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Here is the differences I would see.

  • If you are developing some code in an external file, and using it in the Sage REPL or the Sage Notebook, or a Sage worksheet on SageMathCloud, to debug or to explore, then 'attach' is your friend, especially while the code in the file is evolving.

  • If you just want to use some code from an external file but you are done modifying the code in that file, there is not much point in using 'attach', and 'load' is better suited to this need.

Another thing is that at some point attach was broken in the Sage Notebook. (Not sure if that is solved now?)