Belkin Hi-Speed USB 2.0 External Drive Enclosure Kit
Reviewed by: Michael Gallo
Manufactured by: Belkin Corporation, go to the web site
Requires: Windows or Mac PC capable of supporting USB 2 interface
MSRP: US$109.95

(Ed. Note: The latest version of this enclosure from Belkin Corporation has a dual interface which allows you to plug it into either a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed port or a Firewire port. Note that USB 2.0 Hi-Speed and Firewire IEEE1394 ports both operate at approximately 480Mbps.)

Turn that hard drive from your old dusty computer into a giant high speed floppy! That's essentially what you'll get by using the Belkin Hi-Speed USB 2.0 External Drive Enclosure kit. With this kit you can take almost any old hard drive and convert it into an external storage device. If you're planning to add some additional storage to a PC or to your network, an external USB or Firewire drive is a good place to start.

The Belkin kit supplies all the parts necesary to perform the conversion. You supply the hard drive. The hard plastic enclosure box comes in two pieces that are joined together using two side panel strips and a front panel piece. The enclosure contains a cooling fan in the rear to keep the drive cool. An LED in the front provides an indicator of disk activity. The enclosure is designed to accept both a convential 3.5" inch hard drive or 5.25" devices including CD-ROM, CD/RW drive, DVD-ROM and DVD burner drives. For this review we installed a 3.5" hard drive.


I actually had two old hard drives to try out with the kit, an 850MB Maxtor and a 20GB Western Digital. My 850MB Maxtor drive did not work with the enclosure, but the Western Digital was fine. Assembling the enclosure was straightforward. Drop the drive into the bottom half. Use the screws provided to secure it. The enclosure has been designed to allow for different orientation of threads on the hard drives. So there's almost no way to have a problem screwing in the drive. Plug the power and data cables into the hard drive. Attach the top half of the enclosure. Snap it all together with the side and front panels and VOILA! You have yourself an external hard drive.

Now the one drawback of this kit is the fact that the USB interface from your computer is not strong enough to supply the necessary power to run both the enclosure electronics and the hard drive. Therefore, the unit must be connected to an A/C outlet for power. Both the USB cable and power cable are included. The power supply is built into the back of the enclosure so there is no bulkly transformer to hog precious space on your power strip.

My Windows Me computer recognized the drive as soon as I powered up the external drive unit's switch. Windows 2000 and XP systems will also automatically recognize the drive. People running Windows 98 Second Edition must first install an extra extra driver from the CD supplied with the enclosure before the computer can recognize the drive. Once connected, you can use the hard drive just like you would use an internal hard drive in your computer. That includes any type of formatting that might be required after you install the hard drive.

The external drive's performance will vary depending on the type of USB interface you have in your computer. It is only now that I realize I only have USB 1.0 interface in my computer. This limits my throughput to 12Mbits per second. For about fifty dollars, you can purchase a separate USB 2.0 card to plug into your computer. If your computer has the faster USB 2.0 interface, your data throughput jumps to a whopping 480Mbits per second. Neither the 12Mbit speed nor the 480Mb speed are as fast as the throughtput a drive enjoys when directly installed inside your computer. However, even with USB 1.0, the external hard drive will beat the pants off of floppy disks, CD-ROM or CD-RW drives.

This is a simple, straightforward and unassuming piece of hardware that almost anyone can put together. If your power strip (and USB ports) can accomodate the space, I recommend this unit to anyone who has an old drive which can still be put to good use.

KSN Product Rating:



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