SATA to USB adapter: Inexpensive alternative to external hard drive enclosures

If you want to connect a hard drive externally to your PC or Apple Mac, then you can either use the hard drive enclosure or SATA to USB adapter. External hard drive enclosures I already introduced you at the beginning of the month. This article is about cables and docks with which you can easily convert the SATA connection of the SSD or HDD to USB-A or USB-C.

Connect SATA to USB adapter, hard drive externally
For the connection of 3,5” hard drives I not only need a SATA to USB adapter, but also a power supply. You can find the corresponding sets in this article.

Advantages of SATA to USB adapters

The adapters are ideal if you do not use the hard drives that often and can safely stow them away even without a housing. In addition, the heat generated during use is better dissipated. This can jam in a simple external hard drive housing. That is why docks for multiple hard drives have like this one from Fantec, also a built-in fan.

SATA, USB and 12V power supply - all-in-on package from CSL

For SSD hard drives with 2,5 inch and SATA I, II or III as well as for SSD and HDD hard drives with 3,5 inch size is the following Adapter from CSL thought. You can order the converter with or without a power supply; depending on whether you only want to connect small SSDs or large disks. The adapter has the SATA III standard and also USB 3.0 - fast data transfer is therefore ensured.

CSL converter with or without power supply
With this SATA to USB 3.0 adapter, you can simply connect hard drives that you cannot install in the computer or laptop with a cable. You don't need an external hard drive housing for this either. You can buy the set with or without a power supply.

Small and cheap - the SATA III to USB 3.0 adapter from Inateck

Inateck has a very simple adapter for 2,5 inch SSD and HDD hard drives. Here, too, SATA III and USB 3.0 are used as transmission standards. Both this converter and the aforementioned converter are of course compatible with these standards not only with Microsoft Windows, but also with Apple OS X and macOS.

Small Inateck adapter for 2,5 inch plates
A simple, small adapter at an affordable price. This allows you to quickly connect 2,5 inch hard drives (HDD and SSD) without a housing to the computer via USB. Ideal for mobile systems such as MacBook and MacBook Pro. Almost exclusively very good reviews!

SATA to USB-A 3.0 or 3.1 as well as USB-C 3.1 from Sabrent

For the very fast among you as well as for all users of newer Apple MacBook and Apple MacBook Pro models, there is a SATA to USB adapter; optionally on USB-A or USB-C. The adapter supports 2,5 inch hard drives (no possibility to connect a power supply for 3,5 inch devices) and the communication protocol UASP. On the product page you can choose the right Sabrent adapter for you.

Sabrent hard drive adapter for MacBook
The SATA to USB-C adapter is the most expensive, but also the fastest alternative to a hard drive case. You can get the adapter cable with USB 3.0 for just under 10 euros. This article also has a lot of very good reviews.

Sharkoon hard drive dock for 2,5 and 3,5 inches

Sharkoon has a dock that can be used multifunctionally as an adapter for SATA hard drives and the USB 3.0 port. With the simple dock variant, you can either bring in a 2,5 or 3,5 inch hard drive and connect it to the computer; the double-shaft variant has a clone function; and the third variant also has a card slot.

Multifunctional Sharkoon hard drive dock
This dock from Sharkoon is available with a single slot, with two slots and with one SATA and one SD card. Data is transferred quickly via USB 3.0. A power supply, a USB cable and instructions are included in the scope of delivery in addition to the dock. Also here: lots of great reviews!

SATA to Thunderbolt 1 adapter from DeLock

Instead of USB, you can use the right converter to connect a SATA hard drive to the Apple computer via Thunderbolt. DeLock has a corresponding adapter, which only has Thunderbolt 1 as standard - so it is not a Thunderbolt 3 device for the USB-C connection of the MacBook Pro!

DeLock adapter for hard drives with Thunderbolt 1
DeLock's device for converting SATA to Thunderbolt 1 has few reviews, but mostly good and very good.

Questions and answers about SATA to USB adapters

When researching the customer questions and answers on the Amazon product pages, the same questions came up over and over again. Therefore I would like to give you a few more interesting details about the SATA to USB adapters:

  • Do the adapters also work on Apple Mac, iMac and MacBook: Yes
  • Do the adapters also work under Windows XP / Vista / 7/8/10: Yes, sometimes you have to assign a letter to the drive via the computer settings
  • Can you use the Sharkoon Dock under macOS, OS X, Windows and Linux: Yes
  • Could you create a NAS on the FRITZ! Box with a dock or adapter: theoretically yes, but according to one user, indexing the disk takes a long time (can vary depending on the FRITZ! Box)
  • Can II and I hard drives also be used with the SATA III adapters: Yes
  • What is the main difference between the adapters: that 2,5 '' plates do not require any additional power supply; a power supply unit is required for converters for 3,5 '' drives

How do you do it?

Do you use a SATA to USB adapter or are you interested in these cables and docks as alternatives to hard drive housings or installation in PC and Mac? Feel free to leave your opinions and experiences as a comment! Maybe you know other recommended hard drive adapters for the USB connection? Please let me know;)

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.