Assemble an External Hard Drive




This tutorial will teach you how to assemble a basic, functioning external hard drive, using an external hard drive case and an internal hard drive. You will learn how to upgrade or repair an old hard drive, and how to build a new external hard drive from scratch.

To complete this process, you will need the following:

-An external hard drive case
-An internal hard drive (any capacity)
-Power cable
-USB or Firewire Cable
-Screwdriver (Phillips Head)

*Every hard drive, case, and computer will be different, so make sure to consult their respectiveinstruction manuals before and during assembly.

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Step 1: Getting Started

Find a clean, dry area to work in. Set the external hard drive case and the drive itself Make sure your external hard drive case is unplugged and that the power switch is in the "OFF" position.

Step 2: Unscrew Casing

Locate all of the screws used to close and secure your external hard drive case. Remove the screws and set them aside. You will need to replace them later.

Step 3: Open Casing

Carefully slide the cover of the case open appropriately. Each type of casing will be different, so make sure that you remove the cover properly. If you are not sure how to do this, consult the owners manual of your particular case.

Step 4: Remove Old Drive

If you are installing a new drive into an empty case, you may skip this step.

If you are upgrading or repairing a drive that is already in place, unplug all of the connecting cables from the drive. Remove any screws that secure the hard drive to the case.

Carefully remove the hard drive from the case.

Step 5: Find Connections

Locate the cables inside the case the connect to the external hard drive. There should be one males power connector and a male data connection strip.

Find the area where the hard drive is to be mounted. There will probably be holes for screws or some type of securing device.

Step 6: Jumper Setting

Make sure that your hard drive is on the correct jumper setting. The appropriate setting (slave, master, cable select, etc.) will probably be indicated on the label of the drive. Set your drive to "slave" or "cable select" if you will be running your operating system from a different disk drive. Put it on the "master" setting if you will be running an operating system from this drive, or if this will be the only drive on your computer.

Step 7: Mount

Place the new hard drive in the mounting position. Align any screw holes and secure the drive with screws or other mounting device.

Step 8: Make Connections

Connect the power and data cables from the case to the hard drive. Make sure that the cables are plugged all the way in.

Step 9: Close Case

Once the hard drive has been properly mounted and connected to the case, put the cover or housing back on the case. Replace all of the screws.

Step 10: Connect

Place your closed external hard drive case in place where it will be able to connect to your computer and an electrical source.

Plug one end of either the USB or Firewire cable into the external hard drive case. Plug the other end into an available port on your computer.

Step 11: Check Power

Connect the power cable to the external hard drive case and then to an available electrical outlet.

Put the power switch in the "on" position. If your case has an indicator light, check it to make sure that the power is on. If it's not on, check your electrical connection, or open the case again and make sure you properly connected the power inside.

Step 12: Start Computer

Once the power and the USB or Firewire cables have been connected externally, turn on your computer. Depending on which platform you are using, your computer will either show your drive on the desktop (Mac) or in the My Computer section (PC).

You may need to format your drive or install drivers according to what type of computer you are using. For more information, consult the user manual of your hard drive or your computer. You may also be able to find these resources on the website of your hardware manufacturer.

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    9 Discussions


    9 years ago on Step 4

    heres a way to contact me with the above info rayfalcon at windstream dot net  for any one that has any info regarding the above comments that I asked about.


    9 years ago on Step 4

    hey I got a big big problem and an even bigger question.
    here's my problem I got a crap load of files needed but not on my system( i need the files to be accessable and off of my system)
    Heres my question(s) 
    1. can a ide hdd be turned into a usb drive?
    2.  if so do you have the diagrams showing how to do so including a list of all chip sets needed?
    3. I know that almost all hard disk drives are the same in retrospect to being made the same way 1 - 3 plenium diskuses round data discs inside to hold data so what software firmware do i need to turn a 4.3 gb Fujitsu model Mpc3043at -cp id yfib hdd into any size data storage i want?


    9 years ago on Step 3

    that looks like a VERY safe place


    9 years ago on Introduction

     nice PPC mac... i wanted one of those... whats yours a quad-core or 8-core


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Personally I think this is ible quite handy if your not techie but have HD & a 2nd-hand case and no instructions.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    maybe renaming this ible is an idea ;), seeing as u are not actually building an external drive, but more like installing a drive in an external case. bit difference there ;)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I recently tried to upgrade an old external USB hard drive from a dead 80GB to a 250GB, and had all sorts of data errors. Turns out the older enclosure could only work with drives up to 128GB properly. Not likely a problem with newer housings, but still a good idea to double-check that the case can handle the drive you're going to be using. The case is working happily with an old 120GB drive, incidentally. Not the upgrade I wanted, but the 80GB drive had died, so, hey.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    A possible solution is either a firmware update, if your lucky. Even some of the newer drives have similar limits. Had an Iomega external that was 250 stock, and would accept a 500, but 750 and 1 terabyte drives simply would not work. If the manufacturer makes a very similar model, with a higher capacity, sometimes flashing the firmware from the newer drive will allow the older enclosures to work with bigger drives. It's risky, as you can brick them, but if it's free/trash to start with, it's worth trying. although with your success using the 120 GB drive... I'd call it a day, and be glad that you could resurrect the case, with it's 50% increase in storage. As a side note, Most drive bays accepting SATA drives should handle anything up to 2 terabytes ok, and most scsi cases should handle ANY size drive. To date, I have a 80 MEGAbyte LaClie external scsi drive, that i used to have hooked to my Mac Plus(yeah, that old) that currently houses a 80 GIGabyte drive, hooked to my music server pc. Sure, the interface is old/slow scsi, but it's got plenty of bandwidth for serving up juicy .flac to my music receivers.