Quiet External HDD Recommendations?

Hello, Mac Power Users! Does anyone have any recommendations for a quiet external hard drive that I could use as a Time Machine backup? I have a very old Toshiba drive that I don’t trust any more, and I bought a Toshiba Canvio Flex to replace it. Well, whenever it spins up, it sounds like we have a cricket on our desk. Over and above the sound of the spinning, there’s a “click” or “chirp” that is really annoying.

(I know spinning platters are not going to be silent. But I have pretty lousy hearing, and it was driving me bananas, and my wife, who was never bothered by the old time machine drive, immediately said, “That’s going to bother me.”)

I’d like to avoid spending the money on an SSD for a Time Machine. Anyone have anything they’re using that is quiet? I’m backing up a 1TB drive, so I’m looking for 2TB capacity.

Any ideas? Thanks!


A Seagate portable should be performant and quiet if you’re not doing SSD.

I obviously haven’t heard the noise, but I’m worried your drive is damaged. I don’t own a Canvio Flex, but that’s not normal noise for Toshiba, in my experience. Return it if you can.

I have 100 valid and extremely informative answers for you. If you tell me your price range, I will filter them down for you. :slight_smile:

i.e. I am a “professional”, even when talking about “home use”, so I pay more because I know I get what I pay for.


Thanks! Definitely going to return it, and not depending on it for a viable backup.


This cracked me up. I paid around $70 for the Canvio Flex. For 2TB on a spinning disk, I don’t think I want to go over $100.

Any suggestions would be great. Thanks!


Context: I hear everything, and everything is super annoying.

I have a Western Digital My Book mounted under my desk in a wire rack, and never hear it. Mine is 8T, but they go down to 3T for $125.

I also have several of these older model Passport drives. The newer model 4T drive is $110, but I can’t attest to its quietness, as I have the older one.

Or up to 36 TB(!!) for $2600. Which is off topic, but amazing that’s something I could buy without a massive rack for it to go in.

Yes, pretty amazing.
That’s way overpriced for the used 36G, as the new 28G is $1334, and the largest single drive one is 18G at $525.
My first HD was 48MB, and with all the adapters, case, etc. I needed to build it the total came to $750.

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It may not be practical for you, but there’s a couple of ways to just attach a drive in another room. Before I got a Synology NAS, I had a spinning 6TB HDD attached to the USB port of my router in an entirely different room, which made the noise a moot point. Before that, I ran a super long USB cable to the adjacent room to get rid of the noise (that was a long time ago-lol-it was very much a hack, but if silence is golden, then it is a way to get it). Now that I think about it, it’s been a long road to get to where I am. Thankfully, I think the NAS is endgame. I just never think about the thing, and it works brilliantly, for whatever that may be worth.

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I’ve thought about the NAS route, but I’m not sure about the complexity it would add. I’m willing to go with “simple, but pretty quiet” more than “complex, but silent.”



Fair enough. You’re absolutely rght–you can get into some pretty deep weeds with a NAS. However FWIW, if all you want is fast, redundant and expandable storage, it’s really simple. You pretty much just point your computer at the NAS and it shows up as a drive like any other. The biggest barrier is the initial expense.

Edited to add: Although, i see that even that’s not too onerous if storage needs are simple. You can get a NAS and two 4tb drives for sub $400. Not bad at all.

After loving Seagate for many years, I have switched over to Western Digital. I had three Seagate drives die in 1.5 years from the dreaded stuck head issue. I think their QA has slipped in recent times and WD seems to have polished their reputation regarding externals.
Again, just my experience. :slight_smile:


Just to follow up… Thank you everyone for the pointers. I ended up getting a WD My Passport Ultra and it is currently running the initial (encrypted) Time Machine backup of almost 800GB of data.

It is practically silent. Bliss!

It looks like the first backup will take about 8 hours total. I have no idea if that’s “good” in terms of speed, but it works for me, since it’s pretty rare that I’ll be Time Machining that amount of data.

Thanks again!



Double update - the backup is going much faster, probably copying about 800GB in closer to 5 hours than 8.

But then I realized it will have to encrypt. And that initial step takes forever, if I recall. Ah well. It’ll churn away, but it’ll do so quietly, which is what I cared about at the start of this!

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For an encrypted TM backup, I think it encrypts as it goes, that way your data are never written unencrypted.

It’s encrypting now; I’m pretty sure that after the initial backup it encrypts as it goes. But the menu bar is telling me it’s 19% encrypted, so if I let it run overnight it should be done well before lunchtime tomorrow.

And it remains nearly silent; much quieter than both the drive I am retiring and the initial replacement I bought that was way too loud.

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Hm. Today I learned. Thanks.