Expert Eye

How do you turn an Internal Hard Drive into an External Drive?

Internal to ex

Here’s a quick guide and video tutorial from EbuyerTV on how to turn an Internal Hard Drive to an External Drive.

It seems like a pretty logical step. If you have an old internal hard drive you don’t want to use, can it be put to good use and converted it into an external drive?

Well the answer is yes… You can. And it’s easier than you thought. You just need a few extra parts and bit of forward planning.

It’s always a great idea to have an external drive as a backup just in case your PC does ever fail. If you have ever upgraded your computer or simply have old hard drives laying round it’s possible to convert the unit into an external hard drive.

As you can imagine by looking at the Internal Hard Drive, its lacks connections and protection for use in the big bad world. The SATA or IDE connections it comes with are only really useful if it is inside a computer. What you need to add is a way for it communicate with other bits of tech- Namely a USB or Firewire bridge.

For this you need an Enclosure [or ‘Caddy’ as they are known]. These cases are both converter, protector and holder for the internal hard drive.



Enclosures are boxes the internal drives sit in. They come compatible with two interfaces: IDE and SATA. Of the two, SATA hard drives are much more common now than IDE and are likely to be the one you need- Always check as the connections differ.


Depending where your internal hard drive came from originally, the size of the drive will vary.

3.5 inch hard drives are used in desktop computers, with 2.5 inch drives found usually in notebooks.

3.5 inch drives are usually bigger, faster, and cheaper to buy, but a 2.5 inch device is naturally smaller and more portable.


Most external hard drives connect to your computer through USB (3.0, 2.0 and 1.1) or FireWire. Choose your connection type based on what your major use will be: Mac users focusing on video may consider Firewire as the computer is more suited to this connection. Your standard office backup user will find USB more useful.

Number of Bays

This option is useful for those wanting to backup large files or partition secure software. Some Enclosures offer different numbers of bays. Essentially how many internal drives it can hold in one box. A duel bay enclosure would hold two hard drives- double the storage of a standard enclosure.


The enclosures tend to vary in price from £5-£100 depending on what you need it for.

A simple hard drive enclosure at around £5-10 will have one simple connection and be ideally suited for those wanting to use it as a straight back up.

£10-40 range is when you see a larger array of connection types, material qualities and speeds. These are aimed at those with more information to move: photographers, video editors and gamers.

£40+ enclosures tend to be the top speed specification, best used with high speed Hard Drives, many also have networking capabilities, meaning your hard drive is turned into a basic NAS drive- files shared via WIFI direct to a TV or tablet.

xenta caddy

How do you do it?

The process of housing the hard drive is very simple.

  1. Open the enclosure along the designated line. Some unscrew, others clip. Try and do it on a clean static free surface, to avoid contaminating the drive.
  2. Place the internal hard drive inside, if you have the right size it should be obvious how it lines up.
  3. Connect all the necessary cables. Usually, you’ll have a power source, SATA connection and holding clips…
  4. If it’s a 3.5” holder it’s likely you will need external power (included). A 2.5” will run off the USB connection.
  5. Then plug it into your PC and register it to your computer
  6. That’s it! Use your new external hard drive like any other external device!

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