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How to Convert an Internal Laptop Hard Drive to an External Drive

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 10/14/2009

Did you know you can save yourself some money and convert an internal laptop hard drive to an external hard drive? It's a simple process that will cost you anywhere from $13-$25, which is much less than you'd spend on an external right out of the box.

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    Converting an Internal Hard Drive to an External One

    Internal hard drives stay in your computer, and risk crashing at any time. External hard drives can connect to any computer via USB, but what is inside an external hard drive is the same kind of hard drive your computer uses as its internal drive. This means you can convert an internal to an external drive with a simple kit that includes a case, a USB cable and a power adapter. We'll focus on laptop drive conversions in this article, as an excellent article has already been done on desktop hard drive conversions.

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    List of Steps and Things You’ll Need

    Internal Hard Drive (SATA or IDE, though you need to know which type when purchasing your kit)

    Hard Drive Enclosure Kit (available from a variety of merchants at a variety of prices--remember to check the type)

    Screwdriver (to assist in closing the case around the drive, though some kits may come with one)

    Anti-Static Bracelet (optional, used to discharge the static when handling an exposed hard drive)

    Step One

    Purchase your internal drive and kit. Remember that a laptop drive is a 2.5'' drive so you should pay close attention to the size and internal dimensions of the casing when you purchase it to avoid a fiasco later.

    Also, when considering your kit, if you are using an IDE drive that you had laying around the house, you need to be sure that you purchase an IDE kit. SATA is the more commonly used method these days, and will not work with IDE. Some kits though, may have what you need to use it either way.

    Step Two

    Next, remove the hard drive you either purchased or had as a spare from your computer or its packaging. Connect it to the casing as requested by the kit- plugging in the connector or using the cables provided in the kit. Close the kit around the drive using the screws that are provided in the kit.

    Step Three

    Insert the USB cable into the drive, and plug the AC adapter into both the hard drive and the power source. Insert the other end of the USB cable into your computer. You should now be able to pull information from one drive to another.

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    Tips, Warnings, and Other Information

    • If you experience any issues, you should consult the documentation that comes along with the kit you decided to purchase.
    • Remember to touch the outside of your computer case or wear an anti-static bracelet when you are handling the exposed hard drive.
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    Some Products for you to Try

    CompUSA 2.5'' IDE Enclosure Kit This kit will run you about $10, but nothing is noted about the dimensions. Remember that most cases will not hold anything lthicker than 9.5 mm--inside dimensions.

    NexStar 2.5'' IDE Enclosure Kit Dimensions of this kit are 132 X 80 X 15 mm. Follow the link for more information, or to purchase this kit.

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