Is it possible to solder an external hard drive to my macbook?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by PGTibs, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. PGTibs macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2015
    Hey guys! I've been browsing the web for a while now trying to find any articles or posts about mounting an external hard drive to the outside of my macbook and soldering it permanently inside. There's probably a good reason I can't find any information, so if it's a terrible idea then feel free to shoot me down!

    Basically my concept is to get a slim usb hard drive and fix it (somehow) to the back of the screen. I'd then feed the wires down the left side of the monitor and solder them to the back end of one of the usb ports. Obviously i wouldn't want the drive running 24/7, so I'd physically remove the firewire port and fit a small switch in it's place, wired between the hard drive and the usb connection.

    To me the theory is sound, but if there's something majorly wrong with this whole concept i'd like to know, or if there's an alternative option that'd be even better. I don't really want to have to go down the route of having a cable to plug into the usb port every time i want the hard drive, but if it's the (much) safer option then it'll have to do!

    I'd love to hear your opinions!

    (P.s. I've got a 13inch 2012 MacBook Pro, currently unmodified.)
  2. Bending Pixels macrumors 65816

    Jul 22, 2010
    Is it possible? Probably. Do you run the risk of damaging the screen during the process? Yep..... Even worse, trying to solder it to the motherboard and potentially french-frying it totally? Doesn't sound like a wise idea.

    Wouldn't it be easier to drop in a larger drive from some place like OtherWorldComputing?
  3. PGTibs thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2015
    It did cross my mind that there may be quite a large risk factor to it, hence why i thought i'd get some opinions before finding the hack saw ;)

    I'm after an external drive for the simple reason of creating back-ups, not necessarily using time machine, but more so just to back up important work documents. I know this could be done with other storage methods, but the quantity and size of the files calls more on a drive. At the same time, i don't wanna turn my little beauty into a fancy cup mat, i've got an android tablet for that already!
  4. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    Truthfully there are better wireless solutions, unless you are constrained in that area. I have seen pictures of a 2-1/2 USB drive velcro`d to the lid of an MBP, I believe it was still using an external cable. Tapping into the MBP`s USB should not be to be too difficult assuming you have the right schematics.

    As your 13" MBP is the classic with a Superdrive, have you considered removing the DVD drive and installing a couple of high capacity HD`s which to me is a more practical solution.

  5. hashholly macrumors 6502

    Oct 13, 2008
    I guess my question is....why over complicate the situation?

    Queen6 is right, you could remove the Superdrive, use a data doubler, and throw in another hard drive. As long as you set your drives to sleep when not in use, you shouldn't have nay issue with it drawing too much power when you don't want to use it.

    Or you could go really simple and just carry an external drive with you, I think the extra seconds spent plugging, unplugging the drive, and putting it away is a better solution that soldering the thing.
  6. whodatrr macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2004
    Or, an SD card that mounts flush into the slot. There are many of those floating about...
  7. fisherking macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
  8. whodatrr macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2004
    Another thing to consider is that, while you might like the modification, it'll likely hurt resale value...

  9. meistervu macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2008
    If you are attached to the idea of affixing a drive to the back of your screen, then there are 2 solutions that are not permanent but solid enough IMHO.

    1. Double sided mounting tape. You can get this at the hardware stores. It's a roll of thin layer of sticky putty like stuff, pretty strong, but not permanent. You can scrape it off it you change your mind.

    2. Velcro tape. Can be removed easily, but won't be as flush.

    On the other hand, I admire your courage and nominate you to
  10. yukari macrumors 6502


    Jun 29, 2010
    That just looks bad.
  11. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    Kinda reminds me of the surface of the Death Star ... Use the force, Luke.
  12. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    Two reasons why its a bad idea - right there....

    And OP, if this is just for backing up then I can't see any need to run that risk of catastrophic damage on the way t a kludge solution like that...

    I have a 2TB 13" using an SSD and HDD, replacing the optical drive that gets zero usage.
  13. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    I use a wireless solution, don't see the utility in this idea.

  14. wct097 macrumors 6502

    Nov 30, 2010

    So, to paraphrase if I may, you're wanting to attach a USB drive to the exterior of your MBP and solder the USB connection into the USB port, then wire up a power switch to disconnect the USB using the firewire port?

    I'm honestly at a complete loss here. I don't understand why anyone would want to do that or why anyone would think it's a sound concept. My suggestion would be to start a list of pros and cons and go from there. I'll offer a few:

    -You don't have to plug/unplug the cable when you want to use it

    -You're using a USB interface
    -The external wire is prone to damage, yet you're soldering it in place for no apparent reason. Harder to replace when it gets damaged
    -It's ugly
    -You may have the bomb squad called on you for your "invention"
    -The power switch is prone to being hit or damaged, unless it's recessed
    -You get none of the benefits that an internal drive provides (SATA vs USB)
    -You get none of the benefits that a normal USB drive provides
    -Possible damage to machine during "mods"
  15. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
  16. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    I love hacks, but were you sober when you thought of this?
  17. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    Given the OP has not returned, safe to say we are talking to ourselves on a point that most believe is impractical, time to move on methinks...


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