Making Your Internal Hard Drive Portable: The USB Hard Drive Caddy

Portable hard drives can be convenient, especially if you have to regularly install programs, playback media, or simply transfer files, but when it comes to the standard 3.5-inch SATA drive, the common conception is that these aren't very portable. Despite this, there is a way to make your hard disk drive as portable as a flash drive: the 3.5-inch SATA hard drive enclosure. These enclosures, which can be easily found all over eBay, will protect your sensitive hard drive from the external environment and usually they have USB interfaces that will make file transfers quick and easy.

How do these HDD enclosures work?

For the most part, these enclosures work like cases - you slide your SATA internal unit into the body of the enclosure, attach the SATA data and power cable, close the case back up, and take it with you. While your drive will use SATA for any future data transfers, the enclosure itself can have converter hardware that will allow for the data connection outside of the box to utilize USB.

Are there USB 3.0+ products on the market?

USB is one of the fastest variations of this data transfer technology. In fact, a data transfer using a USB 3.0 connector will ensure that you see data transfer rates of about five gigabytes per second. This is very useful for anyone that does a lot of large data transfers. Even 4k content, which can be notoriously dense and have large file sizes, can be transferred within minutes with an enclosure that supports USB 3.0. For this reason, editors, digital modellers, and engineers can use enclosures of this type that support USB 3.0.

Can these support 2.5-inch SSDs that use mSATA?

Yes. While the enclosures may be 3.5 inches in diameter, some are designed to accommodate SSD drives that are an inch smaller. In cases like these, the caddy is typically designed to help the smaller drive fit better in larger drive bays that are designed for 3.5-inch HDDs. For this reason, these models usually have the standard SATA or mSATA connection so that connection to the host PC is easy.

What are some key advantages to these enclosures?

There are several advantages to consider, such as the following:

  • Ease:These enclosures offer easy replacement and removal of hard drives.
  • Protection:They also offer protection of hard drives from the elements and impact.
  • Storage:They provide options for the storage of hard drives that aren't as needed.