Can I use the drive from a portable HD internally?
November 6, 2011 4:25 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to buy one of these 1TB WD Elements Portable HDs and take out the drive within to get a drive I could pop into my MBP? This site would suggest it is... but then why is this so much more expensive than this?
posted by mandrake to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Flooding in Thailand. No, really. But it seems they haven't adjusted the price of "packaged" drives yet.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:33 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yes, it is. The only thing is to make sure you have a desktop-sized drive, not a laptop-sized drive... but for 1TB the bigger drive is certainly likely.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:13 PM on November 6, 2011

Yes, though with a caveat: at least a couple of years ago, certain WD drives had their own 'shock guard' system that didn't interact well with the MBP's sudden motion sensor. I don't know if newer WD drives have the same compatibility issues, and you won't know which model drive you have until you crack open the enclosure.

Assume that prices for drives in enclosures will follow the prices of bare drives very soon.
posted by holgate at 6:04 PM on November 6, 2011

Yes, just be sure you get the right size - 2.5 or 3.5 inches, and the right interface - probably SATA OR eSATA these days, to fit your system. Assuming MBP means a Macbook, that would be 2.5". I don't know what interface they use.
posted by Diag at 7:50 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

In addition to the basic drive size, also check the drive height (measured in mm). There are some weirdly tall drives, and some laptop models that won't fit them. You'll almost certainly be fine but it's always good to check.
posted by miyabo at 8:28 PM on November 6, 2011

1TB 2.5" drives were pricey before the flooding, now they're just insane.

As miyabo noted, the drive height / thickness is going to be a major factor in your success. Most laptops you can get away with the thicker drives, but in my experience many apples will only take the thinner drives.

From the thickness, I'd suspect that that WD enclosure may actually have 2 500GB drives inside it in a RAID 0 configuration.
posted by jjb at 9:05 PM on November 6, 2011

[...]and the right interface - probably SATA OR eSATA these days, to fit your system.

Just a minor correction - it's either SATA or the ancient PATA. Any semi-recent computer will use SATA, and that drive is 99.9% likely to be SATA, so you should be fine.

eSATA is an external variety of SATA, meant for connecting external hard drives with a fast connection speed. That interface won't be on the drive itself, it'll be on the external case.
posted by Magnakai at 3:45 AM on November 7, 2011

Assuming the external drive is just one drive inside, it's probably a lower performance drive than the bare drive that you linked. Maybe a Caviar Green, or some weird double height one.

(I know that there are at least two heights that 2.5" drives come in, the laptop sized 7mm and a 9mm that is used in higher performance applications. There may be larger ones too. I doubt a 9mm will fit in the MBP, but it's possible. Some of the performance/enterprise drives also require 12v power, which most laptops don't provide. This won't be an issue for you, because that enclosure is powered off the 5v USB power, I'm just mentioning it for reference.)

The drive you linked also has some of the more advanced features like shock guard, which adds price.

It will probably work, but you might not be happy with the performance.
posted by gjc at 6:48 AM on November 7, 2011

I've found Western Digital portable hard drives quite painful things to get into; lots of double-sided foam tape stuck to metalwork barely heavier than foil makes it obvious that these things are designed for rapid assembly above all else and were never intended to be taken apart. But the drives inside are indeed normal laptop-sized ones.
posted by flabdablet at 8:31 AM on November 7, 2011

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