DIY External Hard Drive

People all across the world have been buying external hard drives for backing up data for quite some time.  As we mentioned before in various articles, backing up integral data is the only way to ensure you wont lose something important.  What happens if our external hard drive fails?  If you purchased an external hard drive from any company, they will ask you to return it to one of their repair facilities and notify you that any data on the drive could be lost with no option of backing it up.  If you rip apart your external enclosure to get to the hard drive underneath, you void the warranty. So unless you are planning on getting another one on your own dime, that is not a good option either.  Building your own external hard drive allows you the flexibility to do with the drive as you please.

Build Your Own External Hard Drive

Did you know that 3.5 and 2.5 inch drive bays are available and can easily be fitted with whatever size drive your heart desires?  Not only that, but you can decide what brand drive you wish to install so you can have your most reliable brand holding all of your data. Lets take a look at a couple External enclosures and see what is best from the lower price range to the high.

  • This Link Depot enclosure, which at the time of this article was out of stock, was the main 2.5″ drive enclosure we would sell people at my last job at a local computer company.  In the 7 years I was there, we probably sold 30 or more of them, all of which worked out of the box and to my recollection, we never sent one back for malfunctioning after the sale.  Being cheap doesn’t always equate to a shoddy product, this would be a case in point.
  • This Rosewill 3.5″ enclosure is also on the cheap side with both of these being IDE, USB 2.0 compatible, and come with a 1 year warranty.  The Rosewill will handle up to a 2TB HDD, which should be plenty large to house any drive you wish.

Lets take a look at some SATA drives, since we hit up the cheap side with the IDEs, lets look at the sweet high end enclosures.

  • The Thermaltake ST0020U is a 3.5″ enclosure and reasonably priced but comes with SATA III, USB 3.0 support, and up to 3TB worth of drive space. Speed demon at under $100 with two cooling fans to keep your data icy cold.
  • For 2.5″ drives, the Tripp Lite U357 is a steal with up to 5Gbps transfer rates and under $50.

Now the two Western Digital Hard Drives I would put in these two would have to be WD Caviar Black with its 5 year warranty.  Both of these are on the upper tier of external enclosures unless you are wanting to go with a RAID option for better redundancy.  If you have money to burn and want an awesome RAID external setup, you could just get a Drobo….

External Hard Drive Summary

The majority of these enclosures come with a screwdriver (albeit tiny), all the needed screws, and even instructions on how to mount the drives into those enclosures.  The best part is, if the enclosure fails but the HDD inside is still good, you are only a few screws away from your data and without voiding the warranty on any component.  You could be within seconds of retrieving your data as opposed to waiting a month to RMA a purchased external and hope they don’t wipe out all of your data upon fixing it.  Or on the flip side, if your hard drive dies, you can pop it out, test it and run recovery diagnostics on it to attempt to retrieve any data that is left.  Then drop in a new drive and you are back in action.

Considering the price difference is negligible between buying one outright and building one yourself, you are getting a far better deal piecing one together with your favorite Hard Drive of choice!