IDE cable

USB adapters are a lifesaver for IDE cable (or ATA) devices. Suppose you’re in need of hundreds of gigabytes of portable storage. That you can plug into almost any computer and use without drivers. As long as it’s a relatively new computer with a reasonably new operating system. In that case, USB-to-IDE adapters are your best bet.


With the correct USB adapter, you can transform a medium-capacity drive. With 20 GB or less of storage space into portable storage that outperforms any pricey little laptop drive. The disk and AC adapter make it bulkier than ideal (the 2.5 watts of power provided by USB isn’t enough to spin up most desktop drives), but the price is unbeatable.

IDE Data Cables Compatibility

These days, the users also say that USB adapters should be compatible with DVD and CD burners. Do you still need your middle-aged laptop for the occasional disc burn? Unless you absolutely require a very little drive, it’s not a good idea to shell out a ton of cash for the skinny installs-in-a-bay burner (if you can even get one, small subnotebooks may only be compatible with external drives). Instead, get a USB adapter and a cheap Parallel IDE desktop drive; none of these adapters appear to support Serial IDE cables just yet, which is understandable given the lack of use case for it.

That is, if, of course, the thing functions appropriately. Older USB adapters were OK in read mode when used with optical devices but would often crash or hang when used for writing. If you’re in need of a burner, your best bet is to get the adapter and IDE cable from a nearby store. Make sure to ask for a refund if the combination doesn’t work.

USB to IDE cable converters won’t be your best option if your computer only has a USB 1 controller. A couple of dozen megabytes per second is transferable by USB 2.0. In contrast, the maximum speed of USB 1 is approximately one megabyte per second—not fast enough for even “1X” DVD burning—and is only sufficient for 4X CD burning. With gigabytes of data to transfer, it will keep you waiting for what seems like an eternity. The drive isn’t to blame, though; at least you have a reasonable rate of data transfer.

Transfer Alternatives Through IDE Computer Cables

If you come across a file transfer dialog box informing you that your one hundred gigabytes of the available public-domain movie will take 30 hours to transfer, there are two other options. Get a PCI USB 2.0 adapter card for your computer—they’re excellent and inexpensive, and CardBus is a good option. Two, take the computer lid off, disconnect the USB adapter from the PATA drive, and then connect the drive directly to the computer through IDE computer cables. 

Despite its lack of elegance, this last option remains the data-swapping solution of choice for true skinflints. The old story about station wagons filled with cassettes has overshadow completely by the new one from eBay about the Go-Ped youngster with a backpack full of hard drives.

Returning to the topic at hand, a variety of adapters are available, including USB, FireWire-to-ATA (more common on Macs than PCs), and hybrid adapters that include both ports including one for IDE cable. For the most part, though, any old USB-2.0 adaptor will serve.

If you’re content with a “naked drive” option, such as the WiebeTech Docks, which only support USB 2.0 and don’t secure the drive but allow easy switching of the adaptor between other devices (great for backups!), then this could be a good fit.

Direct Macro sold us this item, which has the charming name “USB 2.0 to IDE Cable,” and retails for a hefty $US32. Since they sell a pretty big assortment of gadgets, including the Wireless PC Lock that we reviewed the other day, you could stock up on a bunch of different USB devices for the same price, or you could purchase five of these instead of one ComboDock.

Could you tell me who makes this particular drive adapter? We understood

There is no instruction booklet or branding on this chameleon product. The trademark “R-Driver” is nowhere to be found on the box; however, the company prints it on one spot. You receive a two-part set consisting of a power adapter and a USB adaptor for your little investment.

Rather than being mold plugs, they end in a couple of connectors that you don’t see commonly.

You can use the USB adapter’s three-foot (91 cm) cable and plain old rectangular Type A plug to power your drive independently. This can be an old AT power supply unit (PSU), a spare plug from a power supply in a computer without the side panel, or even a bare ATX supply with the green wire jumpered to a black wire. If the current drawn from the +5V and +12V rails that the power adapter supplies does not surpass two amps, it can also be utilized independently.

The Pin Removal Method

There are three different types of main plugs included in the package, and the power adapter uses a regular plug-in figure-8 cable. If anyone is on a tight budget and doesn’t want to spend money on a plug adaptor, they can acquire the flat-pin version (or “Flated Pin”) and remove the pins using pliers. That’s something we’ve done previously, and it was also successful this time. In most nations, this would get you a million years in prison if you did it with goods you planned to resale.

With a simple pin converter or new figure-8 cable, this power adapter—like many others these days—should operate anywhere globally, supporting voltages from 100 to 240 volts and frequencies of 50 or 60Hz. A step-up or step-down transformer shouldn’t be necessary for anybody.

As indicated before, there is no manual; nonetheless, one is optional. The only real way to mess up the setup is to attach the ATA drive without first jumping it into Master mode. You may transform your ATA device into a USB Mass Storage device. You can do this by using adapter kit and IDE computer cables, just like any other USB adapter out there. 


To sum up, to save yourself from any hassle, you can buy a new IDE cable and a USB 2.0 adapter plug at one end. Moreover, you can take the pins out from the flat pin. It should operate without additional drivers in every reasonably current version of Windows and Mac OS X. It might or might not work perfectly in Linux. For Windows 98SE users, most of these items come with a driver disk. However, this particular item does not. Take care of it.

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