CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive review: Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive

Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive

Joseph Kaminski Senior Associate Technology Editor / Reviews
During my almost twenty years at CNET, I handled benchmark testing/methodologies for both Mac and PC systems and, sometime after, integrated testing for micro-mobility (e-bikes, electric scooters and EUCs), which is a passion of mine. Transitioning from a BMX background to this field was seamless. Despite testing numerous products, each new one brings the same excitement as my first.
Joseph Kaminski
2 min read

Editors' note: The final rating of this review has been updated to reflect a discrepancy in calculation. None of the individual scores have changed.


Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive

The Good

Large capacity for a travel drive; very compact and light; USB 2.0 powered; ships with backup software; cool and quiet.

The Bad

No FireWire; very slow write speeds.

The Bottom Line

The Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive is an attractive, lightweight drive with a decent price point for a drive of this capacity. Its size makes it great for travel, but the write speeds aren't up to par with other drives we've seen. We can't recommend it due to its lack of performance.

The $180 320GB Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive (HDDR320E03X) is the second drive from Toshiba we've reviewed bearing the Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive name. The design has been updated in this new version, but unfortunately, the performance remains just as uninspiring as the original's. Its 320GB capacity offers plenty of room for photos, music, and videos, and its convenient size lets you stow it in a jacket pocket. However, unless you really like its design, we can't recommend this drive because you can find faster models with similar capacities for less.

The small, sleek, lightweight device is not much larger or heavier than an iPod Touch at 0.65 inch high, 3.2 inches wide, 5 inches deep, and weighing just under half a pound. All of the accessories you need come in the packaging, including a USB cable, backup software, warranty information, and a quick install guide. The only thing we wish it had is a FireWire port. Color options include Gecko Green, Hot Rod Red, and Carbon Grey, and Toshiba also offers 160GB and 250GB models, in addition to the 320GB version.

Drive type External hard drive
Connector options USB 2.0
Available capacities 120GB, 250GB, 320GB
Capacity of test unit 320GB
Drive size 2.5-inch
Drive speed 5,400rpm
Cache 8MB
Dimensions (HWD) 0.65x3.2x5 inches
OS's supported Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later
Software included NTI Shadow Backup Software

As is common with other portable hard drives, this model has an internal shock sensor to help protect your data from low impact drops. Toshiba doesn't specify a height from which the drive could be dropped, so we dropped it from 4 feet onto a hard surface, plugged the drive back in and it worked fine. NTI Shadow backup software also comes preloaded on the drive. Once installed you can schedule automatic backups that run in the background on systems using Windows 2000, XP, or, Vista and on Macs with OS X 10.3.9 or later.

At its list price of $80 for the 320GB HDDR320E03X model, Toshiba ends up charging you about $0.56 per GB. That's actually a tie for first with the SimpleTech Signature Mini and the "="">Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini. You can find all of those drives for less than their listed prices, so in real world terms the cost per gigabyte is actually even a bit better than that.

Performance tests (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Portable External Hard Drive (USB 2.0)
Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini

On the CNET Labs' test bench, the Toshiba had very good read speeds, but horrendous write speeds, as you can see from our test results. Compared with the well-balanced SimpleTech drive, which offers the same amount of storage for the dollar, that performance gap makes it impossible to recommend the Toshiba.

The Toshiba USB External hard drive comes with a limited three-year warranty available within the United States, United States Territories, and Puerto Rico. Toshiba has a technical support line for storage available weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time). You can also find FAQs and other help on Toshiba's Web site.


Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 7Performance 4Support 7