If you find yourself stuck with a dead laptop or an outdated hard drive, it may be worth your while to learn how to convert a laptop hard drive into an external hard drive. Why waste a perfectly good opportunity to reuse your old drive as extra storage? Besides, turning your old laptop’s internal hard drive into an external one is inexpensive and straightforward.
Can All Hard Drives Be Converted Into External Hard Drives?
Take note that the steps listed below are suited for hard drives that are considered functional. Make sure that your laptop didn’t make any unusual noises or displayed any error messages before it gave out. If it did, chances are your hard drive is faulty. Unfortunately, a defective hard drive will not be of much use to you unless you manage to have it repaired somehow.
Using a Hard Drive Enclosure or Caddy to Protect the Drive
This is perhaps the most commonly utilized way to convert a laptop hard drive into a portable or external one. Hard drive enclosures are uncomplicated little accessories that can protect your drive, and allow you to connect to a compatible computer or device. For less than $20, you can already get your hands on a good-quality enclosure in the market.
Here are five steps to follow if you intend to make use of a hard drive enclosure.
- Extract your hard drive from your laptop, and remove brackets or screws that are attached to it. The exact procedure to remove the hard drive from a laptop differs for every model, but it involves using a screwdriver to remove a panel that covers the hard drive. Refer to your user’s manual if you experience difficulty in taking out the hard drive, or bring your laptop to a professional.
- Check the size of your hard drive and its interface to ensure you achieve proper enclosure when you purchase your hard drive caddy. Laptop hard drives are 2.5 inches, while those from PCs are 3.5 inches. These measurements refer to the size of the disc inside the hard drive housing. Drive interface is an important specification to verify. Hard drives can be attached to computers using either a SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) or a PATA (Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment) connection type. You most likely have a SATA drive if your laptop was bought recently. SATA drives were introduced around 2003, replacing PATA drives which were considered slower.
- You can physically tell if you have a SATA or PATA drive interface by the types of cables and connectors attached to the drive. A SATA interface will have two flat tabs, while a PATA will have double metal pin rows, with the metal pins adding up to about 40. Additionally, a PATA drive interface usually uses a ribbon cable. Note that PATA is sometimes referred to as IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics).
- Choose the most suitable enclosure or caddy for your hard drive. There are already countless drive enclosure models to choose from, so you have free reign in deciding which is the best for you. A quick search online will reveal just about every hard drive enclosure available today. Make sure though that you select one that has enough height to accommodate your laptop hard drive. I prefer metal or aluminum enclosures because they are great at dissipating heat. I also would instead buy one that is already capable of converting to USB 3.0. Although USB 2.0 offers a broader range of compatibility with USB ports, a USB 3.0 connection can be ten times faster.
- Install the laptop hard drive into the external enclosure. This usually involves having a screwdriver on hand, but quite a number of enclosures now feature a tool-less installation. Simply insert or slide your hard drive into the caddy, and you’re good to go. Just make sure you slide the hard drive the correct way.
Configure your new external hard drive. When you convert a laptop hard drive into an external one, you will have the option of extracting your old files or formatting the drive. You also now have extra storage that was easy on the wallet and a cinch to set up.
Connect an Uncovered Laptop Hard Drive to a Device Via Data Cable
Available nowadays are data power cables that allow you to directly connect a laptop hard drive to a computer as is, without any enclosure. These hard drive converter cables can be a bit pricier than caddies, but they will not require any assembly. Therefore, it is less of a hassle to use them. However, consider that using an exposed laptop hard drive will render the drive vulnerable to dust and other substances that may damage it.
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Connect the Hard Drive Using a Tether Cable or a Hard Drive Dock
If you’re looking for another way to quickly convert a laptop hard drive into an external hard drive, then a tether cable or a hard drive dock might be the best for you. This is a good option if you are only interested in speedily copying or reading files on your hard drive. One significant advantage of using a cable or dock is the fact that it can support different drive sizes.
All it takes to access your laptop hard drive is to insert your drive into the dock or plug in the tether. If you have multiple hard drives lying around that you want to use, then this may be the best for you. Docks cost quite a bit, but good ones are still under $40. More expensive models are those with more features, most notably a clone or duplicator function.
Go With Something You Like That Suits Your Needs
Now that you’re better informed about laptop hard drives, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test. It is always good to have extra storage, so you can never have one too many. With only a few simple steps, you can effortlessly convert a laptop hard drive into an external drive.