While this is definitely NOT the way you want to run an external drive for any length of time, it is sometimes very handy to have quick access to a bare drive that you just tore out of something and that isn't going to have a permanent home again. This can be for recovery, file transfer, or just sanity checking: if you are a tech, you want to be able to do this:
The device connecting that naked 2.5" hard drive to my MacBook's USB port is Granite Digital's USB 2.0 to SATA / IDE Bridge Adapter (Tux is standing guard becaause that's a Linux drive and he doesn't like it being connected to the Mac). The whole kit, with power supply and adapters is just $39.95
As I noted above, this is for techies in the field. If you want to hook up something permanently, you need a real enclosure (and Granite Digital sells these also). This is for temporary use.
While the kit comes with every adaptor you are going to need, some things just don't work well.. for example if you need to extend the power with the auxiliary power cable, you may find that the SATA/IDE adapter interferes with its ears. Better to use the included power supply which has no ears and will fit nicely (note the 2.5 inch drive shown in the picture above draws power from the USB bus).
Also, just because you can hook up something doesn't mean your OS knows how to read it. And if it can read the device itself, it has to have support for the filesystem that's on there. That's not necessarily insurmountable, but you do need to be aware of it. For example, my Mac would not recognize an IDE DVD-RAM drive I hooked up. Nor does it understand Linux filesystems; when I plugged in this Linux drive, the Mac offered to initialize it. I probably could have mounted it with a Parallels Linux VM though.
You can buy similar devices all over the Web. See Brando Hooks Up (S)ATA Drives To USB 2.0 at Tom's Hardware, for example. Some of the devices you find are strictly IDE, some are strictly SATA. I like Granite Digital because they have a wide range of high quality products and very helpful and very technically knowledgeable staff. These folks know their stuff - I highly recommend them (and no I don't get anything out of this except that once in a while they send me something to review - but I was buying their products and recommending them long before they ever sent a thing). They also have a techy newsletter (and text and pdf versions of older mailings) you can sign up for at The Granite Digital Storage Pro Newsletter. Check it out, you won't be sorry.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-05-02 Anthony Lawrence