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Choosing a 3.5-Inch Computer Drive-Bay Caddy

A caddy is a form of enclosure that holds the hard drive in place in a laptop or a desktop's CPU. It can also be referred to as a drive bay bracket or tray. Aside from providing protection, the rack makes upgrading to a new hard drive simpler as it is easily removable from the bay. It also allows for increased storage when placed in the optical drive bay.

How does a drive-bay caddy allow increased storage?

Solid state drives (SSD) are rising in popularity as the main storage device in computers due to their high speed. The drives use flash memory, unlike the traditional hard disk drives, which use mechanical arms to read and write data. The downside to them is that they have relatively low storage capacity. With a caddy, however, it is possible to have both drives inside your computer. If you're having an empty DVD-RW slot, other than installing a fan controller, Blu-ray drive, or card reader, you can insert a caddy in the bay. This rack provides mounting for a second storage drive where you can keep movies, videos, games, and other large files that would normally not fit in the primary SSD.

What should I consider when getting a computer caddy?

  • Size - This includes the width and thickness that should match the size of the hard drive. The standard width of drives found in today's computers is 3.5 inch for desktops and 2.5 inches for laptops. In the case of thickness, the 3.5 drives typically stand close to an inch tall. There are however also older full-height and half-height versions that are at 3.25" and 1.63" high respectively.
  • Interface compatibility - Connectors in internal drives are of two main types; SATA and SAS. SATA allows for speeds of up to 6 Gbits per second. It is used for personal needs such as backing up photos, videos, and other files. SAS came as an alternative to the older SCSI. It is more reliable in high demand roles and is therefore ideal for servers in enterprises. The drive's interface should be compatible with the caddy you intend to buy.
  • Loading mechanism - Optical drives can be loaded using either the slot or tray mechanism. When getting a trayless caddy for slot-loading, ensure you choose one that doesn't have a sticking-out bezel. This is because it will prevent the caddy from fitting.

How do I install a drive-bay caddy into my laptop?

The installation will involve removal of the DVD drive if you intend to use the optical drive bay. The basic process is as follows:

  • Turn the laptop over and remove the screw where the DVD drive is located. Some laptops have a push-button system for removal
  • Slide out the device gently ensuring there is no resistance
  • Use the screwdriver to gently remove the fascia for laptops that have them
  • Slip your HDD or SSD into the replacement caddy and secure with the screws that come with it.
  • Attach the fascia and insert the caddy into the laptop