Internal vs External SSD: The 3 Main Differences You Need To Know

When it comes to computer storage, you want something reliable, high-quality, and easy to use. When you think about it, the storage device you use holds a lot of valuable data, whether it’s your work files or personal memories, so choosing the right SSD is quite important.

In case you’ve already made up your mind about using an SSD device for your storage, there is only one final decision to make: internal or external SSD.

In this guide, you will learn everything there is to know about these two options. We will also compare them in all the important aspects so you can make your final decision.

What is an internal SSD?

SSD, which stands for Solid State Drive, is quite similar to a hard disk drive (HDD), as they’re both mass storage devices. However, SSDs are called solid-state drives because their parts are all integrated and none of them is mobile, as opposed to an HDD. 

What’s more, the data is stored on flash memory when it comes to SSD. HDD, on the other hand, stores the data on magnetic platters. Since there are no moving parts of SSD, there’s no movement of the drive head necessary to access certain data.

That being said, using an SSD is much faster, and no magnetic fields can jeopardize the stored information, which is something that cannot be said for HDDs that have the data stored on magnetic platters.

However, when choosing an SSD, many people have trouble understanding what the difference between the two main types is. Internal SSD, as the name itself implies, isn’t an additional component, but rather an integral element.

Internal SSD is connected to the computer via PCIe or SATA connection. This kind of internal connection also gives this model of SSD more bandwidth and faster transaction of items, which is particularly important for people who back up a lot of data.

A very fast internal SSD will mostly have a PCIe interface, which is considered to be better and faster than SATA. This is something to keep in mind if you’re torn between the two kinds of interface for internal SSD. 

When it comes to actual numbers and clear comparison between the two types of interface, the SATA 3.0 standard model offers 6.0 Gb/s, while the best high-speed internal SSDs offer a PCIe 3×4 interface.

Advantages of using internal SSD

First and foremost, it is important to emphasize that SSD is considered to be a much faster and more convenient option as opposed to HDD. While there is usually a significant price gap between the two options, it is safe to say that you’re getting your money’s worth.

When it comes to other important advantages of using an internal SSD, the main factor would be the speed. Since SSDs have an innovative fixed structure, the data is easily accessible as you don’t have to wait for mobile components to physically access it.

Thanks to a modern interface, an internal SSD offers more bandwidth and an unmatchable transaction speed, which is particularly important if you’re saving a lot of data onto your internal SSD.

It is safe to say that an internal SSD saves time, being that it provides the easiest, quickest, safest data transfer that won’t take hours.

When it comes to choosing between two different types of interfaces, a PCIe interface takes the victory as it offers ultimate transaction speed and bandwidth. However, SATA models won’t disappoint, either.

What is an external SSD?

As opposed to internal SSDs, external SSD isn’t an integral part of the system, but rather a mobile, convenient element you can use to back up and transfer large quantities of data, especially if you’re transferring them from one device to another

This portable SSD usually uses a USB connection, which makes it quite easy to connect to any device with a USB port. When it comes to convenience and ease of use, there’s hardly any device that offers a similar user experience. 

High-speed external SSD offers speedy data transfers, great storage capacities, and the possibility of relocating or copying the data onto another device in an impressive timeframe.

The system of a fast external SSD consists of electrical cells which can receive and transfer the data, similarly to miniature flash drives

When it comes to the difference between the internal and external SSDs, many will agree that external models provide all the benefits of the internal ones, with the added benefit of mobility

Instant external SSD speed of data transfer, mobility, and versatility, as well as the ability to connect with all kinds of different devices, is what makes these portable devices so popular when it comes to both data storage and transfer. 

Advantages of using external SSD

The main advantage of using an external SSD is portability. As we’ve explained, this kind of solid-state drive allows you to transfer your data from one device to another without using any type of connection other than USB. 

If you happen to use multiple devices and you have large quantities of data to transfer, this kind of portable storage device is the best solution. Not only can it back up large amounts of data, but the transfer speed is also a huge advantage – especially when compared to HDDs.

Also, by using an external SSD, you’re able to take your valuable data anywhere with you, without having to rely on online data backup services. This is also a huge advantage when it comes to data safety, especially if you’ve experienced hacking attempts.

High-quality external SSD models offer instant-load performance, high read and write speeds, as well as impressive transfer speeds even with large quantities of data.

As we’ve mentioned, there is usually a significant difference between the price points of SSDs and HDDs. However, in the case of both internal and external solid-state drives, we have to conclude that the pricing is more than justified, especially with high-end models. 

What is the difference between internal and external SSD?

When it comes to making the best choice for storing and transferring your data, there is no doubt that solid-state disks are the best solution

However, if you’re having a hard time making up your mind between internal and external SSD, our detailed comparison will clear up any doubts you may have.

1. Portability

If you happen to use multiple devices and you tend to transfer large quantities of data from one device to another, you will gravitate more towards the external SSD. 

While their mechanisms and systems are identical (certain parameters such as speed and storage space will vary from one model to another), portability is probably the main factor that puts these two SSDs models into different sub-categories.

While an internal SSD can be considered an integral part of a device once it is installed, an external SSD can easily be transferred from one device to another, in a matter of seconds.

Therefore, if this kind of portability and convenience is what you’re looking for in an SSD, you can’t go wrong with a high-quality external SSD.

Also, it is important to mention that internal SSDs are removable and can be installed into a different device, but this switch will take more time and effort than simply plugging an external SSD into a different USB port.

2. Bandwidth speed

While portability is a huge advantage for external SSDs, this portability is precisely the factor that is affecting their transfer speed. Yes, many external SSDs offer great data transfer speed, but they hardly ever beat internal SSDs in this area.

The key is in the connection type. Since an internal SSD is connected via SATA or PCIe interface which offers greater bandwidth, it can also provide higher transfer speed.

An external SSD, on the other hand, connects through an external USB, which has a remarkably lower bandwidth speed than the two types of interfaces internal ones use.

However, keep an eye out for external SSD models that come with a Thunderbolt™ interface, as this kind of interface boosts the bandwidth speed significantly. Nevertheless, the winner of this comparison category would definitely be internal SSDs. 

3. Price

When it comes to cost, you may have expected internal SSD models to cost more due to the specific interface and the bandwidth speed. However, you’ll usually find that high-end SSDs, regardless of the type, cost pretty much the same.

Nonetheless, external SSD may come with some additional costs, as some external SSD models may not include the necessary equipment and you may have to purchase the accessories separately.

The price of the internal solid-state drive may be higher if we weren’t taking the cost of the additional components of the external SSD into consideration. The external SSD also requires a case, USB cable, and other portable elements. 

Combined in a single package, external SSDs usually cost just as much as internal ones (as long as they’re in the same quality category). 

Are internal and external SSD the same?

An important shared characteristic between both types of SSD is that they don’t have mobile components in their structure, as opposed to HDDs. This means that, when accessing the chosen data, HDDs work by moving the drive head to a certain point.

SDDs, on the other hand, require no movement when accessing the data, as their structure is compact and the data is saved on flash memory as opposed to magnetic platters.

Therefore, it is safe to say that both internal and external SSDs operate the same when it comes to saving and accessing the data. However, they do not have the same speed parameters, and there are some important differences between the two.

Internal SSDs, being an internal component, is connected directly to the motherboard. It offers greater bandwidth thanks to its modern interface, which results in a higher transfer speed. It also usually offers more storage space, but this depends on the specific model. 

External SSD, on the other hand, is a portable storage device connected via a USB port. While this lowers the bandwidth speed, it provides ease of use and convenience that an internal SSD cannot match. 

Also, when it comes to pricing, most high-end, quality SSD models, whether internal or external, will usually be within the same price range. Therefore, when it comes to choosing between these two options, the choice comes down to your preferences.

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