Review: USB External 3.5" Mac Hard Drive Kit

Pop in your own hard drive and expand your space. (July 20th, 2006)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Azio

Price: $44.95

The Good

  • Easy hard drive installation. Available in polished black or white acrylic. Inexpensive. Includes long USB cable.

The Bad

  • Activity light cable does not fit all hard drives. Acrylic and plastic enclosure may not stand up to travel abuse.

If you use iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, or GarageBand even once a week, you've seen the free space on your hard drive shrink so much that another hard drive is on your Christmas list. Alternatively, if your computer has a blown power supply or motherboard, but your hard drive still works, you need a way to access that drive. The Azio USB 2.0 External Hard Drive Kit, Model No. ENC302U, is compatible with 3.5" IDE hard disks, UDMA 33/66, ATA-100/133, or AT-6. It solves any space dilemma with only a small financial investment, especially if you have a spare hard drive handy. You can use it to augment your internal storage, as an emergency enclosure, or to provide back up storage.

Installing a Drive

I put a client's hard drive in the Azio USB 2.0 External Hard Drive Kit to recover files from an iMac with a blown power supply. My first roadblock, after wrestling the drive out of the iMac was opening the Azio enclosure. It slides back in a way that was not immediately obvious to me. Once open, the hard drive and power connectors fit easily.

The USB 2.0 connection provided fast and efficient access to the hard drive and allowed me recover the files and transfer them to CD. As both USB and power cables were included in the box, I didn't have to rummage through my own gear to connect the drive.

A Closer Look

This case has a sleek white polished acrylic top to match the iMac G5, but you can also order it in black. The painted plastic sides look like polished aluminum, and the 8.5" x 5" x 1.5" enclosure includes an activity light, a power switch, and one USB port. A second USB port should be considered in the next revision. A quiet internal fan keeps your hard drive cool. The activity light cable would not plug into the hard drive I recovered though. Screws hold the drive securely in the case, so it is portable. Just as this portability is beneficial, it also means these devices are subject to theft. Azio thoughtfully incorporates a rear Micro-Slot for extra security.

Everything Included

The box contains the 3.5" Mac Hard Drive enclosure, a 5-foot USB 2.0 cable with USB Type A on one end and Type B on the other, an external power supply, software CD (for Windows), installation screw pack, manual, and registration card. It is compatible with Windows, OS 9, and Mac OS X, requires at least a G3 processor, and works with USB 1.1 or 2.0.


When you purchase an external hard drive kit and add your own hard disk, you often obtain high-capacity storage for less than the cost of a smaller external drive. An added bonus is that the easy assembly process is less disruptive than replacing your computer's internal hard drive. When you buy a new computer, if you don't want to lose productivity, just place your old drive in the Azio USB 2.0 External Hard Drive Kit, You won't need to spend hours reinstalling software.

by P.A.M. Borys


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