Good External Enclosure for Hard Drive

I wasn't sure where to put this, so I put it here. I currently have 2 DVD drdives and an IDE hard drive. I'm fine for now because my current motherboard has can have 4 devices. But a friend is giving me a new motherboard (much better one) that can only support 2 devices. I'd rather not have to give up using one of my devices so I decided to just get an external enclosure. I have no clue on what to get. It needs to be an IDE enclosure with USB for it's external port.

1) Plastic or aluminum? which one is better?

2) What price am I looking at for a decent external enclosure

3) What are some tricks to maximize performance and keeping heat down?
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  1. def go for the the aluminium ones mate, didn't know you could get plastic ones, which if you can, worries me a bit cause these drives heat up quite a bit under load.

    the ones i like the most are the vantec nexstar 3 series:

    if your using USB 2, your pretty much limited to 480Mbs. Make sure your new mobo does have USB2, cause if its USB1, your limited to 14Mbs, which is useless for external hard drives.

    i wouldn't worry too much about cooling. some enclosures have cooling, but unless your going to be using it constantly (i.e. booting off it), prob not worth it.

    Also check if you new mobo supports eSata. this will be way faster than USB2. you could even boot off it no probs. some of the vantec enclosures support this, thou you will pay a bit extra.
  2. Sadly, my new motherboard does not have an e-sata port. Plus I would want USB anyways because I would use this to transfer files as well. I have a few questions though, if I leave it on overnight (not transferring files, just like I forget to turn it off) will it overheat and eventually cause damage? Also is $30 for an external enclosure really necessary? What advantages does it pose over say a $20 external enclosure?
  3. Meh, here we go again... me and my 7 external enclosure knowledge to the rescue...

    Basically, there should really be no difference between a 20 dollar and a 50 dollar enclosure... usually. They might had additional ports (USB 2.0, firewire, etc...) but you only need USB 2.0 usually. Some of them might have slightly better designs to aid in cooling and whatnot, but a simple alumminum enclosure works just as well. Might get a bit hot, but don't wrap it up in a blanket and you're fine. I have 6 of my external's stacked one on top of another, and I have a desk-fan that I use to blow over all of them.. you probably don't need anything like that. If it's just one passive drive, leaving it just sitting there should be fine. You can put it near one of your computers exhaust fans if you desire or if it's possible, but not needed.

    There are some enclosures with a fan in them, and they work fairly well, however, the cheaper ones with fans are fairly noisy/annoying... something to keep in mind.

    There is a nice list of enclosures there, and I buy all of mine from there. I've used Bytecc, Penguin Gear, and Coolmax, and I like Coolmax enclosures the best since they seem to have the best chipset controlling them... out of those three. The others I've never used so I can't give you any real help about those.

    If you're really worried about heat, get a 30 dollar alumminum enclosure with fans. If not, just get a 20 dollar enclosure which gets the job done.
  4. I received this One as a gift, works flawlessly, not even warm to the touch, the Hd is in direct contact with the aluminium so it works as a heatsink.

    I think you pay xtra for the style though.
  5. If you just have one drive to connect and it won't stay connected for hours at a time, just get an aluminum enclosure with both USB 2.0 and SATA external interfaces.

    I haven't had much problems with the bytecc enclosures, except when I swapped drives on a daily basis and wore out the wiring. Use an enclosure less bytecc adapter if that is going to be your usage pattern.

    If you have internal SATA slots get a cheap bracket to make them external, just make sure it matches the SATA connector type used by the enclosures.

    Connecting via SATA will yield identical performance to an internal connection even it it employs a PATA to SATA bridge. USB 2.0 is a backup for systems lacking external SATA connections. eSATA vs regular/internal SATA are the standards to watch out for. They are mechanically different and have different ranges but are otherwise compatible.

    Heat is a real problem. Don't bother with enclosures with fans, they barely cool the drive and die quickly and are impossible to replace.

    Passive cooling with an aluminum enclosure is you next best bet, but under heavy 24/7 use the drives get much hotter than if they were installed internally with active cooling.

    If you really want the drive to achieve its full longevity its time to do some moding.

    Cutting a hole and adding a $5 Thermaltake 80mm hard drive cooling fan will do the trick. Rewire it so its draws power from the 5v instead of the 12 v and its still cools perfectly, but with no noise.

    Plastic vs aluminum doesn't matter as you will be adding a large silent fan. Disconnect any of the tiny useless fans.

    If you want to get real geeky, canibilize a 5.25" mobile rack with a 3.5" removable hard drive tray, a 80 mm hard drive fan and an external enclosure. Use liberal amounts of duct tape. It ain't pretty, but it its fast, flexible and keeps my drive running long past their warranty.

    Or for just USB 2.0, skip the enclosure and buy a enclosure less bytecc IDE/SATA to USB 2.0 adapter and power brick.

    As an added bonus you can connect it directly to a hard drive for temporarily repairs. And you have a spare 5v 12v 4 pin molex supply for troubleshooting.

    You can get away with about 6" of USB cable which lets you service the hard drive of a 2nd PC without removing it from its case.
  6. Where could I find a good USB+SATA/eSATA 3.5" IDE external enclosure?
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