My own private (until now) internal/external hard drive debate.

I have been thinking about this problem myself: astoundingly, my just-under-one-tetrabyte internal drive is starting to run out of space. I say ‘astoundingly’ because I remember when hard drives of this size were something that you saw in GURPS Space (admittedly, that was back in TL7, and we’ve been in TL8 for some time now).  My concern is what happens if the external drive goes up; I tried once to repurpose an old drive with a new case and a cord, and all I got for my trouble was a broken drive and the semi-permanent loss of virtually everything I had written at the time.

I guess the question is, will I be able to run games without issue off of an external drive? Unlike the console gamers in the link above (assuming that the attitudes there are reflective of that category of gamer), I don’t care if the lines of my machine are clear as long as I can play the blipping game.  But if load times and framerate is slow, well, that’s a problem now.

Thoughts and opinions welcome.

6 thoughts on “My own private (until now) internal/external hard drive debate.”

  1. Generally, an external drive is slower. I won’t get into the details of USB 3.1 vs. SATA 3.2, partly because I don’t know whether your computer can support either. But it’s most likely that whatever speed you can get by an external disk drive connection, you can get a faster one with an internal drive.

    As for whether games are playable with an external drive–maybe? If you have USB 3.0 or eSATA, then you may be able to play games on it. But I still think you’d be better off getting an internal drive and connecting it to your SATA controller. And may I recommend an SSD? They’re cheap enough now ($250-$325 for a 1 TB SS drive) that they’re worth the premium, at least if you have a SATA 3 controller. Even with a SATA 2, you’ll notice a difference, though less of one in pure load times. Plus, they’re small, which can matter if space inside your case is at a premium.

    I’d install the operating system and whatever game you’re currently playing on the SSD, and offload media and game backups (Steam lets you back up game installs) onto the slow hard drive.

  2. External drive would be fine for data storage – I use a 4TB NAS drive to share with everyone in the house. Games should be on your computer drive to eliminate that variable. If that’s what’s filling your drive, you should get a second internal or upsize your primary drive.
    I use the NAS for streaming video (DLNA) storage, among other things, and it works fine over WiFi for that.

  3. Is this your system drive or do you have a secondary data drive? Either way, easiest way is to just go buy a nice 4-6 Tb fast drive then use an imaging program to copy the contents of old drive to new drive and expand the partition to the new space.

    Now I will second the recommendation that you use an SSD for your system drive.. grab say a 512 GB Samsung 850 Pro for C: and a nice WD Black 4 Tb unit for D:.. but that may require some pain to migrate to.

    1. There’s a financial element involved, alas. The days where I could drop large amounts of family money into upgrades and not feel bad about it are, regretfully, a fond memory.

  4. I have 3 external drives attached to my PC, and I play games off of most of them. For the question of “will my games work off them?” the answer is “mostly.” There are a handful of game companies whose products will freak out if not on an internal drive. (Ubisoft and a couple of JP companies pop to mind in my experience.) For play experience I’ve been playing (looks) Dead Rising 4, a one month old, relatively demanding, off my E drive with absolutely no issues. If you’re a pro DOTA player or play a lot of COD online, yeah, those ms might be an issue at the highest levels. But for ME: Andromeda or Witcher? Nah.
    And I’ll disagree with the other recommendations. Go for the bigger, much cheaper storage drives. Saving 30 seconds on a load time is nice. Not having to spend 2 hours downloading something you last played a year ago because it’s still installed on that bigger HD is nicer. And having those extra hundreds of dollars still in your wallet is nicer still.

  5. I would just upgrade to a 3tb internal drive. much easier.

    I personally use a hot swap bay (I have 15 drives I hot swap with.)

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