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Definition: external drive

An external drive is a stand-alone hard drive, solid state drive (SSD) or optical disc drive that plugs into the computer via USB or external SATA (see USB and eSATA). External drives are designed for stationary use as well as portability (see portable hard drive).

External Drives Used to Be SCSI
In the 1990s, an external drive was often a SCSI disk or tape, because the SCSI interface offered more peripheral expandability at that time (see SCSI). Contrast with internal drive.

External Desktop Drive
With up to 2TB of storage, this LaCie desktop drive plugs into the USB port. Although it can be easily unplugged and moved, at 2.5 pounds, drives such as these are designed for stationary use. (Image courtesy of LaCie USA.)