Wondering why you haven't junked that old PC collecting dust in the corner of your room? Because you knew one day you would harvest it for parts, right? With a $25 kit from NewerTech you can give its hard drive a second life as an external drive, or grab any data you may have left on it without the trouble of connecting it to your current PC's motherboard. Without so much as a turn of a thumbscrew, NewerTech's USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter lets you access your old drive--via USB 2.0. The adapter works with both IDE and SATA drives, and with both 2.5-inch laptop drives and 3.5-inch hard drives. (It works with optical drives, too.) And it works--without the need for drivers--on both PCs and Macs.
For 2.5-inch IDE hard drives, you simply connect the adapter to the drive and then to a USB port on your PC. For 3.5-inch IDE drives and SATA drives, an AC adapter is also needed to draw power from a wall outlet. Hardware reviews site Bigbruin.com ran some benchmarks with various drives connected via NewerTech's adapter and found that while data transfer speeds aren't as fast as a direct connection (particularly for SATA drives), they were certainly fast enough for the convenience provided. Sounds like a bargain to us. (Based on Bigbruin's experience, it would seem that the bugs Macworld editors encountered with early versions of the product last year have been eradicated.) Even cheaper if you are trying to resuscitate an old laptop drive: this $15 enclosure from Macalley.