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Can I Buy a USB SCSI Drive Enclosure?

written by: John Lister•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 9/28/2009

Many people with a hard drive using the SCSI system will struggle to connect it to a modern computer. We look at the various options for doing do.

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    What is it and how does it work?

    A USB SCSI drive enclosure is a casing which holds and surrounds a SCSI drive and then connects it to a computer through a USB connection as well as carrying power to the device. SCSI stands for Small Computer System Interface.

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    Why would you need it?

    There are several reasons for using an SCSI drive enclosure. One is that many computers do not have suitable SCSI connections inside. Another is that it allows a SCSI drive to be used on any computer with relatively easy switching. This is particularly useful given that SCSI drives do some of their own processing, making them a useful temporary solution for computers with low specifications. However, it’s worth remembering that the advantages of SCSI drives such as improved reliability and resilience are generally strongest where they are in permanent operation.

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    Where can I get one

    Bad news: USB-based SCSI drive enclosures are difficult if not impossible to find on sale from computer retailers. The only real option is to build your own or to buy one second-hand.

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    But I see SCSI drive enclosures listed everywhere?

    This is not the same thing. These enclosures are effectively a storage system for holding SCSI drives outside of your computer. This can be particularly useful as SCSI drives can be daisy-chained together allowing multiple drives to run through a single connection on a computer. The enclosure solves the problem of limited space inside a computer’s casing. However, it still connects to the computer through an SCSI rather than USB connection.

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    What are the alternatives?

    It is more likely you will find computer retailers stocking adaptor leads to plug an SCSI device into a USB socket. As these are usually designed to cope with as many as seven “daisy-chained” devices, these may be useful when you have both an SCSI hard drive and other devices such as optical drives or back-up devices. The big disadvantage is that the adaptor doesn’t come with any casings. This can lower the physical protection for your drives and devices and may mean your workspace looks less tidy.

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    A SCSI to USB adapter