How to recycle and use your old hard drives with a docking station

Hard drive

Hard Drive (Image credit: Windows Central)

As you upgrade parts in your PC that leaves old components just laying around. But they needn't always be thrown away or left in a box without purpose, especially in the case of hard drives.

Mechanical hard drives aren't the fastest storage solutions around, but they're often fairly capacious. There's no reason to throw them away, so long as they're functional — grab some inexpensive accessories and repurpose them. Use the disk management tool in Windows 10 to wipe them clean and start over.

USB docking station

If you have old hard drives to work with then an external USB dock is a good investment. It's a quick and simple way to interface your drives with a PC over USB, rather than the SATA cables that run within your machine.

It's as simple as it sounds. You slot the drive into the dock and then your PC will recognize it as an external drive for you to move data to and from.

Whether it's a 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drive shouldn't really matter, but do check before buying that you've got the right size to support your drives. Options like the one linked below support both.

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Make it portable

Hard drive

Hard Drives

A desktop dock is a great option for working with your old drives at home, but there's no reason not to turn one into a portable storage solution to hit the road with you and your laptop.

It's a similar operation to the desktop dock, except it's fully enclosed so you can carry it around and use it over USB. The size of drive will be more important here, as several options are only for 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch. There are choices that support both, however, like the one linked below.

Simply slot the drive inside, fasten it up and away you go. Do bear in mind though, if you're using a 3.5-inch drive then you'll be needing an enclosure with an external power supply. It's not as portable, but if you're happy to carry an adapter with you, it's still more cost effective than buying a new portable hard drive.

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Use with the Xbox One

hard drive

Xbox Controller on Hard Drive (Image credit: Windows Central)

Expanding the Xbox One's internal storage is a breeze with an external hard drive. It'd be awesome if you could just slot another drive inside, but you can't, so there's a little work to do if you're using an old PC drive.

Fortunately, we've got a complete guide on how to achieve just this. You'll need to purchase an enclosure such as detailed above, but after that it's pretty easy going.

How to expand your Xbox One storage with an old PC hard drive

These are just a handful of options for using your old drives, but with some inexpensive accessories you need not throw them away. It's straight forward to interface them with a PC, laptop or Xbox One, and there are even more advanced projects you could take on such as building your own NAS.

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at