Backing up or moving data off a computer isn't always as easy or convenient as one would think. Imagine you have a couple hundred gigabytes of MP3s you would like to move from your office computer (got to put those company resources to good use, eh?) to your home PC. Unless you're an IT admin, opening up your chassis to put in a temporary hard drive is probably not an option.
Burning to CD or DVD is certainly one way to go, but if your PC lacks a burner, or the designated "burning station" is off limits, that idea goes out the window. Emailing a couple hundred MP3s or FTPing it to your PC at home will raise eyebrows if the Network Administrator is monitoring the network.
The only other viable alternative is some form of removable media. There are flash drives of course, but the cost per Megabyte is fairly high. External hard drives (HDD) are a more economical alternative in that sense, but they don't really come cheap.
Today, we look into an alternative to buying an external HDD. You still get the HDD speed and storage, but at a fraction of the cost. Alright, since we all know this isn't the full truth... you still need to supply your own IDE drive as a first step, but the is the next step towards building your own external HDD.
||All aluminum frame and metal tray
Compatible with 3.5" and 5.25" IDE Drives
On/Off switch and Audio Plug on back of unit
IDE to USB 2.0 or USB 1.1
Works with PC or Macs
External AC power adapter included
USB Cable included
EMI shielded enclosure
Supports Win98/SE/ME/2000/XP, Mac OS9.0 or higher
Supports ATA 66/100/133 drives
Supports large capacity drives over 200GB.
The CoolMax CD-510-U2 Aluminum External Enclosure
The Coolmax aluminum enclosure is packed in a sturdy box, with the specifications and instructions printed on the back of it. Inside, the enclosure is wrapped in a transparent bag, and secured by foam to keep it from jostling around.
Inside, we have the CD-510-U2 aluminum enclosure. You can fit most IDE hard drives, with no limitation on its capacity. Unless you have a CD/DVD/CDRW drive that is out of spec, the enclosure can be used for those devices as well, giving you optical storage on the go. Our sample is USB 2.0 based, but there is a FireWire version produced as well.
Other than the enclosure, we have a shielded USB cable, spec'd for high speed operation. A driver CD for Windows 95/98 is included, in case you're lacking the drivers. Windows versions post 98SE are all supported natively. Rounding things out are installation screws and the power adapter. The power adapter is one of those blocky ones, which is a bit of a bummer as it will take up at least two spots (due to its girth) on most standard power bars.
The shell of the CD-510-U2 is aluminum, and it is quite thick. This is in stark contrast to the last Coolmax enclosure we reviewed, which was 100% plastic. The aluminum shell is much heavier, and the enclosure has a solid feel to it. What I hated about the last enclosure we looked at was the fact there was no front cover to hide the innards if you use a HDD. This enclosure has a plastic face plate that hides the HDD, if that is what you use it for, and it can easily be removed if you'd rather use an optical drive. The enclosure also includes an activity LED which blinks when the drive is being accessed.
Moving to the rear of the enclosure, we have a look at the two retention screws for the chassis, as well as the 40mm fan which provides cooling for your devices. A major plus with this unit is the inclusion of a power switch to shut the drive down when it is not in use (this wasn't present with their last enclosure). Although CDROM drives and hard drives do not consume that much power, some hard drives make a racket even when idle. With the last enclosure, sure, you can always just unplug it, but a power switch is a much more elegant solution. To the right of the switch are the connections for the power and USB cable.
By loosening the two screws mentioned earlier, the enclosure's tray slides out from the rear. It is not necessary to fully remove the screws, as about 8 to 10 rotations will release the tray. On the inside rear, we can see the four-pin Molex connection and the ATA133 cable.
Installation is no harder than installing a HDD or optical drive into your case. Simply plug in the appropriate connections, with your drive set to Master or Cable Select, and screw it in through the bottom of the tray. Slide the tray back into the enclosure and tighten the retention screws. That's it!