Connect an internal hard drive externally

Connect internal hard drive externally | 3 different solutions

connect internal hard drive externally

Who has not experienced it, the old PC and laptop no longer want or are too old but you do not want to dispose of the old hard drives that are located internally? The internal hard drives of a PC and or a laptop you remove already for security reasons. Let’s say you’ve replaced the hard drive installed on your desktop PC or notebook with an SSD or a newer, larger, more powerful hard drive. What should I do with the old hard drive?

In the case of replacing with an SSD, you can run the old hard drive as a secondary hard drive or backup so that the data stored on it can be restored. However, in the case of a notebook, you don’t always have a second port to connect another hard drive or SSD. So converting an internal hard drive into an external one is definitely a good idea. To connect hard disks and SSDs to the PC via USB, there are various solutions, some of which are very practical.

Now the question is, what is the best and easiest way to connect an internal hard drive externally?. It doesn’t matter if I want to connect the internal hard drives to a laptop or PC externally.

There are several options for this:

    , with the purchase of a USB docking station , you can not only control multiple monitors , but you can also connect an internal hard drive externally.
  • Fetish disk docking station
  • Hard drive adapter or external hard drive enclosure

External hard drive enclosure for internal 2.5 inch hard drives

Last updated on 1.02.2022 / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API

All solutions have their advantage, it does not have to be however immediately a somewhat more expensive non removable disk docking station

There are several types of devices that allow you to connect an internal hard drive externally. If you want to turn an old hard drive into a more durable external hard drive, you can buy a complete enclosure. After you install the hard drive into the case, you essentially have an external hard drive that you can plug in as you please. You can buy drive boxes and enclosures from ten euros.

If you’re looking for something that allows you to easily connect old drives to your PC temporarily, you can also use a docking station or a simple adapter.

hard drive docking station

The beauty of a docking station is that you can leave it plugged into your PC and simply connect an old hard drive whenever you need to access it. Some docks even allow you to connect two hard drives at the same time . If you routinely work with old hard disks, a hard disk docking station is worth its price. The only problem is that there are hardly any new hard disk docking stations available that support both IDE and SATA connections. So if you need to work with really old IDE drives in addition to SATA drives, it may be necessary to purchase a second dock.

If you only occasionally plug in an old drive, you’re best served with an adapter unit. Originally such adapters were on the unsafe side. However, improvements in both operating systems and the hardware itself have produced reliable functionality at really reasonable prices.

Docking station for hard drives

Last updated on 1.02.2022 / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API

Connect the internal hard drive externally, here’s how it’s done

Deciding on the hardware you want is the trickiest part of this whole endeavor. After you purchase the hardware, you should only connect the drive to it and then connect the hardware to the PC. If you use a dock, it’s super simple. Connect the dock to your PC just like you would connect an external drive. Insert the hard drive into the designated slot and turn on the dock.

If you use an adapter, it is necessary to use the appropriate side of the adapter (3.5 IDE, 2.5 IDE or SATA). Plug the adapter into a USB port on your computer or laptop, connect power through the Molex adapter unit, and then turn on the switch on the power cable to provide power to the drive.

external hard disk enclosure

Depending on what type of hard drive connector you have, the type of connectors you want to plug in will differ significantly. For most modern drives that use SATA\mSATA, there is a single 7-pin connector, which is not only the interface, but also provides the power supply. For (IDE) you have a 40-pin interface and a 4-pin power connector.

Connecting an internal 2.5″ hard drive to a USB BOX is very easy and only takes 1-2 minutes:

  1. Open the case/box along the intended location. Most of them have clamps.
  2. Place the internal hard disk inside, paying attention to the interfaces so as not to damage the hard disk.
  3. Close the retaining clips.
  4. Connect the USB cable of the box to the PC/laptop/dock. If the box has a power switch, now is the time to turn it on.
  5. The internal HDD should be automatically detected by the operating system. If your PC doesn’t recognize the drive, you may have a possible formatting problem. You should format the drive correctly so that it is recognized.

Different sizes different adapters

Conventional electromagnetic hard drives are known to come in 3.5 and 2.5 inch form factors (the latter are mainly used in notebooks). 3.5″ hard drives are on average larger and cheaper (cost per gigabyte) than 2.5″ hard drives, but they also require an external power supply: this means that if you connect a 3.5″ hard drive as an external drive, you will need to connect a power cable in addition to the USB cable. Conversely, if you are putting a 2.5″ hard drive in an external box, you don’t need to use any additional connectors (power supply) and only need to connect the USB cable to the PC. Compared to 3.5-inch drives, 2.5-inch drives are generally less spacious, as mentioned earlier, and come in different thicknesses: 7, 9.5, and 12.5 millimeters.

Personal computers usually have "large" 3.5 inch HDDs, while laptops have smaller ones of 2.5 inches (1 inch is 2.54 cm) . The numbers 2.5 and 3.5 are used to designate form factors and indicate the actual width of a hard drive body in inches. The height of all modern 3.5″ HDDs is 25 mm; it is called "half height" compared to older models. This is the height manufacturers use to fit one to five disks into the enclosure. With the 2.5″ HDDs are a different story, as the original height of 12.5 mm has been achieved through the 9.5 mm replaced, which can take up to three disks (nowadays there are also narrower disks). The 9.5mm height has actually become a standard for most laptops, but some manufacturers still produce 12.5mm hard drives based on three platters.

Sata adapter for internal hard drives, SSD, SATA and IDE

Speed and interface

Connecting a hard disk with 5400, 7200 or 10000 RPM via an external box, via USB, changes little in the performance aspect. Hard drives with a higher (RPM ) can be used for transfers via USB 3.0 or more recently USB 3.1 (especially when reading or writing thousands of small files) offer some advantages, but the benefits will hardly seem noticeable to most people.

  • USB 2.0 = 480 Mbit/s (60 MByte/s)
  • The most common: USB 3.0 = 5 Gbit/s (625 MByte/s)
  • USB 3.1 = 10 Gbit/s (1.25 GByte/s)

Other transfer rates that will become common in the future include:

  • USB 3.2 (USB-C on both ends) = 20 Gbit/s (2.5 GByte/s) (launched in 2019)
  • USB 4.0 = 40 Gbit/s (5 GByte/s) = probably starting in 2021 or 2022

The price

The price of adapters/enclosures or docks varies from 10 to 150 euros , depending on what you choose. A simple hard drive enclosure is available for about 10-15 euros has a simple connection and is ideal for those who want to use it as a backup. Starting at 40 Euros, you can already get a hard drive docking station if you need a wider selection of connection types and speeds. These are for those who want to transfer more data over a longer period of time. Usb docking stations worth more than 60-70 euros are more the profile solution, they are networkable, which means that your hard drive can be turned into a simple NAS drive.

Why it is worth to connect an internal hard disk externally?

  • An old hard drive, even if replaced by a faster model or by a recent and very powerful SSD, can always be a very good means of data storage. Why discard a hard drive that still works well and can be used as an external drive?
  • The cost of hard drive boxes (also called enclosures) to turn an internal hard drive into an external one is not really worth mentioning.
  • Using a self-bought hard disk and converting it to an external storage drive can often be a better solution than buying an external hard disk.
  • The hard disks included in the external hard disks of different manufacturers cannot be replaced by hard disks of any brands. When you buy a hard drive box, you can use any type of hard drive from any manufacturer .
  • Converting an internal hard drive to an external hard drive allows you to easily recover the data stored on it if needed. If you have used the hard drive on a particular system connected to the internal home network in the past, this drive can serve as a tool for restoring backup copies of documents and files.
  • Using a solution that allows you to quickly connect a particular computer’s hard drive to another system as an external drive is extremely beneficial in cases where data recovery is required.

Problems with recognizing external hard drives and what to do about them

  • First of all, make sure that the hard drive has its own power supply. The latest devices are passive, but there are still external hard drives that have their own power connector. If this is the case, please connect the hard disk to the power supply.
  • Make sure the external hard drive is connected to the USB port.
  • Try another USB port /laptop /PC. The problem may not be with your device, but with the port you use to connect to your computer/laptop.
  • Check the drive in Disk Management. Open the Disk Management program in Windows by simultaneously clicking the Windows key + X, then select Disk Management. Alternatively, you can do this by simultaneously clicking the Windows key + R and typing the command diskmgmt in the input field.type msc and run it.

Disk management

If you see the drive here and a drive letter is assigned, then it should work. If there is no drive letter assigned or the drive is not listed, then create a new disk and assign a drive letter (that is still free). There partition and format it so that Windows and other devices can access it.

  • Partition the drive: If the hard drive appears partitioned but you still can’t access it, it’s probably partitioned with a different file system. For example, you may have formatted the drive with Linux’s XFS file system or APFS on a Mac. Windows cannot read these file systems. Therefore, you need to reformat the drive with the newer NTFS or older FAT32 file system for Windows to recognize it.


After years of honorable work, your home computer or work laptop has decided to leave you. No more signs of life, you took it to a trusted technician who advised you not to spend money on repairs as too expensive, but to consider buying either a new and more modern computer/laptop. Also, he told you that the problem is not with the hard drive, and since it still works, he suggested you to use it as an external hard drive. I too had such a case, after 3 years of honorable work with my Dell notebook, it just wouldn’t boot anymore. Even after swapping the power supply and battery nothing happened. Finally I brought it in for repair.

The repair would have cost at approx. 300-400 Euro located, so much too high to repair my notebook yet. For this reason I decided to buy a new laptop, but keep the internal SSD hard drive, which was still intact and connect it by means of an external hard drive enclosure . Selling my internal hard drive on Ebay was never an option, even for security reasons. So if you are considering an inexpensive solution, you should get an adapter to simply continue using your internal hard drive. I have had my Icy box in use for over 1 year and it does what it is supposed to do. The only disadvantage of such a box is that the computer/laptop takes longer to boot the operating system , so such solutions are recommended only to use it as a backup.

Can an internal hard disk be operated externally?

Answer is yes you can, if you have ever upgraded your computer or just have old hard drives lying around, it is possible to convert the device into an external hard drive.

How do I connect an internal hard drive to my laptop?

In this case, if it is an internal hard drive, you will first need an external hard drive adapter, which you can buy at a specialty store or online. Then you can connect your internal hard drive to the laptop via a USB cable.

Can you connect a SATA drive to a USB port on the laptop?

For this you need a SATA/IDE to USB adapter. In short, this little adapter allows you to connect your internal hard drives and SSDs that use either a SATA or IDE interface to your laptop by simply plugging them into an open USB port.

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