An Easy Way to Add More Disk Space to Your Computer

low-disk-spaceIs your computer’s hard drive getting full? No matter how much hard drive space came with your computer, chances are you have already used a good chunk of that space. Sometimes I think that all disk drives exist simply for the purpose of filling them up. Of course, you can always buy a new computer with a bigger internal disk drive, but my wallet rebels at that that idea. For many people, there is an easier and cheaper solution: add an external plug-in disk drive.

Adding an external hard drive adds huge amounts of disk space, as much as you might want. It also adds portability and safety, and it provides an easy way to backup your valuable data. It is surprisingly affordable and easy to do. I recently added a 960 gigabyte external hard drive (that’s almost a terabyte!) to my laptop computer and thought I would describe the process. It was simple. The entire “installation” process required about three minutes to complete. No screwdrivers or other tools were required. The technical knowledge required? Just about zero.

You can add lower-capacity external disk drives for $55 or possibly even less if you shop around for a bit. Higher-capacity drives will cost a bit more. In my case, I splurged and purchased a solid state drive (called an SSD) that has no moving parts. Instead of storing data on spinning disk platters that are sensitive to vibration and other mechanical forces, an SSD stores all its data in memory chips that never move. They also preserve the information when the attached computer is turned off.

Being a bit chea… uh, thrifty, I wanted the maximum bang for the buck. Rather than purchasing an external SSD that was a bit expensive for my tastes, I sort of made my own. “Sort of” means that I purchased two different pieces and spent about three minutes plugging them together. The result was a slightly cheaper, standard solid state external disk that plugs into the USB port of most any desktop or laptop Windows or Macintosh computer.

sandisk_ultra_iiFirst, I purchased a SanDisk Ultra II 960 gigabyte SATA III 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive (SSD) from Amazon. This particular drive is designed to mount INSIDE a laptop computer, not externally. (More on that later.) It was slightly cheaper than the external disk drives. The SanDisk Ultra II offers enhanced speed and endurance when compared to a standard mechanical disk drive with spinning platters. The company’s specs claim it provides sequential read speeds of up to 550 megabits/second and sequential write speeds of up to 500 megabits/second. The result is very fast data transfer, significantly faster than the typical, old-fashioned mechanical disk drive with spinning platters.

inatek_caseI then purchased a small case in which to mount the disk drive OUTSIDE of the computer. I purchased an Inateck 2.5 Inch USB 3.0 Hard Drive Enclosure External Case although a number of other companies offer similar cases. I just picked the one that was the cheapest on Amazon at the moment. This particular case includes a USB 3.0 connection to the computer for high-speed data transfers. (My laptop has matching USB 3.0 ports). It also has three additional USB ports built into the case, acting somewhat like extension cords for additional USB connections. Since my laptop has only two USB ports and I will now be using one of those ports for the new solid state drive, the three new ports on the external case allow me to plug in more flash drives, an external keyboard, a mouse, external monitors, or anything else that connects via USB.

Now came the “difficult” part: assembling the solid state drive inside the external case.

After unpacking everything, I picked up the external case and noticed it didn’t have any screws. To open the case, you simply press down with your thumb, unsnap the cover of the case, and slide the cover off. No screwdriver or wrenches are required.

Next, I picked up the solid state drive, placed it inside the case, and pushed on it gently until the drive’s connector was firmly plugged into the matching connector inside the case.

Finally, I slid the cover back onto the case and snapped it into place. Total time consumed? Less than three minutes.

I then plugged one end of the included USB cable into the external case and the other end into the laptop’s USB port. I also had to plug in a power cube that was included with the case. (It runs off standard 110 or 220 volt wall power.) The Macintosh operating system immediately recognized the new drive and showed that I now have an additional 960 gigabytes of storage space available.

I immediately moved a bunch of files from the laptop’s internal drive to the new external solid state drive. Indeed, it is high speed. The move of files required less time than I would have expected.

Summation

Adding an external drive to any computer is a drop-dead simple task. You can buy external drives already configured for use, or you can assemble your own by purchasing an internal drive and a low-cost case with a built-in power supply. To save a few dollars, you can purchase an old-fashioned mechanical disk drive with spinning platters; if you prefer, you can splurge and buy the latest high-tech solid state drive. Either way, the process is simple and also is much cheaper than purchasing a new laptop.

I did it in three minutes. You could do the same.

12 Comments

Also, watch out for accumulation of obsolete files in “\Windows\Temp”, from when Windows updates itself. See:

https://www.howtogeek.com/125923/7-ways-to-free-up-hard-disk-space-on-windows/

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I got a 1 terabyte I-drive a couple of years ago and use it primarily for Windows 10 direct backup. I also use it to store data in other folders on the drive. I have a ` terabyte drive on my laptop so not much danger of running out of space, especially since I am not big in having tons of pictures, mostly from genealogy.

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I have two of these enclosures and they are fine. The one thing I would say though is that here (UK) you do need to check whether there is that much margin between enclosure and drive and simply buying a drive. My first was to house a 250GB SSD which I had put into a MacBook Pro but took out (put old drive back) when I retired the laptop.

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Hi Dick,
Today most -if not all- of my files are in folders used by “cloud storage” apps system so everything in my computer is backed up (Dropbox, Googledrive, Hubic, Box, Pcloud and iDrive). Do you know any inconvenience of allocating these folders on an external drive like this instead of a folder in the built in hard drive (C:/)?
And if my computer have an SD card slot, would you recommend to leave the card in as a secondary hard drive?

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    —> http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/free-vpn-cut

    None.

    HOWEVER, I always recommend having at least two separate backups, each stored in different locations.

    —> And if my computer have an SD card slot, would you recommend to leave the card in as a secondary hard drive?

    A very minor drawback might be if your laptop gets damaged by being stolen, being run over by a truck, or something similar. The enclosed SD card might get lost or damaged at the same time. I wouldn’t mind using an SD card as my third or fourth backup copy, however.

    Liked by 1 person

I have built many external USB drive setups over the years. I have to be careful when selecting the drive and ensure that it does not require more power than the USB port can deliver. High power demand drives can still be used externally if the USB cable is a Y connector type that scavenges power from two USB ports or if the drive case has its own power supply. This is often true even for USB 3 ports.

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I do not see a power supply included with this external case (or any like it) on Amazon. And the pictures do not seem to have a port for one.

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I guess adding an external hard drive this way would work well for setting up “Time Machine” on my Mac.

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After examining the specs and images of the drive enclosure, I do not see any mention or evidence of extra use ports. Perhaps I have missed something or misunderstood your article could you expand on this?

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    There are probably a dozen or more cases that include extra USB ports
    but not all of them do. The one I used has three such ports in
    one end of the case, as shown in this snapshot I just took:

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