OWC Options Address Hard Drive Shortage

Over the last week or so, we’ve talked about the flooding situation in Thailand and how it will likely result in a widespread shortage of platter-based drives. In the wake of all this, a question has arisen: if you’re running out of room, what does one do instead of trying to purchase a possibly non-existent hard drive or deleting files? After all, you need to store your files somehow.

Yes, this shortage is certainly inconvenient, but it helps if you look at it like this: it’s not about what you can’t get; it’s about making the most of what you already have.

Fortunately, a solution may be sitting in your basement, that bottom desk drawer or the old storage unit. If you’ve been a computer user for more than a few years, there’s a good chance that you have an older hard drive or two laying around unused. Sure, they’re not the multi-terabyte, super-fast drives that we’ve been seeing recently, but in a pinch, 80GB is 80GB.

Connecting the Drives

The trick is, of course, mounting those drives on your desktop, so you can transfer files over to them. Fortunately, OWC has a number of different options for using those older drives externally with your current system. Let’s take a look at the different options.

Newer Technology SuperSpeed USB 3.0/2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

We call this product our “Swiss Army Knife” of drive tools. Whatever drive you have – IDE/ATA or SATA, 2.5 or 3.5 inch, this handy little kit allows you to connect it to your computer via USB.

Even under “normal” circumstances, the Newer Technology SuperSpeed USB 3.0/2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is an excellent addition to your tool kit. Now, it lets you take advantage of any of your “old” hard drives and give it new life.

Use if: You have IDE/ATA drives or a mixture of IDE/ATA and SATA drives that you’d like to connect to your computer via USB.

Newer Technology Voyager

The Newer Technology Voyager series of drive docks allow you to access any 2.5” or 3.5” SATA drive simply by sliding it into the unit. The S3 model connects either by USB 3.0/2.0 or eSATA, while the Q model also adds FireWire 400 and 800 connections to the mix.

While this drive dock is great for transporting drives between different workstations (our video department uses them extensively), it also works quite well for swapping between a large number of SATA hard drives.

Use if: You have SATA drives you would like to connect to individually.

External Enclosures

When it comes to keeping drives attached on a more permanent basis, an external hard drive enclosure offers a great balance of protection and convenience.

By putting those old hard drive in external enclosures, you can access more than one drive at a time, which is convenient when swapping files between them. Since many of our enclosures are stackable and daisy-chainable, you can get the storage of multiple drives in the desk space of a single one.

Use if: You want to use your hard drive as a longer-term solution.

Any of these options will work, it’s just a matter of which one works best with the drives you already have.

Using the Drives

Once you have your old drive attached to your computer, you’ll probably want to go through it to make sure that there’s nothing in there you want to keep – if there is, you can burn those files to a CD/DVD or just drag them to another drive (such as your computer’s internal hard drive) temporarily and drag it back later.

Once you’re sure that there’s nothing on the drive that you don’t have a copy of somewhere else, you’ll probably want to reformat the drive. If you don’t know the best way to do that, we have step-by-step walkthroughs for formatting your hard drive in our Tech Center.

Once you’ve done that, you can either use the drive as an active storage device or—possibly more effectively—offload older, infrequently-used files to it, freeing up room on your main drive. However you choose to store your data, though, using those drives you already own could provide enough room to hold you over until this drive shortage has been resolved.


  • Please stop making excuses for companies taking their work overseas! Of course,Labor is cheaper in Mexico or overseas. However you are being misleading or just repeating the Businessman’s talking points by saying that if they were built in the U.S., the price would be 5 times as high! Labor is only 10% of the price of the product. The extra profit from the cheaper labor,goes in the Executives pockets as Bonuses(sometimes equal to a year of pay),Stock Options,and big raises. With the better wages,and lower unemployment,there would be many times more potential-customers that can easily afford their products. You could relate it to the Customer Base that would be available to buy new Cars and Homes if the low-paid workers in the South,or the temporary workers/part-timers were making $20-$30/hour. Ten to fifteen yrs. ago,any Big Three Worker could afford any mainstream Car/house/TV/Furniture/Vacations,etc…

  • Ok a little off topic, but we need a new thread solely to make fun of the new LaCie SSD TB setup. I’m sure all of the OWC folks know I’m not a huge fan of their decision to wait until 2012 to let their TB stuff hit the market but its products like the LaCie that scream take all the time you need, we’ll be screwing it up until you get here.

    $900 for 2 Intel 120GB SSDs? What are they smoking? Seriously, you can buy their HDD version, strip out the hard drives and buy your own SSDs and come out ahead by two 500 MB HDDs and about a $100.

    Well at least for the price, you get some major speed, right? WRONG! How about 3G SATA lol! I could buy one OWC 6G and out perform its RAID-0 setup for significantly lower money.

    Since your making us wait guys, you need to skip the SATA junk all together and hit us up with some straight from the tap PCI goodness! With prices that stay in the stratosphere please.

    • 500MB HDDs? Are you still living in the 90s? 500MB HDDs would be pretty worthless now, especially considering even a CD can hold more data. A 120GB SSD will store 240x the amount of data of such a HDD. I think you meant 500GB.

      I think even next year that Thunderbolt devices will attract a premium price tag. It’ll still be quite a while before they have really wide appeal.

  • Do you guys have any dual hard drive dock options? I’m after a decent dual dock with firewire 800 and sata but can’t find one…

  • “In the wake of all this, a question has arisen: if you’re running out of room, what does one do instead of trying to purchase a possibly non-existent hard drive or deleting files? ”

    You should always have extra storage on hand in advance for issues like this.

    In my case, I keep extra drives around for temp storage and as backups if one of my main drives dies.

    Having extra comes in handy also for unexpected shortages. :-)