Technology is so integral to our everyday lives that when a computer goes down, life almost comes to a screeching halt. There's nothing more disruptive than being unable to access your data, especially when tax season comes around and you were hoping to get everything turned in early. Taking a functional hard drive out of a PC is a fairly simple process and most households today have more than one computer. However, with the ever increasing prevalence of laptops, popping that hard drive into another system might not be so simple. It quickly becomes a seemingly hopeless situation that can only be resolved by forking over a couple hundred dollars to a stranger at a repair shop. What if you had a device that you could simply plug any hard drive into and be done?
Well, fret not, because such devices do exist, and have existed for years. The problem in the past has been that the limitation of USB 2.0 meant file transfer speeds were so slow that it might take a while to find them and it felt like an eternity to download them. It was so bad that a new standard was created called eSATA, which was identical to SATA in every way except mandatory increased EM shielding and the physical plug shape, so you couldn't just use a normal SATA cable with little shielding. With the advent of USB 3.0, external drives are getting close to internal drive performance
Vantec has offered some help: their IDE/SATA to USB 3.0 Adapter and its sibling, the NexStar eSATA to USB 3.0 adapter. The IDE/SATA adapter will connect to any standard hard drive that uses an IDE(PATA) interface of either the 3.5" or 2.5" laptop variant and also with any SATA drive, supporting speeds up to SATA III. It also has a power adapter for getting juice to the drives. Its sibling, the NexStar eSATA to USB 3.0 adapter, does just that. It lets you connect an eSATA drive again with speeds up to SATA III, via USB 3.0. It doesn't have a power adapter though, as any eSATA drive/enclosure should have its own. Both are fully backwards compatible with USB 1.1 and 2.0. You can only hook up one drive at a time to each. The IDE/SATA adapter is priced at $29.99, and the eSATA adapter is sold independently for $22.99. Together, about the only hard drives they can't connect to are SAS and SCSI drives.