Internal versus External PC Storage - dummies

Internal versus External PC Storage

By Mark L. Chambers

You should use an internal hard drive whenever you don’t need to share the drive among multiple computers, or take your drive with you while traveling; your PC has an additional open drive bay, or you’re willing to upgrade the existing drive; or you want to save money.

The figure shows the curvaceous rear end of a typical modern hard drive. (Well, at least it looks curvaceous to techno-nerds.)


External drives are neat toys, and they’re perfect for backups and media storage (like your photo and MP3 music collections). However, they cost significantly more than their internal counterparts, and you lose some of your precious desk space accommodating them.

Most external drives also have their own power cords, so you have to pull another AC wall socket out of your magician’s hat. If you really do need an external drive and you want to save yourself the hassle, consider a drive that’s powered over a Universal Serial Bus (USB) or FireWire connection, which means no additional power cable worries.

If someone tries to give you a USB 1.x hard drive — or, heaven forbid, you’re thinking of buying a used USB 1.x hard drive — do not to do it! The first generation of USB drives was ridiculously slow. In other words, your kids are likely to graduate from college before you finish transferring a single gigabyte’s worth of data from that drive to your PC.

Keep a safe distance from that tired drive and call your local antique hardware shelter.