Forewarned is forearmed...
How can I use a replaced internal laptop/notebook hard disk drive as an external hard drive for use with my laptop and desktop computers?
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In order to be able to store more TV programmes, I have upgraded my laptop PC's SATA hard disk drive from 80GB to 150GB. I would like to use it as an external hard disk drive for use in transferring files between my laptop and desktop computers, but I don't know how to connect it.
You can buy an inexpensive USB 2.0 disk caddy that transforms an internal hard disk drive into and external hard drive that can be used for backup purposes or to transfer files between computers. There are many makes/models available. The Raidsonic Icy Box IB-266StUSD-B disk caddy is ideal. It is a nicely designed metal case that is a docking station provides both USB and eSATA connections. You install it in a spare 3.5" bay in a desktop computer. You plug the disk caddy into it when you want to access files and eject it when you want to take it away or connect it to your laptop. Fitting the internal hard drive into the caddy is merely a matter of opening it, connecting the USB/eSata data cable and the power cable to the drive, and closing it.
You can find vendors for it in the UK by entering "Raidsonic Icy Box IB-266StUSD-B" + uk (as is) into the Google search box at the top of this page (enable the Web Search option on the first search page). You can find other makes/models by entering a search term such as usb2 + disk caddy + uk.
The new USB 3.0 cable, which adds new connection wiring, and a USB 3.0 port is required for USB 3.0 devices. However, you can connect a USB 3.0 device to a USB port with a USB 2.0 cable and have it function as a USB 2.0 device.SuperSpeed USB 3.0 FAQ - http://www.everythingusb.com/superspeed-usb.html
However, there is a much better way of transferring files between computers. If your desktop and laptop PCs both have an Ethernet networking port, you can buy a crossover cable that networks the computers, thereby allowing the transfer of files between them by enabling file and printer sharing in both computers. You could then just use the laptop's caddied hard drive for backups.
If you want to share an Internet connection between the two computers, you should sign up for a broadband account. Most broadband service providers provide a free wireless router, which can be used to network two or more computers by using wired Ethernet connections or wireless connections. They can then enable file and printer sharing between the computers on the network.
The service provider supplies instructions on how to connect your main computer to a router. They don't usually tell you how to use the router to connect to other computers in order to share an Internet connection, but it is very easy to do if you have network ready or enabled computers. Most routers are now wireless and usually have four Ethernet ports that computers can be wired to.
To begin with, you set the first computer up by connecting it with an Ethernet cable (that comes with the router) to the wireless router (the computer must have an Ethernet port). Then you enter the IP address for the router's setup page in the browser that the service provider's instructions provide. In my case, I entered http://192.168.1.1 into the address bar of Internet Explorer. The setup page came up and I entered the WLAN SSID and WPA2 encryption key that were provided and are also on a label on the bottom of the router.
Note that you can use your own key from 8 up to 64 characters, which you set in the router's setup page. from a security pointof view, it is best to use your own key made up of any of the characters on a keyboard, including capital and lower-case letters. Also note that some router's may have bugs that don't allow certain characters, such as double quote marks.
All of the LED lights on the router should be green if the router is working. On my router there are lights for Power, for four LAN Ethernet ports, a WLAN port that indicates that wireless access is working, and ADSL light that when green indicates that the telephone connection is working (the router is connected to the telephone line via a filter that allows a telephone to be connected to it), and an Online light that when green indicates that the router is online. The wireless (WLAN) connection won't be on at this stage because you haven't connected a computer to the network wirelessly yet. After you have set up your main computer using the Ethernet cable, you can connect wirelessly to any other computer that has a wireless network adapter. You can also unplug the main computer from the Ethernet connection to the router and connect wirelessly instead.
If, say, you have a laptop computer that has an inbuilt wireless network adapter, which almost all of them do now, or you have wireless adapter in the form of a PC Card connected to it, and if the adapter is enabled, it should detect the router automatically and ask for the WPA2 encryption key to be entered. After you have done that, the computer should be connected to the network and will be able to access the web just by opening a browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.).
You can explore a connection's settings by right-clicking on its entry under Network Connections in Windows XP and then clicking Properties in the menu that comes up. You should make sure that the setting that makes Windows administer the network is chosen on each computer. The network settings are accessed differently in Windows Vista.
In Windows Vista, you can access a window that provides access to the Network and Sharing Center and an option called Add a wireless device from the Start (button) => Network. You can also access it under Network and Internet in the Control Panel the gives you access to all of the Windows networking and Internet options.
Introducing Vista's Network Center -
"If you've been working with Windows for a long time, you probably remember the Network Neighborhood from Windows 95. The Network Neighborhood eventually evolved into My Network Places. Vista changes the name once again. The new name is simply Network. The Network option is available directly from Vista’s Start menu." -
I have three computers connected to the Siemens Gigaset SE587 router, which was customised by Siemens for Tiscali broadband (now TalkTalk) - a desktop PC connected by Ethernet cable, and two laptops connected wirelessly. I had a problem with the desktop PC so I set all the connections manually.
In Windows XP, Start => Run and entering cmd to bring up the Command Prompt and then entering ipconfig shows that the Default Gateway - the router's IP address - is 192.168.1.1. So I opened Network Connections in the Control Panel in each computer, right-clicked on the Ethernet or wireless network connection, clicked Properties, and on the General tab in the window that comes up, scrolled down to the TCP/IP entry and then hit the Properties button.
In the window that comes up, you can set the IP address for that computer manually. I gave the desktop address 192.168.1.2, and the two laptops IP addresses 192.168.1.3 and 192.168.1.4. Note that only the last number changes for each computer. Each computer must also have a unique computer name, which you set under Control Panel => System => Computer Name. And each computer on the network must have the same workgroup name, which you can also set there. I just used WORKGROUP. I also set the DNS server in the same window to the OpenDNS servers, which are: Preferred - 220.127.116.11 - Alternative - 18.104.22.168
Here is the OpenDNS website - http://www.opendns.com/home-solutions
Apparently it provides faster connections and greater protection using its servers. You should be able to have WPA2 security enabled in the router. Any computer that you attempt to connect will ask for the WPA2 key that is recorded in the router's setup configuration page (also on the bottom of the router, in my case. Note that you can change the key to one of your own. The new key will have to be entered to access the network from all of the other computers that connect to it.
You can enable file and printer sharing quite easily on any of the networked computers in both Windows XP and Windows Vista.
File and Printer Sharing with Microsoft Windows XP [Microsoft Word document] -
File and Printer Sharing in Windows Vista -
"Microsoft® Windows Vista™ has made some important changes to the way that file and printer sharing works. This article describes the changes and provides step-by-step instructions for sharing files and printers and connecting to shared files and printers from a computer running Windows Vista for a small-office or home office network that does not use the Active Directory® domain service..." -
Setup File and Printer Sharing From XP to Windows 7 -
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