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Putting Things Together

Though the myriad of USB-to-IDE enclosures might seem different superficially, they are actually quite similar internally. Let's open the enclosure and begin our endeavor of externalizing our internal IDE drive. The Metal Gear enclosure I had made it particularly easy to open the enclosure. In fact, no tools were required for the entire assembly. The enclosure simply had four twist-on screws holding the box together.

After you open the box, you'll see the inside of the enclosure, which has some circuitry and a couple of cables we are interested in: an IDE cable and a power cable (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2 Inside the external hard-drive enclosure.

Next, connect your hard drive to the two cables of the enclosure. Simply plug the power cable to the power connector of your hard drive, and plug the IDE ribbon cable of the enclosure to the IDE port of the hard drive (see Figure 3). The hard-drive port and ribbon cable are usually designed so that you can't insert the cable upside down.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Inserting the hard drive into the enclosure and hooking up cables.

Next, secure the drive to the enclosure chassis. In the case of the Metal Gear box, this was performed by fastening a couple of twist-on screws that attached the hard drive to the hard-drive enclosure (see Figure 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4 Securing the IDE drive to the enclosure.

Believe it or not, at this point, you are done with the physical installation of the drive into the disclosure. Simply put the lid back on the enclosure (see Figure 5).

Figure 5

Figure 5 Putting the enclosure back together.

Now plug an external power adapter to the hard-drive enclosure, and plug the USB cable to the enclosure (see Figure 6).

Figure 6

Figure 6 Hooking up the external power and USB cable.

Finally, the USB cable's other end needs to be plugged into your computer's USB port. With most hard-drive enclosures, this step must be performed while you are running Windows XP. After you hook up the enclosure to your computer, Windows XP should recognize your hard drive as a USB Mass Storage Device. Windows XP has built-in drivers to respect the external drive properly. Depending on the type of hard-drive enclosure you have, Windows XP will designate the hard drive as either a Removable Disk or just another hard drive. Windows XP should automatically grant the external drive a drive letter (see Figure 7).

Figure 7

Figure 7 Your previously internal hard drive now being recognized as a removable disk.

At this point, you can interact with your previously internal IDE drive as an external hard drive.

To properly unplug your drive, double-click on the Safely Remove Hardware icon in your taskbar and stop the device by clicking the Stop button before physically removing the USB cable from your computer's USB port. (See Figure 8.)

Figure 8

Figure 8 Stopping the USB Mass Storage Device before physical removal.

Now you know how to use an external USB-to-IDE hard-drive enclosure to convert an internal IDE hard drive into an external removable hard-drive device. Using this technique, you can put to good use any hard drives you have lying around collecting dust.

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