Adapter breathes new life into old drives

Newer Technology's USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter.

Newer Technology advertises the USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter as 'the Swiss Army knife of disk connectivity,' and it's an apt metaphor. The device isn't much bigger than a Swiss Army knife, and at $34.99, it actually costs less than most models of the Swiss Army's favorite utensil.

The Universal Drive Adapter lets you transfer large amounts of data between old and new drives at a fairly snappy pace. You know those forlorn hard drives you have sitting around in old computers? They've been sitting in the closet for so long that you have no idea what's on them anymore. The UDA solves this problem handily by providing you with quick access to these drives. It also lets you give an old hard drive a new life as external storage.

IMAGE: Newer Technology's USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

The adapter comes in a box about the size of a frozen dinner. When we opened the box, it just looked like a lot of cables. Included with the adapter are a 2.0 Amp AC adapter, a power cable, an ATA extension cable, a SATA 2.5-inch power adapter cable, a USB 2.0 connecting cable, and a SATA-SATA connecting cable. There's no software and we couldn't find any setup instructions, other than some pictures on the box itself. We printed some how-to instructions from the company's Web site.

Our test subject was a vintage 2003 Maxtor 40G ATA hard drive. It's a little unsettling to see bare hard drives sitting out in the open without a PC to house them.

We plugged the 2.5-inch Maxtor hard drive's 44-pin mini IDE connection into corresponding holes on the adapter. We connected the adapter to our Dell PC, an OptiPlex 6X 280 with an Intel 3.20-GHz CPU running Windows XP, via a USB 2.0 connection and plugged yet another cord into an outlet.

At first, nothing happened: no blinking lights, no external hard drive showing up on our PC. It turns out the power adapter cord didn't fit properly and had to be jiggled a bit.
The adapter lit up with a blue light to show it was awake and alive. Purple indicator lights blinked during the file transfer process.

The adapter transferred a 1G file from the Dell PC to the Maxtor drive in one minute, 57 seconds, a data transfer rate of 75.4 megabits/sec. The trip back, from the Maxtor drive to the Dell PC took a second less, one minute and 56 seconds, a data transfer rate of 76 megabits/sec. That wasn't even enough time to get a cup of coffee from the break room. The UDA was definitely speedier than some other USB transfer devices we've tested recently (

The UDA works with both Macs and PCs. It allows any 2.5-inch, 3.5-inch or 5.25-inch hard drive or optical drive with any standard IDE/ATA/ATAPI 40 pin or SATA interface to be connected via USB to any computer for file transfer, backing up and storing file archives, and accessing data on stored backup drives.

So no more do your forsaken hard drives need to sit around uselessly. Put them to work with the Universal Drive Adapter. The UDA lets you tap into extra storage for far less money than a new hard drive. And with video and music files taking up so much space, everybody is interested in getting more storage for less money.

Newer Technology is headquartered in Woodstock, Ill., but it could as easily be Zurich, because the UDA definitely has that Swiss appeal. The prospect of bringing new life to all those abandoned hard drives almost made me want to yodel.

Newer Technology, 815-308-7001,


About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.


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