How To Access Data on Old Hard Drives

Hi Elizabeth;

A friend in England told me about boxes that a person can put a hard drive in and plug them into a computer’s USB port. Do you know the proper name of these gadgets? Are they also sold in North America? I have a box of old hard drives that I’d love to check out and discover what’s on them. It would also be nice to reuse them to store data on.




Dear Bruce,

There are actually a couple of devices that will work for your needs.

The first is a Hard Drive Enclosure.

This is a device like you have described, which you put your hard drive into, and then hook up to a USB port to access the drive.

Hard drives come in different sizes, and with different connection methods, so one enclosure might not fit all your old hard drives.

A better option for you might be a USB to SATA/IDE adapter. I use one made by StarTech all the time to get data off of hard drives for my customers. With this adapter, the physical size of the drive doesn’t matter because you are not fitting it into a case. The adapter works with both IDE and SATA connections, which means that you will be able to connect it to older IDE hard drives, as well as newer SATA drives.

Both of these devices are sold on Amazon.


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