Review – Toshiba Canvio External Hard Drive

external drive

If you want something good, it won’t be cheap. If you want something cheap, it won’t be good. But does that old saying still apply to technology?

We live in a world where technology improves in quality and price seemingly by the day. Some of today’s most ubiquitous consumer technologies began life forty, fifty, and even sixty years ago. External hard drives are one of those technologies.

The foundations of external hard drives began in the fifties. Today, you can buy a terabyte of space for around $$.

Toshiba offers some of these inexpensive hard drives. Its like of HDDs, the Canvio series, is a serious competitor among a now saturated market. Is the Toshiba Canvio external hard drive worth the money, or can you do better for the same price? Keep reading to learn more about the Canvio Basics and Advance and see if it’s the right choice for your computing needs.

Overview: Toshiba Canvio External Hard Drive

[amazon box=”B00N2S6ZUQ”]

The Toshiba Canvio external hard drive series comes in several popular models including the Canvio Basics and the recently introduced Canvio Advanced.

Both models fall under the category of spinning platter hard drives. These hard drives are now both cheap and ubiquitous because the technology is 60 years old. Spinning platter hard drives, or hard disk drives (HDD), began life at IBM in 1956. Today’s manufacturers, including Toshiba, don’t deviate much from the typical model.

The benefit of HDDs like the Toshiba Canvio is the ability to store huge amounts of data for very little money. These drives contributed to the growth of 1 TB hard drive laptops.

What do Toshiba’s Canvio models offer users? Let’s take a closer look.

Toshiba Canvio Basics

image source: Pixabay

The Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable External Hard Drive takes SSD storage back to basics. Everything about it attempts to regain the simplicity of the earliest devices but with a greater sense of durability and compatibility.

The basic specs include the following:

  • Capacities: 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB
  • Transfer Rate: up to 5 Gb/s3
  • Size: 1 TB and 2 TB 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.55 (inches)
  • Size: 4 TB 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.77 (inches)
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • System requirements: Formatted for Windows 10, 8.1, and 7
  • Requires formatting for Mac OS v10.12/OS X v10.11/ OS X v.10.10

In essence, the Canvio Basics functions best out of the bost for Windows users. It doesn’t require formatting or software. All you need to do is plug it in, and you’re ready. To move files between the two devices, drag the files from one folder and drop them into the hard drive and vice versa.

Toshiba says its Canvio Basics is happy to travel with you. The newest version includes a sleek design with a more compact body than its predecessors. It fits in a bag or even in your pocket, and the matte finish protects wear-and-tear from showing up.

What do you get in the box? Toshiba packs light. All you get is your new hard drive, a USB 3.0 cable, and a quick start guide.

Although the built-in port is USB 3.0, it also works with USB 2.0.

Toshiba Canvio Advance

image source: PIxabay

The Toshiba Canvio Advance offers several improvements on the Canvio Basics. Like the Canvio Basics, it offers up to 4 TB of storage in a single, small drive.

Specs for the advance include:

  • Capacities: 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB
  • Transfer Rate: up to 5 Gb/s2
  • Size: 1 TB and 2 TB 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.55 (inches)
  • Size: 4 TB 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.77 (inches)
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • System requirements: Formatted for Windows 10, 8.1, and 7
  • Requires formatting for Mac OS v10.12/OS X v10.11/ OS X v.10.10

The differences between the two drives are few in number. The largest difference is the added software.

Toshiba offers Toshiba Storage Backup Software for PC in the Canvio Advance package. It intuitively backs up all your data so that you never get caught unaware or unprotected. You can even use the software to schedule time and intervals, and it will take care of the rest for you.

You also receive Toshiba Storage Security Software with your purchase. It allows you to add a password to your hard drive for extra levels of security.

What else is different?

Toshiba updated the Basics’ matte, plastic design to something a little bit flashier. You get new colors and a glossy finish. It doesn’t look as high tech as the top-end products, but choosing from black, white, blue, and red offers a little something extra.

Still, if you were looking for something premium, you wouldn’t get more than you do with the Advance. High-end products in the price range come with extra cables, aluminum outers, and potentially smaller bodies, but they also come at a premium price range.


Although we covered compatibility briefly in the overview of the basic specs, the point is worth reiterating because it limits the market.

You’ll need to reformat both of the drives to be compatible with OS X. For someone who is unsure what that means, then it might be better to steer clear and instead choose a drive that comes compatible with Mac out of the box.

If you’re comfortable, all you need to do is use OS X’s Disk Utility to get the job done.

Want something ready for Mac as a gift or just to save a step? Toshiba’s Premium models are pre-formatted for OS X.

You can also use the hard drive with game consoles. We know users tested the Advance with both the PS4 and the Xbox One. You don’t need to do anything to use it with any Windows operating system, including Xbox. The system takes care of the process for you.

To use the Advance drive with a PS4, you’ll need to reformat. Thankfully, the PS4 recognizes the system, so that part of the job isn’t your responsibility. Instead, you’ll need to format to exFAT or FAT32 formats for use with Sony systems.


The Toshiba Canvio series is not the hard drive to choose if you need it for professional purposes or to transfer large files. Even a low-brow SSD will beat it any day.

However, we won’t say performance is terrible. It is a 5400 rpm spinning platter hard drive. It writes at a speed of 122 MB/s. Moving 10 GB takes under two minutes, likely around one minute and thirty seconds.

Still, if you try to use it in an enterprise scenario or while working as a photographer or videographer, you’ll run into trouble. HDDs like the Toshiba Canvio series struggle to capture lots of small files, and speeds could drop to 85 MB/s.

HDDs are slow, but USB 3.0 improved matters. If your laptop or device has USB 2.0 ports, then you can expect speed to drop even more.


The Canvio Basics includes a 1-year standard limited warranty. The Advance features a 2-year limited warranty.

What Makes The Toshiba Canvio Unique?

image source: PIxabay

The Toshiba Canvio does not offer any unique features that place it above other budget HDDs in its category.

The use of USB 3.0 is a point worth considering, but to take advantage of it, you also need USB 3.0 on the connecting device


Toshiba Canvio Basics are the budget HDD option. You can buy a 500 GB drive for around $ and purchased the 3 TB size for just over $$.

The Toshiba Canvio Advance Series comes in at a listed price of $$ for 1 TB storage. You can purchase 4 TB for $$$.

These prices reflect the price of HDDs. If you buy an SDD with the same storage space, you could expect to spend four to five times as much. However, you would also get increased performance in exchange.

What The Pros Think

The professional reviews of HDDs tend to read the same way. They primarily look for HDDs to match standard industry performance specs.

Reviews of the Toshiba Canvio series are positive across the board. Industry professionals know that the hard drive does precisely what Toshiba claims it does without offering any more or any less.

Professional reviews did note issues with performance. While the drive largely meets the standards for 5400 rpm, some found the speeds to be wildly inconsistent. It led wider concerns about the drive’s performance.

For example, one reviewer found the 2 TB Toshiba Canvio Advance offered amazing Blu-ray transfer scores. At the same time, it was at the bottom of the pile in Time Machine.

What Consumers Say

Consumers consider it to be a reliable hard drive over anything else. People who have realistic expectations of the tasks they can accomplish with it tend to be happiest with it.

One interesting point made by some reviewers criticizes the software. Toshiba’s website touts the Canvio Advance as sitting a step above the Basics because it comes with free software. Those who use the backup software say it leaves much to be desired. Some said that they did not realize they received the software with it, and after using the software, they would not buy the drive based on that selling point.

There are a significant number of reviews reporting how the drive crashed and burned and the subsequent disappointment. However, given the number of reviews of the drive, these comments are inevitable. Negative events do not dominate customer opinions. Additionally, like all drives, it is unclear whether the failure was the result of user error, system faults, or another issue.

Regardless, a portable hard drive failure rate of 10 percent is the threshold for a reliable device, and the Toshiba Canvio Advance meets the threshold.

How It Compares

The most commonly compared devices with the Toshiba Canvio series are the almighty Seagate drives.

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim is a major competitor for Toshiba’s Canvio Advance.

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim comes in at a similar price point, but it offers a greater reputation of reliability. Its failure rate is well below that of the 10 percent threshold for failure among hard drive. Because these drives tend to find their place in home computer use for photographs and documents, reliability is essential because there’s often no cloud alternative.

Toshiba sells a simple HDD with no bells or whistles. Seagate does the same thing, but it made an earnest attempt at creating a backup application. The app is available for Android and iOS and allows you to back up your phones and devices to a drive.

You can backup your devices via a Wi-Fi connection or through the Dashboard software on your computer.

The Bottom Line

Before you go out and buy a Toshiba Canvio HHD, there are a few things you need to think about:

  • Does your device have USB 3.0?
  • Do you have a USB-C cable?
  • Do you have a Mac?
  • Do you need a pre-formatted drive for your Mac?
open hard drive

Image via Pixabay

Some of these questions are simple to handle. Not using USB 3.0 isn’t a total loss, but you need to expect slower speeds.

You’ll need a USB-C cable if you don’t already have one. These are increasingly easier to come by, so buying one is not a problem. But it will add another cable to your collection, and you can’t use your drive without it.

If you are a Mac user with a low tolerance for tech tasks, you’ll either want to find a new HDD that comes pre-formatted for Mac users or upgrade to the premium Toshiba models to buy one right off the bat.

Overall, the Toshiba Canvio Basics and Advance offer value for money. They work as intended and reach standard speeds. If you need a drive to back up your laptop to transfer files from your desktop, then the Toshiba HDDs will take care of your issues with no problem.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This