Internal hard drive to external?
September 30, 2006 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I have a hard disk that I pulled out of a dead computer. It has been formated and has data on it. Are there any external adapters that I can plug it into so that I can use it as an external drive?
posted by mtstover to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by tomierna at 11:01 AM on September 30, 2006

You want to look for an external drive case. Shouldn't cost you more than USS$40. They go on sale fairly often, make sure you don't get a 2.5" (3.5" or 5" are both fine).
posted by QIbHom at 11:02 AM on September 30, 2006

If you don't need firewire, this choice is a good, and probably cheaper.
posted by mphuie at 12:40 PM on September 30, 2006

With enclosures, my experience has been do not buy the cheapest one. The difference between a $20 enclosure and a $40 enclosure is that the cheaper one skimps on sound insulation. That can be the difference between a silent drive and one that makes a constant, high-pitched whining that'll drive you nuts.
posted by Hildago at 1:01 PM on September 30, 2006

If you pay a little extra you can get the "Coolmax" style that's basically an aluminum box where your HD sits snugly. There's no fan, and you're good as long as you can get good air circulation around the drive (i.e. don't put anything on top of it).
posted by rxrfrx at 1:34 PM on September 30, 2006

When I read the original question, it didn't sound like mtstover wanted a full enclosure, which is why I linked the (expensive) wiebetech device.

mtstover, if you want to buy a coolmax style enclosure, like what rxrfrx suggests, and you can deal with Firewire-only, I will gladly sell you one of the three empties I have laying about.

E-mail in profile.
posted by tomierna at 2:18 PM on September 30, 2006

There was an AskMe question yesterday that covered how to make your external drive work if it's giving you problems, and I link to an enclosure that I'm currently using. Wooted?
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:21 PM on September 30, 2006

I meant cheaper as in most firewire devices add a substantial cost.

It sounds like you just want to get the data off your drive, so a enclosure would be a bit overkill. A simple adapter is way more convenient.
posted by mphuie at 3:39 PM on September 30, 2006

I picked this guy up just the other day. It's basically what mphuie linked to, but with Serial ATA support too. My reasoning: I think SATA's going to be become the standard for drives now, so I don't want to buy something that'll rapidly become obsolete.

Basically, you hook it up to your hard drive, plug the hard drive in (external adapter included), and then plug it into your USB port. If you've got WinXP, it works automatically, provided it's a format WinXP speaks.

If you want it long-term, you can get one of the many, many enclosures that are for sale to make it not look like a jury-rigged setup.
posted by fogster at 5:04 PM on September 30, 2006

I have one like mphuie's and fogster's. While it is convenient, a warning: my friend bought one, and its power supply subsequently melted, taking out his disk. I had a similar problem with one of the three disks I tried it on. Using a voltmeter, I measured the 5V rail on the power supply to be 7V, well outside the tolerance of the HD (enough to cause smoke, I guess).

Long story short, beware. These things apparently come with cheap power supplies. The USB part seems to work fine though. You could use an old computer's power supply instead. I would in any case measure the voltage before using it.

I bought mine at, and there's one at which are somewhat cheaper than the ones linked to above. I'm not sure if that's a recommendation, though. My friend got his off ebay. have since refunded me.
posted by alexei at 8:52 PM on September 30, 2006

In my experience, the NexStar enclosures are a perfect balance of decently-cheap and excellent-quality. I strongly second the advice not to buy the cheapest enclosure you can find. is a good site for reliably low prices and useful item reviews from customers.
posted by allterrainbrain at 10:00 PM on September 30, 2006

I also recommend not cheaping-out on this. I tried, to my dismay, one of the sketchy-looking, off-brand, ugly-box drive enclosures (typical of the local PC-modder nerdshop inventory) and upon powering up it permanently fried the drive I had inserted into it.
posted by Tubes at 2:32 PM on October 2, 2006

Thanks all for the help -- will give your suggestions a look!
posted by mtstover at 1:16 PM on October 12, 2006

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