Sorry for the Aqua song reference, but hey it was a pretty good song back in the day.
Speaking of back in the day this is a review for a nifty little kit that allows you to copy or retrieve files from a hard drive.
Ever deleted or ‘lost’ a file only to weep buckets, inconsolably and despair at the time/effort needed to start again? Or tried to recover a file from an empty Recycle Bin using some super duper software that maddeningly found obscure files from years ago but not the one(s) you want or other files from around the same time but still not the one(s) you want? *Sigh.*
Nowadays there’s lots of ways to backup data be it in various online forms to physical devices such as CDs, DVDs, pen drives and external hard drives but not everybody saves every file just in case they might need it let alone in multiple places. I knew a person who had three home computers with pretty much the same thing on each he claimed so he didn’t need to backup but you know bad things happen in threes or at least as the result of one horrid happening like a burglary.
Disclaimer – I’m going to use the acronym ‘hdd’ henceforth instead of ‘hard drive’ or ‘hard disk’ interchangeably. I’m not a techie (though would have liked to have been) so will describe this as best as possible to my knowledge/experience but bear in mind I tend to ignore trends and since I bought this in 2010/11 (I think) this review is probably best for those hanging onto old memories I mean hdds and as a basis for those who will use a newer model.
2.5” SATA/IDE to USB 2.0 & SATA Aluminium Enclosure
That title may sound a little weird so to break it down a bit:
2.5” – is basically the depth size of the hdd that can fit in this. These are generally found in mobile devices like laptops and netbooks/notebooks but also in old satellite boxes. They generally have less capacity and less memory than their 3.5” counterparts in desktop computers but on the flipside use less energy and able to withstand more vibration damage. That said, there are higher quality models available that rival 3.5”s.
SATA/IDE – the type of hdd, so suitable for both those labelled SATA (or Serial ATA) and the older PATA (Parallel ATA) interfaces, IDE was the older acronym for PATA (pre-mass use of CD ROMS). Basically the difference is their look and the way they connect to their hdd. SATA cables are thinner, longer, more efficient and allow for a smaller overall hdd size whereas IDE cables are bulkier, shorter and have slower transfer rates. Yes, there are far too many acronyms for computer parts. Both types were used (for hdds and optical drives) for a while but PATA was phased out so it’s handy that you can access either in this kit (SATA I and II compatibility).
USB 2.0 – Presumably most of you reading this will know what a USB port is and where they are on your device (unless you’re using a phone that doesn’t have one but still you’ve probably come across them elsewhere). USB ports are smaller and faster at transferring info than the big, clunky (sometimes needing to be screwed in) connectors we used to have for most things from printers to the mouse and keyboard! This kit is backwards compatible for USB version 1.1 and the current standard 2.0, not the newer 3.0 versions.
Aluminium Enclosure – Also known as ‘caddies’, this is the box that your hdd will sit inside whilst you’re accessing it via another computer/laptop. It effectively turns a previously internal hdd into an external one. Aluminium is handy for heat dissipation.
What comes in the kit
Didn’t we just go through this? Almost…
This kit is suitable for Windows 98SE / ME / 2000 / XP / Win7 / Linux & MAC OS 8.6 or above (go easy on the ‘above’; 8.6 was released in 1999. This kit is dated 2010 so at most probably goes up to MAC 10.6 as 10.7 came out late that year.)
The pieces you get are:
The housing – which comes in three parts; 1) the main outer body, 2) the inner circuit board/plate that your hdd will stick to and sit on, 3) the front panel that needs to be screwed into place to hold the whole thing together (i.e. ‘enclosure’) and connect the cable(s) to.
USB cable 1 – This is splitter cable (Y-shape); mini-USB connector on one end to fit into the enclosure, two regular size connectors on the other end like a two-headed snake. One of which goes into your laptop/computer and the other can go into a third device if necessary. This cable provides both power for the enclosure to work and data transfer.
USB cable 2 – It’s actually a power cord aka DC connector on one end and USB on the other. Connect the DC to the enclosure and the USB to the laptop/computer.
SATA cable – the Red one. SATA ports on both ends, connect one to the corresponding port on the enclosure and the other to the laptop/computer.
-Faux leather pouch
-Mini CD with installation drivers for old school Windows 98SE users. For everybody else plug’n’play.
-Packet of various small screws (though you only need two) and screw driver
Step by Step Directions
This is a very easy and straightforward kit to use, honestly!
Alright so you’ve salvaged your hdd from the death throes of whatever equipment it came from, maybe you faced too many dreaded ‘Blue Screens’, maybe your laptop was attacked by all the other crap in your bag, who knows but there’s something on it you need or you want to erase before giving to a geek to ‘fix’ or replace (whereby they’ll do what you could do with a kit like this and copy all your files before doing anything else, for a heftier price).
1. Carefully remove the front panel of the enclosure, otherwise since it’s not screwed in yet, is likely to just fall off and being lightweight could get damaged. Carefully take out the inner circuit board/plate, it’s metal, got sharp edges and slides out damned quickly.
2. Look at the pins on your hdd and the corresponding connector on the board/plate – make sure you’ve got the hdd the right way up. At an angle carefully slide your hdd onto the plate so that the connector on the board slots into the hdd properly. It should fit securely.
3. Put the plate (with hdd) back into the housing, put the front panel back in place and tighten a screw into position on either side. Without the hdd the enclosure can seem pretty unstable but with the hdd inside its solid and apparently ‘shockproof’.
4. Using either the Y-splitter USB cable or the combination of the power and SATA cables, connect the enclosure to your laptop/computer.
5. Being a plug’n’play kit your comp should be able to detect it immediately (green LED lights up) and either give you a pop up to click or you can go to ‘My Computer’ and access it from there.
Depending on whether you’re using a new comp, old operating system or attempting a MAC & Windows hdd transfer you may need to partition/format it (check manual). But on a comp you already use and in a Windows to Windows or MAC to MAC transfer that shouldn’t be necessary.
You should just be able to click on/access the enclosure like you would any partition or optical (CD/DVD) drive you have (e.g. D and E drives) – just like when accessing a pen drive/dongle and transfer the same way with copy/paste/move/drag’n’drop (when transferring, the red LED lights up). So navigate to your enclosed old hdd, copy/move what you want onto the comp it’s connected to or directly onto another device if you’ve used the Y-splitter cable.
6. When you’ve finished and before disconnecting this, right click on the remove device icon as you do with some pen drives and other accessories.
Voila! See easy peasy… Unless…
The only disadvantage I can really find with this, other than it not being the newest model, is that you might end up using expletives trying to get to the hdd you want to access in the first place. Obviously you mustn’t be afraid of opening your PC/MAC tower, laptop/netbook or whatever, then locating/dislocating your hdd (all relatively easy) but the casing of the hdd can be another matter. It can be much harder to remove and you have to remove it. The screw driver provided might be just right or it will fit but not be strong enough, or it won’t fit so you might need another. It’s generally better for mobile phone casing than some of the more stubborn hdd casings. Sometimes casing is sharpish to the touch, sometimes you’ve removed the screws only to find you still can’t separate the two and if you’re not careful it can actually bend! So you may need something to lever the hdd out. If you’re still under warranty/guarantee – get the nerdy buggers to do it instead for free. Though it’s not hard, like when you buy a new comp and they try to charge you for upgrading the memory/RAM when you can easily do it yourself as it slots into place, is fairly easily located and there’s a squillion tutorials online.
Also remember not to delete files from the enclosed hdd until you’re sure they’ve transferred/are saved properly in their new location (disconnect your pen drives properly!)
I bought this in 2010/11 from eBay so can’t remember the price but nowadays a 2.5” equivalent will cost approx under £10 (3.5” enclosures tend to be more).
I actually saw one in a second hand/reclaimed computing shop recently so it’s still around. It comes in Black or Silver.
Regarding transfer speeds, personally I never get the high speeds claimed on anything so whilst this says ‘480Mbps (USB 2.0) / 12Mbps (USB 1.1)’ and ‘3.0Gb/s (SATA II) / 1.5Gb/s (SATA I)’ I’ve gotten a lower amount hence longer time but it will vary anyway depending on how much you’re transferring and how big those files are so you may need a beverage/snacks handy if not a full course meal or perhaps you’re one of those really brave folk who leave a comp running something and actually come back to find it finished or still running nicely without needing your input or frozen altogether.
One other thing, I’ve never used this to try and boot a comp but if you’re using a readily functioning hdd in the enclosure with boot up files on it instead of a hdd you rescued and which may be corrupted in some way, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. It’s a potential alternative to booting with a CD/DVD/pen drive etc.
Unfortunately I can’t find the company information anymore, the 0871 phone number isn’t coming up on my search and the website just allows you to download drivers http://pluscom.cn/
Overall it can help restore peace of mind over previously thought of defunct hdd’s. It doesn’t need a mains adapter or expert knowledge to run, it’s portable and inexpensive. Also the manual is only one A4 sheet of paper! Granted in small print and double sided but it’s one of the best explained, translated instructions I’ve come across (except the bit that says ‘lather pouch’ when referring to the fabric – not leather – pouch but hey when buying certain fabrics from some parts of the world I’m aware the spelling or intention may be different e.g. when they say wool and its actually wool-blend, acrylic or felt or faux fur not actually being faux but that’s another story).