Over the last week or so, we’ve talked about the flooding situation in Thailand and how it will likely result in a widespread shortage of platter-based drives. In the wake of all this, a question has arisen: if you’re running out of room, what does one do instead of trying to purchase a possibly non-existent hard drive or deleting files? After all, you need to store your files somehow.
Yes, this shortage is certainly inconvenient, but it helps if you look at it like this: it’s not about what you can’t get; it’s about making the most of what you already have.
Fortunately, a solution may be sitting in your basement, that bottom desk drawer or the old storage unit. If you’ve been a computer user for more than a few years, there’s a good chance that you have an older hard drive or two laying around unused. Sure, they’re not the multi-terabyte, super-fast drives that we’ve been seeing recently, but in a pinch, 80GB is 80GB.
Connecting the Drives
The trick is, of course, mounting those drives on your desktop, so you can transfer files over to them. Fortunately, OWC has a number of different options for using those older drives externally with your current system. Let’s take a look at the different options.
Newer Technology SuperSpeed USB 3.0/2.0 Universal Drive Adapter
We call this product our “Swiss Army Knife” of drive tools. Whatever drive you have – IDE/ATA or SATA, 2.5 or 3.5 inch, this handy little kit allows you to connect it to your computer via USB.
Even under “normal” circumstances, the Newer Technology SuperSpeed USB 3.0/2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is an excellent addition to your tool kit. Now, it lets you take advantage of any of your “old” hard drives and give it new life.
Use if: You have IDE/ATA drives or a mixture of IDE/ATA and SATA drives that you’d like to connect to your computer via USB.
Newer Technology Voyager
The Newer Technology Voyager series of drive docks allow you to access any 2.5” or 3.5” SATA drive simply by sliding it into the unit. The S3 model connects either by USB 3.0/2.0 or eSATA, while the Q model also adds FireWire 400 and 800 connections to the mix.
While this drive dock is great for transporting drives between different workstations (our video department uses them extensively), it also works quite well for swapping between a large number of SATA hard drives.
Use if: You have SATA drives you would like to connect to individually.
When it comes to keeping drives attached on a more permanent basis, an external hard drive enclosure offers a great balance of protection and convenience.
By putting those old hard drive in external enclosures, you can access more than one drive at a time, which is convenient when swapping files between them. Since many of our enclosures are stackable and daisy-chainable, you can get the storage of multiple drives in the desk space of a single one.
Use if: You want to use your hard drive as a longer-term solution.
Any of these options will work, it’s just a matter of which one works best with the drives you already have.
Using the Drives
Once you have your old drive attached to your computer, you’ll probably want to go through it to make sure that there’s nothing in there you want to keep – if there is, you can burn those files to a CD/DVD or just drag them to another drive (such as your computer’s internal hard drive) temporarily and drag it back later.
Once you’re sure that there’s nothing on the drive that you don’t have a copy of somewhere else, you’ll probably want to reformat the drive. If you don’t know the best way to do that, we have step-by-step walkthroughs for formatting your hard drive in our Tech Center.
Once you’ve done that, you can either use the drive as an active storage device or—possibly more effectively—offload older, infrequently-used files to it, freeing up room on your main drive. However you choose to store your data, though, using those drives you already own could provide enough room to hold you over until this drive shortage has been resolved.
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