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Building Your Own External Hard Drive
Author: Stewart S. Miller
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Building Your Own External Hard Drive
March 14, 2006

If you are like me, there is never enough storage to keep all of your data intact. Many manufacturers offer external hard drives, but you pay a premium to buy them. If you want to save some money and get more storage space - consider building your own device. By doing this, you can custom make your own device and itís easier than you might think.

Getting Parts

To build your own hard drive, you really just need to buy an external enclosure kit. Companies such as A-Power make them very inexpensively. When choosing a box, you just need to consider how you want to connect it to your computer. The three (most common) options you have include:

1) USB
2) Firewire

The USB devices come in two flavors: USB 1.0 and 2.0 devices. The latter supports greater transfer speeds of data between the device and your computer - but donít waste your money unless your computer can support a USB 2.0 device. Only the newer computers over the past three years have been built with the capabilities of supporting higher speed USB devices. Another caveat you have to consider is that most USB hubs DONíT support USB 2.0 speeds even if they are connected to a computer than can support it. What you need to do is check the computer and the hub to make certain that the manufacturers have listed that they both support USB 2.0 devices. There is a noticeable increase in speed, so it is most definitely worth your time.

SCSI devices are somewhat obsolete in most systems. I used to run my Macintosh and PC using a SCSI adapter card because that was a reliable method. Today, you donít see Macintosh computers with SCSI as a standard feature any more. Adaptec and SIIG are two common manufacturers who build PCI adapter cards for the PC and PCMCIA adapters for your laptop to permit SCSI communications. While this technology has its merits, it is not as common today as either the USB or Firewire equivalents.

Like SCSI, several manufacturers build PCI and PCMCIA adapters that enable high speed data transfer through Firewire. Many hard drive enclosures support both USB and Firewire - giving you the option to connect any standard hard drive to your computer.

The most common type of hard drive that fits into these enclosures is a standard 3.5" IDE unit. The enclosure is easily opened and includes two connections:

1) IDE Cable
2) Power Adapter

It is really as simple as popping the drive right into the enclosure, plugging in the power cables, and connecting it to your PC.

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