How to Turn a Spare Hard Drive into an External USB 3.0 Drive

If you’ve upgraded your laptop or PC with an SSD, you’re probably wondering what to do with your old hard drive. For a small amount of money, you can install it in an external enclosure and use it as an external USB drive. Here’s how to do it.

Can the internal drive be used externally?

Right. Hard drive caddies – or carrying cases – are efficient SATA-USB converters and allow you to turn an internal SATA hard drive into an external hard drive that you can use to store or back up files or to keep a video library that you can attach to your TV.

However, a quick word of warning. If your hard drive is old, it is not wise to use it to back up important files as hard drives have a limited lifespan. You’ll be fine if your hard drive is still working after five years, but the high risk is entrusting your photos and any other files that you can’t replace to the old drive. It’s best to buy a new drive or buy a less complicated portable USB drive, or make sure you make multiple backups across different drives – and the cloud – for better protection.

Assuming your drive isn’t old and is in good working order, you’ll need to purchase an appropriate external case. There are two main types: 3.5in and 2.5in.

3.5-inch hard drives are mainly used in desktop computers, while 2.5-inch disks are used in laptops. Laptop hard drives come in different thicknesses (7mm or 9.5mm), so make sure the caddy you’ve chosen has enough internal height to accommodate your disc.

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We’re using a 9.5mm drive here and an Inateck USB 3 case, which you can buy for £11.99 from Amazon and will accept both 9.5mm and 7mm drives, including SSDs as well as hard drives. traditional. If you’re in the US, it’s even cheaper at just $7.99 from Amazon. There is also a USB-C version if you want to use the latest USB standard.

USB-C ports are slowly becoming the norm, and you’ll find these on the latest laptops and PCs.

Aukey sells a USB-C carrying case that you can buy for £12.99 from Amazon UK and $13.99 from Amazon US.

Aukey USB-CLE external case

Theoretically, the USB-C connection on this caddy can work at speeds up to 5Gb/s or 625MB/s, but it will be limited by the hard drive you put inside it.

Most hard drives use a SATA connector (you can see this in the photo below), but so make sure you buy an enclosure that’s compatible with your drive.

How to install a hard drive in an external case

first. If you haven’t already done so, remove any brackets and screws from the hard drive.

How to use the internal spare hard drive as an external hard drive

2. Opening the caddy: The Inateck FE2005 we’re using is a tool-free model, so just unlocking it with a switch, sliding open the end, and inserting it into the hard drive is a simple case. Carefully slide the hard disk in the correct direction upwards – look inside to see the orientation of the SATA port.

How to use the internal spare hard drive as an external hard drive

How to use the internal spare hard drive as an external hard drive

3. Use the included USB cable to attach the case to your PC or laptop.

4. Depending on what’s on the disk, it may show up in Windows File Explorer and be ready to use. Because our disk was from a Windows laptop, it was formatted as NTFS and assigned a drive letter automatically.

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You can treat it like any hard drive, copy files to it or format it. If you’re only going to use it with Windows, you can leave it in NTFS format, but it’s best to use exFAT if you want to connect it to other devices like set-top boxes for video playback.

What you probably don’t want is for the drive to show up as two disks, as we did due to a 100MB system partition from an old Windows installation.

We will address this in the next step, this also applies if your disk does not appear when you connect.

How to use the internal spare hard drive as an external hard drive

5. If it doesn’t show up in Windows Explorer, search the Start menu for Disk Management, then look for a disk with unallocated space or a disk with no drive letter assigned. Then you can right click on it and format it.

How to use the internal spare hard drive as an external hard drive

Like us, if you need to get rid of an unwanted ‘System Reserved’ partition, just right-click on it and select Delete Volume. Then it will be unallocated space and since it is only 100MB we will leave it unused.

How to use the internal spare hard drive as an external hard drive

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