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I mean I can basically loosen an external hard disk and insert it in a laptop but will it work as well as internal ones? What makes them different?

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They have a case. There is no technical difference in the hardware except that external HD have a case and an USB connector. –  Uwe Plonus Jun 13 '13 at 13:48
    
@OlayinkaSF - Often there is no difference often the exact same model you can purchase as an interal drive is used. There are also some exxternal drivers that are smaller. –  Ramhound Jun 13 '13 at 13:48

3 Answers 3

Nothing internally, the only difference is the connection between it and your computer.

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There is no difference.

If you open an external harddrive you will find a Firewire or USB to SATA convertor and a regular SATA harddisk.

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Like the other answers say, the main difference is in the connection. But there are a few more (perhaps obvious) considerations:

The connection will affect the speed, however. If you use an HDD connected to your computer via USB it is not going to be as fast as an internal drive connected via SATA. USB 3.0 will make your HDD faster than USB 2.0, but SATA is still faster.

Another difference is that if you use an HDD, you need to supply it with power. Inside the case you get access to the computer's power suppy that comes with its own cables. Outside the case you have to plug the drive into a regular power source. However, if you use an SSD, you may find one that connects via USB 3.0 that is able to draw power from the USB socket (one of the advantages of USB 3.0).

If you use an internal drive, you need to make sure you have enough power to supply the drive. Normally the computer's internal power supply has enough to serve an extra HDD without any problem, but if you have customized your box or slimmed it down, you might make sure you account for the extra power consumption.

Finally, if you use an external drive, someone could move it or bump it or knock the cable loose. An internal drive is better protected. It is less likely someone will spill coffee on your internal drive. However, you can easily move an external drive from computer to computer - you CAN move an internal drive, too, but you would always have to shut down the computer and open the case to get it out.

Summary:

  • Connection Speed
  • Connection Type
  • Power
  • Accessibility
  • Protection & Stability
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