In the past, PC owners didn’t have much of an option when it came to bulk digital storage. Only hard drives could store bulk data, and they weren’t even portable.
However, with the advent of SSDs into the storage game, external hard drives had to take the back seat, but not for everyone.
A huge chunk of computer users still prefers the portability of an external hard drive over the speed of an SSD. So when you put SSD vs external hard drive, there’s no clear winner. SSDs are the new kids on the block, but sometimes old is gold.
Hard drives have been around since the 1950s, but hard drives from back then could only hold up to 5MB. Plus, they cost a staggering $10,000 per MB. That means you’d have to spend $50,000 for a 5MB hard drive.
Fast forward a few decades later, and now you can pick up a 12TB external hard drive for as little as $120. If you’re mulling over whether to get an SSD or an external hard drive, we’re here to help you make the right choice.
Keep reading and find out which is best suited for you.
What Is a Hard Disk Drive?
If you own an off-the-shelf desktop with no customization, then it probably has a hard disk drive. As mentioned earlier, hard disks have been around for quite a while. However, the hard disks we have today are a huge leap from those we had a few centuries ago.
The hard disk inside your computer is a traditional hard disk with a circular disk known as a platter. When this disc spins, it allows the read and write arm to read and write data on the disk. Some of the data on your hard disk will include files, applications, and your operating system.
The speed of the hard drive depends on how fast the platter spins. That means the speed of the platter also affects how quickly you can access data or even how fast your computer starts up.
What Is an External Hard Drive?
An external hard drive is different from a regular hard drive because it’s not found inside the computer. You can think of it as a portable hard drive enclosed in its casing.
Most external hard drives draw power from the computer, while some come with an AC adapter.
What Is an SSD?
SSD abbreviates solid-state drive, which is very confusing because a hard disk is as much of a solid as an SSD. Although SSD is the newer entry of the two, SSDs have been around a while. If you own a laptop, then there’s a high chance that it uses an SSD.
Unlike traditional hard drives, SSDs have no moving parts, hence the name solid-state drive. SSDs utilize Negative-AND or NAND flash storage to store data. If you open up your SSD, you’ll find a bunch of NAND chips inside.
The number of NAND chips an SSD has is directly proportional to its storage capacity. Technological advancements have allowed SSDs to carry more NAND chips than ever. Don’t be surprised if you encounter an SSD with as much storage capacity as a hard drive.
Since SSDs have SATA III ports, it means you can install them where you’d install your hard drive. SSDs are also much smaller than traditional hard drives, so space is something you don’t have to worry about. SSDs can do much faster speeds than the SATA III ports allow, but that shouldn’t be a huge problem.
SSD vs External Hard Drive: The Low Down
Picking between an SSD or external SSD isn’t the easiest decision. However, here’s how the two stack up against each other.
The first thing that you’ll notice when comparing SSDs and HDD is the price. SSDs are notably more expensive than HDDs. That’s why most people would take an external HDD over an SSD any day.
However, also note that some SSDs tend to be much cheaper than others. For instance, SATA II SSDs are much cheaper than SATA III but also noticeably slower. If you want large storage capacities without denting your wallet, then get an external HDD.
Of course, you can never overlook the amount of data each of the drives carries. While there are different capacities for each drive, HDDs generally have larger storage capacities than SSDs.
Commercial HDDs can store between 40 GB to 16TB. SSDs, on the other hand, have lesser storage capacities. However, thanks to modern technology, SSDs can hold ALMOST as much data as SSDs.
Also, note that you have to pay top-dollar for SSDs with larger storage capacities. If you have lots of files to store, then get an external HDD.
When it comes to speed, SSDs have the upper hand, and by quite a margin.
Remember when we mentioned that SSDs don’t have moving parts? That’s what makes them faster. The speed of HDDs depends on how fast the platter spins, making them slower than SSDs.
The speed of HDDs is measured in RPM or revolutions per minute, meaning it has mechanical limits. The speed of SSDs is dependent on their electrical connection and the technology of the drive. Speeds of both drives are measured in megabytes per second or MB/s.
SSDs with SATA III connections will get you about four times the speed of a traditional hard drive. Not to mention that you can get SSDs with connections optimized for speed like the fastest nvme m.2 SSD. However, even with a SATA III connection, the speed will be more than enough for you.
If you want speed and performance, then look no further than an SSD. Even SSDs with SATA III connections will suffice.
It All Boils Down to Your Needs
When it comes to SSD vs external hard drive, the better option boils down to your specific needs.
If you want storage, then an HDD will suit you well. If you’re looking for speed and performance, then get yourself an SSD.
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