its physical components - should do.

There are different models of HDD WLAN hard drives that vary in size or storage space. The HDD models can be found with up to 8-10 terabytes of storage space. The speed of data transfer is lower than an SSD, but an HDD is much cheaper. Moreover, it still brings a secure possibility of data recovery, because with this magnetic system, the storage process is less complex. Finally, this type of WLAN HDD is noisier because of the reading and writing movement of the magnetic disk. In the following table, I clarify the advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages
  • Cheaper
  • Higher capacity
  • Easier data recovery
Disadvantages
  • Slower
  • Louder
  • Higher power consumption

This type of WLAN hard disk is more suitable for those who are mainly interested in data storage rather than dynamic and frequent data usage.

What are the characteristics of an SSD WLAN hard disk and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

SSD stands for Solid State Disk . This technology is based on an immovable block that contains a chip (flash memory) instead of magnetic parts. SSD WLAN hard drives are actually not that different in function from a USB memory stick.

SSDs, even if they are not top-of-the-line models, are up to three times faster than HDDs

Since speed is one of the relevant and most sought after factors, the price is consistently higher than an HDD technology.

They can be found with a maximum capacity of four terabytes, but in return they need less energy and are not as sensitive as an HDD because they have no moving parts inside. This also means that they do not get hot and do not make any noise. The following table shows the most important advantages and disadvantages at a glance:

Advantages
  • Faster
  • Lower power consumption
  • Better impact resistance
Disadvantages
  • More expensive
  • Less capacity
  • Harder data recovery

Because of these factors, an SSD WLAN hard disk is suitable for those who work with it or expect daily use from it. This technology is a good fit if you always want faster access to your files and have a higher budget.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate WLAN hard drives based on these factors

Capacity

As mentioned above, there is a wide range of WLAN hard drives when it comes to capacity. You can choose from 500 gigabytes to more than 10 terabytes. While WLAN hard drives under 500 gigabytes are actually hard to find, the standard model comes with a capacity of 1 to 2 tera.

Wlan Festplatte-2

The magnetic disk and arm with read and write heads inside an HDD. This is where your data is written and stored. Caution: A fall can cause damage.
(pixabay.com / Gray_Rhee)

These models can be found for less than 120 € (especially HDD technology) from most manufacturers such as Intenso, Seagate, Toshiba or Western Digital. The SanDisk brand places itself on a more expensive price range, probably because it works a lot on design. By the way, most manufacturers offer one model, but with several choices of storage space.

Supported operating systems

Although most Wi-Fi hard drives support all operating systems, this purchase criterion should still be considered so that you don't buy a device that is incompatible with your operating system. This may be less than 10% of the time, but there are, for example, models that are only compatible with Apple devices or only support Windows and Android. Also, the connection to the Wi-Fi hard drive changes depending on the operating system of your device. Iphones and Ipads, for example, need to download corresponding apps. We'll look at this in more depth in the "Trivia" section.

Battery and charging method

A special feature of our product is the built-in lithium-ion battery. Depending on the model, the battery can last from 4 to 8 hours in active use, and 20 hours in standby mode. This is a great advantage for those who want to buy Wi-Fi hard drives for travelling. Some can also serve as a power bank so you can charge your devices on the go. Beware of HDD or SSD models: For the same battery life, an SSD will work longer than an HDD because SSDs have no moving components and are more energy efficient.

Wlan Festplatte-3

The WLAN hard drive is small, portable and has its own battery. It can still be connected at any time with the USB cable (often USB 3.0 version), both for charging and for data transfer.
(pixabay.com / Hans Braxmeier)

This battery also needs to be charged at some point. For this purpose, all have a USB port (usually the fastest version 3.0) and some also offer their own power supply. The charging time is between 6 and 12 hours, depending on the model.

Data transfer rate

The WLAN hard drive is not faster than the cable connection because of the network connection. While a WLAN connection can at best reach 3000 megabytes per second (in a few cases, actually), a cable connection USB 3.0 can reach up to 5000.

Nevertheless, some WLAN hard drives enable 4K streaming without any problems

It is clear that if the amount of data is large, it makes more sense to use the cable, although their Wi-Fi connection should not be assigned as slow. Otherwise, the WLAN hard drive doesn't have any major problems with speed. It is important that you always keep in mind the difference between HDD and SSD, because the two different technologies make SSDs faster than HDDs (see Decision paragraph).

Portability

As far as physical characteristics are concerned, the most popular models have roughly the following figures:

  • Weight: 130 to 200 grams
  • Inch: 2.5
  • Dimensions: approx. 13 x 8 x 1.3 cm

Based on these three points, we can say that WLAN hard drives have very good portability. Most are actually designed for mobile devices.Some are different, of course, such as Western Digital's My Cloud Home model, which is significantly heavier (almost 1 kg) and larger than a standard model.

Facts worth knowing about WLAN hard drives

How do you connect a WLAN hard drive to a mobile phone or tablet?

It is not much work to connect a WLAN hard drive to a mobile phone or tablet. The procedure is the same for both smartphone and tablet:

  1. Switch on your WLAN hard drive and activate Wi-Fi (usually by pressing an external button);
  2. Download and launch the required app provided by each manufacturer;
  3. Follow the short instructions of the free app;
  4. Connect your mobile phone or tablet to the Wi-Fi of the hard drive.

This operation takes less than five minutes, after which you can control the functions offered by the WLAN hard drive through the app. Whether you want to connect Android or iOS to a Wi-Fi hard drive, it doesn't make much difference. The procedure is largely the same.

How do you connect a Wi-Fi hard drive to a computer?

To connect a computer to a Wi-Fi hard drive, be it Windows or MacOS, you usually don't need to do anything other than turn on the Wi-Fi of the hard drive and create the connection through your PC. With some models, the functions of the WLAN hard disk can be controlled in the browser. Always pay attention to the model of our product, because sometimes it is not compatible with the latest version of Windows or with MacOS.

How do I connect a WLAN hard disk to the TV?

If you have a Smart TV and have already bought a Wi-Fi hard drive, you can connect it via Wi-Fi. It usually works like this:

  1. Activate the Wi-Fi function of the hard disk and connect the devices via Wi-Fi from the settings of your Smart TV.
  2. Your TV will then automatically load the hard drive until it is installed.
  3. When the icon of the hard drive appears on the screen, you can click on it and finally view the supported files from your TV.

Image source: Rattanaburi/ 123rf.com

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