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Because of some of the things I do with my computers, I've found myself needing to keep backup copies of extremely large data sets – often several gigabytes in size. (Video editing and DVD creation require huge amounts of storage space!) Keeping archives on DVD-R and -RW discs would be one solution, of course, but the process is slow and cumbersome – all the more so when the backup set in question is a DVD-Video image that I want to burn another copy of, since the data first has to be copied back to the main hard drive before it can be burned to a blank disc. Considering how cheap hard drives are getting these days, I thought using an external USB or Firewire hard drive to keep archives on would be more practical – and certainly more convenient!
This idea seemed even more promising when I considered the fact that after the latest round of system upgrades, I already had a couple of spare IDE hard drives in the 40gb-60Gb range that were no longer being used. So, marrying an external USB-to-IDE drive case capable of taking 5-1/4" devices to a removable IDE drive system, like the ones shown below, seemed like an ideal solution. Extra drive carriers can be had for about $5.00 or so at the surplus-electronics shop across the street from me, so I could put those spare drives into their own carriers, label them accordingly, put the docking unit into the external-drive enclosure, and off we go. Simple, no?
Well... no. Obviously, you wouldn't be reading this if it had been that easy! The problem, as you can see from the pictures below, is that the enclosure was designed with CD/DVD drives, ZIP drives, and other such 5-1/4" IDE devices in mind – and the removable-drive carrier is about an inch or so longer than most such devices, so it sticks out past the front of the case. Now, I probably could have lived with that – really, it's just a minor cosmetic nuisance – but unfortunately, because the drive carrier won't sit all the way back in the case, the mounting holes were way out of alignment between it and the enclosure, so I had no way to secure the carrier and keep it from sliding around. It also seems to be just a hair thicker than a CD-ROM drive – not too big to fit into a 5-1/4" bay on a PC case, but just enough that the external-drive enclosure wouldn't quite snap together all the way... at least, not without putting a little more force behind it than I felt comfortable with.
Obviously, a larger enclosure was needed. Unfortunately, with everyone being in a race to see who can make their cases as small as possible, I couldn't seem to find anything that would quite fill the bill. In fact, I could only find one or two other models at the local retail outlets that could handle 5-1/4" drives at all, and this case turned out to be one of the larger units available! What to do, what to do...