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TACKLING TECH: Flash Drives and External Hard Drives

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

Digital files need as much TLC when it comes to storage and organization as those that are meant to be held in hand. Tackling Tech: Flash Drives and External Hard Drives. Keep reading and learn all about the pros and cons of each.

Fresh out of graduate school, I had little to no materials for speech therapy in my personal collection. My digital files were power point slides from my graduate classes, a couple e-books in PDF format for treatment, and a few self-made minimal pair worksheets for articulation.  I expected to find card decks, books of worksheets, toys, as well as arts and crafts materials at my job site when I started my clinical fellowship year.  Those assumptions were simply wrong.

Making a Choice

When I got to my first job, not only were there no articulation card decks, almost every SLP had an array of their own, personally acquired or made, therapy materials.  Thankfully, there was an abundance of toys and crafts materials!  

At this point, I had to make a choice between hard copy or digital.  And since I have become a full-time virtual SLP, I'm glad I (mostly) chose digital.  But where was I going to store all my personally purchased/created materials?  Most certainly not on my loaned work computer.  I wanted all my files on hand, but not slowing down my poor PC.  Quite obviously, the simplest solution was to get a flash drive or external hard drive.  I did both. 

What’s the difference?  Because new virtual SLPs or fresh out of grad school students might be wondering this very thing, I’d like to share some pros and cons for each digital-file-holding device.


Overall, if you’re looking to transfer files from one computer to the other, a flash drive may be the way to go for that purpose and other short term purposes.  Flash drives are also good for traveling for their durability.


  • Small

  • Compact

  • Read faster by computers

  • Great for quick file transfers

  • Doesn't require power source for memory storage

  • More durable (You can drop it on the ground and it's still likely to work!)

  • Cute & fun colors or designs available


  • More likely to be misplaced (YEP! I've done this a few times and it always ends in tears)

  • Smaller data capacity (up to 256GB)

  • Data can be lost if drive fails

  • More expensive when considering data capacity ($40-50 on Amazon for 356GB)


Ultimately, I recommend springing for the external hard drive. It's honestly the better deal when looking at cost per data capacity and is made for long term storage.  


  • Bigger in size

  • Greater data capacity (16TB)

  • Less likely to lose data

  • Protection available against Trojans, spyware, and viruses

  • Cheaper when considering greater data capacity ($30 on Amazon for 256GB, $45 on Amazon for 1TB, $90 of Amazon for 4TB)


  • Read more slowly by computers

  • Requires power source (your computer) for memory storage

  • Less durable (more susceptible to breaking when dropped)

  • Those cute, fun colors have a significant price increase!

Other Options

Are there other options out there?  If you are using other ways to store digital copies of files, like the "Cloud" or "Google Drive," I'd love to hear about it.  If you have an opinion on what is easier or safest, let me know!

-Angela Hancock, MSP, CCC-SLP


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