Transferring data between hard drives without a computer?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by hkim1983, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. hkim1983 macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2009
    I currently have an external hard drive in an enclosure via USB 2. I am starting to become concerned over the integrity of my drive, and rather than risk losing all of my data, I am considering replacing the drive with a larger alternative. The problem however, is that my internal hard drive is nowhere near large enough to serve as a temporary "parking" space to transfer my data between the two drives.

    Is there a way I can transfer the data between the two drives without using a computer? Am I forced to buy a 2nd external enclosure to do this transfer? Thanks to anyone who can help me in advance.

    If it helps, both drives are SATA based made by Western Digital. They are also both laptop drives.
  2. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    You will need a computer to do the transfer, I've never heard of any process that will allow a direct copy without the requirement of some interface to complete it.
  3. hkim1983 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2009
    Thank you for your response. So, I will basically need two external enclosures to complete this process with the computer as a medium then? That's a little annoying, but if that's the only way I can go about this (conveniently) then I'll just have to do it.
  4. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    Yeah, you will need two enclosures. I would be awesome to be able to clone a drive that easily though. Invent it and you could be a billionaire.
  5. bluespaceoddity macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2009
    Enclosures are not that expensive. "Bare" USB to Sata adapter cables for temporarily connecting drives during data transfer are also available.

    Maybe I don't fully understand what you are trying to do but ...
    Can't you rotate the drives in the external enclosure while doing several incremental transfers of data?

    Your computer is also a sort of enclosure. How about mounting one of the drives internally for example by making the new, bigger drive bootable (by putting either an OS Installer, a clean installation of the OS or a complete clone of your start up drive on it.)

    You can also make one of the externals permanently bootable to have as a back up from which you can start your computer should the internal drive fail or you can make one temporarily bootable only while you move files around.

    Not sure if I described that all that clearly but essentially you have three disks and two positions for seating them in a game of musical drives. Takes a bit of swapping (I'm assuming that's where the word conveniently came in) but you may not have to spend extra money to achieve what you want.
  6. hkim1983 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2009
    Through my preliminary research, a barebones enclosure would still set me back about $20. That's approximately 20% of the total cost of the replacement drive itself, and for something that will only be used once, I consider that overhead that if possible to avoid, I want to avoid, which is why I asked my question to begin with.

    I do not want to make either of these drives bootable. They serve as media storage drives, and I need every last bit of space for the media. I already have a drive dedicated purely for emergency backups anyway, and a 3rd storage device for my critical work/information.

    My current internal drive has nowhere near the capacity of my storage drives, so it would take a lot of swapping to get all of the data transferred, which is simply not worth my time (from a pure labor standpoint, I would save money just buying the enclosure at that point). I was just curious if there was a method to directly connect the drives to transfer data without adding to overhead or going through incredibly inconvenient hoops to accomplish my goal, that's all.

    EDIT: I wasn't aware of these USB->SATA adaptors, which fit what I'm looking for exactly. They also happen to be cheaper than dedicated enclosures. Thanks for the information.
  7. bluespaceoddity macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2009
    You're right, I was replying mostly to suggest possible work arounds and didn't respond to your original question. Like RedCroissant I'm also not aware of a way to do this without a computer. Agreed that swapping the drives can be a time consuming and inconvenient operation so if you don't want to swap any of the other enclosures and unless someone pops in with an other way to do this I hope you'll find a decent connection cable for a reasonable price.

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