Introduction: Make an External HDD From Old External CD/RW

Picture of Make an External HDD From Old External CD/RW

Pretty straight forward conversion of an old external cd/rw to a more useful external hard drive.


1-external cd/rw (preferably the more boxy type)
1-hard drive (must match internal connector of drive case, needs to be formatted/sysed )
1-small fan (preferably able to fit the case nicely and quiet enough not to be annoying)
1-5.5"-3.5" bay insert to hold drive (should be easy enough to fab if necessary)
---minor tools and the want to do it

Disclaimer and ---t
I take no responsibility/liability for any damage to anything you might incur from this instructable. Do not ingest, spray into eyes, etc..............................

I've been using a spare 40gig in this for weeks before this and now a couple weeks after w/o issue mounted under misc. *nix or doze.

Step 1: Dissassembly

Picture of Dissassembly

-- Remove the case screws, clips, etc. and open the case. (Just work cautiously so as not to damage the case)

-- Remove any mounts or screws holding the cd/rw drive.
-- Gently unplug the power, ide, and audio connections.
-- Remove old drive and install elsewhere or shoot it, blow it up, scavenge laser and motor,etc.

Step 2: Fan

Picture of Fan

Nothing major here.

--pick a fan
I based my descision on mount location/size, noise, amp/volt.
Found a small 12v that was quiet, had lowest current draw from selection, offered sufficient
airflow, and fit a blank face plate.

--find a way to mate it to the internal molex
I had a fan molex connector, cut off unneccessary leads and soldered/shrink wrapped to new
fan. You could just as easily solder inline to orig. molex.

Step 3: Mount Fan

Picture of Mount Fan

In my case I'm using a Blank plate from an old case bay.

-- Check that the fan mount location will allow for free airflow, space, room warp drive etc.
-- line it up and mark mounts and inner diameter of fan.
-- Drill away.
-- After mounting double check that blades still spin freely.

Step 4: Exhaust

Picture of Exhaust

I'm installing my fan as an intake and have decided on exhaust vents on top.

Post thought --- Great: heat rises and out it goes. Bad: crap falls typicaly down (as into your drive). Probably be better to exhaust on upper sides of case.

--Chopped out what wasn't needed.
--Vented logo plate.

Step 5: Completion

Picture of Completion

-- Mount pre-formatted/sysed HDD into rails (I form/sysed with old win98 floppy in spare 'puter)
-- Mark any new mount points necessary to attach rails/drive to case.
-- Remove drive, drill mount points.
-- Reinstall HDD plugging cables as you go. Stow or remove audio cable.
-- Carefully route your fan cable so as not to pinch.
-- Put case back together and enjoy.


danielemur (author)2010-10-16

I tried this and with a cd drive connected it works fine, but when I connect a hard drive it doesn't show up in "my computer" and in device manager (It does show up as mass storage device) it says the device cannot start.

misterchar (author)2009-04-24

please help my windows xp can't detect the harddisk drive

munchman (author)misterchar2009-05-04

Make sure all the connections are secure, and that the HDD works.

misterchar (author)munchman2010-08-02

yes all connect correctly ... winxp still see it as optical driver nor hdd drive ... so it's can't detect it >.<''

eclayton (author)2008-08-09

Thanks a bunch for this tutorial. I was going to buy an enclosure, and I remembered I had a Memorex CD Recorder under the couch. I'd never heard of putting a hard drive in a n external CD Drive, but when I Googled it, I found this site. I used an AMD processor fan and put it on top as an exhaust fan with a screen and cover to make it look nice and protect the fan. I used a mesh blank plate that I had laying around for the intake on the front. I like how it all looks, but I didn't realize how loud processor fans are! I think I'll go get a couple of those smaller fans like you used, and the next ones I make will be QUIETER! Thanks again, I enjoyed this little project! Eric

Derin (author)eclayton2008-09-28

Ewilhelm eric or other eric?

eclayton (author)Derin2008-09-28

? Not sure what Ewilhelm Eric is, so I must be some other Eric! :-)

thermoelectric (author)eclayton2009-07-25

:-) Eric Wilhelm is the CEO of Instructables, Incase you haven't noticed that yet...

Derin (author)thermoelectric2009-07-25

yes i have

thermoelectric (author)Derin2009-07-26

Well, I was saying that to eclayton, but oh well

abadfart (author)2009-05-24

can i do this with a old iomega zip drive

Emankcin (author)2008-12-07

I found my iOmega CDRW, but I could not find the AC adapter, which kinda looks like a PS/2 Mouse connector, and may be an iOmega propriety adapter. I was wondering if anyone knew the voltage requirements of the CDRW, and if it might be possible to remove the AC input from the CDRW, and solder in place one from something else with a low power output, such as one from a DSL modem or something else small like that?

ralphh (author)Emankcin2009-04-06

Only just spotted this! The CDRW6402 has 5 power input pins, three on the right, from the top, 0V, 0V and +12V 0.75A; and two on the left, for +5V 1A. These are not big demands: you could certainly use another supply unit, or bring it out of the PC itself. Does anyone know how to get the blue Iomega cases open without breaking them?

LasVegas (author)2007-04-03

Good Job! Do take note that many external cases for Optical Drives are limited to 137GB (128GB in base 2). This is a limitation of the slower ATA chip in the enclosure.

VelvetElvis (author)LasVegas2007-04-05

It's good that you brought that up. I have an 80 Gig Maxtor external, and was wondering about swapping in a big drive. Sent Maxtor tech support a note and was advised of the 137 Meg limitation you mentioned.

Punkguyta (author)VelvetElvis2008-01-08

Is that Megabytes or Gigabytes?

Derin (author)Punkguyta2008-09-28


szymk1 (author)LasVegas2008-02-16

Ha, unfortunately I discovered the 137GB limit the hard way :) I converted an antiquated sony recorder box into a external pocket but after I swapped a 15GB harddrive for something 10x bigger a disappointment was lurking about. If you have heard about a way to hack the firmware or to bypass the limit in another way, I'll be thankful for news!

LasVegas (author)LasVegas2007-04-03

Also note that the new drive must be set into MASTER mode with the jumpers. The jumpers are usually between the power and IDE connector. Jumper positions are normally identified on the drives top label.

rush_elixir (author)2007-05-10

I have an extra external USB- CDR/W casing with circuits complete, I just replace it with an HDD, but my computer can't detect it. Pls help. my external USB-CDR/W is a yamaha brand with external power supply. Badly needed help:)

username (author)rush_elixir2007-05-11

Dont have much time now for details so Have you formatted and placed a bootable system on your drive. To do so download ultimate boot cd or use a win 98 start up floppy. temporarily install harddrive in a computer then for win98 format c: /s cant remember ubcd but basically try the filesystems too format, make active this makes your drive viewable to computers if not your disk is not viewable even with internal installation. hope it helps

rush_elixir (author)username2007-05-14

Thank you so much:)

username (author)username2007-05-11

note your disc maynot be c: it may be designated as something else but if you know alittle about your drive specs it should be pretty apparent

gemsuraj (author)2007-05-01

Its really nice . Y not to make a portable HDD means that should be directly put in the CDROM cover which will be always connected to the system and whenever we required to attach a new external HDD we can directly slide it in the CDROM cover and that's done >> Isn't this might be cool .. Wondering right .... . . '

krazy (author)2007-04-05

i once did this with a hdd that came from one of my mothers old computers but i totally forgot about needing a fan and overheated the damn thing. lol this is cool tho wonder how cool it would look to use like old college books for a shell. i have the My Book hdds i like the way they look on my desk but i bet a real book for a case would look even better

username (author)2007-04-04

thanks for your response folks. this was my first instructable. Good points Vegas. I forgot all about mentioning the jumper settings.

mikesty (author)2007-04-04

Good hack. I've never even thought about this. It just so happens I own a similar Iomega drive. Instead of creating an enclosure, I might just strip it down and turn it into a free IDE connect0r for data-yoinking. I doubt it will work. This one is kinda old, and I think it connects via the parallel port :-/

LasVegas (author)mikesty2007-04-04

I doubt if the IOmega enclosure will work. The parallel/SCSI port does not convert to IDE, but to an IOmega specific interface.

labeey (author)2007-04-04

this doesnt always work. a few years ago i tried this. i had an old external cdrw and tried putting a HD in the enclosure.. guess what happened to the HD.. FRIED within a second...and it wasn't from overheating...

LasVegas (author)labeey2007-04-04

The only reason this could harm a drive is if the ribbom cable is plugged in backward. Be sure the pin 1 (normally a red line on the edge of the cable) is to the left when facing the connector. You could also destroy a drive by using the wrong power adapter for the enclosure. Most cables and drives are keyed to prevent this with a notch on top of the connector.

royalestel (author)2007-04-04

Hey, great job, and great idea!

davidbacsik (author)2007-04-03

Nice work repurposing, and way to think about ventilation. I probably would have completely forgot about it.

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