What’s the Difference Between USB Flash Drive and USB Hard Drive?

“I am going to get a new Windows laptop and wondering to buy a storage device. But, which one is better, a USB flash drive or a USB hard drive? What is the difference between them? Thanks!”

                                                                              ——-By Matt

What is a USB flash drive?

A USB flash drive is a storage device that applies flash memory to store your assigned data. It often consists of the advanced flash memory and an integrated USB (Universal Serial Bus interface). Since it is small and portable, it is widely used on a computer, laptop and even some smaller smart phones.


What is a USB hard drive?

A USB hard drive actually is merely a hard drive with a USB connection so that it can be easily used between different computers/laptops. So, comparing to some internal hard drives, it only stands out for its portability. It also has the three basic parts that every standard hard drive should have: the read/write heads, read/write platters and actuator arms.


What is the difference?

There are significant differences between a USB flash drive and a USB hard drive. So, let’s learn together:

1). Instruction

As we’ve mentioned above, the instruction of a USB flash drive and a USB hard drive is completely different. The difference will also bring them many different features.

2). Sound

A USB hard drive is still made of the three physical drive parts. So, as it works, its actuator arms will actively lead its read/write heads to output/input your data on its platters, over and over again. So, that could be really noisy. But, differently from hard drive, the USB flash drive will never bring any sound trouble for you.

3). Capacity

Since the USB hard drive has been equipped many read/write platters which also can allow one to store data on two sides, it has a really large capacity. For example, one always can easily find a USB hard drive with a big capacity like 1TB, 2TB and more. However, as to a USB flash drive, since it is only embedded some limited flash memory, it often has an extremely smaller capacity. At least, it is not an easy task to find a USB flash drive with 1TB space in the market.

4). Portability

Since a USB hard drive is too large in capacity and size, it is often not as portable as a USB flash drive. Actually, except being used on a computer/laptop, the USB flash drive even can be freely used on a phone.


How to choose one to fit your own needs?

1).What your purpose?

Which one you should choose often depends on what you will plan to use them for. If you simply want to use them for transferring some data from time to time, the USB flash drive can be OK! But, if you are doing to use it as a backup drive, the USB hard drive can be a better choice.

2).How much can you pay for them?

Comparing to a USB hard drive, a USB flash drive is much cheaper in price. So, if you do not have much extra money for an expensive USB hard drive, the USB flash drive also can make a sense, vice versa.

3).Do you have to take them from a place to another?

If you do have to take them among different places, the USB hard drive is often too heavy and inconvenient. But, on the contrary, the USB flash drive can be really small and light. Sometimes, it even can be used as a beautiful decoration of some fashionable woman.