Review: NewerTech’s USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter - Macenstein

Review: NewerTech’s USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

Posted by Dr. Macenstein

 Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

In a true testament to the quality and longevity of Apple’s hardware, I have been using an original 233 MHz G3 “Bondi Blue” iMac (codenamed R2) as a recording station for Audio HiJack for the past 4 years. Computer years are even longer than dog years, and at just over 9 years, R2 had certainly earned his money. I hated the idea of putting R2 out to pasture just because it was too slow to use for day to day tasks, and the whole “iMac fish tank” mod seemed pointless (I have a 125 gallon tank at home). So for almost 9 years now the little fella has been faithfully serving its master, chugging along without a hiccup.

And then he got the hiccups.

 Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter Above: R2 has seen better days.

One Day R2 just wouldn’t boot. Dead. While I suspected all he needed was either a new power supply or battery, by that time I had a small collection of legacy Macs far newer than R2, all capable of doing his job as well or better. So R2 was moved to the garage, and there he has stayed for the past 3 months. Now, my wife (who is out to save the planet) has told me of an upcoming computer recycling event in town, and she has her heart set on freeing up some garage space by sending R2 to a galaxy far, far away. I’ve managed to come to terms with this emotionally, but there was one problem stopping me from going through with it. You see, while R2 was relegated to monotonous, droid-like tasks at the end of his career, he started life as our primary computer. All my old e-mail, banking info, etc was at one time on R2, and still was. Before recycling R2, I needed to “take him to Anchorhead to have his memory erased”, so to speak (Boy, there’s a Star Wars metaphor for just about anything, isn’t there?).

The Solution

 Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

NewerTech has the perfect solution for folks like me who are trying to access data in long-dead computers; their USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter (UDA). It’s really a great concept, and something I would suggest most computer geeks own. Basically it will allow you to hook up any 2.5 “, 3.5″ or 5.25” hard drive to your current computer via a USB 2 connection. It can handle both the “ancient” formats (IDE/ATA/ATAPI 40 pin) as well as current Serial-ATA drives, so pretty much any drive you own can be hooked up to any computer with a USB 2 port.

 Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive AdapterAbove: R2 spills his guts.

The cable comes with some adapters to fit various drives, although in my case, I did not need them. I had actually replaced the iMac’s original 4GB drive many years ago with a 60 GB drive, partitioned as a boot drive and a data drive. In addition to the connection cables, the UDA also comes with a power cable that will fit any drive.

I suppose if you wanted to, you could use this adapter cable as a poor man’s USB hard drive enclosure, and just swap out drives when you need them. Of course, there is no power button, fan, or USB hub to go along with it, but if all you really are looking for is to back up some stuff and shelve the drive until needed, this could be a very economical method. I originally planned to use the UDA primarily for cloning drives and repairing sick ones, but I realized I have a small pile of legacy drives in capacities ranging from 20 GB to 60 GB which can all now be put to backup duties for photos and music.

 Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

My hookup and transfer went without a hitch. There was actually less important info on the iMac than I thought, but I did the old secure 7-pass erase in Disk Utility anyway. Better safe than sorry.

 Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter
Above: Both partitions on R2’s hard drive showed up as standard external USB drives, making grabbing my data and reformatting the drive a snap.


There is not much that can go wrong with a simple cable like this, and nothing did. I DID notice that my drive was pretty hot, even after I had unmounted it from the Mac Pro I was transferring stuff to. I suggest unplugging the drive’s power cable wen not in use, since there are no fans to cool it down.


NewerTech’s USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is a great tool that any geek (Mac, PC, or Linux) needs to have in their arsenal of tools. It can be used to diagnosis sick drives, or rescue data from a dead machine’s hard drive. I would not recommend this a solution for anyone wanting to hook up a drive and use it on a regular basis for photo or video editing, but as a cheap method of backing up/rescuing data, the Universal Drive Adapter works like a champ.

NewerTech’s USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

Price: $29.95

Pros: Cheap, works as advertised, adapters allow it to fit all common drive types and sizes

Cons: None significant

2 Responses to “Review: NewerTech’s USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter”
  1. Dan says:

    Awesome! I have two computers I need to get rid of and I’ve been delaying because I didn’t want to hook them up to get everything off of the drives. This will save me so much time, if of course I can motivate myself to get them out of the garage 🙂

  2. Larry Boy says:

    Cool. Great idea.

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