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Posted by on Apr 22, 2019 in Hardware |

Repurpose Old Hard Drives

Repurpose Old Hard Drives

Have one or more old hard drives laying around that you'll likely never put into a new or existing machine? Don't let them gather dust. Rather, repurpose them while the still have life.

If you are anything like me, when you have (or acquire) a failed machine that isn’t worth fixing, it is difficult to simply throw it away (er, I mean recycle). Instead, we open it up and see what we can salvage from it. This is why I have scores of old memory modules and a dozen hard drives laying around. Every now and again I do actually take components to a local scrap yard for a little cash (emphasis on little), but not too long ago it dawned on me that I could put some of those old hard drives to good use.

In my job there is always a need to have temporary (or semi-temporary) storage devices.  In this day and age that means having a number of flash drives or SD cards laying around.  However, often I need to put specific things on these and leave them there for later reuse.  Often, too, I promise you, these things actually grow legs and walk away!

Not too long ago I remember looking around for a clean device to put some files on and could not seem to find one to spare.  As I looked around I noticed a few old laptop hard drives laying on a shelf.  Then that lightbulb above my head went on.

Portable hard drives aren’t a new concept, but they’re not the cheapest devices in the world.  So, if you have a few hard drives laying around, might as well build you own.

Hard Drive Enclosures

To build your own portable (external) hard drive, you just need a hard drive enclosure. This is basically a case for the drive that is built to be connected to your machine via a cable (typically USB).

When selecting a hard drive enclosure you basically have two primary questions to ask. What size hard drive am I going to use? And, what type of connection do I need?

For a laptop hard drive, you will want a 2.5″ enclosure. For a larger typical desktop hard drive, you’ll want a 3.5″ enclosure. As far as the connection is concerned, most users are going to be just fine with a typical USB connection.

Recommended – Sabrant 2.5″ USB 3.0

The Sabrent 2.5″ enclosure was perfect for my needs. I wanted a simple (not to mention inexpensive) enclosure in which to slap a laptop drive. I was a little skeptical given the price, but the reviews were great. I bought two and they’ve been perfect.

Hard Drive Docks

Another option is a hard drive dock. This device allows you to add a hard drive to your machine without the need of an enclosure. This works really well if you don’t really need to use the drive on another machine or if you want to perform additional functions.

I really like to have a dock connected to my machine for when I need to work on a drive or get files off.  However, I prefer the enclosures for the purposes of transferring files from computer to computer.

Recommended – WAVLINK Dual-Bay Dock

The WAVLINK Dual-Bay Dock is a nice inexpensive dock that I use on my main computer. There are a few links I like about this dock. First, it has a USB 3.0 for fast file transfers. Second, it allows for both 3.5″ and 2.5″ drives. Third, this unit comes with software that allows you to perform a quick clone operation (copy all files/partitions from a source drive to a destination drive).


Whichever solution you choose, whether it be a portable enclosure or dock, it is really satisfying to get those old drives off the shelf and put to good use.

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Credit: Featured Image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay