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I've gotten my hands on a seriously cheap laptop grade 2.5 inch drive. I'm intending to use one on a desktop that dosen't have 2.5 inch bays as a boot drive. While I know there are adaptors available, I know its fairly common with SSDs to simply velcro/tape the drive somewhere. I'm wondering if I can do the same with a laptop hard drive.

One issue I see here is SSDs are fairly insensitive to vibration, while hard drives are. Just how vibration sensitive are drives? Would a jerry rigged mount need to take this into account?

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You want to put the laptop drive in the desktop case? –  Christopher Chipps Jan 2 '13 at 3:16
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yup. Might order a adaptor, but I'm wondering how necessary it is. I'm intending to do a few small tests to answer another question here, and use it long term as a boot drive on an older system. –  Journeyman Geek Jan 2 '13 at 3:21
    
Sounds like a good idea. I would use something like this: itapestore.com/velcrocoins-5815sets-black.aspx instead of the double sided tape. –  Christopher Chipps Jan 2 '13 at 3:25
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Hardly scientific evidence, but a good demonstration of how sensitive hard drives can be. youtube.com/watch?v=tDacjrSCeq4 –  Dracs Jan 2 '13 at 4:36
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@Dracs: Quite the contrary. This is the scientific method. –  Marcks Thomas Jan 2 '13 at 10:01
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2 Answers

up vote 27 down vote accepted

Laptop drives are generally more vibration-resistant than desktop drives (they are designed to be used in a moving plane, car, in a laptop on someone's laps, etc.), so from this standpoint there shouldn't be a problem taping them somewhere inside your computer's case. There are other problems, however:

  • When hard drive is fastened properly, metal bracket also acts as a heatsink. Moreover, in a properly designed case there should be an airflow around a hard drive. Your tape will have lower thermal conductivity than metal, and depending where you tape it, there could be less airflow available. So your hard drive could overheat.

  • Constant vibration (from hard drive's motor, computer's fans, etc.) can loosen the tape over time, depending what kind of a tape you use, it can dry up, etc. So don't put your hard drive vertically somewhere, make sure it's fairly secure without the tape, and use the tape as an additional measure, not as something that prevents your hard drive from falling down on your motherboard, for example.

  • Make sure you don't short anything on hard drive's PCB, if it is exposed (e.g. there are no protruding screw heads on the surface that you tape your hard drive to).

I've used tape to secure 2.5" hard drives in a desktop tapes, but only temporarily (till I got around to order a few of those conversion brackets).

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The hard drive is not particularly sensitive to vibration -- vibration will destroy any piece of electronics over time, but drives produce their own vibration and hence are "beefed up" a bit. And laptop drives even more.

The real limit with hard drives is peak G force. This isn't vibration so much as "shock" -- a sudden jolt -- and it only takes one such event in excess of the drive's G limit to damage a drive.

A bit of a war story:

Some years back, when I was working on IBM AS/400 computers, they were having trouble in the development lab with drives failing. To permit multiple people to (serially) use a single test system, drives were mounted in sliding plug-in trays, and drives would be exchanged when a test scenario was changed.

But it seems that drives would fail when exchanged this way -- a drive would be good, would be carefully removed and gently set down on a conductive foam pad. But then, an hour later, the drive would be inserted and would be found to be "crashed".

Analysis of the drives showed that they'd been subjected to excessive shock, but originally no one could figure out the source of the shock. Then it was realized that the shock of snapping the drive into the socket (as the tray was slid into the machine) was enough to do this damage.

Of course, these were old "big iron" drives, and current desktop and (especially) laptop drives are much more robust, but still the hazard is mechanical shock that does not seem, to a human, to even be worth noticing, but which to a drive can be devastating, due to the proximity of the shock source to the fragile parts in the drive.

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Its a rather well secured case, in an old school computer desk. sudden shocks are unlikely to be an issue. –  Journeyman Geek Jan 2 '13 at 11:10
    
@JourneymanGeek - The sudden shock to worry about would be the drive falling from its mount, if poorly fastened. Also, if loose, the drive can experience significant shock from banging against the case as the case is moved around and the drive jiggles in the mount. –  Daniel R Hicks Jan 2 '13 at 13:47
    
Be careful when handling it : A shock could happen faily easily: for example, you use a metallic screwdriver and bump it in the screw to start screwing/unscrewing : this may cause a very sudden bump that, even if it feels like nothing to you, feels like a lot of G's to the hard drive. Another time is when putting the hard drive on a metallic shelf or on top of another (happens in many computer stores I never buy from) –  Olivier Dulac Jan 2 '13 at 14:07
    
So, my rejection of a brand new Dell server shipped with the drive subsystem tray missing the screws was a pretty good idea. The shipping manager noted that it kind of sounded funny when they offloaded it from the truck. Kind of an odd rattle. When I unboxed it and turned it upright, I heard what sounded like a brick hitting the side panel... Opening it up showed three SAS 10k drives firmly mounted in a tray missing two screws that hold it to the case. It shipped from the Mexico assembly plant that way and was bouncing for about 1800 miles... Dell shipped a whole new server for replacement. –  Fiasco Labs Sep 29 '13 at 2:31
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