What are the differences between internal and external hard drives and how do you choose between the two?
When it comes down to buying a hard drive for your computer, how do you decide between an internal hard drive and an external hard drive? What are the key differences between the two and how do those differences affect performance, speed, and convenience? Let’s dive right in and discuss the key factors of each kind of hard drive to help you determine which option is best for you.
Internal Hard Drives vs. External Hard Drives
Internal hard drives are located inside your computer. Unlike an external hard drive, these drives are not portable and only be used by the computer they inhabit. There are two main kinds of internal hard drives: the HDD (hard disk drive) and the SSD (solid state drive). HDDs are the more traditional kind. They use rotating disks to retrieve and store information, so the faster a hard drive can spin, the quicker your computer will be. These hard drives are relatively inexpensive and can provide ample amounts of storage.
Solid state drives are lightning fast, so if speed is what you’re going for, you should definitely give them a try. Since SSDs have no moving parts, they are also more durable and less likely to become corrupted. Unfortunately, capacity is not the SSD’s strong suit and a solid state drive with a larger capacity will come with a steep price.
External hard drives are not located inside your computer like internal hard drives. Rather, they provide a means for external, portable storage by connecting to your computer via USB. External hard drives come in a variety of capacities and some even have the ability to connect to wifi and allow the storage of information from multiple computers on that network.
Internal Hard Drive Benefits
Although internal and external hard drives are similar in many ways, there are also key benefits to having one or the other. Depending on your ultimate goal, one may be more suited to your lifestyle than the other. First, let’s look at some of the benefits of internal hard drives.
- Internal hard drives can offer great storage capacity for large amounts of data.
- Internal hard drives are always connected to your computer. Therefore, regular scheduling of backups requires less effort.
- Internal hard drives are very cost efficient when compared to other forms of media storage.
- Internal hard drives can easily be replaced and upgraded to keep a computer running smoothly.
While internal hard drives have their benefits, they also have a few drawbacks. They are not portable and must remain fixed inside one computer, unlike an external hard drive. They also require installation if they are replaced or upgraded, which means the person installing the hard drive must be comfortable with the inner workings of the computer.
External Hard Drive Benefits
External hard drives have plenty of great qualities, including the following:
- External hard drives are portable. Perfect for those who travel often, external hard drives can be easily transported and are very lightweight.
- External hard drives can be connected to multiple computers. Since they are portable, you can take these drives with you and connect them to any computer — without any special formatting.
- An external hard drive does not require any special installation, so even those who are unfamiliar with internal hard drive installation can expand their computer’s hard drive storage.
- An external hard drive can increase security of data since it can be easily removed.
Which one is right for you?
When choosing between an internal hard drive and an external hard drive, the most important question to ask yourself is: “What do I need?” If you need a portable solution for data storage, go with an external hard drive. If you need massive amounts of storage, choose the internal drive. You really can’t go wrong with either one, as both provide great benefits. Just make sure that your computer is compatible with whatever drive you choose to purchase.
For more tips on data archiving or hard drives, browse our blog for a variety of How-To articles and helpful solutions.