It doesn’t take long before files start filling up the internal hard drive of your machine. So it’s essential to choose the right external hard drive or SSD for your PC or Mac.

An external hard drive or SSD is simply a device which is plugged into your machine to give almost-immediate additional storage space, without the need to open your computers internal storage and make upgrades. In addition to the additional storage, the devices can be taken with you on the go and connected to different machines due to their portability.

You may be wondering what is the difference between a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (HDD)? Although they are very similar in physical specifications, SSD’s and HDD’s store data in different ways.

As two of the main storage solutions accessible to users wanting to expand their database, each has its advantages and disadvantages. Determining which one to choose can be a confusing process. So carry on reading to discover how each type of storage drive works and find our list of recommendations for the best external hard drive or SSD.

What is an SSD?

Firstly, SSD stands for Solid State Drive. Solid State Drives have progressed rapidly over the last few years. SSD’s rely upon electronic storage in non-volatile memory, which means that the data which is stored won’t vanish when you turn your computer off.

Let’s put it this way, you’re most likely familiar with USB memory sticks, right? Well, you can think of an SSD as a much larger and more advanced version of the memory stick. Similar to a memory stick, the SDD has no moving parts. Instead, data is stored in microchips.

On the other hand, an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) utilises a mechanical arm to move and read data. The HDD merely uses physical work/mechanical movement to acquire information, which in turn takes longer than the SSD. Making the SSD much faster.

What is a Hard Disk Drive?

A Hard Disk Drive, known as an HDD, was first invented more than 60 years ago.  A Hard Disk Drive is a storage device which comprises one or more rotating platters which use magnetism to store data. A read/write head hovers above the rotating platter reading and writing information. The faster a Hard Disk Drive can perform, is down to how fast the platter can spin. The larger the hard drive, the more platters that can fit inside which equals to more storage capacity.

External HDD vs SSD: Which one?  

You need to decide whether you are after an external storage device with a traditional hard drive or one that uses an SSD.

Typically, external hard drives are more affordable and most importantly are available in larger capacities. However, on the other hand, SSD’s are predominately more robust and smaller in size. This makes SSD’s extremely portable and easy to use on the go. If you are looking to store great amounts of information whilst keeping prices at a low cost, an external hard drive will be a good option for you. Yet, if speed is your top priority, then we recommend choosing an SSD.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

Storage considerations: 

When choosing an external hard drive or SSD for your device, there are numerous factors to take into consideration. Inclusive of storage. It is important to invest in an external storage device that has a big enough capacity for your needs.


Another important factor to acknowledge is the connection between the external storage device and your Mac or PC. USB-A ports which are found on older generations of the computer are gradually being replaced by new USB-C ports. The new ports can be found on all modern  Macs and PCs. So make sure you double-check your connection types when investing in a data storage device.

We can’t necessarily state whether the external hard drive is better than the SSD as it all depends on your individual needs.

To help you decide which drive is a better fit for you, we have listed various requirements:

A Hard Drive might be the right choice if:
  • You need loads of storage capacity (up to 10TB)
  • Don’t want to spend much money
An SDD might be the right choice if:
  • You have the budget to pay for faster performance
  • Don’t mind limited storage capacity (External hard drives are available in higher capacities)

Best External HDD and SSDs:

We have rounded up our top recommendations from SanDisk and Western Digital for the best external HDD’s and SDD’s. Check them out below!

Everyday Storage: 

WD 1TB My Passport Ultra USB-C 2.5" Portable Hard Drive External (Silver)

Rugged Design: 

SanDisk 250GB Portable SSD

For Gaming: 

Now you know the difference between the two, head to our website now to view the best data storage solutions from SanDisk. 
Anya Beuzeval

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