3.5

3.5-inch Computer Drive Enclosures and Docks

If you need to take an internal hard drive and convert it into a portable USB drive, a hard drive enclosure or dock is a perfect solution. These devices are compatible with all types of hard drives, including IDE, SATA HDD, and SATA SSD. A wide variety of different USB hard disk enclosures exist, so you can choose depending on your needs.

Why would you need a hard drive enclosure?

Hard drive enclosures essentially take your existing internal hard drive and turn it into a portable external hard drive. This can be useful if you need to expand the storage capacity of your desktop and do not want to lose data. Its also useful if you get a new desktop and wish to directly access the contents of your old desktop or simply need a portable storage device.

What is the difference between hard drive docks and enclosures?

Traditional hard drive enclosures are essentially boxes that surround your current hard disk drive or solid state drive. It can then allow for it to function as an external hard drive. These are typically constructed out of aluminum and consist of the enclosure, a cooling system, and a USB connection back to your computer. Because of the cooling system, these typically have an internal power supply and need to be plugged into the wall to function correctly. This type of hard drive enclosure is great if you only need to enclose one drive.

A hard drive dock is similar in function to an HDD enclosure with one key difference. The docking system allows for you to quickly insert and remove different external HDDs or SSDs. This can be useful if you need to use several different hard disks on a regular basis and do not wish to place all of them in an enclosure. For instance, if you frequently recover data off broken desktops, this can be a great option to quickly access those hard disks. The dock also uses a USB connection and relies on an external power source for cooling.

What types of drives do enclosures work with?

Most enclosures and docks work with either IDE or SATA drives. SATA enclosures will work with SATA I, SATA II, and SATA III drives as they are all compatible with each other. SATA enclosures support both SATA HDDs and SATA SSDs for maximum portability. For legacy needs, IDE external hard drive enclosures exist. These can provide access to your IDE hard disk.