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USB Flash Drive Vs External Hard Drive: Which one is Best

by Scott Staffin
External Hard Drive vs Flash Drive

USB Flash Drive Vs External Hard Drive Review: Until recently, the standard of portable storage was USB pen drives, because their small size allowed transport to any site without relying on external power for them. But times have changed and the external SSD has opened a significant gap in that market. One that the pen drive cannot fill even if it wants to.

Photos, videos, music, programs, games … the internal hard drives of computers, consoles, and tablets are soon filled with information and it soon becomes clear that an additional storage unit is needed. It is a market that, like everything related to technology, is constantly advancing. During the last decades, computers have had magnetic hard drives or HDD (Hard Disk Drive), but a few years ago the SSD (Solid-State Drive) appeared, which meant a radical change in reading and write speed.

If you are looking for a portable and small electronic storage device, USB flash drives and SSDs are two possible options. Compared to HDDs, USB and SSDs have lower storage capacity. However, they are more durable solutions, since unlike HDDs, they can be transferred. Despite a few similarities, USB flash drives and SSDs have some differences.

USB Flash Drive Vs External Hard Drive: Back to Basics

A regular desktop computer uses an which has a magnetic disc which rotates at a speed of multiple thousands rotation per minute. It has an arm that writes and erases the information of the disc in bits. This happens on a desktop or a laptop. However, an external hard disk drive is a portable device that allows you to store your data in a secure place.

The biggest advantage of using an external hard drive is that you don’t have to carry your entire computer or laptop to carry the data. The external HDD works with both PC and Mac. It functions similarly to the internal hard drive. The external hard drive also has the same design and built, but it has an extra layer of protection using an own protective casing which a traditional drive doesn’t have.

What is flash storage?

The flash storage is a data storage technology based on a high – speed memory that is programmed electrically. The speed of flash storage is what gave it the name: write data and perform random I / O operations at flash speed.

Flash storage uses a type of non-volatile memory called “flash memory.” Non-volatile memory does not require power to maintain the integrity of the stored data, so if the supply is interrupted, nothing is lost. In other words, nonvolatile memory does not “forget” the data it has stored when the disk is disconnected.

Flash storage uses memory cells to store data. Cells that have previously written data must be deleted before new data can be written to them. Flash storage also comes in several forms: from USB devices to enterprise all-flash booths.

Define what use you will give to the external hard drive

Before you begin to assess the characteristics and specifications of external hard drives, the first thing you have to be clear about is what use you are going to give to the unit. Do you want to transport data? Save backups? Store and play multimedia files? Are you going to use it at home and in the office, or do you want it to work anywhere? Do you need a large capacity or do you use a more restrained space?

All these considerations are important since depending on your answers you can decide what type of external hard drive will be best for you. Therefore, it is best to take a few minutes to define what you are going to use the external hard drive for and, once Have it clear, go to the next point.

What dimensions to choose?

Now that you are clear about the use that you are going to give to your external hard drive, one of the first considerations when choosing your external storage unit is the physical size.

If your goal is to use the device mainly to transport data from one place to another, the ideal is to choose compact dimensions and a measured weight, while if you are going to use it at home or in the office and you do not plan to take it with you, Nothing happens to make you a bigger and heavier model.

Features, specifications and hard drive performance

After choosing what type of external hard drive to buy, the next things you need to consider is the specifications and performance of the drive. These are the features that you have to look at:

  • Storage capacity. The consumer-oriented hard drives that you can buy in stores offer you a capacity between 500 GB and 12 TB. Choose the space that best suits your needs, and if you are undecided, keep in mind that it is always better for you to have space left over.Transfer rate.
  • The data transfer speed is closely linked to the type of connection used by the unit (USB 2, USB 3, eSATA). In addition, in the case of mechanical hard drives, the speed of rotation of the disks also influences.
  • Price – There is no denying that price should also be included into your account as well. You must hope that the medium you will buy is cost-effective and affordable. To be honest, as USB flash drive usually comes with small data storage, it is cheaper than the hard drive which provides large storage. But you know, like solid state drive, a USB flash drive with large data storage can be expensive too.
  • Durability – It’s sure that you must be reluctant to suffering the case that the new drive which you bought just now suddenly fails due to an accident drop. Hence, you should consider drive durability. As we all know, the traditional hard drive consists of moving parts that are very vulnerable, whereas the USB flash drive doesn’t have. Thus, in light of durability, USB flash drive wins definitely.
  • Lifespan – Apart from durability, lifespan is another similar factor. Although USB flash drive is more durable, the external hard drive has a much longer lifespan if you take it carefully in that the hard drive is well and sophisticatedly designed. Therefore, if you mean to store your data for long term and don’t need to use it frequently, the external hard drive is more suitable.
  • Portability – When it comes to portability, it is inevitable that this involves the drive size. As we can see, the USB flash drive is much tinier than the common hard drive. Thus, unquestionably, if you would like to access your data at any time, USB flash drive is better for you in that it is portable.
  • Read/Write Speed – Perhaps you also attach great importance to the read/write speed of the drive. In this aspect, the answers depend. In general, the concrete read/write speeds vary with controller and manufacturer. However, as normal, hard drive is much faster in bulk data transfer. Whereas, a USB flash drive may be faster when transferring small bits of data.

The cheapest HDD rotates at about 5,200 revolutions per minute (rpm), while the most expensive and powerful are 7,200 rpm. The transfer speed in the SSDs is not affected by the revolutions but varies (and much) depending on the type of memory and the flash technology used.

When Should I Use an External Hard Drive?

External Hard Drive

There are plenty of situations when people would require the massive memory capacity that a portable external hard drive can offer.

  • Audio and Video Editing — Those who edit audio or video often use these external hard drives as storage for high-quality media files. These files, if left on a PC or a laptop, can take up a relatively large amount of disk space.
  • Daisy Chaining Storage Devices– People can also connect or “daisy chain” them. This allows users to create a virtually unlimited storage capacity since the users can connect them and use them all at once.
  • Taking Larger Files On-the-Go — Hard drives are lightweight, but they can pack a punch when it comes to how much data they can store. They’re also ideal for sensitive or more confidential files as they can also come with security features such as fingerprint recognition, preventing other people from accessing stored data.

When Should I Use a USB Drive?

Here are some instances when USB drives will come in handy:

  • Promotional Campaigns — USB drives are cheaper than portable external hard drives, making them ideal as promotional giveaways. They can also be printed and designed to reflect an individual or organisations branding. They’d even make unique business cards.
  • Organization of Files — Flash drives may have smaller capacities than external hard drives, but this is also what makes them more ideal to help organize files. Want to separate personal and professional files? Want a dedicated device just for medical records? It’s all possible because USB drives are smaller and cheaper, so having several of them won’t take up too much space or burn a hole through one’s pocket.
  • Carrying Files On-the-Go — Whether on a lanyard or keychain, flash drives are extremely portable and won’t take up too much space. If you have a small bag or just want to put your storage device in your pocket, it’s not difficult choosing between a 2TB external hard drive or a 2TB flash drive, right?

USB Flash Drive Vs External Hard Drive: Which is better?

The external hard drive has an edge over the USB flash drive considering the storage size to price ratio. However, the external hard drive is significantly larger in physical size than USB Flash drive. While so, the disc drive is subject to magnetic fields and impact; so the data might get lost if any of such situation occurs with the disc drive.

The external hard drives are best suitable for use with computers and laptops. The USB flash drives, on the other hand, are very portable, easily available, and relatively durable. The price of the USB flash drive is lower than the external hard drive as smaller memory size flash drives are available at reasonable price. This is perfect for those who have to share presentations on a projector on a regular basis or for those who wish to carry their data always with them in portable form factor.

While the market is flooded with data storage options, there is no clear winner in the USB flash drive Vs external hard drive battle. The decision of choosing between USB flash drive and external hard drive depends on the personal preferences and requirement.

Final Words

The external hard drive has been better to choose instead of a USB flash drive. We can say that after taking the storage size to price ratio under consideration. However, the external hard drive is significantly larger in physical size as compared to the USB Flash drive. While so, the disc drive is subject to magnetic fields and impact; so the data might get lost if any of such situations occur with the disc drive.

The external hard drives are the perfect option for computers and laptops. On the other hand USB flash drives, are very portable, easily available. The price of the USB flash drive is lower than the external hard drive as smaller memory size flash drives are available at a reasonable price.

This is an ideal option for those who often share presentations on a projector on a regular basis or for those who wish to carry their data always with them in a portable form factor.

There is no clear winner in the USB flash drive Vs external hard drive battle. This is because both have a different purpose to fulfill and you can choose the one as per your personal requirement. The decision of choosing between USB flash drive and external hard drive completely depends on personal usage.

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