Difference Between A Portable Hard Drive And A Flash Drive

by on October 8, 2006

Q: What is the difference between a portable hard-drive and a flash drive? What are their pros and cons?

A: A portable hard drive, sometimes called an external hard drive is capable of storing the entire contents of your computer’s operating system, programs and other data. Portable hard drives have become quite popular because file security is such a major concern. Extensive Internet use makes your computer more susceptible to threats like viruses, Trojan horses and spyware. These security threats have the potential to corrupt files on your computer and even cause permanent data loss. As such, a robust system like the portable hard drive is a wise investment to ensure safety for your computer’s programs and files, should your original hard drive fail you. Another advantage of portable hard drives is their enormous storage capacity in cases where you need to store and / or share huge amounts of data like mp3s and DVD files. Simply plug in to a USB port and you’re good to go, with most portable drives on the market.

On the other hand, a flash drive’s storage capacity runs more along the lines of a traditional floppy disk. Don’t get me wrong; a flash drive holds a lot more data than a floppy disk. However, a flash drive still lacks the storage capacity to hold everything on your computer.

Both the portable hard drive and the flash drive are useful devices depending on your needs. If you are moving about with large amounts of data or you wish to back up your entire hard drive, the portable hard drive is what you need. The flash drive on the other hand is handier to carry around and can still hold up to 64 gigabytes of data currently.

4 Responses to “Difference Between A Portable Hard Drive And A Flash Drive”



    Azeez, the obvious difference between a flash drive and a floppy drive is that a floppy drive is big and can usually only hold a max of about 2 Megs of data (depending on the type of floppy etc). A USB Flash Drive can hold gigs of data.

    The most important difference is that a floppy drive has moving parts in it. When you put it in your computer it turns like a hard drive would and therefore putting it in your pocket could lead to causing damage to the data on the floppy.

    A Flash Drive, USB Thumb Drive, or whatever you would like to call it has no moving parts and stores the data on chips so unless you run it over with a truck, even then your data would probably be pretty safe, then you should be fine in terms of your data.

    The next obvious issue is that the floppy has to go into a floppy drive, which most computers do not come with anymore. The Flash Drive, USB Drive, Thumb Drive, or whatever you like to call it, connects to your USB port and all computers come with these now.


    i need to back up alot of pictures (thousands) from my computer plus my husbands buisiness files. which would be better. a 4gb external hard drive or a flash drive?


    Actually neither of the solutions you provided would be adequate. If you are talking thousands of pictures you will not want anything smaller than 200GB but probably want to lean towards 500GB.

    So your only real option is an external hard drive.