If you find yourself needing to read and write hard disks from other computers and do not always want to transplant them into a computer or an empty USB drive chassis, the NewerTech USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is a great solution. It handles just about any format:
- 3.5″ SATA (1.5 or 3.0 GBps, Molex or SATA power connector)
- 3.5″ parallel ATA
- 2.5″ SATA
- 2.5″ parallel ATA
- 5.25″ parallel ATA optical drives (CD/DVD/Blueray – but not notebook drives!
Its 100-240V, 50/60 Hz universal power brick is usable worldwide. All necessary cables are included (ATA ribbon cable, SATA, USB, power cables).
Using a hard disk on any USB-equipped computer is as easy as connecting the drive to the USB adapter and power brick and plugging the USB cable into the computer’s port (PC or Mac, running Windows, OS X or Linux). It may take about half a minute for the PC’s operating system to load the necessary drivers, but then you’ll have a new drive that can use any way you like.
So far the unit has worked just as advertised. I’m using it to access drives from older machines as well as for system upgrades and new operating system installs. For example, you could use the unit to hook up a DVD drive for installing an OS on a net book or other PC that doesn’t have an optical drive.
NewerTech has been around for a long time and has a good reputation mostly for Mac-related hardware, but some of it works equally well for Windows and Linux PCs.
Their Guardian MAXimus external RAID-1 solution (from $150 without preinstalled disks, $430 for twin enterprise class 1 TB drives) also looks very interesting. It supports a full range of interfaces (eSATA, USB 2.0 and Firewire 400/800) and handles a pair of drives of up to 2 TB each. RAID-1 means that all writes are automatically replicated to both drives, without the operating system needing any special support for it, so that you’ll be fully covered should one of the drives fail: You just replace the dead drive and it is automatically rebuilt using the data from the good drive while you keep on working.