How to connect a hard drive to a laptop


Did your old computer or laptop break down, leaving behind a working hard drive? It can gather dust on a shelf, or it can still serve in a new laptop. How to connect a hard drive to a laptop in this case will be described in the material below.

Box for external memory

The easiest way to connect a hard drive to a laptop is to use it as an external drive. It will require a small cash outlay, but it doesn’t matter at all what kind of old disk is connected — 2.5 ”format from a laptop or 3.5” from a stationary PC. You just need to buy the appropriate size box for it. The hard drive inside the case is connected via SATA 2 or SATA 3, and directly to the laptop via a USB cable.

Hard drive inside the case

To select a usb container, you need to consider not only the size of the hard drive, but also SATA type, because it makes no sense to buy a case with SATA 2 support for SATA 3, since the data transfer rate will remain slow. It is also worth paying attention to what USB support at the hull. Currently it is not advisable to buy the USB 2.0 option, it will slow down the data transfer speed.

Important! It should be understood that a conventional hard drive from a PC needs an enclosure powered by an outlet, since the energy consumption of such a memory is higher than that of laptop drives.

Enclosure with power

After placing the memory in a special case, it becomes a complete analogue of an external hard drive. To connect, you just need to insert the connecting cable into the USB connector. For the most part, no additional steps are required to connect a second hard drive, but if the system did not detect the drive on its own, then you should refer to the instructions from the box: perhaps for it to work driver needs to be installed. In this case, the instructions will indicate the address where it can be downloaded.

Dock station

Another option that will allow you to connect a hard drive from a PC to a laptop without a special case is a docking station. This is a device that connects to a laptop via USB and has interfaces for connecting hard drives of various formats — 2.5 ”and 3.5”. It is convenient to use it when needed. temporarily connect the driveand then return it to its place.

Important! Through such a device, you can connect several hard drives at once.

Charging at the docking station

Connection via cable

Another way to connect an additional hard drive is to use special wires and adapters. It is believed that it is the cheapest and most versatile, since you can connect a laptop or computer hard drive with just wires, but the difficulty is that Finding the right wires is not easy.

Connection via IDE interface

So, the main element of such a connection is controller, which has different HDD connection interfaces, including for very old memory models that are not available for sale today. This controller takes two power adapters and directly SATA or IDE drive outputs. On the reverse side of the controller there is a network adapter (for powering a 3.5” drive) and a USB cable for synchronizing the memory with a laptop. This method allows you to make an external drive without buying a special box.

Hard drive and power supply

Important! The downside is that such a set is inconvenient to carry, and external memory implies mobility and ease of movement. In addition, there are too many wires scattered around, which are easy to snag and break the connection.

Connecting to a MacBook

Macbook users may also be faced with the need to connect an external drive to the device. From the point of view of output features, there are no significant differences between Apple and other brands. MacBook uses either the usual USB or Thunderbolt as connectors for connecting peripherals. If the memory was bought universal, and not specifically for Apple, then a USB cable is included in the kit. In this case, you can connect it using adapter with Thunderbolt — USB.

Macbook with hard drive

After connecting, the hard drive will appear on the desktop as a removable media. If it doesn’t, then the problem may be file system differences. For the most part, memory for Windows is formatted in NTFS, and for MacOS — ExFAT or Mac OS Extended. The first option is universal and will allow you to work on both operating systems, the second is exclusively Apple, and gadgets on Windows will not understand it.


The NTFS format is readable by a MacBook, but the functionality will be curtailed — files can be opened and viewed, but saving them to the device or writing from it will not work. For a complete set of features the disk needs to be formatted.

disk utility

  1. On the MacOS desktop, we go along the path: «Go» — «Utility» — «Disk Utility».
  2. In the left work area we find the connected memory.
  3. Select the drive and click on the «Erase» button.
  4. Click on «Partition» (disk partition) and specify the type of file system that should be obtained after formatting. The best option is ExFAT.
  5. After selecting the type of system, click «Apply», this will start the formatting process, and wait for the procedure to end.

Important! Regardless of the type of file system, the MacBook should see the drive connected to it. If this does not happen, then the problem is not enough power (you may need a double USB cable to use two outputs in a laptop at once and get enough power), a bad cable, or the drive itself.

double usb cable

In case of errors when working with the hard drive after formatting it, in the Disk Utility menu, you can select item «First Aid». This is software for «treatment» of the drive. It can fix some problems, but if they occur, then this is the first sign of a media failure, and it is better to take care of the safety of the data by resetting it to another location.

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