Rip out your pc’s mind and switch it into an exterior onerous drive

For those who’re into pictures or every other pastime that requires you to avoid wasting huge information, having a further exterior drive can solely imply excellent news. (Whitson Gordon /)

It’s simple to stint on storage if you’re shopping for a pc. You assume there’s no means you’ll ever want greater than 256GB, however there you might be, one measly 12 months later, observing an overflowing C: drive that received’t cease bugging you with reminders that it’s nearly full.

In case your laptop computer permits you to open up the underside and pop in a brand new drive, upgrading the drive is simple. Don’t toss out that previous drive if you’re executed, although—you possibly can put it in a USB enclosure and use it as an exterior drive for backups, additional storage in your gaming PC, or as a technique to hand stuff off to your folks.

It’s extremely simple, so long as you purchase the best gadget.

Earlier than you begin

We received’t get into the ins and outs of upgrading your drive right here, since that’s a information all by itself. However if you happen to haven’t executed so already, you’ll want to repeat any necessary information off your previous drive first, or clone your working system set up with a software like Macrium Mirror (Home windows) or Carbon Copy Cloner (Mac) earlier than you open up your pc and swap the brand new drive in.

The precise strategy of switching drives is as simple because it sounds, even if you happen to’ve by no means dug right into a laptop computer’s innards earlier than. You possibly can google your pc’s mannequin quantity to discover a step-by-step walkthrough. As soon as that’s executed, in case your previous onerous drive continues to be working—that’s, if it hasn’t failed or isn’t full of dangerous sectors—it’s time to breathe new life into it.

Discover the best USB enclosure

Identify the kind of drive you're dealing with by taking a close look at the shape, size, and connectors.

Establish the sort of drive you are coping with by taking an in depth take a look at the form, measurement, and connectors. (Whitson Gordon /)

Lately, onerous drives are available in a couple of varieties. On fashionable PCs, you’re prone to discover one of many following:

  • <b>3.5-inch onerous drives</b>: Massive, sluggish, and loud, however can maintain probably the most quantity of area. You’ll discover these in desktop PCs.
  • <b>2.5-inch onerous drives</b>: Nonetheless sluggish and loud, however smaller to allow them to match inside a laptop computer.
  • <b>2.5-inch solid-state drives (SSDs)</b>: The identical measurement and form as 2.5-inch onerous drives, however with solid-state {hardware}, which eschews the loud spinning platter for a lot quicker, long-lasting storage with no shifting components.
  • <b>mSATA SSDs</b>: Fashionable laptops—that’s, these manufactured prior to now 10 years—save much more area by slicing down the two.5-inch kind issue into one thing a lot smaller. These mSATA drives are related in velocity to 2.5-inch SSDs, however are extra compact.
  • <b>M.2 SATA SSDs</b>: M.2 is a brand new connection commonplace that appears just like mSATA. Not all M.2 drives are the identical, although—some use the previous SATA connection commonplace (and thus are related in velocity to 2.5-inch and mSATA SSDs), whereas others use a quicker connection known as…
  • <b>M.2 NVMe SSDs</b>: NVMe storage is tremendous quick, and customary in lots of the higher-end laptops you’d purchase as we speak. M.2 NVMe SSDs usually look just like M.2 SATA SSDs, however might not be suitable with the identical enclosures.

That will sound like quite a bit, however don’t fear—you don’t essentially must know every part about every drive kind. Simply take a look at your drive (or, if you happen to haven’t opened your pc but, take a look at photographs or video of your laptop computer’s restore guides) and examine it to the photograph above. The label can also record the drive’s connection kind.

For 3.5- and a couple of.5-inch drives, there are dozens of various enclosures on the market. On the reasonably priced finish, ORICO enclosures are fashionable and have labored properly for me prior to now. This mannequin suits 3.5-inch drives, and you may seize it with old-school USB-A or new-school USB-C, relying on what ports you’ll must plug it into. For smaller drives, their extra compact 2.5-inch mannequin works properly for a dirt-cheap value and is available in a number of connection sorts. That stated, you do get what you pay for, to an extent. I’ve used low cost drives at residence with out issues, however you possibly can spend money on extra sturdy supplies and extra engaging designs if portability or aesthetics are necessary.

For extra compact laptop computer drives, issues are only a tad extra complicated, since they give the impression of being so related. Because of its measurement, mSATA is a bit simpler—in case your drive is brief and stout, this enclosure ought to do the trick. For M.2 drives, take note of the label and the “keying”—the form of the connector on the finish. Most Amazon listings could have a graphic within the carousel of pictures that exhibits you which of them drives it’s suitable with—this UGREEN mannequin, for instance, works with SATA-based drives that both have the “B-Key” (one notch on the top) or “M+B Key” (two notches on the top).

It doesn’t, nevertheless, work with NVMe-based M.2 drives, which might look similar to M-Key SATA drives, so examine the label to see whether or not your drive is NVMe- or SATA-based. NVMe drives will work with this UGREEN enclosure as a substitute. Like above, you possibly can be happy to go looking for drives with completely different appearances or sturdiness options—simply be certain to learn evaluations before you purchase.

Switch your drive, plug it in, and reformat

Did you get your enclosure? Hard part's over. Get the drive in there and start filling it with your favorite things.

Did you get your enclosure? Onerous half’s over. Get the drive in there and begin filling it together with your favourite issues. (Whitson Gordon /)

Choosing the right enclosure is, weirdly, the onerous half. Transferring the precise drive is tremendous simple, and also you shouldn’t want a lot in the way in which of instruments. In actual fact, the ORICO drive I’m utilizing for the needs of this information is totally tool-less—the highest simply slides proper off, revealing the inside chamber the place the onerous drive lies.

Seize your previous drive, face the SATA or M.2 connector towards the dock contained in the enclosure, and gently slide the drive into place. When you’re positive it’s in all the way in which—it shouldn’t take an excessive amount of drive—simply shut it again up.

Congratulations, you simply made your personal exterior drive.

Plug one finish of the USB cable into the enclosure, and the opposite into your pc. For those who’re utilizing a 3.5-inch enclosure, it could additionally require you to plug it right into a wall socket utilizing the included adapter, so it may possibly draw sufficient energy to spin that huge drive. Smaller, extra transportable drives shouldn’t require this, however you possibly can learn your enclosure’s instruction handbook for more information.

Your pc ought to acknowledge the previous drive as if it had been every other exterior drive. It is going to nonetheless have all of your previous knowledge on it, although, so after you have that extracted to the brand new drive inside your pc, you’ll need to format and erase the previous drive. In Home windows, open Explorer, right-click on the drive, and select Format. Choose NTFS if you happen to plan on utilizing it on Home windows machines, or ExFAT For those who plan on shifting it between Home windows and Mac machines. In case you have a Mac, you possibly can format the drive by operating Disk Utility (yow will discover it in Utilities, within the Purposes folder), deciding on the drive within the left sidebar, and clicking the Erase button. Select Mac OS Prolonged (Journaled) because the format and click on Erase.

As soon as your drive is free and clear, you’re able to fill it up with no matter nonsense you select—which, coupled with the brand new drive in your PC, ought to offer you loads of room for actions.

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