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How can I tell if my external drive is SATA or IDE?


How can someone determine whether an external drive is using an internal IDE
or SATA drive without opening the device? Disk management will show the
connection is USB but not the internal drive of the external device.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #65
, I look at USB external drives and determining what might be

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What’s inside?

Unfortunately, there really is no way (across all USB devices) to
understand physically what’s inside the box.

One of the things that the USB interface in front of the hard drive does
is it kind of obscures what’s inside the box. It kind of “genericizes” what’s
in the box – because ultimately, the operating system simply doesn’t need to
know. There’s no reason to know whether that’s an IDE or a SATA drive inside of
your external box.

All that the operating system needs to know is that it is a USB interface and
it accesses it using USB interface commands.

Look for the model number

Sometimes, you could look at “extended properties” of the drive (as I believe
you’ve done) and on some drives from some manufacturers, it may give you a
model number for the drive that’s inside the box. Unfortunately, that’s not
guaranteed. The best you can do in a case like that is, of course, to look up
the model number: either on the internet or on the manufacturer’s website.

Similarly, if you actually look up the model number of a specific external
hard drive, you may be able to get a clue as well. There may be information
about it out on the internet or at the manufacturer’s websites.

One of the problems, of course, is that the manufacturer (because it’s a
black box – not just to you and me, but also to the operating system)…
the manufacturer is free to change the drive on the inside. They can change
from manufacturer to manufacturer; they can even go so far to change from one
interface to another.

Today, these days, in 2012, most of the drives are being created using SATA
interfaces. So if you had to guess based on the age of the drive (if it’s just
a year or two old), my guess is it’s probably SATA. But ultimately, there really
isn’t a good way to know other than opening up the box.

Do this

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1 thought on “How can I tell if my external drive is SATA or IDE?”

  1. These cases will open easily enough if you know how.
    Some have catches/screws that are not often obvious.
    Go to manufacturers web site or Google for info.
    A thin cable connected to the hard drive is sata, a wide ribbon cable is IDE.


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