Hard-Drive Attachment - Can I use an internal hard-drive as an external hard-drive?

Hi,

I have a large external USB hdd that I use for backups, but its speed is limited since it is USB.

I'd like to use an internal SATA hdd instead, but I have a few questions first.

Disclaimer: I need to be able to attach the hard-drive without opening up the computer case.

Question 1: Is the most efficient way to do this to shut down the computer and leave 1 sata and 1 power connecter hanging out of the case?

Question 2: Is there any way to attach the hard-drive while the computer is running, without screwing things up?

Question 3: Is there a third solution other than USB or SATA connections? Perhaps something faster than USB but more plug&play friendly than SATA?

Thanks for your time
oxygen_728Asked:
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danengleCommented:
USB or Firewire external drives are the most user-friendly in that they are hot swap-able and designed for portability.  You are pretty much guaranteed a USB connection on all newer (3+years old or newer) computers.  Firewire is not guaranteed.  

You should check with your specific SATA chipset as to whether it supports hot swapping hard drives.  You can obtain a removable drive cage that usually fits inside of a 5 1/2 drive bay.  However, if you are using it to move data between two (or more) computers, a drive bay would have to be installed into each computer.  

If you are unsure as to whether your computer supports hot-swapping hard drives, you are assured proper function if you turn off the computer prior to connecting/disconnecting the drive.  

You can try something like this: http://www.cooldrives.com/esata-firewire-800-enclosure-case-external.html

That has usb, firewire and eSATA connections.  
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MaduKpCommented:
I am not sure if this is faster to use 'SATA drive' with an external enclosure. This is still USB. but i think it should be relatively faster than IDE external drive. However i did'nt checked this before.
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oxygen_728Author Commented:
MaduKp, I didn't mean that I wanted to use an external enclosure connected with a USB... I was thinking more of laying an internal drive on top of a computer that has a sata-cable connected to it straight from the motherboard
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MaduKpCommented:
In that case, your option one is the most sounds answer to me. How ever I suggest it is better to see some other ideas too. How ever, i know this is really faster and reliable than using blouetooth or wireless network options. :)
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willcompCommented:
The best combination of performance and convenience is an eSATA (external SATA) drive. Depending on your motherboard, you may be able to get by with a bracket and adapter that connects to a motherboard SATA port. An eSATA PCI card will definitely work.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816132021

You can connect a bare SATA hard disk or use an enclosure with an eSATA connector.

Another excellent option is a removable drive tray which mounts in a 5.25" drive bay.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817122109
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prakashbn3836Commented:
hi ...dont keep open computer case dust will attack all u r Assembled products..y cant u try Extrenal firewire 800 Casing with sata internal drive .this will help u .
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florin_sCommented:
you can use an external drive with a gigbit lan conection (assuming your motherboard has a gigabit lan as well). you''l have the speed and also you can put it anywhere you want and connect multiple pc to it
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oxygen_728Author Commented:
Do they sell external drives w/ a built in NIC?
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florin_sCommented:
Yes, i have mentioned a model from western digital below,
it has a built in gigabit lan port
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=347#jump44
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