Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bare Hard Drive Storage

These days I’ve got a lot of bare hard drives lying around.

Actually, I’ve got quite a few drives in hard drive drawers like the one to the left.  They’re great for backing up things on my own system, but not the best way of getting drives to other people (because other people usually don’t have the tray that the drawer slides into).  I sometimes use these drawers to transfer drives anyway, but it’s kind of a pain-in-the-butt for the recipient to have to unscrew all the tiny little screws when it arrives.

You would think that these days, with so many people using bare drives and drive docks for storage, that there would be plenty of solutions for storing said hard drives.

For some reason, this is not so.

Wiebetech sells a bare drive case that seems to work pretty well, but $7 a pop plus shipping (which is hilariously more expensive than the plastic box itself, at $7.23) seems extremely steep for what amounts to no more than a VHS Cassette case with the dimensions of a hard drive –no padding or anything.  Seriously?  I mean, I can’t imagine it could cost more than $.22 to mold plastic into a shape.

bare drive containersThe only other thing I’ve seen (pictured at right) is on Ebay, and it isn’t much cheaper at $6 per container, though it’s still a win, because that includes shipping.  You get a little break buying 5 at a time (5 for $20) but you’ve got to wait for them to arrive from Hong Kong.

I went ahead and took the plunge with the multi-colored boxes.  They’re a good, snug fit, but I have no idea how “anti-static” they are (as the Ebay seller claims).  I think they’ll do a decent job of keeping dust off the drives, but they don’t offer much in shock protection (from a drop).  The only kind of “padding” is a small piece of foam in the lid that keeps the drive from wiggling around when the lid’s closed.

I should also point out that the “hinge” for the lid is just a really thin piece of plastic.  I am certain that the hinge will not last long with anything but the gentlest of handling.

Still, it would seem that this is as good as it gets for bare drive storage these days.  Let’s hope somebody comes up with something better in the near future.

UPDATE (4-14-11): Believe it or not, there is really nothing new to report here.  Someone posted a link in the comments a while back (thanks, Brent!) to a place in China called Meritline.com that sells the cases I was getting from Ebay for even cheaper (around $3 a piece, shipped), and I just made my first purchase.  I’m a little worried about giving my credit card number to an online company in China, but I did a little research and they seem to be legit, so I guess we’ll see!

keywords: hard drive harddrive disk disc storage case protection cover carrier protect


Anonymous said...

Good review of the available options. Given the number of SATA docks and trayless enclosures, there must be millions of hard-drives in jeopardy.
I tried VHS tape boxes, and aside from being hard to find, they're not an ideal fit for hard-drives.
My dock can use 2.5" and 3.5" HDD, so I wanted something that would work for both form factors. After an extensive search, I found an eBay seller that has anti-static cases that are an ideal fit for both drive sizes. The cases come with foam inserts and labels, and the seller offers discounts for packs of 10. Shipping is actually cheaper from Australia than it is from Wiebetech!

The Invisible said...

Beta tape cases are closer in size and will work with less modification (though even more difficult to find, but if you see some at Goodwill or a garage sale... buy 'em all!).

I'll have to see if I can find the seller you're talking about and check 'em out. I assume the foam is somehow anti-static as well?

Anonymous said...

Another option I came across is the NewerTech StoraDrive
Basically stackable drawers - not so great for transporting I imagine, but looks like a good solution for home storage.

The Invisible said...

However, at $10 a pop plus shipping... still more than I'd like to be spending for simple bare drive storage.

Anonymous said...

Well, you do get a pair for $10, so I guess that's $5 a pop. I can't comment on shipping though as I'm still looking around. Will post back if I come across any interesting alternatives.

The Invisible said...

Gotcha. Didn't see that it was for two... that's definitely better. Thanks for posting!

Outer Banks Productions said...

you might like these cases:

Brent G said...

Cheapest place I have found to buy these cases is http://www.meritline.com/durable-pp-storage-case-for-3point5inch-hard-disk-drive-hdd-protect-your-hard-disk-drive-hdd-white---p-49422.aspx
$3.60 for one, to $2.75 each for 20. All include free shipping.

The Invisible said...

Now we're talking. Thanks for the link, Brent!

Stephen Davidson said...

Don't worry about Meritline. I use them all the time. Love 'em.Great prices and shipping is fairly fast.

Digital Wizard said...

While I can understand the desire to buy things cheaply, sometimes you need to spend a little more for those "precious items".

If you have a one or more bare SATA 3.5 drives that contain important (to you) data and files, and desire a case that is IMPACT RESISTANT, SHOCK PROOF, DUST PROOF, and LOCKABLE (with pad lock) then I suggest you look at Turtle Cases, by Perm-A-Store

Yes these cases cost a lot more, but what value do you place on trying to recover lost data because you dropped your bare 3.5 SATA hard drive that was stored using another brand of storage case.

Also these caaes were designed for TRAVEL and may appeal to those whom take their bare SATA 3.5 hard drives "on the road".

A good Turtle Hard Drive Case to consider is this one.

"In seven to ten years video traffic on the Internet will exceed data and voice traffic combined." - Bob Metcalfe

The Invisible said...

Of course the Turtle cases would be better for shipping and transport, but when looking for a simple, cheap solution to store drives in the office (just to keep dust and static out), the cheap plastic boxes rule.

p.s. The Merit Line purchase seemed to work out, and I'm using the cases now (though, as I predicted earlier, the lock tabs break off pretty easily).

Barry said...

Invisible, Brent,

Thanks for the info. This has bugged me for a long time. I've been keeping my drives in padded mailing bags, but they're paper. I just ordered a bunch from Meritline, which, btw, takes PayPal.

The Invisible said...

Glad to hear it, Barry! I think you'll be happier with these than paper bags. ;-) I've found that the "hinge" (a thin piece of plastic) sometimes snaps, but this is still the most economical solution I've found for storing bare drives.

I still have a couple boxes (perhaps 50 or 60 units) of the drive drawers mentioned at the onset of this post... if anyone wants them, lemme know, 'cause I'll be putting them on Craigslist soon.

Darren Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darren Cook said...

For those of you with the cheap plastic/meritline cases with the hinges that break...do the lids still stay securely snapped on? They don't fall off? Also I'm curious if these stack well, or if you just have to stand them end-to-end like books.

The Invisible said...

If the hinge breaks, they still stay on pretty well (the lid actually slides over the bottom part's rim). If the lock tab breaks, it's a little less so (the lid wants to be open). And it's not like they just break off willy-nilly. Just know that it may happen now and then, especially when handled with less than care. When either happens I usually tape them shut if I'm in the field. Also, the drives are actually in there pretty tight, so they wouldn't just fall out if the lid didn't stay shut.

And they stack pretty well (plastic ridge that keeps them in place). I wouldn't stack them 10 high, but they don't slide around if you just stack a few on top of one another.

bbobbo said...

this is just a corrugated box, but it does come with plastic rails, anti-static bags, and desiccant. and for $15 to store 10 drives, that's not too bad:


The Invisible said...

With that carboard solution... I think $15 is a bit of a stretch for a cardboard box with a plastic insert. Were it super cheap, I suppose it would be a "fine" low cost solution for keeping drives in a closet or something, but...

I would also be concerned with the amount of dust (environmental and from the cardboard box shedding) involved with a solution like this.

I still like the cheap, single plastic boxes best.