Wednesday, 22 October, 2008

Browse hard disks like floppies or USB drive

Anyone who's a tinkerer has many hard drives sitting on their shelves from older systems. 120 G gets replaced by 250 which gets replaced by 500 and so on. And one doesn't really throw away old drives. At the same time, connecting a SATA drive inside a case or even inside your PC/Mac is cumbersome. Screws, connectors case lids - too much hassle.

So, I checked out a USB to SATA/IDE adapter some time ago. A friend, sent me a link. I bought mine on eBay. Rs 800 and very innovative.
It works fine, but can be a bit cumbersome. Too many connections to make just to connect a drive. And the SATA connectors come loose any time. So the experience is only marginally bettter than connecting a bare drive to a computer or external case.

Then last month while in London, I bought this a USB drive dock. From Maplin at Tottenham Road. This is really terrific.

Bare drive can be just slid in 'browsed' and slid out. Push a button and the drive pops out like toast. No screws no connectors. Just keep the dock permanently connected to your Mac or PC. Even MacBook Pro. My dock sits on my table permanently connected via USB to my MacPro at work. And a drawer full of drives, now working like floppies.
It even works with laptop sized 2.5 in. drives.

I even got another through a friend who went there last week. A USB/SATA drive dock with a card reader and hub. Also from Maplin but at Wembley. I could get used to this place.

This has a SATA port. And a card reader and USB hub.

And to connect it to my MacBook Pro via eSATA I have a Sonnet TempoExpressCard SATA adapter.

This drive dock thing comes in many variants (and colours)

From GeekStuff
or ThinkGeek
and some others here.

It gets even better. If you want Firewire and can spend a bit more, Vantec makes one with Firewire.

And like me, if you're worried that the drive is exposed from the back check out the one with a case.

And a final twist, one with a fan.

Bear in mind that these things are a bit heavy. They have weights in them, else when the drive spins they'd fly. As a curious experiment try this. Connect the drive, and let it mount on your Mac. Then browse through folders, open and close a file or two. Then, unmount the drive, after its gone, switch off the dock and pop out the drive and hold it in your hand.

The drive is now spinning down from 7200 rpm to stop. The sheer torque it generates twists your hand like an unseen force.

There's even a 'Please note...' at one web site which seems to be translated by a machine into English. It reads...

"Note: In order to keep still, the docking station has added weight this preventing the docking station to move when you are plugging in or out your HDD. This added weight is unfortunately increasing the shipping cost… We are very sorry for this inconvenient but there is nothing we can do on this matter. Thank you for your understanding."

The English is quaint, but this thing works. Recommended. If you can afford it get the version with Firewire and cases for your drives.


  1. Excellent overview. Reminds me that Maplin is one of the few things that I really, really miss in moving from London to Mumbai.

    Great to see you at IBC and hope to catch up again over here.

    Happy Diwali too.

    Patrick Vons

  2. Anonymous10:50 am

    Dada, where can one get these in Bombay?


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