USBs vs. External Hard Drives

In the world of digital storage, USBs have been king. However, for those with higher storage capacity needs, external hard drives are the order of the day. So, what is the difference, and why is it important? Keep reading to find out!

Enter: the USB

The USB or Universal Serial Bus is a hardware interface that supports up to 127 peripherals (files, docs, etc.). USB ports are used to attach tech accessories like keyboards, mice, and printers to a computer and many tech companies use USB lighting cords for their products.

The USB emerged in the mid-1990s as a solution to serial and parallel port problems. These ports are considered “hot swappable devices” which means the user can plug and unplug the USB from the device while the power is still on.

By the 2000s, USBs had gotten smaller and become the flash drive. Flash drives are now a staple in schools, businesses, and for personal use. These smaller-than-pocket size devices pack a powerful punch with up to 512 MB storage capacity. In other words, USBs can store thousands of photos and documents in a byte size piece of technology so users can take their documents from one device to another with ease.

The External Hard Drive

Hard drives have been a central part of computer technology since the onset, but external hard drive was introduced in rudimentary form by Apple in 1983 as a plug-in to the Apple computer. The technology failed, and computer companies began putting hard drives in the computer units themselves.

Then in 1994, the external drive concept reentered the tech stage as a storage solution instead of the primary storage component. Since their reintroduction, hard drives, like USBs have gotten smaller and more efficient but have not gotten the same recognition.

So, what are the differences between USBs and external hard drives?

Key Differences

Both USBs and external hard drives allow users to keep and transport large amounts of date from one device to another and are relatively affordable and secure storage options. Below is a guide to the differences between USBs and hard drives.


Flash Drives (USB)

  • Long lifespan when not used
  • Degrades faster over time
  • More physical durability

External Hard Drive

  • Degrades slowly over time
  • Designed for frequent use
  • Less durability

Portability and Capacity

Flash Drives (USB)

  • Highly portable
  • Small size
  • Small storage compacity

External Hard Drive

  • Less portable
  • Large size
  • Large storage capacity

Data and Security

Flash Drives (USB)

  • Data degrades over time
  • Secures data, but vulnerable to corruption

External Hard Drive

  • Data stays intact
  • Secures data, less vulnerable to corruption


USBs and external hard drives have their own pros and cons and depending on your storage needs you may decide to use one or both. However, it’s important to understand that storage devices can only substitute for quality some of the time.

High quality digital documents backed by premier digitalization technology not only keep your data accessible, but they also ensure that the documents stored in your USB or hard drive are easily read and received. Acro Photo Print Inc. provides a variety of printing, digitalizing, scanning, and encryption services so you can keep your data and share your work with ease. Whether you are a busy law firm or a small business in need of professional printing and digitalization services, Acro Photo Print Inc. can help!

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