Recycling Laptop Hard Drives

First off, this isn’t much of a mod. It’s just a case of getting busy with a screwdriver. But some people might be wary of cranking open a laptop, even an old one that they don’t use any more. So I thought I’d throw a quick blog together to show how easy it is to remove the hard drive from an old laptop and turn it into a portable drive. For fifteen quid. Bargain.

First off I bought a ‘HDD Enclosure’ from Maplin:

Make sure you buy the right one! There are two types of laptop hard drive – SATA and IDE – and two types of enclosure.

SATA (left) versus IDE (right)

You can tell the difference from the connector: SATA has a flat connector (on the left) whereas IDE has pins (on the right). Like I said at the start of this post, this is an easy mod. All you need is a screwdriver.

First of all, remove your hard drive from your laptop. You might need a screwdriver and a sharp edge:

Next, your drive might have a housing which you will need to remove:

It may even have an adapter on the connector which you will also need to remove. In this example I’m converting a SATA drive and there was no such connector, but I also converted an IDE drive and I had to use a pair of needle-pliers to remove a connector (slightly bending the pins in the process – oops!).

Next, open your enclosure:

Slide in your hard drive, making sure your connector is firmly (but carefully) pushed in:

Screw it shut:

Then your USB in and plug it into your PC:

When you plug in your drive you should get something like this (Windows 7):

You can browse your new drive and this bit is up to you. If there’s a single partition on there, just delete what you don’t need. Of course if you’re doing this because you want to recover your laptop data – well you’re done!

This hard drive had multiple partitions so I used Disk Management to sort it out:

Yup, this one:

Warning: Be careful with the next bit. If in doubt, just don’t! Use Explorer to remove the files and folders you want to delete. You are looking at all the partitions on your computer, including the ones that make your PC work. You really don’t want to delete the wrong ones (and if you do, it’s not my fault).

My new laptop hard drive is drives G and H which I want to combine into a single chunky partition. So I right-click the partitions I don’t want and select ‘Delete Volume’:

Then I create a new ‘Simple Volume’:

With the wizard!

Just accept everything. Next:



And ‘Finish’:

It will say ‘Formatting’ for a little while…

Sorted! One new 66 Gig external hard drive:


All done!



  1. I’ve just converted a broken laptop into an 80GB drive for a tenner. Thanks for the advice Craig.

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