I'm looking for a way to go through an absolute boat load of HDD's quickly, without having to open my PC and swap out drives.

They are all 3.5" SATA drives that have data on that i may or may not need, depending on what's on them.

I understand a USB to SATA cable won't do it due to the need for a 12V supply for the drives to spin up.

Anyone have any suggestions of what i could use that doesn't cost a massive sum of money (preferably)?

  • 1
    An external 3.5" dock would have a DC jack supplying 12V, and if you want to be able to connect more than one drive at a time, an external hot swap multi-drive or JBOD would be used (both come in either USB3, eSATA, or mini-SAS external connection configurations - ensure eSATA and SAS list as having an internal port-multiplier, else a port-multiplier PCIe card would be required)
    – JW0914
    Oct 3 at 12:18
  • 1
    Can you elaborate on "go through"? Why did you even consider this option if you don't wish to open the PC? "I understand a USB to SATA cable won't do it due to the need for a 12V supply for the drives to spin up."
    – MonkeyZeus
    Oct 3 at 18:48
  • I had read that a connector that was simply a USB to SATA would not have sufficient power to spin up a drive because USB power isn't powerful enough. Another user has made me aware that there are ones that come with external power supplies, so that will be good enough. By go through i mean power up, see what data is on them, save what i need, delete what i don't. I don't wish to open up the pc, swap out a drive, power it up, have a look, turn it off, swap out a drive, rinse, repeat. It's tedious if i can just swap it out from outside the pc.
    – Layalina
    Oct 5 at 7:49

1 Answer 1


I understand a USB to SATA cable won't do it due to the need for a 12V supply for the drives to spin up.

There are plenty of 3.5″-compatible USB-SATA adapters with external power supply, typically in desktop "dock" ("HDD docking station") form factor – although you can find them in small "adapter" form as well. Either way, they cost about the same amount as bus-powered 2.5″ ones.

(Note: Although many such docking stations have two HDD bays, not all of them support active transfers from both simultaneously, and not all of them allow hot-swapping one disk while another is active. Mine will actually do a full reset on hotplug, interrupting any active operation of disk A whenever I need to swap disk 1. So if that's a concern, might be better to get two single-bay docks instead.)

In the past, there even used to be USB-powered 3.5″ adapters (and/or external HDDs) – they had two USB connectors, one for additional power. (Converting 5V to 12V is possible, but the HDD also needs more current than a single USB 2.0 port could provide.) With modern USB-C connectors I wouldn't be surprised if you could find a USB-C or Thunderbolt bus-powered adapter somewhere, too, although with your amount of storage it's probably better to use an external-powered one.

I believe I've also seen stationary 4…8-disk "NAS" enclosures but I'm not familiar with those products.

  • Awesome, thanks for the information. I'll see if i can find one :)
    – Layalina
    Oct 3 at 17:36

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