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How to make a laptop ACT like an external USB/firewire drive?

Posted on 2004-08-23
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
I am considering purchasing a laptop, and notice that many BIOSes nowadays recognize external USB devices as hard drives/etc.

I am interested in taking advantage of this feature and rather than buying a dedicated external USB drive,  just purchasing a laptop and finding a way to use that as an external USB host drive.

Perfect example of a use of this might be using a hard drive recovery software on 1 machine (while not having to boot into Win XP), and having my laptop plugged in via USB and be detected as an external hard drive.  I need this feature for this purpose, as of course I know how to do host-host networking via ethernet, wireless ethernet, USB-USB networking in XP, etc. already.  What I need is my laptop to act and appear as a simple USB external hard drive to another machine, on a raw level.

Are there any products that do this? or is a USB (A-A I think) cable all I need?  I am assuming this isn't possible, but perhaps some consultant out there uses his laptop as an external drive when in a squeeze instead of bringing along an external drive.

Question by:scriabinop23
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Accepted Solution

tomv011397 earned 500 total points
ID: 11872572
why not just use the NIC and map the drive on the LapTop to a local drve on the desktop, and away you go. No software, not overhead, just map the drive


Assisted Solution

Kooroo earned 500 total points
ID: 11873128
first things first, I'm fairly certain that this isn't easily accomplished nor are there pre-packaged software to do so, simply because all you really need as stated above, is a crossover cable.  

I think what you're looking for is a USB hard drive enclosure. Essentially, A drive controller board attached to a USB cable and any IDE hard drive you might have lying around. They come in various sizes for anything from a cdrom drive to laptop hard drvice and cost many many many times less than a laptop. you plug it in and voila! instant external hard drive. you can pick an enclosure up for about 40 dollars and a hard drive is easy enough to buy/find/scrounge.

Expert Comment

ID: 11888074
I agree with both replies.

seems like you are doing it the extremly hardway. waste of time really.

If you want a good soluction, by an I-POD, 20gig usb mas storage device. $450 AUS, got one just a few days ago. very very easy and you can listen to music will you travel :)

Expert Comment

ID: 11895058
Old Mac PowerBook Duo's did this, via SCSI. It was extremely handy to connect them to another system for installs or just for instant access & transfer of your files. Then disconnect the "special" cable and the thing's a laptop again. Especially handy in those days since net connections were less common and much slower. The feature died out with the Duo line and I haven't seen it in others (PC or Mac) since. Admittedly, whie the feature rocked for most users it created some confusion among technically challenged.

If I were you I'd get comfortable with the networking solution. It's available for all NIC'd PC's and it works, albeit not as quickly. With a fast connection and DHCP it's almost as convenient.

If your laptop's drive is easily accessed you _might_ consider swapping it to an external enclosure for extended operations. I do that on occassion for things like partition imaging or full defrags.

For mobile transfer operations now I rely on USB memory sticks or for multi-GB stuff use 2.5" HD's in USB/1394 enclosures. Net connections are third unless a friendly network is available.


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