How Fast Does an External Hard Drive Need to Be for Video Editing?

When it comes to video editing, having a reliable external hard drive is crucial. Not only does it provide extra storage space, but it also allows for faster access to large video files.

However, not all external hard drives are created equal, and the speed of your hard drive can greatly impact your editing process. In this article, we will discuss how fast an external hard drive needs to be for video editing.

Understanding Hard Drive Speeds

Before we dive into the specifics of video editing, it’s important to understand the different types of hard drive speeds. There are two main types: rotational speed (measured in revolutions per minute or RPM) and data transfer rate (measured in megabytes per second or MB/s).

Rotational speed refers to how quickly the disk inside the hard drive spins. The faster the disk spins, the faster data can be read from or written to it. A common rotational speed for consumer-grade hard drives is 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM.

Data transfer rate refers to how quickly data can be transferred between the hard drive and your computer. This is typically determined by the type of connection interface used by the hard drive (such as USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt).

Video Editing Requirements

Video editing requires a lot of processing power and storage space. When it comes to hard drive speeds, there are two main factors you need to consider: read/write speeds and sustained data transfer rates.

Read/write speeds refer to how quickly data can be read from or written to the hard drive. This is important because you need fast read/write speeds in order to smoothly playback and edit high-resolution video files.

Sustained data transfer rates refer to how much data can be transferred over a period of time without interruption. This is important because when you’re working with large video files, you need sustained high-speed transfers in order to avoid dropped frames and other performance issues.

Recommended Speeds for Video Editing

Based on the requirements for video editing, it’s recommended to use an external hard drive with a rotational speed of at least 7200 RPM and a sustained data transfer rate of at least 200 MB/s. This will provide fast read/write speeds and sustained high-speed transfers, allowing for smooth playback and editing of high-resolution video files.

However, if you’re working with even larger files or higher resolutions (such as 4K or RAW footage), you may need even faster speeds. In this case, you may want to consider using a solid-state drive (SSD) instead of a traditional hard drive. SSDs have no moving parts and can provide much faster read/write speeds and sustained transfer rates than traditional hard drives.


In conclusion, when it comes to video editing, having a fast external hard drive is crucial. For optimal performance, it’s recommended to use a hard drive with at least 7200 RPM rotational speed and a sustained data transfer rate of at least 200 MB/s.

If you’re working with even larger or higher resolution files, consider using an SSD for even faster speeds. With the right hard drive, you can ensure smooth playback and efficient editing of your video projects.