How to take advantage of your old hard drive for external storage

If you’ve upgraded your PC’s storage systems to SSD, you’ve likely racked up a few hard drives. There is no going back. It is an unstoppable transition in the consumer market. This does not mean that we cannot take advantage of them for other tasks.

A clear destination (and highly recommended) is to mount them on NAS computers  , which in addition to serving as a storage server will not force you to install so much internal storage capacity on your computers where you install the new solid state drives. Another good way to take advantage of them is by creating external storage units that we can use in multiple uses . For example to increase the storage capacity of other equipment; save backup copies; use them as boot media to install operating systems or as an external disk for entertainment content that connected to a router or a smart tv allows us to view movies or series on the local network.

How to take advantage of a hard drive for external storage

In a very simple and economical way, as we are going to remind you in this article, because there are solutions for less than 10 euros to convert our hard drive into external using different adapters.

Single Cable

single cable  that connects the interface (and power) of a hard drive to an external port on a desktop or laptop. It is an unaesthetic solution in sight and when transporting it so we would only use it on a desk. Of course, cheaper and easier impossible.


Something more expensive than the previous thing but more versatile and aesthetic is a  connection base or dock. Its use is as simple as ‘puncturing’ the hard drives in their housings and connecting the base to a PC. They generally offer multiple 2.5- or 3.5-inch drive bays which are what you may have removed from laptops or desktops and can handle multiple interfaces. Its installation is very simple and without the need for any tools. It is mainly focused on uses on a computer desk (or living room to connect to the router, streamer or television) although like the previous one it can be transported and used on different computers. There is a wide offer in all price ranges.


The most elegant thing is to use a casing-chassis where we will place the hard disk . It is simply a matter of removing a few screws because the circuitry is already included inside. There is an offer for 3.5-inch disks and also for 2.5-inch ones, which are the best solution if we want to use it as a portable hard disk that we are going to move off the desktop. As with the docks, the offer is vast with all kinds of designs to suit the desk, living room or mobility.

Considerations for using a hard drive for external storage

As you have seen, using one of the above systems is as simple as it is economical, but before choosing it there are some considerations to take into account. The first is obvious and refers to making sure that the hard drives were in good condition because they were working properly when they were removed.

Size and Interface

The first consideration is to know the size (form factor) and interface of the hard drives we have. The most normal thing is that we have hard drives with a standard size of  3.5 and 2.5 inches . The former are generally used in desktop PCs while the 2.5-inch ones are common for laptops.

In both cases we can take advantage of them to create external drives although in those for laptops we will have to make sure of their thickness to buy the adapter, taking into account that we can find  12.5, 9 and 7 mm . The latter will be the most suitable if we want to use the external unit in mobility due to its smaller size and weight, while the former will surely offer us a greater storage capacity.

Regarding the interface (internal connections to the motherboard), we can find the oldest  PATA  (also known as IDE) that dominated the market from the 80s to the beginning of the century, or the more modern  SATA  that were introduced from 2003. If we have to choose obviously we would do it for the SATA that will offer us a higher performance.

External connection interface

When buying the adapter we must also take into account the interface that we are going to use for its connection, be it USB, FireWire, eSATA and even Thunderbolt. eSATA is very, very fast because it connects directly to the SATA interface of the computer. The problem is that it is not available on many computers. The same can be said of Thunderbolt, plus there is little offer. In the case of FireWire, it will surely be the option if we are going to use our external drive preferably with Apple computers.

The natural choice for most users will be to opt for the USB port that offers the best compatibility of all formats and reasonable performance if we use versions from USB 3.0. We will also find them with USB 2.0 output, even more compatible but much slower. As for the connector, we can find adapters with the standard size, micro or a combination of both.

Do not hesitate. Although the industry offers a wide range of external storage solutions, including pendrive formats, those based on SD memory cards or drives as advanced as the portable and wireless WD My Passport Wireless SSD that we analyzed this week, use our old hard drive for external storage is a  simple and inexpensive way to take advantage of them . taking into account the above considerations and buying the right adapter for each use situation.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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