Lately, I've been watching the market of hardware, and I've noticed more and more hardware has been available out of the box. I've also noticed that more and more users have been posting questions relating to the different hardware types, and what to do with them. Hopefully this will help those of you that are confused.

In the beginning, it was just modems, then Zip drives, then hard drives, and now virtually everything. What's good for what? When should you use it? Why the price difference?

External hardware has one main thing going for it: Its easy. Most external hardware is so simple that you can plug it into the computer with a USB or Firewire cable, something anyone can do. Compared to the sometimems frightening idea of going IN the box, or paying someone else to, this has given external hardware a huge boost.

The other reason that external hardware is used is that its not common IN the box yet. This is seen with Zip drives, and CD Burners when they first came out. It was something that let people get them quickly, without waiting for companies to start putting them in the machines. (Of course, the internal versions were also available, just often harder to install. See above.)

External hardware is also used because you can swap it between machines quickly. I have an external HD, 40 Gigs, and use it to move files back and forth between non-networked computers. With a USB 2.0 connection, it moves pretty fast, and I'm able to enjoy moving my files back and forth very quickly. A nice, handy tool. Its also great for USB Hubs and many other things which someone might need to use on different machines often and quickly.

So why should you even bother with internal hardware if all of this going for external? Cost. External hardware can cost up to twice as much as its internal brethren. Honestly, I'd much rather get a 100 Gig internal drive, and a new DSL modem, both internal, than one or the other external.

Also, internal hardware often has better support and compatability. Because OSes like Linux are often behind or lacking here, it is better to go with older or more common hardware. External hardware varies more, and often needs specific software or drivers for such things, while internal hardware is often "plug and play" even on Linux and other *nixes.

But what about the difficulty of installing things? Constructiing computers isn't that hard. Many devices attach via IDE cables, or PCI cables, making it quite easy to construct and put things together for the average user, if they'll take the time to find the books or tutorials that they will need. (This is a great place to look for that sort of thing.)

Why else should you go with internal? Its harder to steal. External hardware, someone can pick it up and walk off. With internal, they'd have to take the entire machine. Also, it gives you a chance to learn about your computer's inards. Any time you get a chance to learn, go for it. In this case, its just one great bonus to something that was already there and good.