SATA solid state drives are on the way out as PCIe models take over and if you happen to have an old internal one, then with a USB to SATA converter like the Sabrent EC-SSHD (opens in new tab), you can easily convert it to a portable SSD storage (2.5-inch SATA only) for just under $12 at Amazon.
Physically it looks like a USB long cable (about two feet long) with a weird connector at one end (that’s a SATA connector for those who didn’t know) and a USB 3.0 one at the other. There’s an activity light which indicates when the SSD is idling or in use.
While there are others on the market, we chose Sabrent because it is a well known brand and comes with a free download of Acronis True Image that allows the end user to clone a disk – usually a boot disk – very easily. It’s not one of the best disk cloning software around though.
The device, which is also compatible with 2.5-inch hard disk drives, is not compatible with RaspBerry Pi (because of the lack of power from the later), doesn’t support TRIM (but is SMART compatible) and is truly plug and play.
Another version is available with an additional Type-C connector. Bear in mind that this is a USB 3.0 product which is more than enough to handle speeds of up to 540MBps (about 4Gbps) that the EC-SSHD can reach.
Can an internal SSD be used as a portable SSD drive?
The answer is – unsurprisingly – yes. See an internal SSD is just a bunch of components inside a casing (either plastic or metal), an enclosure that actually protects the electronics inside. Protecting it with an outer case is therefore superfluous unless you want to physically hide the drive for whatever reason or want to make it look more aesthetic.
Just remember that they are no match for the best secure drives or the best rugged drives because they lack extra protection that will either prevent third parties from accessing the actual NAND chips or improve their imperviousness to harsh environments.
SATA SSD drives are the cheapest solid state drives so if you want the cheapest external SSD, you just need to take an internal SATA SSD and connect it to the EC-SSHD et voila! A 2TB SSD costs less than $60 (the MiWhole D200 from Aliexpress (opens in new tab)) while the equivalent external SSD carries a 50% premium.
The gap widens significantly the bigger the drive. An 8TB SSD costs about $445 (Samsung 870 QVO at Amazon (opens in new tab)) while a comparable portable model costs about $200 extra.
Note that you cannot do it with a PCIe NVMe internal SSD as its components are actually exposed. You will need to put the module into an external enclosure before being able to use it. They are not that expensive (about twice the price of the EC-SSHD) and have the benefit of using USB 3.2 Gen 2, which delivers speeds of up to 10Gbps, enough for the PCIe SSD which are usually faster than SATA SSDs.