I had one of these sitting nearby for just such an emergency. The good folks at OWC like to keep me up on the latest and greatest gadgets and made sure that I had this cool accessory for testing and review. I’ve had it since January, but this was the first time that I got a chance to put it to use. After all, nothing like a real world test right? Imagine if you took an external drive case and took the electronics that actually hook up to the drive out of it. Now also imagine that those electronics would connect to IDE or SATA drives 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives as well. That’s basically what the Universal Drive Adapter is. It allows you to temporarily hook up an internal drive externally via USB 2.0. The Adapter comes with all the necessary cables and includes an AC adapter to actually power up the drive. The fact that it works with either IDE or SATA drives makes it a great solution for anybody that needs to hook up a drive every now and then and doesn’t want to always have to buy a case or tear into one to do so. This adapter would also be good for anyone that is upgrading to a larger drive. You could connect your new New drive up using this adapter long enough to clone over your old drive to it and then swap the drives.
How well does it work?
This is one of those things that either works or it doesn’t! The first time I got one of these was actually before January and out of the box I could never get my drive to actually mount on the desktop. I eventually just gave up, stuck the drive in a case and it worked fine. Things went a lot better with this kit. I connected it up to my 750GB SATA drive, plugged in the power and the USB cable into my Mac Pro and it came right up. I then used Disk Utility to reformat the drive. Next I moved the drive to the iMac and again for some reason it didn’t mount the first time. I was beginning to get discouraged until I remembered that there were some troubleshooting instructions. I followed them and the drive did mount. I just did a Finder copy of the Movies folder onto the drive and let it run over night (it is only USB 2.0 speeds after all). The next morning, the data was there and I disconnected the drive. Now I can take that drive offsite as an archive. Although I still have the DVD discs as backup, I would never want to have to spend the weeks or months doing the ripping again. That’s the point of this double backup.
The one problem with working with bare drives like this is that they are exposed! On most hard drives you can actually see (and potentially fry) the electronics of the drive on the bottom. So OWC also sells a rubber cover called the ProtectaDrive. This sleeve is designed to offer you some protection against shock and touching the electronics of the drive. They make them in both 3.5″ and 2.5″ drive sizes. Not much to it, you just slip it over your drive before you hook it up to the adapter. I felt a lot better using this than nothing at all. Although I could store the drive in it, I plan to just use an anti-static bag for the drive (like the ones they ship in) and put the drive in my safe deposit box at the bank. This way I can use the ProtectaDrive for other copy/clone projects as they arise.
The Bottom Line
If you need to connect a drive up and don’t want to have to buy or use a case, this is your solution. I could see using this adapter in a lot of different situations. The only thing that I can think of that would make this solution even better is if it also had the ability to use Firewire 800/400. That would make the transfers even faster.
OWC sales the Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter for $29.99. The 3.5″ ProtectaDrive is $9.95. The 2.5″ ProtectaDrive is $7.99.