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Upgrading your laptop? Save the hard drive!


Having gone through several laptops over the past few years, I’ve ended up with a collection of various 2.5″ SATA and IDE hard drives. Aside from privacy reasons, I typically remove the drives prior to disposing of the laptops with the mindset:  “I can use this later for something. I always need space. Why throw this out?”

Hard driveIt sounds good in theory, but until recently they’ve been sitting on a shelf in my closet slowly collecting dust and gathering in number.

I had considered purchasing an external enclosure for the drives, as I was essentially wasting terabytes of potential space. The truth is, unless you’re willing to purchase a dedicated housing for each drive, external drop-in enclosures tend to be a bit of a pain with laptop hard drives.

As the average laptop hard drive is still between 250 GB and 500GB in size, swapping disks into and out of an enclosure can be tedious with larger backups that can span multiple drives.  Most enclosures need to be at least partially disassembled to swap the drives, which are typically secured with screws and rails that must be removed. Unfortunately, as most drive enclosures cost between $30 and $50, it’s not cost effective to purchase individual permanent external housing for such small drives.

This was my situation until I stumbled across the ideal solution from StarTech at ShopBLT.com. StarTech’s 2.5″ IDE/SATA enclosure series, most notably the SAT2510U2 and IDE2510U2, contain everything I want in an enclosure.

StarTech SAT2510U2 2.5IN USB to SATA Hard Drive Enclosure

StarTech SAT2510U2 2.5IN USB to SATA Hard Drive Enclosure

They’re fully bus powered. No AC adapter is required. All power is supplied through 2 USB ports and the included Y cable, which is universal to both IDE and SATA models. There’s a single LED that indicates both power and drive activity, and that’s it. That’s all they do, and that’s awesome. They do everything I need them to do, and they don’t have any extra features that I’ll never use (but still end up paying for).

The best (and most important) thing about these enclosures, is that they’re less than $14 a piece for the IDE version, and less than $17 for the SATA version. At the price ShopBLT.com sells these models for, they’re absolutely inexpensive enough to purchase a dedicated housing for each drive, which is exactly what I did. For less than $100 total, I now have over 3 TB of available space to use at a moment’s notice. Not only are they vastly more convenient to use in backups that span multiple drives, they’re great for transferring large amounts of data to friends, family and colleagues.

If you’ve got an old broken laptop sitting around with a working hard drive, or any old 2.5″ drives with a SATA/IDE interface for that matter, considering purchasing these. They’re simple, they’re inexpensive, and they do the job perfectly.

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  1. July 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Great article, Sam. I’ve got piles of old hard drives sitting around. These enclosures are cheap enough to make finally do something with them cost effective. Great find!

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