Toshiba Canvio Advance Portable Hard Drive 4TB full review

Need an affordable hard drive with a high capacity that you can carry around with you or use for off-site backups, and you’ll be looking for a HDD (Hard Disk Drive), a proven storage medium that’s been around for years.

HDDs today come in capacities unthinkable only a few years ago. For a little over £100/$100 you can pick up a portable hard drive that can carry 5TB.

If you want a speedy portable hard drive you need an SSD (Solid State Drive), which act like giant USB drives with their non-volatile electronic storage.

SSDs are fast, but they are not cheap, and don’t come in these mega highest capacities. For our favourites check out the best portable hard drives and SSDs.

For true portability look for a 2.5in HDD, which are bus-powered, meaning that they draw power from the computer and don’t require an external power supply.

Toshiba’s Canvio hard-drive family come in a range of models, from Basics to Advance.

Each model is distinguished by capacity, backup and security software, finish (matte or glossy) and a range of colours.

Capacities range from 500GB to 4TB.

We tested the Canvio Advance range, which is available in four colour options - black, white, blue or red - with a glossy finish, and in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB capacities.

Like the top-end Canvio Premium model, Advance offers free downloadable Toshiba Storage Backup Software (auto-copy) and Storage Security Software for password protection.

You can buy a minimalist model with just a cable sitting alongside the HDD in its box: the Canvio Basics costs around £50 / $60 for 2TB in matte black design.

 Toshiba Canvio Advance HDD

Toshiba Canvio Advance HDD price

Amazon has the 4TB Canvio Advance for around £85 / $95, which is a little cheaper than the WD My Passport.

The 2TB Toshiba model should, of course, be cheaper - but is not much less in the UK, where at the time of writing Amazon has it for around the same price as the 4TB.

Seeing as 4TB, well, twice as capacious as 2TB, we’d recommend the bigger drive.

In the US, Amazon sells the 2TB model for under $65.

 Toshiba Canvio Advance Speed Tests

Toshiba Canvio Advance HDD speed tests

In our speed tests – using CrystalDiskMark - the 2TB Canvio Advance scored reasonably for an HDD – with a Read speed of 149.6MB/s and a Write speed of 156.3MB/s when transferring large files.

The 4TB Canvio Advance scored a little slower, but not of any significance – 137.9MB/s Read and 153.8MB/s Write.

That’s pretty puny compared to an SSD, but many of us need a reliable backup chugging away in the background rather than the fastest transfer speeds. A little patience saves you a fistful of cash.

And the Canvio Advance is faster than the respected WD My Passport portable hard drive, which scored just 120.5MB/s in our Read tests.

It's a decent performer for copying photos and videos for backups, and even the write speeds for small files is quite nippy - if you remember that transferring lots of smaller files will reduce speeds.

 Toshiba Canvio Advance Micro-B USB

Format and connection

The Canvio HDDs come pre-formatted with an NTFS file system, which is great for Windows PCs – although Macs will require reformatting to HFS+ with the Mac’s Disk Utility.

It connects to your computer via the included micro-B USB to USB-A cable. If your laptop features a faster USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 port, you’ll need to buy a micro-B USB to USB-C cable. USB-C users might consider the Canvio Premium HDD, which comes with a Type-A to Type-C adapter.

(The Premium models come in an aluminium-finish design with diamond-cut edges and in silver or dark grey metallic.)

The Advance comes with a two-year warranty.

Portable design

The Canvio Advance is slim and lightweight: 149g for the 1TB and 2TB models, 210g for the 3TB and 4TB.

The 4TB Advance uses 1TB platter technology so maintains the same low-profile design (109mm-×-78mm-×-19mm) as the 3TB model.

The 1TB and 2TB models measure 8mm-x-109mm-x-14mm.

The glossy finish is nice. If you want one with a more metallic finisg, you need to stump up the few extra quid for the even slimmer Premium model, although that doesn’t come in such fancy colours as the Advance.

There are no little rubber feet to minimise drive noise, but we found it pretty quiet whirring away even without them.

Verdict

The slim, lightweight 4TB Toshiba Canvio Advance offers a large capacity at a price well under what you’d pay for an SSD. Yes, it’s slower but if you need a reliable backup drive this is an affordable option that is also faster than some of its competitors – scoring around 150MB/s in Read and Write tests.

Specs

Toshiba Canvio Advance Portable Hard Drive 4TB: Specs

  • 4TB model: USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible)