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Dropped Drive Drops Access

I’ve got a handful of mSATA SSDs sitting around my office. So, rather than barter them off, I’ve been finding ways to put them to work. In April, I purchased a couple of Sabrent USB 3.0 mSATA enclosures from Newegg for about $16 a pop. Until recently, they’ve proved a sweet way to add some speedy, capacious storage to laptops and tablets. But, in prepping for Spiceworld in Austin this week, I learned that a dropped drive drops access, too. Let me explain…

The issue arises from the clip-on holder that secures the mSATA device inside the enclosure.

How the Dropped Drive Drops Access, Too

I had plugged the unit into one of the front-panel USB3 Connectors on my production PC. Then, I loaded it up with PST files so I could synch Outlook on my Lenovo T520 laptop. The USB cable that’s included with the unit is long enough (30″) for the drive to hang down to the floor atop my PC case. And because I accidentally knocked the unit off my PC, causing it to hit the chair mat under my desk with some force, I suddenly found the drive MIA.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on. It seems that the clamp that Sabrent includes on the circuit board that holds the mSATA device inside the enclosure isn’t lock tight. When the unit hit the floor, it did so with enough force that the mSATA SSD  slid out of its mini-PCIe slot just a little. It was out far enough to render the drive unreadable, but not far enough to keep it from showing up as an empty drive (0 bytes capacity) in Windows File Explorer.

An Easy Fix for Dropped Drive Drops Access

Only by using my other identical enclosure and  another mSATA SSD was I able to confirm this by experimentation. I determined that a drop would indeed cause the device to work its way loose from the connector. I also observed that the drop  could also make the device unreadable. Once diagnosed the problem was trivial to fix, but it wasn’t immediately obvious when the gotcha first came into play. I’m now securing my mSATA devices inside these enclosures using a small piece of paper, folded, between the wire catch and the top of the device’s circuit board. It makes for a tight enough fit to keep the SSD card from moving around. Thus it also prevents it from slipping loose if and when I should drop it again.