Today I sing the praises of my IDE to USB adapter kit, a generic bit of hardware that makes life easier and cheaper for those of us in the PC world that have accumulated spare bits of hardware over the years.
This little tool allows you to take any IDE device (mostly hard drives and optical CD/DVD drives) designed for internal use in a PC and run it externally. It’s just a power supply with the right sort of four-pins-in-a-line connector for internal drives, and a cable with a standard IDE connector on one end and a USB connector on the other. Presto! That old hard drive you’ve still got lying around from your generic PC that died four years ago can now be used for backup or moving files or whatever you need. You don’t have to pay the considerable premium for an external hard drive.
This thing came to my rescue this week in another way: I use an ultralight Thinkpad laptop without a CD drive. Every now and then I use an external drive to load software. My drive is an old one; it plugs in via a PCMCIA card. Somehow, the card is now missing. The drive is useless. How do I load software? Ahh: just pop out an old internal CD drive from a dead computer and use the IDE to USB kit. Problem solved.
These things start at about $15. (Here’s some from NewEgg.) You can spend more if you also want an enclosure or you want something that will work with newer SATA hard drives. For long term use, an enclosure probably makes sense. But if you do occasional backups on loose hard drives, and you’re reasonably careful about static and handling, then the kit is all you need.
There are some gadgets you hear about because someone stands to make a big profit. This is one that, I think, you may not have heard about because, really, it just cuts into somebody’s profits.
[tags]tips, lifehacks, hardware, adapters, howto[/tags]
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