External hard disk with and without power adapter

1> What is the difference between external hard disk with and without a power adapter, functionality wise?
2> Which among the above is better in terms of performance,long life,price?
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More about external hard disk power adapter
  1. Self-powered (though that's not an accurate description) boxes use laptop drives that only require 5 volts, which USB can supply. External drives with a power supply contain 3.5 inch desktop drives which require 12 volts as well.

    Laptop drives were always slower, though that may be changing. Check the specs -- the advantage of small size and less wiring may weigh in favour of the self-powered type.
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