Introduction: UPS Hack! Hide Your..

Picture of UPS Hack! Hide Your..

Hide your important computer files in plain sight!
You kids, your wife, not even that pesky burglar will know it's there.

This instructable will show you how to turn the dead UPS Power Backup into a discreet external hard drive for under $20.00!

Watch the video for the overview:

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

The supplies you'll need:

- Broken UPS with USB port
The one I used had a standard type B plug, but you can also use the type that have an RJ45 instead.

It doesn't have to be broken, but there usually isn't enough room inside for the battery plus the hard drive and USB converter PCB.

- Used laptop hard drive
Don't use one that is too large, as the single USB port may not be able to supply enough power.

I found a 20GB drive on Craig's list for about $10

- USB 2.0 Enclosure for 2.5" Laptop Hard Drive
I found one made by MSI at Micro Center for $9.99.

- Soldering Iron, OHM meter, screw driver, wire cutters, etc...

Step 2: Open the UPS

Picture of Open the UPS

Open the UPS, remove the battery, and disassemble the PCB inside.

WARNING: there could potentially be residual voltage inside.

The UPS I used had 6 screws holding it together, and another two holding the PCB in place.

Most of the wires to the transformer and other circuit boards had easy to remove plugs as well.

When you get the PCB loose, flip it over to get at the USB port solder connections.

Step 3: Trace the USB Connections.

Picture of Trace the USB Connections.

In order to solder the correct USB wires to the bottom of the USB port, we first have to figure out which one goes where.

You'll need an OHM meter with a continuity check, or some other type of light bulb continuity checker.

First, plug in the USB cable that came with the UPS. Use the OHM meter to determine which solder pad on the bottom of the PCB goes to which pin inside the other end of the USB cable.

In the case, the wires were 4-3-2-1, from left to right, looking at the end of the cable.

Step 4: Cut USB Cable and Trace Wires

Picture of Cut USB Cable and Trace Wires

Now cut the USB cable that came with the HDD enclosure.

Be sure to leave enough length to run from the USB port on the PCB to where the hard drive will be sitting.

Using the bigger end of the USB cable (type A plug - the one you won't need), trace each wire with the OHM meter in a similar fashion as before. This time keep track of which pin goes to which color wire so you know how to solder them to the back of the PCB.

Once it's cut, twist and then tin the wires with the soldering iron.

Step 5: Cut the Traces to the USB Port

Picture of Cut the Traces to the USB Port

We want to isolate the USB port for two reasons:

1. To be sure someone doesn't attempt to run PowerChute or Windows' built in power backup monitoring.
That would alert them that the battery has been removed from the UPS.

2. To provide a dedicated USB connection to the hard drive.
This is important in order to be sure that there is enough voltage to the hard drive, and that the circuit is isolated properly.

You could theoretically investigate the existing connections and use diodes and whatnot, but it's just easier to cut the traces.

The easiest way to cut them is with an Exacto knife. Use short strokes to prevent slipping and cutting something else important.

Step 6: Solder Wires to PCB

Picture of Solder Wires to PCB

Now it's time to solder the wires to the back of the PCB.

Using the pin assignments from step 4, solder the colored wires to the correct USB solder pad. Then solder the braid to a ground connection. (The outside of the USB plug will be grounded - use one of those pads.)

I used some heat shrink around the excess ground braid, just to be safe.

Use as small piece of electrical black tape to insulate the wires from the rest of the PCB.

Step 7: Put It Back Together.

Picture of Put It Back Together.

Now put it all back together.

Run the cable under the PCB and to the back of the UPS.

Connect all the plugs, plug in the hard drive, and then screw the case back on.

Step 8: Plug It in and Test It!

Picture of Plug It in and Test It!

All that's left is to plug it into your computer and test it out.

Plug in the USB cable that came with the UPS from the power backup to your computer.

It should immediately detect the new hardware and tell you so.

Now reward yourself with some Vanessa Hudgens pictures. Be sure to save them on your new secret hidden drive to keep them away from those pesky burglars!

Now all you have to do is grab that cable and take it with you, knowing your secret image stash will be perfectly safe from prying eyes.

Here's the video again:


srilyk (author)2008-08-14

The only problem I'd have is that "pesky theves" tend to steal the UPS as well :P It would work better to put something like... inside your wall.

compudude86 (author)srilyk2008-08-18

"The only problem I'd have is that "pesky theves" tend to steal the UPS as well :P It would work better to put something like... inside your wall." you know, thats not a bad idea!! rig up something like a usb-rj11 deal and wire a usb drive into the back of a phone jack plate, or something similar, nobody would be the wiser except the phone repairman when your wife-girlfriend-mistress-significant other calls about the phone jack not working ;)

srilyk (author)compudude862008-08-18

Just get one of those two port/two line phone jacks, or the network/phone jacks. Actually it shouldn't be too hard afaik the pinout on a USB is four wires, and some phone jacks have the four wires (the cheaper ones just have two).

kenn123 (author)srilyk2008-09-28

Been thinking of similar thing.. Hidden USB HD are easily accomplished these days with a Solid state drive (heating problems...i think not) ...rough idea... Place SSD inside a small container attached to standard electrical faceplate, you can get a USB to SATA cable online these days for less than $10US

snowluck2345 (author)kenn1232012-04-16

ssd drives are hotter than normal drives in many situations...

kenn123 (author)shmuki2008-10-19

I like it

Phvxoui (author)srilyk2009-04-13

you knwow hat would be good make it with a Phone cable and the end that goes in the comp (usb) leave that as the phone jack and you can get those cheap phone jack things from !$ store add a USB cable to that and you know use that as a converter... so only you will have access to it if you know hat i mean i know i didnt explain it in a very good way hmmmm this calls for a instructable!!!! lol maybe my first?.. gotta get permission to make a big hole in the wall LOL maybe just put a random phone on top of your comp and hide the HDD in that no is gonan steal a crappy phone

drresearch (author)compudude862010-06-28

There is an instructable that hides a usb drive in a wall phone jack box.

Phvxoui (author)compudude862009-04-13

Actually theres a instructable on here somewhere that shows how you can use a Ethernet port/cable with USB or a Phone like as a USB very simple i think ab about to cut a hole in my wall and Install a Ethernet port! lol Sweet!!! !Peace from teh Middle East!

srilyk (author)Phvxoui2009-04-14

Yeah, that's because USB == 4 wires, Ethernet == 8 wires, phone == 4 wires. I don't know about Ethernet, but phone pushes 9v I think. Maybe 12 - I can't remember and can't be bothered to look it up so early in the morning.

YEah, it would be rather simple!

dog digger (author)2011-04-16

Be careful. The transformer could mess up the hard drive

runningduo (author)2010-11-01

Now i know where to look in someones house for there hard drive

ChrisInVT (author)2010-07-01

I don't think having a hard drive in the same enclosure as a 120v transformer, wiring and electronics is a good idea. Very creative though.

Timofte Andrei (author)2010-06-26

nice idea...but it's kind of time can do this much easy by putting a little USB hub after that built-in UPS's USB B and then connect the hard drive to that usb hub ;)...i don't know if you get the picture... sorry for my bad language ;) i'm from romania ;) have a good time ;)

berekleonard (author)2010-01-03

Great idea. Albeit, I think like a thief and, in the midst of moving around computer things to unhook cables, I would notice a UPS that was 10-20lbs too light and that would tip me off.  I would add some weight to offset the missing battery.

Check out this instructable too

Wesley666 (author)2009-10-05

Also the transformer (not sure about yours) but mine can be plugged into the wall and it puts out about 30 amps. I am trying to make an automated solder fed solderng iron, so sort of like a mini MIG welder. Not sure if it will work, I know the soldering parts work but I wonder if it would fry components.

Wesley666 (author)2009-10-05

When you said, "your wife won't know" I thought to myself, this guys using this to store his massive porn collection probably.

17hmr243 (author)2009-09-21

couldn't u place micro sd in tiny zip bag u us guys call them dime bags ? and hide it layer of a zipo that works then it mite be stolen but who strip searches a zipo except me:)

albylovesscience (author)2009-08-26

lol thats a good thing to do with a external drive fill it with pics of the great vanessa hudgens

kdude63 (author)2009-08-10

Great! Now I have a secret place for all my por... erm, secret files.

Kwitmeh3 (author)2009-05-11

heh hide your po inportantpictures

DIYDragon (author)2009-02-03

That's be pretty cool to install something like that in the wall behind your computer.. mostly just because it'd be out of the way, and not because of needing to hide it! : D

lucek (author)2009-01-10

what would be cool is if you used a hidden wireless usb hub. . . . I just thought of the absolute best hiding spot. get an old crt monitor, gut it. install a usb monitor at the front (use bondo to make it look right, and bingo you have a 3 to 4 sq ft hiding space that no one in there right mind would steal.

PeaceRabit (author)2008-10-14

smart perv.

frosty1433 (author)2007-09-27

"...what this hack is good for? imagine if you will, you've downloaded some po... important pictures..." ROFL!!!

grundisimo (author)frosty14332008-05-25


planeglory (author)grundisimo2008-10-13

whats so perv?

grundisimo (author)planeglory2008-10-13

You don't understand what he meant?

davidprosser (author)2008-10-11

Yeah I agree with a few people here - that if you were burgaled then they would probably take a UPS over a USB drive. The value these days is like $10 for a 4GB USB key, but a UPS is like $50 worth. Also, if the UPS did work, you could just unsolder the wires behind the USB socket inside, wire in a cheap USB Hub from ebay, and plug in your USB Drive AND wire the UPS. Voila!

corky842 (author)2007-09-21

That's pretty cool. Instead of a hard drive, how about putting a USB flash drive in there? It wouldn't require an adapter, and there would probably be enough room to leave the UPS functional.

NK5 (author)corky8422007-09-22

That's a great idea. The problem is the current flash drives aren't very big and are still much more expensive per gigabyte than a 2.5" hard drive. That's changing quickly, though!

NK5 (author)NK52008-10-10

SHEESH - Almost a year later and a 32GB Flash USB Stick is only $69 at Micro Center. 16GB is $39. Seems like another Instructable is in order. Although, a USB Hard Drive's MTBF should be much higher than a USB Flash Drive.

=SMART= (author)2008-10-09

Youve downloaded some por....important pictures... Hahahaha Nice ible 5*

Derin (author)2008-06-01

mine lights the fault led when i remove the battery

thermoelectric (author)Derin2008-08-19


Derin (author)thermoelectric2008-08-19

im gonna revive the battery at least

thermoelectric (author)Derin2008-08-19

Can I have it please

Derin (author)thermoelectric2008-09-28


thermoelectric (author)Derin2008-09-28


B_Ko (author)2008-09-16

Why were you looking at pictures of vanessa hutchins? Oh yeah, cuz she's doublefine.

webbhost (author)2008-08-28

I like this idea, but also like the idea of having it in your wall.... only thing that makes me wonder about that is heat - if its in an enclosed area it will get hot.... if its not it will have bugs jumping all over it. Got me thinking now through.... where can I hide my important pic...... I mean porn?

Yerboogieman (author)2008-08-19

por....important pictures

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-09-21

cool. but in my UPS you can change the battery (easley) (i got a APC Backup Pro 350) i got it for 2$ :-D

Derin (author)!Andrew_Modder!2008-08-19

damn,I got my ups with bad battery for free!one trip to crap shack and it will work again!

illdoyourdrugs (author)2008-08-18

Cool Stuff guy. But wouldnt people be curious why you have a dead UPS on the floor by the computer lol. Other wise pretty clever

Redgerr (author)2008-07-17

lol interesting

Derin (author)2008-07-14


conrad2468 (author)2008-06-13

por-important pictures

clickerX (author)2008-05-25


I totally have an old busted power backup! And I totally have hard drives with po.. important pictures on it! This one was totally for me!

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