Internal SATA to External USB: it's like magic

So now that I’ve got a nice flat panel monitor that doesn’t take up my whole desk, I want to start using my iBook more. But I don’t want to have to copy 200Gb of music and pictures and website files over from my PC’s D: drive onto it.

So I was thinking of getting something like this to convert my internal SATA drive to an external USB drive (usable on both my mac laptop and PC desktop).

Anyone have one? Use one before? Recommend one?

I have a NexStar3 IDE HDD enclosure, and it works pretty good. There’s no fan, but the entire enclosure acts as a heatsink and keeps the drive pretty cool.

I actually keep an installation of Ubuntu on mine, and I loaded GRUB onto it instead of the Windows drive which means I can use it anywhere.

There was one point where I use using the external as sort of an overflow drive, and was downloading stuff with bittorrent to it, which caused some problems. I’m not sure if it was the constant writing (they’re supposed to idle every so often, I think, so maybe it wasn’t getting that break it needed), the data segmentation from the torrents, or both, but I lost everything and had to format. Haven’t had the same problem running Ubuntu off of it, though, so maybe it was a fluke. Anyway, I’d advise against bittorrenting to it.

Apart from the fact that the one you linked to is IDE and not SATA I can recommend the Metal Gear line. They’re fine.
Actually all the cheap enclosures are more or less interchangeable and just works. It’s only if you use it all the time and want guaranteed high speeds and some cooling, that you need to look closer. If just want to do a once in a while transfer, then get this… but the SATA version.

Look for Firewire if you can use that particular interface. Also try to find an enclosure which supports both SATA and PATA.
(Firewire doesn’t eat CPU for breakfast - USB is often slower than the 480Mbps speed it claims)

CPU usage for FireWire and USB 2.0 is equal in most cases - but it’s true that the 80 Mbps that USB 2.0 is faster often gets eaten by overhead (and sometimes more making USB 2.0 the slower option).
The USB 2.0 posted speeds are more theoretical than FireWires and depend on manufacturer - but I have seen USB 2.0 outperform FireWire.

So I’d say again, that if speed is very important to you, then look at the brand not the interface. Or go eSATA… but that’s not an option on the Mac, is it?

Feck knows. Maybe the Mac Pro? It’s on everyone’s wishlist for the mythical mid-range headless Mac :)

I have all sorts of of external enclosures myself - eSata, USB2 and Firewire. USB2 is a tad sluggish to start on Windows.
Not counting spin-up time here - it simply moves files at a low speed till it’s warmed up! I only use USB on one. I have other combo devices.

The firewire devices let me daisychain more firewire stuff, while I haven’t found any driveless enclosures with USB hubs.

If you’re only going to schlep your music, speed isn’t really the issue. Just remember the FAT32 limitations, plus using a non-MS
program to actually format the drive so the iBook can read and write. Like, for example, the iBook’s partitioning tools :)

Antec MX-1 is my favourite new enclosure. I have four now!

Keep an eye on slickdeals. has been running promotions selling this for $10-$25 USD

  • USB or Esata
  • Very quiet.

Every enclosure I’ve tried has had the same problem: Loose power connections that shut down at the slightest nudge. Granted, they were cheap enclosures…

Is that Antec safe from such things?

I’m going to get one of those, for the 14 SATA 80gig drives sitting on my desk with no other purpose.

14 of them? Geez.

That’s quiete clever. Ordering one for testing purposes right now.

SilentPCReview review
The Antec MX-1 is an unusual and welcome external hard drive enclosure. Its combination of features is completely unique: eSATA and USB 2.0 support, along with highly effective active cooling and virtually no increase in noise. The last two qualities make the MX-1 stand head and shoulders above any other external drive enclosure device we know of today. There’s really nothing else quite like it.

In idle mode, the HDD temperature in the MX-1 never exceeded 31°C. After an hour of continuous file transfers and defragging, the temperature rose to 34°C. Just 5~10 minutes after the drive was allowed to rest at idle, the temperature dropped back down to 30°C. 

This is impressive performance. Even positioned just behind a 92mm fan spinning constantly at 5V at an open front vent, the data drive on the second PC system idles around 40°C — although this is not directly comparable because it is a different drive from a different brand.

It’s grommeted and well-built. Don’t notice any problems with the power. The best part with a quiet drive I can’t tell if it’s on or off. The drive is cooler than it would be inside my PC, and makes a great secondary drive because you can physically shut it off when you don’t need to access your terabyte of files.

Yeah but $50 for a simple hard drive box?

Anyway thanks for the suggestions all. I picked up this for about $25 after tax and shipping. It doesn’t have eSATA, but neither do my PC or iBook so I think it will work fine (once I get the drive converted to FAT32… ugh).