Every school has broken notebooks and rather than looking at them with scorn, disdain and guilt, look at them as a resource for future use. A boneyard for use in repairs, there are batteries, RAM modules and the system’s hard drive available for resurrecting other systems.
I recently raided a dead notebook with a broken screen that yielded a working battery, 4GB of RAM and – the mother lode – a 500GB SSD storage system. The Crucial M500 2.5-inch drive will be the basis of an external hard drive that can store whatever doesn’t fit on my notebook.
The first step is to get an enclosure that will not only house the drive but has an interface for communicating with the host computer. Here, I selected Satechi’s $35 Type-C Aluminum HDD/SSD Enclosure. You can get it for $30 from Amazon.
Available in four colors, the drive box is made of pressed aluminum and despite being thin and light it’s rugged enough to take daily abuse. At 6.3-ounces with the drive in place, the drive can go anywhere during the school day and fits into a jacket pocket. The drive case has a single blue LED to show it’s on.
The kit comes with a screwdriver to loosen the two screws that hold it together and a 12-inch USB-C to USB-C cable. Unless you use a hub or adapter to convert the signal for USB 2 or USB 3 systems, it’s only usable with the newer USB-C based systems. This is balanced by the fact that you neither need to load any software to connect nor use an AC adapter to power the drive.
Inside is a Via Labs interface chip that can move up to 10Gbps of data back and forth and works with 1- or 2.5-inch hard drives and SSD modules, but not the newer M.2 cards. After plugging the drive in and putting it together, it worked on the first try with a Samsung TabPro S system, although it took up the tablet’s only USB port. That means that you can’t charge and use the system at the same time. It was able to play two 4K video streams at once and topped out at a throughput of 1.8Gbps, not bad for a salvaged part.
I now have a reliable and speedy external drive to catch the overflow from my notebook, holding everything from videos and images to lesson plans and presentations.
+ Easy to install
+ Thin and lightweight
+ No software or external power needed
+ Good speed
- Doesn’t work with M.2 modules