The decision on whether to use an external storage drive versus an internal storage drive with your PC or device can be difficult. It is not just an aesthetic decision, but rather one that should be based on your needs versus the pros and cons of each type of drive.
The first thing you should consider when you begin looking for a new storage device is, no matter what kind will be whether you need or want an internal or external device. They each have their own sets of pros and cons, so it is important to be educated on each.
The first, and most obvious, benefit of an external hard drive is that it is easier to set up and get started with, especially if you are a computer novice. In most cases, it is a matter of simply plugging in the proper power source and USB cables, installing the proper drivers (which your computer will often lead you through), and you are ready to start using your external storage drive. This is really the best way to go if you are not confident or at all interested in messing around with the wires and cables inside your desktop or laptop.
A second, and perhaps less obvious benefit of the external memory drive, is that they are much easier to share between different users. Most of the USB/FireWire hard drives available today are "plug and play." This set up makes it simple to move the drive from one machine to another, since you simply unplug the drive from one machine and plug it into another. You can, then, more easily transfer files from home, to work, to school, or to a friend. The value of the convenience alone may be worth it to you, depending on your individual situation.
On the other hand, the downside of an external storage drive is that they are certainly slower than internal ones. Internal drives usually are connected to the computer through IDE/ATA busses, which are what support higher data transfer seeds than USB busses, which is how most external storage drives are connected. Also, in a simple manner of cost, since external drives generally have their own casings, they are often more expensive than internal drives.
As a general rule, internal drives are both faster and less expensive than their external counterparts. The biggest, perhaps most obvious, drawback of the internal storage devices is installing them. So, if you decide to go the internal route, look for a package that includes with it all of the cables and hardware required for installation. You will also want something that has a manual that is illustrated and easy for you to understand. In addition, good installation software can make or break it. If the package is a good one, even the most novice PC user will be able to install in internal drive.
Another advantage of internal storage drives is the price. As a rule, the greater the capacity of the media involved with the storage device, the cheaper the price per megabyte, but obviously the price is higher per device. Either way, since internal storage devices do not require their own casing, they run cheaper than their external counterparts.
The disadvantages to internal storage drives are more on par with their convenience. With most internal storage drives you lose the ease of user changing. You will have a much more difficult time removing an internal drive and transferring it to another person's computer. Of course, if you are using a laptop, such convenience is a little less necessary.
There are obviously a number of factors to take into account when making the decision between internal or external storage solutions. You must figure out what kind of access speed you need, how much backup storage you will need, overall storage needs both now and in the future, how much security and privacy you need, and a number of other memory factors. The thing is that in the end, you will do fine whether you select an internal storage drive or an external storage drive. Storage devices are more affordable than ever with more space available than ever. So make an educated guess at what is best for you and go for it, you really can't go wrong either way.