Sunday, October 26, 2008

2.5-inch Hard Drive Enclosures: A Journey

Hard drives have become small theses days. I needed a handy external storage device for travels with the laptop. After considering enclosure size and prize range, I opted for a Hitachi TravelStar 200GB 2.5-inch hard drive and sought the enclosure, separately. The latter turned into an adventure.

I looked up enclosures with USB-2.0 connectivity. USB cable and a protective pouch are usually included. The first I ordered from an internet retailer of national renown had a nice steel case and the option to power it with a separate supply that was not included. It cost $30.- and came with a hefty rebate offer. I never received the rebate, because the rebate center did not accept the only proves of purchase I had, that is copies of the order confirmation and the packing slip. You will not see advertisements of this retailer on my sites.

Installation of the hard drive into this enclosure was simple. You had to remove a tiny lock-down screw on each long side, pull out the front of the enclosure with the USB interface, attach the drive to the connector, slip the assembly into the case, and re-secure the front with the screws. Sadly, the drive would not start up.

The next enclosure I bought cost only $10.-. No rebates were involved. Installation was simple. Again, the front needed to be pulled out of from the case, and the drive had to be connected. This time no screws were needed. The drive was supposed to be powered by the USB connection. To my frustration, the drive attempted to start up with plenty of clicks, but did not succeed. What was the problem?

I did not read the specifications in the extended description of the enclosure. Apparently, the USB interfaces of some SATA drive enclosures are limited in the storage size of the drive they can handle. This limitation is not related to the price. I eventually found a suitable enclosure that red.populus offered on ebay for $11.-, shipping and handling included.

The top and bottom shells of Dragonext's USB-2-0 2.5-inch SATA external hard drive case must be slid backward to open the enclosure. The drive must be connected to the interface and secured with four screws to a bottom plate, and top and bottom shells are slid forward over the drive until they snap into the front. Once connected to the computer with the included cable, the drive started up without complaint.

The cable is special in that it sports two USB connectors on the computer-side; one for power and one for data. Taking up two USB connections may seem a nuisance, but constitutes a small inconvenience for a functional case that does not need a separate power supply.

Of course, if you choose to avoid any hassle and are looking for a drive that is more sturdy and extravagant, but bulkier, you may opt for the product below:

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