Process To Convert An Internal Hard Drive Into An External Drive
If you’ve kept your computer upgraded to the latest specs, chances are quite good that you have more than one hard drive installed.
That’s also a great policy in general, by the way – separating your Operating System installation from your data storage all the way at the base hardware itself is a good way to keep your data secure.
Even if you didn’t, it’s a common and sensible practice while upgrading to just keep your old drive as a backup – I still have an old 40 GB Samsung from 2004 that has somehow survived for nearly a decade and a half without even a single failure (I keep waiting for the thing to show some sign of complaint so I can throw it out, but it’s being stubborn).
#Not Always Internal
Sometimes, though it’s not practical to keep the drive inside your rig. There may not be enough drive bays, for one thing. For another, you may not want to clutter up your My Computer with a dozen alphabetized drives.
The old drive may also be incompatible with your new board. What to do then? The clear options are either throw it out, give it to someone who’s running a lower-end rig, or sell it off second-hand.
The first is a waste of resource, the second is nice if you know someone who’ll take it off your hands and the third will get you some chump change since no one trusts a second-hand drive no matter how cheap it is.
But there’s another choice which we’re showing you today: keep it as a backup, but remember there’s no reason to keep a backup drive inside the computer – when you can just convert it into a portable USB external drive.
Now, obviously, there are some advantages to that;
You don’t need the drive to take up a bay inside the cabinet, and it also cuts down on the power consumption and heat generated by the PC when it runs. And you can still access it whenever you want just by plugging it into the USB port;
Of course, an external drive built this way will be bulkier, heavier and thus less portable than an off-market USB external drive, but being able to store away and backup data and lock it up in a cupboard safely is a plus nonetheless.
Before you ask, yes, you can also do this with your internal 2.5 inches SSDs too.
#So, What do we need for that?
The first thing you need is to buy a thing called a Hard Drive Enclosure. There a couple of other names to the thing – Hard Drive Caddy, Hard Drive Box, whatever. But the technical term is an enclosure, and that’s the one they go by in most stores and websites.
Hard Drive Enclosures do pretty much exactly what the name describes – the enclose the Hard Drive, which, if you’ve ever seen an HDD, does not have the rugged exterior to survive unprotected in the dusty, wet, hot world outside the PC cabinet.
The Enclosure protects the delicate parts of the hard drive – and at the same time comes with the required cords and converters to change the connection into a plug-and-play USB version.
Enclosures aren’t expensive and the basic ones go for as little as $10. For those who don’t mind paying a bit more, you can get the higher-end versions which come with extra features such as higher-speed connections, stronger and shock-resistant builds, and built-in networking capabilities or a Wi-Fi data connection that enable the drive to be used by any tablet, phone, or even in TV.
#Different Types Of Hard Drive Enclosure
The important thing is that you get the connection right – if your internal drive uses an SATA, get an SATA. If the drive in question is really old, it might have a PATA connection; don’t worry, there are Enclosures that come configured for it – you can check the respective manufacturers’ websites before buying just to confirm.
You also need to consider the size of the drive – a 2.5-inch HDD or SSD’s enclosure will not fit a 3.5-inch Hard Drive, although there are some Enclosures that make the reverse possible.
Also, there are enclosures available in the market with USB 2.0 connections, so whatever you do, make sure that you do not buy these. A 2.0 connection will likely make the drive (even older drives) perform much slower than its potential;
So, USB 3.0 transmission is mandatory (unless you want to hit “copy” for a backup and don’t have anything to do for the rest of the day but watch the screen with your chin in your hands);
And not just only USB, some of the enclosure comes with a power adaptor just to provide the power supply to the drive, where the other once doesn’t need any other power source to power up the drive;
Because of those +5DCV who comes from your computer’s USB Port, which is basically also enough to power up a small 2.5 inch SSD or a Hard Drive.
But this type of casing won’t works for big the hard drives who’s actually 3.5 inches diagonally long.
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Right, now that you have the drive you want to make external and the enclosure to do that in, grab Mr. Trusty Screwdriver (always keep him nearby) and we’re good to go.
The procedure is a lot easier than you might think, and also doesn’t even take that long.
NOTE: Format your internal drive before you attempt the below instructions. It is best if the drive only has one partition, the way external drives usually do. If formatting is not an option and you have data inside, make sure all of it is in one partition, at least. Do not do this with a drive that has Windows installed in it – it’s useless and a waste of space.
So, Let’s See:
- Disconnect the brackets and screws from the internal drive – This will not be a requirement for 2.5-inch SSDs, but even 2.5 form-factor HDDs will have some brackets that need to be removed before they can be placed in the enclosure. Some 3.5-inch enclosures will accept the bigger HDDs as-is. Regardless of form factor, if you have compatible models then as soon as you open up the enclosure it should be clear how the drive fits inside – so if you need to remove the brackets, remove the brackets.
- Open up the enclosure and mount the drive inside – Some enclosures, especially 2.5-inch versions, are tool-less models which unscrew, push-lock, flip open a lid or unlock with a switch. Bigger 3.5-inch enclosures may have screws, so you’ll need Mr. Trusty’s help. Mounting the drive inside will definitely require some screws. Double-check that the drive is secure and doesn’t wiggle around or anything.
- Set up the connections – SATA, PATA, whatever. The 3.5-inch models will sometimes use an external power connection rather than pull power through the USB – if this is the case you’ll need to connect the power to a different port. If you’re doubtful, again, check the manufacturer’s website. We can attest that none of the connections are interchangeable here, so it’s unlikely you’ll set it up wrong. Compatible connections will slide in and stay solid without any issues.
- Close up the enclosure – Tighten, push-lock, flip the lid, lock with the switch or screw it shut with Mr. Trusty.
- Connect it to your PC – And that’s it! If you did everything right the internal drive will now work as a portable USB drive – you can do anything you usually do with an external drive – use it for backup, carry it around, install Live OS or Windows On-the-Go, all of it will work exactly the way it will on a normal USB drive.
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