Hands on with Newer Tech’s Universal Drive Adapter

##AUTHORSPLIT##<--->11.06.2006—Here's one for the technician on the move. Chances are that the computers in your school use at least two different types of hard drives—probably more. You have, of course, SATA and PATA 3.5-inch hard drives in your desktops and workstations. But you also have SATA and PATA 2.5-inch drives for your notebooks. (The more recent high-performance notebooks like Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro use 2.5-inch SATA drives.) And this means that when it comes time for diagnostics, recovery or general maintenance on these drives, you're stuck finding enclosures or docks for each one of these different interface types.

Maybe that's not too much of a hassle for you. But if you have to move around a lot in your maintenance odysseys, it isn't exactly convenient to carry around four types of enclosures to handle the various types of drives you might encounter. So what if you could carry around just a single USB 2.0-based adapter for all four of the drive types I've mentioned? And what if it occupied no more space in your tool bag than a single external enclosure? And what if it cost about $25?

I know. I was thinking the same thing the first time I heard about Newer Technology's USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter. But the fact is that it works. It's effective and reliable, and it's a convenient way to adapt internal hard drives for external access quickly (and temporarily) for whatever maintenance tasks you need to perform.


Newer's Universal Drive Adapter consists of three elements: a power supply, a USB 2.0 base cable (with various interfaces for the hard drives) and adapter cables for power and data for certain types of drives. Below you see the basic equipment supplied with the unit.

Universal Adapter equipment

There's nothing else to it. No software to install. The cables are self-explantory. It's simply a hub for four different types of drives.


Now, I've had a chance not just to test the Universal Drive Adapter with all four different interface types, but to use it on a regular basis for accessing data from my collection of orphaned drives on a regular basis. These include Seagate, Samsung, IBM and Fujitsu 3.5-inch ATA drives; Seagate and Maxtor 3.5-inch SATA drives; a Hitachi 2.5-inch (notebook) ATA drive; and Hitachi and Fujitsu 2.5-inch (notebook) SATA drives.


In all cases, the Universal Drive Adapter has performed flawlessly.

Note, however, that the Universal Drive Adapter may not be suitable for extended use, since it's just bare cables without cover or fans. But for temporary setups, it's pretty close to ideal.

As for performance, the Universal Drive Adapter uses a USB 2.0 jack for connecting to a computer. The throughput is enough to handle the fastest single-drive mechanisms, which usually max out around 25 MBps (or 200 Mbps).


As I alluded to before, it's tough to imagine a simpler configuration for an adapter that can handle the four major types of interfaces used today. (Obviously SCSI is left out, but that's a whole separate issue altogether.) There are no drivers for this device to install. It's all simple plug and play. And, since there's no enclosure to fuss with, you'll have your drives connected up in no time.


Newer's USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is effective, inexpensive and reliable. It's a clever solution for those who need access to internal drives but do not want the hassle or expense of extra external enclosures or docks. It combines all of the four major interface types into one adapter that plugs into any Mac- or Windows-based system that supports USB 2.0. In the category of drive adapters, the Universal Drive Adapter gets straight As across the board: features, performance, reliability, value and ease of use.

Newer Technology's USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is available now for Mac OS X and Windows systems, as well as other systems that support USB 2.0. It sells for $24.95.

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About the author: Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at [email protected].

Have any additional questions? Want to share your story? Want to pass along a news tip? Contact Dave Nagel, executive editor, at [email protected].

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).