Hard disks have almost become the new floppies -- yet another form of swappable storage. External drives are great for auxiliary storage and backup, and even internal drives are loosening up -- you can swap them in slide-out trays, or mount them in drive kit enclosures from companies like ADS Tech, turning a bare internal hard drive into an external USB drive or even a networked drive.
But mounting a drive in an enclosure is lot of hassle when you just want to quickly access its contents, whether to grab an old copy of a file or to transfer the entire contents of an old disk.
Instead, what you need is a quick adapter to convert the drive to USB, like the
NewerTech USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter -- available now for $24.95 (introductory pricing).
This is a small adapter attached to a USB cable, and sporting three interfaces for different kinds of disk drives:
- Full-size 40-pin ATA connector for 3.5" IDE/ATA drives and 5.25" ATAPI drives
- Mini 44-pin ATA connector for smaller 2.5" IDE drives
- Serial ATA (SATA) connector for 3.5" / 2.5" SATA drives (This also should work with an eSATA drive using a standard SATA to eSATA cable.)
Besides having the proper interface connector, you also need to power the drive. NewerTech therefore includes a power adapter with a 4-pin connector that powers full-size drives directly, plus a SATA adapter. (No external power is required for 2.5" drives, which are powered directly by bus power over the USB interface.)
Connect the wires, power up, and your bare internal hard disk drive now mounts as an external USB drive -- on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Newer Technology does warn that you should be careful running a bare internal drive without a protective enclosure in this way, and place the drive on a rubber surface like the bottom of a mousepad to protect against electrostatic discharge.
See more in the Portable Storage Gallery, under Portable Hard Disk Drives.