Portable hard drive to store WAV files?

Hi all,
I am mainly a vinyl buyer and listener but have started to amass quite a few WAV and MP3 downloads from Bandcamp and the download cards that often come with LP’s these days.
I always download wherever possible WAV for best sound to my Windows 10 laptop then burn to CD.
I’m starting to use quite a lot of memory and have seen relatively inexpensive 2tb or higher hard drives for about £50 - £70.
Are they any good, recommendations please?
Before anyone chips in, I’m aware I could invest in something like a Core but at the moment the digital downloads, with a few exceptions, are just incidental to my LP purchases.

Thanks in anticipation


I assume you mean a hard drive for the laptop?

Do you intend to use a computer to play these files, and how do you connect this to your HiFi? Direct into a preamp or DAC, or over a network?

I back up my music files to a La Cie 2 tb portable hard drive, its a fancier looking one than Seagate…but they are the same make. So a Seagate one off the “river” would be fine.

1 Like

I’m just looking for back up storage for now. Like I said I burn the files to CD and play them on a CD player.

In that case, pretty much anything will do the job. I use a WD MyPassport portable USB drive which works fine, and is cheap.

1 Like

How many full fat WAV albums am I likely to be able to store on say a 2tb drive?
Also, what about backing them up should the drive conk out?

Not a primary consideration at the moment, but if and when I end up with a large enough collection to make it worthwhile, it would probably be useful to be able to play the files via a laptop or tablet and DAC or transfer them to something like a Bluesound Vault or Naim Core. So, an inexpensive hard drive that would be compatible with those eventual possibilities might be worth thinking about.


A full CD album of audio would be 650-700MB, so if downloading CD quality WAV you’d be able to store I suspect around 3,000 album downloads. Artwork and/or PDF booklets might add a few MB to each if they are available.

Long ago I used extra/internal and external full size drives, but for many years now I’ve tended to go for USB 2.0/3.0 portable bus powered drives - I have mostly WD ones (a few dozen probably) and a few Seagates of varying sizes.

For a few years I think the 4TB portable drives have given best bang for the buck - very acceptable capacity, speed and price/GB.

For under a £100 pounds online or say at Currys/PCWorld my favourites are usually the WD 4TB Elements portable bus powered drives - I have several of these as well as the Passport drives, but in all honesty I think the cheaper element drives are just as good.

Some small drives will have an encryption feature which has pros and cons - the Elements don’t normally - you are unlikely to want to encrypt audio files themselves, especially if you might hook up to a streamer in the future which will not be able to enter a password to access a drive.

The main issue with hardware encryption is that if the interface doing this fails you may not be able to salvage a good drive by sticking it in a standard USB enclosure, though I believe many 2.5" drives these days do not have a standard SATA interface anyway and may be more directly coupled to the enclosure circuitry.

Don’t think you can really go wrong with the majority of portable USB drives out there, though any of them could fail so make sure you have more than one drive with copies unless you can redownload.

Does anyone have any tips to how have such files available to both Mac and PC?

WAV is compatible with Windows and Mac I believe. Plug it in to whatever device suits.

1 Like

For drives of up to 4TB if they’re formatted as FAT32 they should be read/writable by both Macs and PCs - the only issue may be formatting devices larger than I think 32GB on Windows using standard tools but there will be workarounds.

ExFat should also be read/writable for both platforms (at least recent OS versions) and will work for >4TB drives too.

Realistically I think FAT32 should be fine for audio on <=4TB drives as the file size limit is unlikely to be an issue with audio files, unlike say video files of movies above 4GB.

This might help:


Macs should be able to read but not write NTFS - there are commercial and open source kernel extensions which should allow Macs to write NTFS. Some of the commercial utilities are bundled (or used to be) with certain drives but I believe the utilities were tweaked to only work with that brand’s hard drives.

1 Like

…and of course Apple may become more limiting in the future now they’re going for APFS with newer computers:

1 Like

Thanks @Guinnless the thumb drive I tried today was rejected by the PC, or rather it wanted to format it.

Thanks @Alley_Cat that’s really helpful


You need to use a filesystem format compatible with both OSs. As mentioned by others FAT32 or exFAT should do it.

1 Like

The file format question is interesting - both platforms will be able to handle almost all formats if 3rd party converters/extensions are used.

WAV should be fine on both.

Does windows support ALAC? Possibly if iTunes installed?

Around 3000 albums wow! I won’t be filling a 2tb to max capacity anytime soon I doubt so that’s good to know.
What’s the difference between a bus drive and passport drives that you mention?
It’s just occurred to me that I also have a lot of photos that could do with backing up. If I was to put these on the same drive as my WAV’s would this present any problems down the road if I was to connect to a DAC or Streamer to play the WAV files?

You can put your photos in a different folder on the same NAS without a problem.


Remember that you should never completely fill any hard drive, or you will have problems. Always leave come free space. For what it’s worth, Naim quote a capacity of approx. 2400 CDs for a 2TB Unitiserve.

1 Like