Need help with a homemade external HDD

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by bungiefan89, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. bungiefan89 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2011
    I want to make my own external hard drive! :cool:

    If you do not know what I mean, here is a picture:
    HD diagram.png
    Obviously this will be very hard (but also fun) because I am very cheap and do not have the money to purchase a very simple solution to my problem.

    So, I've salvaged two hard drives from some old hardware... a 2.5" 20 GB HDD from an Xbox 360...
    ...and a (significantly more hefty) 3.5" 60 GB HDD salvaged from an old no-longer-functioning eMac...

    For clarity's sake, I will refer to these drives hereafter as the Xbox HDD, and the eMac HDD.

    Given these things I have, I need to know the answers to a few things..

    1) How do I turn these HDDs in to external HDDs? That is, do they need to be wiped, formatted, or whatever before they can be used, and how do I do that?

    2) How do I connect either of these things to my computer for any purpose? A preferable connection to the computer would be USB 2.0 or whatever's most practical. The Xbox HDD appears to be equipped with "Serial ATA" ports for power and data, but the eMac HDD has ports I really can't identify but have pictured here:

    3) How delicate do I have to be with these puppies? The tops of both HDDs are nice flat metal but the bottoms are covered in exposed micro chips and stuff... I guess I'm not supposed to touch those in case of static electricity, but do I need to otherwise store them in a really safe place? Or will these things be just fine chilling on my desk?

    Answers to any and all questions are appreciated! :)
    And I apologize in advance for the poor quality of any pictures OR if I'm posting this in the wrong forum.
  2. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    Here's a MUCH cheaper version of the enclosure you listed above.
  3. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    That's a 2.5"; OP's drives won't fit.

    I'd go with that universal cable. Just attach your drives. They aren't that fragile, but it depends on what you're doing with them. If you intend to keep them on for long periods, get an external enclosure or two.

    You can format them with Disk Utility. HFS+, journaled, GUID would be best. You'll see those options in Disk Utility.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "How do I connect either of these things to my computer for any purpose?"

    Here's your answer:
    (many items shown, they all work the same, just pick one you like that's cheap)

    Here's one for $12 from (you have to be a subscriber to their newsletter, however -- sounds easy enough to just subscribe, then order):

    These are bootable - VERY handy devices to have around if you have one or more "bare" hard drives -- just swap out as required. They accept BOTH 2.5" and 3.5" drives.

    Other thoughts:
    There are USB3/SATA docks on the market now, although they cost more than the older USB2/SATA versions. But it might be worth spending just a little more, so when you eventually get a Mac with USB3 capabilities, the drive will be "ready to serve you" with USB3 as well.

    There are some "dual docks" out there -- these have bays for 2 SATA drives in a single dock. They look interesting, although I've never tried one. Just FYI.
  5. RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    The other answers have given you good ideas, but I don't think any single reply has considered all the issues you have.
    1. One of your hard drives is 3.5", and the other is 2.5". Therefore, if you want a single solution for both, you'll have to make sure your dock or enclosure is compatible with both sizes.
    2. One of your hard drives has a SATA connection. The one you don't recognize is the retroactively named PATA, originally called ATA, and frequently called IDE (an old Western Digital term). Again, if you want a single solution for both, you'll have to find one compatible with both interfaces.

    But to answer your question in general, in order to use them externally, you'll need either an enclosure or a dock. While a dock is probably cheaper, an enclosure will give you more or less something like external HDs that you're used to. I assume they're also a bit more rugged and more suitable for long-term use than a dock (which personally I'd only use on a temporary basis; I don't have any data to back up these claims, but I don't think I'd be comfortable just leaving an exposed HD sitting out plugged into one of these).

    You also mention a single cord. For that, you'll need to be sure to find an enclosure (or dock) that is completely USB powered rather than requiring an external power supply. Those are a bit harder to find, especially for 3.5" drives. To get everything you're looking for with both drives, however, you'll probably need two separate enclosures since you're unlikely to find all of these features rolled into one--and, of course, you'll also need two if you want to use them both at the same time. :D

    I'd recommend looking around for docks or enclosures (like I said, I'd prefer the second for long-term use) within your price range that fit your specifications (bus powered only, compatible with the desired size and interface, etc.) on Amazon, NewEgg, or wherever you prefer to shop.
  6. bungiefan89 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2011
    Thank you very much for your ever-so-lengthy and thorough response. I have taken your advice to heart and have made one purchase so far. But ultimately I think I won't know much until I actually get what I've bought and try making it work.

    Your advice is appreciated! :D

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