External Hard Drive for laptop

Hello, a friend needs advice, and maybe you can help. For an older (2003) Compaq Presario laptop (desktop processor in it - Pentium 4 2.4ghz) do you think it matters when buying an EXTERNAL USB hard drive if it is a USB powered hard drive (powered by the port itself) or if it is one powered by an external power supply? They don't want to fry the laptop or its internal power supply. Thanks!
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More about external hard drive laptop
  1. I don't think USB can draw enough power to fry the laptop or PS. If it's running off of battery, it could shorten your run time some though.
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