Computers & Mobile Craft & Design Workshop
Making external HDs on the cheap

ultraHD.jpg
I’ve written a review on Street Tech of the Ultra 3.5″ hard drive enclosure that TigerDirect is selling for under $20. I knew rolling your own external HD was easy, but it’s mindlessly simple, and you can save some money. For instance, TigerDirect sells an 80GB Ultra drive (a WD HD in an Ultra case) for $90. You can buy the same drive for $45 and the case for $20, saving yourself $25 for less than five minutes work. Or you most likely have an HD in an old computer you can yank, re-case, and use as an external backup drive. That’s what I’m doing.

Ultra 3.5″ Hard Drive Enclosure – Link

18 thoughts on “Making external HDs on the cheap

  1. I use these a lot, you may need to get an enclosure with a fan if you put in a large capacity hard drive since they can get hot with high activity. They’re good for upgrading your computer’s hard drive or pulling data from an old one.

  2. Interesting. I’ve heard grumblings over TD over the years, but I’ve ordered tons of stuff and never had a problem (but then, I’ve never had a problem — it sounds like it’s the CS on complaints where they stumble). So, I guess: At your own risk, your mileage may vary, etc, etc.

    Looks like geeks.com has a bunch of enclosures in this price range. They have the USB2-only version of this same enclosure (under a different brand) for only sixteen bones. Don’t see the 1394 version, tho.

  3. Don’t get the enclosure pictured here on this page. It is horrible. Stripped screws, broken plastic, and a broken fan all on one enclosure. I have an adapter one and a generic one that are both much better. I also have two more (from eagle/eaglebit) on the way.

  4. >Also, $45 for an 80gb is a horrible price.
    >Just lst week I saw a 250GB for $46.

    Well then, you’d save even more money, wouldn’t you? I just grabbed the first comparison on TigerDirect of a commercially-cased version vs. buying the case and the HD and combining them yourself.

    Those Eaglebit.com enclosures do look nice, and they’re cheap, and aluminum. Don’t have fans in ’em, but honestly, I’m not sure how much of a difference that makes. I have a fanless ext. HD now and it doesn’t run very hot.

  5. I just bought a “Mad Dog” ext case at Ratshack for $20, gonna go try to get another one tomorrow. It seems like a pretty solid unit, looks nice too. You can harvest old hard drives all over if you just want some backup space or something.

  6. All my old 2.5″ drives end up in external enclosures. The nice thing about those is no power supply and no fan.

    One little gotcha. Drive enclosures really should have support for spinning down the drives when they’re not active. Almost none of them do. In the interests of saving power, money and general green-ness, it would be good if somebody could do some research into this area.

  7. This may be a good idea if you have some old hard drives laying around but in the last few months the market has been flooded with very cheap WD and Seagate external hard drives.

    I just picked up a Seagate “FreeAgent” 320GB external drive for about $120.00.

    Picking this up in the store was much more preferable than taking the risk of dealing with TigerDirect (been there done that).

  8. I recommend dumping traditional enclosures and getting a cable like this.- http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/review/brando_usb_2_0_to_sata_ide_cable
    They can be found for about $10.
    This $9.99 enclosure works well in combination with the above cable –
    http://www.cyberguys.com/templates/searchdetail.asp?productID=13132
    or roll your own!
    Connecting a power supply to a 3.5 drive is a nuisance. I’m sticking with 2.5″ drives that can be USB powered. Unless you need the greater capacity or speed of a 3.5, a 2.5 is much less hassle.

  9. not much luck with tigerdirect, rmas were a hassle. we have much better service from newegg. newegg.com carries several dual hd enclosures, they carry the OKGEAR OK350AU2D-K Dual 3.5″ USB 2.0 External for $24.99. not best for sustained throughput but great for mass storage needs and backups.

  10. Don’t get the enclosure pictured here on this page. It is horrible. Stripped screws, broken plastic, and a broken fan all on one enclosure. I have an adapter one and a generic one that are both much better. I also have two more (from eagle/eaglebit) on the way.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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