How to Convert an Old C Drive to External Hard Drive

No one likes getting rid of a computer, whether it’s due to upgrading or due to high repair costs. And, we especially don’t like it if this means we end up loosing all the information on the hard disk drive (C Drive).   So, what do you do if you need those files and your old computer has gone kaput?  Answer:  You make it an external drive!

We recently had a computer go down (bad motherboard), so instead of putting money into a 4+ year old computer, thought it better to apply that money towards a new computer. Since our problem wasn’t disk related, we opted to remove the old C Drive and install in an external hard case. While we can’t use the programs stored there, we can open any of the document, image, etc. files that we might need.

This is a pretty simple process that almost anyone can do.  The information below will help you determine which external drive to buy to encase the old C drive.

1.   Measure width and height of the C drive once you have removed it from the original computer tower. You should also know the maximum capacity of the disk.

2.   Determine type of drive you have. This refers to the type of power used when starting up (spin-up). I found the type of C drive I had by actually using the information off the drive after I removed it from the tower and then searching online. The search results gave me the name/type for that drive so I could proceed with purchasing the correct case. There are two typical drives you will most likely encounter.

SATA II (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) – supports staggered spin-up allowing the computer to spin up the drives in sequence top reduce load on the power supply when booting.

PATA (Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment) (and some SATA) – support power-up in standby. Each drive does not spin up until the controller (system BIOS) issues a specific command to do so… allowing the system to be set up to stagger disk start-up and limit maximum power demand at switch-on.

 3.   Go online, i.e, Amazon and search for the type of drive you need based on the size and type. (Check to make sure it comes with a USB cable and make note of what type of power it uses.) Most of these external cases will fit the C drives that come with the newer computers.  However, if you have an older computer, you may need to do some more research with regard to case size and drive type. (see link below for more information.)

4.  Once you have the external drive case in hand, follow the instructions that come with the unit. In my case, I only had to remove two screws, place my old C drive inside, and replace the cover and screws.

After doing this, I simply plugged the unit into my new computer’s USB port where I could view all the files on my old C Drive and use them – all for under $15.00.

If you want to read more about hard disk drives, visit

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