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USB to IDE Adapter: Must-Have in the World of Netbooks



picture-1Ever wonder how you could install different operating systems on your new netbook or backup all your data to a DVD-R?   A USB to IDE adapter is one device that might be unfamiliar to novice computer users, but soon finds great value as a necessary, must-have item.   In the world of netbooks and similar devices that lack a CD/DVD, a USB to IDE adapter provides a cheap and convenient way to use an internal drive as an external peripheral.

Here are a few common uses for a USB to IDE adapter.

  • These adapters can be used to recover files from a computer that has crashed and burned (as long as your HDD is not damaged).
  • A USB to IDE adapter can easily convert an internal CD/DVD to an external peripheral.
  • The adapter quickly turns an internal HDD into a portable HDD.
  • These adapters can be used to install the original or different operating systems.
  • USB to IDE adapters allow a quick, easy way to backup your data or store large files that you’ve downloaded.

Newegg features several USB to IDE adapters ranging in price from USD $12.99 to just over $30.   It’s important to make sure you purchase the USB to IDE adapter that is compatible with your peripherals.   Make sure to consider the following when purchasing a USB to IDE adapter.

  • Does the USB to IDE adapter in question feature compatible connections with your drive?
  • What power adapters are included?   Make sure the USB to IDE adapter features a power adapter.   Most USB devices receive their power through the USB connection and therefore do not require a separate power source.   However, an internal drive requires a separate source of power than the USB connection.
  • What software or drivers are required to use the USB to IDE adapter?   Most include drivers and software but are also “plug and play.”
  • Make sure your USB to IDE adapter is PC/Mac compatible depending upon your system(s).   Most adapters are both PC and Mac friendly.

You should be cautioned that not all netboks play nice when booting from certain internal CD/DVD drives that were originally designed to be internal.   I’ve had success booting Linux, XP, and OS X install CDs/DVDs with my USB to IDE adapter on my Eee PC 701 and MSI Wind U100.   The success of booting from an internal drive with a USB to IDE adapter largely depends on the internal drive rather than the adapter.   Regardless, a USB to IDE adapter is a handy tool to keep on hand for a variety of purposes.



  1. Fred Beiderbecke

    12/31/2008 at 7:41 am

    I have had good luck with the Granite Digital bridge. It does USB and SATA. It has worked with 3.5 and 2.5 inch drives. It has a power supply so there is no need to worry about powered USB ports.

  2. SamCal

    12/31/2008 at 9:47 am

    Some of these adapters come with supplemental power adapters – usually of very CHEAP quality. MAKE SURE TO CHECK POLARITY! I had one where the polarity was reversed and it ate a couple of drives before we realized what was happening.

  3. Cory (patecd)

    12/31/2008 at 9:58 am

    I might add that the power adapter comment is of particular importance. If you’re using a 3.5″ drive, whether it be IDE or SATA, you can use the power adapter Matt mentioned. The power problem really comes into play if you’re using a 2.5″ drive. Some of these adapters power the 2.5″ drive only off one USB port. If the supplemental power adapter only connects to a 3.5″ drive directly and not to the adapter, make sure it has a second USB connector to get extra power from a second USB port when using a 2.5″ drive. Some computers (many laptops) aren’t designed to source enough current through one USB port that can sufficiently power a drive and the circuitry in the adapters.

  4. DaveTN

    12/31/2008 at 10:01 am

    There are lots more reasons to have one. I work on computers during my free time. I have recently worked on several that have had the “Black Screen of Death” (kSOD). Black screen and a mouse pointer. Restore, safe mode, last known config, etc do not work. In each case, I was able to remove the drive, scan it for virus’s and back up the documents before trying to do the recently published fixes. In every case, the 20.00 USB to IDE or USB to SATA adapter that I had purchased helped me to recover priceless data and back it up.
    I purchased a “multi adapter” which allows me to connect to IDE, 2.5″ IDE and SATA. It came with an external power supply in case the USB ports could not suply enough power.
    It has paid for itself MANY times over.

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