What does the Universal Drive Adapter do? It converts your hard drive’s IDE or SATA interface to USB 2.0. This allows you to easily transfer files from a hard drive, without having to install said hard drive into a computer. You can transfer files from a hard drive that you take out of a dead laptop or desktop computer. You can use a spare hard drive as external storage. Last year, I had a laptop that stopped booting. I still had files on the computer. I had no other laptop, or any way to interface with the laptop’s hard drive. An adapter like this is what I needed.
The adapter itself has a very slick design. There’s a power light, USB connectivity light, and IDE/SATA activity lights. One side of the adapter is made to fit 3.5′ (desktop) hard drives. Spin the adapter around and you can interface with 2.5″ (laptop) hard drives. When connecting to 3.5″ drives, use the included power adapter that plugs right into the molex connector on the back of your drive. If you are using a SATA drive, there is an included SATA power adapter. Laptop drives get their power via the IDE interface, so the power gets plugged into the side of the adapter, via another adapter.
The adapter interfaces with SATA drives via the included SATA cable which plugs into the adapter, and then into the drive. There is also an IDE extension cable that is about two inches long. The Universal Drive Adapter is able to connect to any configuration of hard drive you may have.
The Universal Drive Adapter couldn’t be easier to use. Connect your drive to the power adapter. Connect the adapter to the drive. Connect the USB cable from the adapter to your computer. You’re done. Your drive will now show up as another drive in ‘My Computer’ (if you’re using Windows). You will be able to drag and drop, copy/paste, or browse the hard drive.
For my first test, I copy/pasted my ‘My Documents’ folder on my laptop. I was able to move 1,200 files totalling 1GB in about 50 seconds. Not too bad.
The second test was a little more involved. I installed Ubuntu Linux 7.1 over the Universal Drive Adapter. The install took only about 20 minutes total. I was then able to boot flawlessly to the drive. Your mileage may vary booting to a USB connected drive. Newer PC’s have an option in BIOS to boot via USB, but some older PC’s may not.
Running the Ubuntu OS was very speedy, considering it is over a USB 2.0 interface. The Universal Drive Adapter enabled me to run a dual boot system from a laptop without having to infringe on my current Windows installation. Sure, you could do the same thing with an external HDD, but the Universal Drive Adapter works better for me, because I happen to have 6 IDE hard drives sitting around the house collecting dust.
A nice accessory to complement these drives might be the ProtectaDrive from Newertech. This provides a protective rubber housing for your drive to protect against shock and to protect exposed circuitry some drives have.
The Universal Drive Adapter is highly recommended. I found the performance of the unit to be flawless through 2 days of extensive testing. The design of the unit is slick and compact. The included cables provide means to connect to virtually any consumer drive that’s been on the market in the past 12+ years. At 34.99, the Universal Drive Adapter is a bargain. Shop around a tad, and you can find it even cheaper.
I do have two criticisms for the Universal Drive Adapter. The connection between the power-adapter and the wall socket does not seat firmly. I pushed as hard as I could, and it does not connect securely. Be sure to put the brick somewhere where it is not likely to be kicked or pulled on.
Also, there is a picture of a 5.25″ DVD drive on the front of the product’s box. Connecting to an ATAPI device is also mentioned in the brochure inside. I connected a DVD drive, set to both MASTER and CS jumper settings to my Universal Drive Adapter. In both cases, the computer failed to recognize it’s existence. I must admit that I did not expect it to work when I tried it. DVD drives are a different breed of storage altogether, and I’ve never heard of connecting one via USB unless the drive is specifically an ‘external’ model. I have contacted NewerTech for clarification, however. There might be something I am doing wrong, but I doubt it.
The bottom line: If you don’t have a Universal Drive Adapter yet, get one.