Is it possible to plug a 2.5" drive in wrongly, and could I break it?
A case i'm familiar with where it can go wrong and indeed when it goes wrong, breaks the hard drive, is where you're using a 2.5"-3.5" IDE adapter, be very careful how you plug the 2.5" part into the 2.5" drive!!! Many techies have broken their hard drives by plugging it in the wrong way.
I've used the 2.5"-3.5" adapter cables.
If you buy the cable and it doesn't have a hole filled up (to prevent it going in the wrong way), then figure out which way to put it in, and block the hole with a bit of toothpick so you don't ever put it in the wrong way.
There are things that can go with intuitions and things that go against intuitions.
3.5" has one part for power, and one part for IDE.
The back of 2.5" looks in some ways a bit like a smaller version of the 3.5", but those 4 separate pins, are not for power, they are jumpers.
Make sure you know exactly where those power pins are on the 2.5" drive!! They are on completely the other side to the jumper pins. And there are 4 of them but they're not separated off. They're within the same chunk as the other 40 pins.
Some mistakes that can be made putting it in, is one could sleepily see red and put the side of the cable where you saw red, towards where the jumpers are 'cos they look a bit like a miniature version of where the power connector on a 3.5" is. And that's more questionable because there are 2 red parts to the cable. the red power lead that hangs off it, and the red paint on it on the other side. You might think Pin 1 (where red is) and Power go adjacent, and then put the side of the cable with the power lead, towards what intuitively looks a bit like the power on 3.5". If you're relying on 3.5" intuitions, you could go wrong twice and get it right, or go wrong in a way that didn't cause you to put it in wrong, or go wrong and get it wrong. There are dangerous intuitions and a mistake i.e. plugging that cable in the wrong way, WILL break the drive guaranteed!! So figure out which way to put the cable in. Know exactly which side is pin1 which side has pins 40-44. Know it for the cable and know it for the drive. Know that those separate pins on the drive are jumpers nothing to do with power and not even near power. And take a toothpick and fill the hole in the cable so you cannot put it in wrong.
Regular 3.5" cables have a hole blocked, and those even if they didn't have a hole blocked i.e. even if you could put it in wrong it wouldn't break a drive. But these 2.5-3.5" adapters don't have a hole filled and include a power cable to pins. It is paramount that you fill the hole yourself, or one day you'll get it wrong! So make sure you check and double check and triple check, and then block the hole so you never have to worry so much again! I am not exaggerating. Many wise men have broken hard drives by getting it wrong, and have made sure to fill the hole next time. Which is what the manufacturers should have done.
It is extremely unusual that something can be plugged in such that it breaks a component, but this is one of those situations. The other was long long ago, maybe over 10 years ago, dell used to have their own kind of power supplies and the leading author of technical computer books that fixed computers professionally, the biggest expert, busted a motherboard because of it! There aren't many cases where it's possible to happen, there's that old scenario, and there's this scenario!
Notice a pin is missing on the HDD, pin 20 (as the pinout shows).
Once you have the cable aligned correctly, don't forget to stick a bit of toothpick into pin 20 on the cable so you can plug it in right every time easily and without any concern.