Can an SSD Be Used as an External Drive?
External drives are perfect for people who need more storage, want extra protection, or want the convenience of transporting files from location to location. The two types of external drives are hard disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD), the latter more highly recommended due to portability and durability.
An SSD can be used as an external or internal drive, depending on the user’s needs. There are many SSDs designed to be used externally, as they are built to be more durable. Alternatively, you can easily use an internal SSD externally to save money using an enclosure.
This article will explain what an external drive is, different types, how SSDs compare, and how to use an internal SSD as an external one.
What Is an External Drive?
As the name suggests, an external drive is a drive connected to the computer or laptop on the exterior, rather than inside. Due to their many benefits, external drives are top-rated. External drives’ technology is constantly being improved and developed to increase storage, durability, and speed.
Benefits of Using an External Drive
In addition to providing extra storage, there are many reasons to take advantage of an external drive:
- By moving files onto the external drive, your computer will run faster.
- They are perfect for sharing large files, as you can easily plug them into any computer that they are compatible with.
- External drives are extremely portable, allowing the user to take them from place to place without carrying the entire computer around for the internal drive.
- To avoid losing data due to hardware failure, an external SSD can be used to back up your drive and easily move your data to another set-up.
Types of External Drives
There are two main types of external drives that you can purchase for your computer:
- Hard disk drive (HDD): Data is stored using spinner platters covered in a magnetic coating. Commonly found in less expensive computers due to cost, you can get more bang for your buck with HDD in terms of storage.
- Solid-state drive (SSD): Flashed-based memory is used to store data, and there are no mechanical parts, hence the name solid-state. More and more systems are moving to SSDs, including laptops and tablets.
For a good video comparing the two drives and which one is best for you, watch this video from GamingScan:
What Is Another Option Aside From SSD and HDD?
In addition to the conventional external hard drives like USB flash drives or Thunderbolt drives, online cloud storage is a great option for those needing more space for their data. Some of the best-rated cloud drives include Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive.
There are many advantages to using cloud drives to store your files, media, and other data, including:
- Price: Although limited on storage, most offer free versions that allow you to try it out to see if it suits your needs.
- User-friendliness: In addition to well-designed desktop applications and easy syncing, it is extremely easy to use.
- Efficiency: Some offer automatic folder syncing or are able to keep older versions of files, just in case.
- Safety: Security is very important to online cloud drives for chat purposes or sharing files, among other things.
- Compatibility: Most can work with various operating systems easily, including macOS, iOS, and Windows.
For a good evaluation of the best options for cloud storage, check out this video from Pete Matheson:
How SSDs Compare to Other External Drives
For many, SSDs are the obvious choice as an external drive due to their many features:
- Durable and more shock-resistant
- Energy efficient
- Create less noise and give off less heat
- Typically faster
- Smaller and more portable
- Safety and security
For those requiring more speed, more storage, and more mobility, an SSD is the best choice for an external drive. The largest deterrent in purchasing an SSD despite all of its great features is the cost. HDDs provide more storage for their price and would be better for those interested in storing data but do not care about speed and only need space to store their files.
Using an Internal SSD as an External
To put it simply, an external SSD is the same as an internal one; however, it is enclosed and includes electronics to connect it to the system. With that in mind, nothing is stopping you from turning a spare internal drive into a portable external one.
The largest determinants of success include the casing and interface, and there are numerous advantages and disadvantages to taking this approach.
Advantages of Taking This Approach
Many people agree that turning an internal SSD into an external one is a great idea for various reasons:
- If you have an internal SSD that you would like to make portable, it is very economically-friendly to purchase a hard drive enclosure.
- Turning the internal SSD into an external SSD is fairly easy to do, even for someone with little experience with computers and drives.
- If you have data already stored on the internal drive, you don’t have to worry about transferring your files over, saving lots of time.
We recommend the SABRENT External Hard Drive Enclosure from Amazon. It provides transfer rates of 480 Mbps when connected to a USB 2.0 and 5 Gbps when connected to a USB 3.0 port. It is compatible with many operating systems, including macOS and Windows.
In addition to an enclosure, we would also recommend purchasing some sort of case to house your external drive. Although SSDs are more durable than HDDs as they have no moving parts, it is always better to take extra precautions.
Cases come in all shapes and designs to suit the user’s many requirements and different SSDs. For Samsung T7 SSDs, a popular choice for many, we would recommend the ProCase Carrying Case from Amazon.
For more information on how to turn your spare SSDs into an external drive, watch this helpful video from Windows Central:
Potential Disadvantages of Taking This Approach
With all of the cost savings of following this path, several issues may arise by using an internal SSD as an external SSD:
- The speed of the SSD is dependent on the bridged electronics supported by the enclosure, as well as the port it is plugged into.
- Although enclosures provide some protection, internal SSDs are not designed to be as portable as external SSDs and are not as durable.
If you believe you’d like to buy an SSD designed to be an external drive rather than reconfigure an internal one, we would recommend Seagate Expansion SSD from Amazon. It includes a three-year warranty and is compatible with both PCs and Macs.
For a great guide on popular models of external SSDs, check out this video from Techtesters:
The two main types of external drives are HDDs and SDDs, both of which have advantages and disadvantages. An SSD is a great option for many as they offer various benefits and come in numerous types to best suit the user’s needs.
In addition to buying an external SSD, you can convert an internal SSD to an external one. This is a cost-effective decision and is fairly easy for anyone to do, no matter their experience. Using an SSD is best for those that require a lot of storage, durability, and portability.
- PCMag: The Best External SSDs for 2021
- The Guardian: Can an External SSD match the Mac mini’s pricey built-in storage?
- Crucial: External SSDs vs Internal SSDs: Which is Faster?
- PCMag: SSD vs. HDD: What’s the difference?
- Wikipedia: Solid-state drive
- SNIA: Solid State Drive Form Factors
- PC Guide: Internal vs. External HDD
- Techwalla: What is the Difference Between Internal and External Hard Drives?
- Wikipedia: Hard disk drive
- PCMag: The Best Cloud Storage and File-Sharing Services for 2020