How to turn an external USB hard drive into a sata

Updated April 17, 2017

A USB drive is a portable storage device that connects to the computer externally. Modern, external USB drives contain a serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) hard drive within the protective cover. A SATA hard drive is an internal hard drive, but the USB drive comes with a SATA-to-USB circuit board that enables the SATA drive to connect to a PC through a USB port. You can extract the SATA hard drive from the external USB drive and install the disk drive to a PC.

Unplug the power adaptor from the external USB drive. Disconnect the device from the computer.

Peel the rubber feet off the bottom of the case. If you have difficulty removing the feet, wedge the tip of a flathead screwdriver beneath the feet to loosen them.

Inspect the drive for any screws securing the enclosure. Use a Phillips-head screwdriver to loosen and remove any visible screws. If you cannot find any screws, wedge the tip of a flathead screwdriver into the slit where the right and left sides of the enclosure meet.

Put on an antistatic wrist-strap to prevent damaging the computer hardware with static electricity. Pull the enclosure apart. Use a Phillips-head screwdriver to loosen and remove the screws that are securing the USB circuit board to the case.

Slide the circuit board out of the enclosure. Remove the screws that attach the circuit board to the SATA hard drive.

Turn off the computer and unplug the power cord. Loosen and remove the screws, found on the rear of the case, that attach the case cover to the computer.

Remove the case cover. Locate an available drive compartment, located at the front of the PC.

Remove the screws found on either side of the compartment. Slide the SATA hard drive into the compartment.

Reinsert the screws into the compartment and tighten the screws with a Phillips-head screwdriver.

Find an available SATA power connector, which is attached to the power supply. Insert the SATA power connector into the appropriate slot on the back of the drive.

Connect a SATA data cable to the SATA0 slot on the motherboard, if you have no other SATA devices connected to the PC. If you have other SATA devices already connected, insert the data cable into the first available SATA slot.

Insert the other end of the cable into the SATA hard drive. Reassemble the computer and turn on the PC to begin using the hard drive.


The steps to disassemble your USB enclosure may vary depending on the enclosure's make and model. If you have any difficulty taking apart the enclosure, check the manual that came with the device, or consult the manufacturer. If the external hard drive uses a 2.5-in. laptop SATA drive, rather than a 3.5-in. desktop SATA hard drive, you must screw 3.5-in. hard drive mounting brackets to either side of the laptop drive before installing the drive to the desktop PC. Check the documentation included with your external USB hard drive before disassembling the enclosure to see what type of internal hard drive the USB enclosure contains. Older USB drives use IDE hard drives, which require different connectors.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • SATA data cable
  • Antistatic wrist-strap
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About the Author

Ruri Ranbe has been working as a writer since 2008. She received an A.A. in English literature from Valencia College and is completing a B.S. in computer science at the University of Central Florida. Ranbe also has more than six years of professional information-technology experience, specializing in computer architecture, operating systems, networking, server administration, virtualization and Web design.