If you are like me, you have a stack of old hard drives laying about—system and slave drives from older computers, small capacity drives (by today’s standards) once used for projects and maybe an old laptop drive or two. For IDE drives, I have an older Ultra external drive housing with FireWire and USB support, but for other drives, like a laptop drive that had to be replaced, I didn’t have the ability to utilize them for anything useful, nor could I even access the old data without temporarily installing such drives in a computer.
Newertech USB 3.0 Universal Drive Adapter
Enter NewerTech with a simple and elegant solution: the NewerTech USB 3.0 Universal Drive Adapter (USB3-UDA). This $39.95 (list) device handles 40-pin 3.5-inch and 5.25-inch IDE/ATA/ATAPI hard drives and optical drives, 44-pin 2.5-inch IDE/ATA hard drives and any drive with a standard SATA connector, converting them to an external USB3 drive. The core device is just 1.4 oz with accessories attached. It measures 3.35-inches by 1.9-inches by .53-inches.
The USB3-UDA kit includes an IDE/ATA extension cable for 40-pin drives that plugs into one side of the device, and a USB 3.0 cable to go from the device to a computer. The external power supply terminates with a standard ATA style power connector that plugs directly into the larger IDE/ATA drives. Helpfully, the “line-lump” style power supply has an inline power switch and power-on indicator. Your 2.5-inch IDE/ATA drives plug directly into the core device, and get their power from the connector mounted on the opposite side from the 40-pin connector (these drives are powered from the USB port on the host computer). For SATA drives, an umbilical connects from the port on the drive, split to a standard power connector to connect to the power supply and an eSATA style 7-pin connector that plugs into the USB3-UDA (you can also also hook to external eSATA devices should your computer not have eSATA ports).
In use, you pick the appropriate cables for your drive type, plug it all together and to a computer and wait a few seconds for the computer to recognize that a drive has been added. A blue LED lights on the device when it’s connected to a powered computer; the LED flashes when data is being transferred.
I used the adapter to connect drives of each format to a Windows 7 computer with complete success, and I connected a FAT32 formatted drive to a MacBook Pro. With USB 3, “real- world” data rates can reach up to 200 MB/s according to NewerTech, and terabyte-plus drives are supported within operating system limitations. With the obvious reductions in transfer speeds, the USB3-UDA works fine with USB 2.0 and even USB 1.1 ports.
While best suited for short-term use, you could use the USB3-UDA for longer term if careful about not shorting exposed drive electronics—NewerTech does offer silicone drive sleeves to help prevent such issues.
I love problem-solving devices, especially when they are simple, well thought-out and affordable. All of the above apply to the NewerTech USB 3.0 Universal Drive Adapter.