For the next few months, I'm going to be zeroing out a lot of disks. I managed to get hold of a Host Bus Adapter (i.e. a PCIe to SATA expansion card) to give me an extra SATA controller in my tiny mid-tower, but there's no longer space in the tower itself to mount a drive, and even if there was, the temporary nature of the wiping means that there wouldn't be any point in doing so.

Whenever wiping a drive, I mount it on my desk and connect the SATA cables from my open tower to it. This works fine except for one problem - it puts some strain on the right-angled SATA power cable connected to the drive:

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My worry is that after so long of being in this position the cable will start to wear or otherwise get damaged, so I want to balance the drive out and make it sit straighter on the desk. I did some experimenting and realised putting a flash drive underneath the disk balances it out nicely, but this still isn't ideal because: a) it doesn't prevent the drive slipping on the desk's surface, b) it might damage the flash drive, and c) I need my flash drive.

Is there anywhere I can maybe get a piece of rubber that's about the same size as a Kingston DataTraveller 100 G3? Or is there a less low-tech solution for something like this - some sort of external case that allows for the drive to be more comfortably mounted? Open to any solutions that work at this point, low-tech or not.

N.B. Any significant hardware upgrades are currently out of the question for income reasons.

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    if we are worried about the wear on the connector from the desk, why not set the hard drive upside down? – Titan Dec 16 '19 at 19:32
  • @Titan I thought about that, but my window is always open and I'm worried about the hard drive's PCB being exposed to dust for the few hours that it will be wiped. – Hashim Aziz Dec 16 '19 at 19:38
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    @Hashim I think it will be fine. You live in Sheffield, not the Sahara. – Mr Ethernet Dec 16 '19 at 19:46
  • @MrEthernet Obviously you've never been up North. ;) But in all seriousness, I have little experience with the electronics side of things and have always assumed that even a small amount of dust would be damaging. I'll seriously this as a solution instead. – Hashim Aziz Dec 16 '19 at 19:48
  • @Titan, feel free to post that as an answer. – Hashim Aziz Dec 16 '19 at 19:50

You can't get much lower tech or lower cost than a bookend type of support for the drive. The hard drive does not need to be positioned flat as you have in the photos. If you place it on edge and have a bracket for that purpose, the cables will have less strain.

Amazon carries the simplest model: amazon book end

Amazon also carries a bit ornate model which would work just as well and provide a bit of novelty:

amazon gargoyle bookend

Additionally and horizontally, a larger-than-hard-drive block of wood with a groove or similar channel cut into it for cable relief will also suffice. It doesn't have to be wood. A book into which you slice out the cover and a number of pages would provide the same results.

For sliding protection, rubber tape or similar non-slip feet such as those found for bathtubs could be added to the undersurface.

I have access to a 3D printer and a laser cutter and could slap out a custom design, but a block of wood or similar is far simpler.

Computers and many appliances are shipped in a relatively solid foam cradle (not expanded polystyrene, often called Styrofoam®) which often has channels and gaps and would need only non-slip feet.

This is contrary to your request, but my external drive caddy resembles a toaster with two slots. The cabling is semi-permanent, as is the power supply, but the slots hold either laptop drive or desktop drive formats simply by gently pressing them in place and powering up.

  • A lot of great ideas here. I did look at drive caddies but apparently they don't exist in SATA-to-SATA flavours - or at least I couldn't find any on Amazon. – Hashim Aziz Dec 16 '19 at 19:52
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    I'm pretty sure it would be simpler [& cheaper] to just get an SATA connector without the 90° plug;-) – Tetsujin Dec 16 '19 at 19:52
  • @Tetsujin It isn't the data cable that is right-angled, it's the power cable, which comes directly from the PSU. My brain is obviously sufficiently fried that it completely slipped my mind to think about getting a SATA power extension cable, though. Still, it's interesting to see all other possible solutions to the problem. – Hashim Aziz Dec 16 '19 at 19:59

I mount it on my desk ...

Simply placing a HDD on the desktop is not *"mounting". One jolt, and it will slide across the desk.

Placing a HDD on a hard surface is a bad idea. Any vibration and/or shock can be easily transmitted to the drive.

I use a HDD holder made from aluminum angles and plywood with isolation mounts:
The suspended drive also allows air circulation, which used to be a requirement that was specified in manuals for 5.25" HDDs.

  • This is a very interesting idea, and would be a much more sustainable solution for the long term. What thickness does the thread on the mounts need to be for both 2.5" and 3.5" drives, and what equipment is needed to a) drill the mounts into the aluminium and b) drill the aluminium to the plywood? – Hashim Aziz Dec 16 '19 at 23:11

If we are worried about the wear on the connector from the desk, we can set the hard drive upside down. For dust concerns, a simple piece of paper placed over the bottom sides could do the trick.

Lastly if we are willing to spend a few bucks, you can purchase a SATA power extension cable that doesn't have a right-angle.

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