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Internal hard drives versus external hard drives

Hello, all. I had such great help from the members here to my last question about a year ago, so I decided to see if I can get some information regarding the topic of hard drives. I'm considering buying another hard drive - I had bought two external ones previously, both Seagate, and both have worked pretty well for me. But this time I was considering an internal hard drive, which seems to be cheaper (and also takes up less space).

My question is, first of all, whether these internal hard drives that I see for sale at Best Buy or wherever on-line... are meant for such usage. I had assumed that internal hard drives can be used just like external ones - for extra storage - and since I know that I do have an extra SATA connector inside the box, I figured that it could be used to connect a second internal hard drive as an extra storage drive. But then it occurred to me (not knowing too much about computers, especially the hardware side of things) that maybe these internal hard drives were only meant to be used as the primary (C:\) drives - for people who are building their own systems. I'm pretty sure that's not the case, but I thought I should ask just to make sure.

Secondly, if it is the case that internal hard drives can be used just like external hard drives, then which one is the "better" option? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Finally, if anyone can tell me anything about which specific drive models (or brands) are good or bad, that would also be very helpful. Thank you all again for your help and your time.
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More about internal hard drives versus external hard drives
  1. You can certainly use an internal HDD as a data drive.

    That being said, what is your budget for such a purchase?
  2. Best answer
    External HDD= Internal HDD + HDD enclosure. The enclosure has a SATA bridge chip to connect the SATA connection on the HDD (SATA is today's standard in connecting the HDD to the mobo) to an external connection of your choice (USB, eSATA, Firewire, Thunderbolt)

    I think external storage is more flexible (you can move it around) but you will get performance penalty if you are not using a fast connection like eSATA, USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt. Also, you can accidentally (if you are really not careful) drop and break it or unplug it and corrupt the data in it.

    I recommend Western Digital Caviar Green for storage with Vantec enclosure.
  3. Thanks for your answer, COLGeek. I don't want to spend more than about $200-250, to answer your question.

    Thanks for the explanation, the pros and cons, and your specific recommendation, Pyree.
  4. Go and get one of these. I use Samsung drives exclusively and have had ZERO problems with them.
  5. Thanks again, COLGeek. I'll look into it right now.
  6. The other advantage of an internal drive is that you can install programs on the internal drive whereas you usually can't (U3 and specifically designed programs aside) do so on an external drive.
  7. Or you can cheat like I do and get the best of both worlds. I have removable internal drives with this gizmo: . I've got about 12 hard drives that I store externally and can connect at SATA II speeds in an instant. The SATA II limit is from my motherboard, not from this device.

    Drives should be external, or in my case removable, if they contain backups or are used to transfer data between machines. Keeping the backup in the case with the primary data is an invitation to lose both.

    Drives for data that you want to access at any time are best kept internally.
  8. Good points, Inanition02 and WyomingKnott. I had not considered those things. Thanks a lot for your input.
  9. Best answer selected by lishaohua.
  10. I have something of a follow-up question, so I'll just post it here instead of starting a new thread.

    I looking through the "Reviews" of an external hard drive I was considering, and a reviewer mentioned something about external hard drives of more than 2 TB not being able to be used with routers due to the limitations of all currently available routers. I was somewhat confused by that, because it was my impression that only network-attached storage devices could be connected to routers, not external hard drives. I'd appreciate it if I could get some clarification on that. Also, in the case that is possible to connect an external hard drive to a router via USB port, then would it also be possible to do the same thing with an internal hard drive - using some kind of converter to convert the SATA connector to USB? (There would also have to be some way to connect the power connector to a power source?)

    Thanks again for your help.
  11. Some router have USB port that you can attach USB HDD as storage (not all, on some of the router, the USB port is only for printer). You have to check the router's specification for it function.

    Like I said before, there is no difference between internal and external HDD. An external HD is simply an internal HDD + enclosure.

    If the HDD you put into your enclosure is 3.5", then it will come with a power adapter to plug to wall power point. If it is 2.5", it will draw power from the USB port. You will find that the USB cable of many 2.5" USB drive is split into 2. The second is for power only . If the first USB (handle data transfer and power) does not provide enough power to power the drive, you can plug in the 2nd USB. There may not be another USB port on the router, so you may want to use a wall power point to regulated 5v USB power adapter (500mA should be enough).

    As to why the router cannot handle 3TB HDD, I am not so sure about the reason. I guess it is to do with the firmware of the router to recognise larger HDD.
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