Convert Internal to External Hard Drive
So, you finally replaced your computer's old 80 GB hard drive with a faster, more spacious one. Great! Now, what do you do with the old drive? One option is to convert it into a handy, portable external hard drive. It's easy, here's how...
Make Your Own External Hard Drive
It is easy and inexpensive to convert an internal hard drive to an external one. All you need is a hard drive enclosure that fits your existing internal hard drive. Hard drive enclosures are widely available at computer stores and online. Prices range from as little as five dollars for a basic one-drive USB 2.0 enclosure to over a hundred dollars for enclosures that hold multiple internal drives in RAID arrays with eSATA interfaces. You probably don't need to spend more than $20 for a basic one-drive enclosure.
Removing a hard drive from a laptop or desktop is easy. Power down and unplug the computer. On most laptops, you'll remove a plastic panel from the underside of the laptop with one or two small screws. Remove the drive by gently tugging it free from the connectors, and you're done. On a desktop, open the system case, and locate the hard drive in its metal bay. Disconnect the power and data cables, remove the screws holding the drive in the bay, and slide it out. Just remember, you're removing the hard drive, but NOT opening it up. Doing so will damage the sensitive internal components.
You do need to make sure you buy the right kind of drive enclosure kit, so it will be compatible with the drive you've removed from the desktop or laptop.
The first consideration is the size of your hard drive. Laptop drives are all 2.5 inches, while desktop drives are usually 3.5 inches. Determine the size of your internal hard drive and shop for a hard drive enclosure into which it fits. Note that 3.5 inch drives generally require an external power supply, while 2.5 inch drives can pull their power from the computer to which they connect.
The drive interface is another critical factor. Old hard drives may use an IDE interface. Many new drives use the speedier SATA interface. Make sure the enclosure you select supports your internal hard drive's interface. If you have any confusion about the size or interface for your drive, just Google the name. For example, I have an old hard drive that I pulled from a defunct desktop computer. The markings on the drive say "WD Caviar 36400" so a quick search for that phrase tells me it's a 6.4GB Western Digital, 3.5 inch, IDE drive.
Connecting the External Drive to Your Computer
The connector on a hard drive enclosure is the means by which it is connected to your computer. USB 2.0 is a common connector because most computers support it. Firewire is another option if your computer has an available Firewire port. An eSATA connector is faster than USB 2.0 or Firewire, but relatively few computers and enclosures support eSATA at this time.
The enclosure box may be made of aluminum, plastic, or some other material. A box sporting LED indicators helps you observe drive activity. Other bells and whistles are optional.
Installing an internal drive is into an enclosure is easy. You may need a screwdriver, but no special tools are required. Just avoid static electricity and don't force any connectors. If you are enclosing an IDE drive, make sure to set its master/slave jumpers to the positions recommended in the enclosure's instructions. SATA drives do not require jumper settings.
Connect the enclosure's interface cable to the internal hard drive's interface connector. Plug the enclosure's power cable into the drive. Fasten the drive into the enclosure with the fasteners provided. Close up the enclosure.
If necessary, plug in the external drive's power cord. If you don't need external power, just plug the connector cable into the appropriate USB, Firewire, or eSATA port on your computer. Mac and Windows computers should recognize the new drive automatically. It should appear in your drives list with its own drive letter. Copy a few files to and from the new drive to make sure everything is working. Then enjoy your new external hard drive!
Have you done a conversion from an internal to external hard drive? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 29 Jul 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Convert Internal to External Hard Drive (Posted: 29 Jul 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved