How to Convert Internal Card Reader to External

Updated April 17, 2017

Some models of desktop computer come equipped an internal reader designed for use with memory cards, such as those used by digital cameras and PDA devices. Removing this reader will free up space inside the computer's case for another peripheral device, such as a hard drive. Once removed, you can still use the card reader by installing it in an external enclosure designed for such a purpose. This provides the additional benefit of allowing you to use the reader with other computers.

Shut down the computer. Disconnect the power cable, network cable, keyboard, mouse and any other attached peripheral devices. Carry the computer over to a clean, well-lit work space.

Examine the computer's case and locate the screws securing the access panel in place. Remove the screws and slide the access panel off of the case. Inspect the interior of the case and locate the installed card reader.

Disconnect the cable leading from the rear of the card reader to the system board. Disconnect the opposite end of the cable from the card reader. Remove the cable and set it aside.

Remove any screws securing the sides of the reader to the mounting rack installed inside the case. Slide the reader out of the mounting rack.

Slide the access panel back onto the computer case. Use the previously removed screws to secure the panel to the case. Return the computer to its original location and reconnect all previously disconnected cables and devices.

Reconnect the cable that was originally connected to the rear of the card reader. Connect the opposite end of the cable to the USB-male-header-to-USB-A cable. Connect the remaining end of the USB-male-header-to-USB-A cable to any unused USB port on your computer.

Turn on your computer. Log in to your operating system. Insert a card into the reader to confirm that the device is working as desired.


Certain models of computer use a locking latch to secure the access panel in place, instead of screws. Some companies provide specialised enclosures designed to hold the card reader once removed from the computer case. If the computer fails to recognise the card reader, confirm that the connection between the two cables is secure.


Avoid touching any of the components on the computer's system board when working inside the case. When closing the computer case, be sure to keep the various interface and power cables from blocking the airflow from the interior fans.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • USB-male-header-to-USB-A cable
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Daniel Barrows has been working as a freelance writer for businesses in the Southern California area for over two years. He has also published articles online for websites like and He has received a Bachelors of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley.