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Build Your Own External Hard Drive

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What You Need to Build Your Own External Hard Drive
External Hard Drive - Build Your Own External Hard Drive

Everything you need to build your own external hard drive.

Photo © Coyote Moon Inc.

External hard drives are a great way to expand your Mac’s storage capacity. They’re a particularly good choice if you have a Mac that doesn’t allow you to easily add an internal hard drive or swap out the existing hard drive for a larger one.

You can purchase ready-made external hard drives; just plug them in and go. But you pay for this convenience in two ways: in actual cost and in limited configuration choices.

Building your own external hard drive eliminates the drawbacks of a ready-made unit. It can be significantly less expensive, especially if you repurpose a hard drive you already own. For example, you may be able to steal one from an older computer you no longer use, or you may have a leftover hard drive that was replaced with a larger model. There’s no sense in letting these unused hard drives go to waste.

If you build your own external hard drive you get to make all the decisions about configuration. You can choose the size of the hard drive, as well as the type of interface you want to use (USB, FireWire, eSATA, or Thunderbolt). You can even choose an external case that lets you use all of these popular methods of connecting an external enclosure to a computer.

What You Need

  • A hard drive. This can be a drive you purchased just for this project, or an unused hard drive from another computer.
     
  • An external case. External cases are available from many retail and online sources. They include a power supply, an interface adapter, and a method of mounting a standard form factor hard drive (either 3.5” or 2.5”).
     
  • A screwdriver. Usually a small Phillips #1 or #2 will do, although the size you’ll need is dependent on the design of the external case.
     
  • About 10 minutes of free time. Yes, I really mean 10 minutes. This is a very simple project. If you can wield a screwdriver, you can build an external hard drive.
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