This Does Not Compute

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How to Disassemble Seagate Backup Plus Drives

assembledFor reasons I can’t comprehend, over the last few years hard drive manufacturers have sold external drives for less than the price of internal ones. It actually costs them more to manufacture an external drive (enclosure, bridge board, cables, etc.), but maybe they think they can make a couple extra bucks from us geeks who want an internal drive instead? Either way, I’m not falling (or paying) for it, and have lately just been yanking the drives out of external enclosures when I need one for internal-drive duty. Here’s the process for shelling a Seagate Backup Plus drive.

The Backup Plus series is interesting in that it comes as two parts; the drive itself and an attached base that converts the SATA drive to an external interface. They usually come with USB bases in the box, but FireWire and Thunderbolt bases are also available separately.

This particular series of drive is a good buy right now as it makes use of drives that have Seagate’s 1TB-per-platter technology. Fewer platters generally equate to less noise, power consumption, and heat, and offer decent performance. They come with a 2-year warranty as of today (hard drive warranties seem to change on a weekly basis), but who knows if Seagate will accept a warranty replacement for a drive that’s been pulled from its casing. It’s probably a good thing I consider hard drives to be disposable.

On to the disassembly:

remove-base1. Detach the base from the drive. It just pulls off. Don’t be a girly man.

spudger2. If you plan to ever be able to reassemble or reuse the case, get your spudger handy so as to minimize the carnage. I only use the real deal, Menda model 35622, the same that Apple itself uses. They’re about $1.50 each on Digi-Key. Buy a few, they come in handy for various projects.

disassemble-step13. Flip the drive upside-down, and jam the flat end of the spudger between the main casing and the front plastic “stripe” that has the Seagate logo. The stripe is held in with clips all along its length on both sides.

disassemble-step24. Keep sliding your spudger down the front of the drive, detaching the stripe.

disassemble-step35. Flip the drive upright and you should be able to carefully unsnap the stripe from the top by hand.

disassemble-step46. Now, the tough(er) part. Look at the back of the drive where the label is. With the drive laying flat (horizontally), orient it so the text on the label is upright. The drive casing is two parts snapped together; the label stays with the bottom part. Use a spudger to separate the top part from the bottom; just jam it in there and go all Magilla Gorilla on it. Don’t stick the spudger in any of the slots that the stripe snaps into; those aren’t part of keeping the case together. As shown above, sometimes ya gotta use two spudgers  to keep one part pried open while working your way around the case.

disassemble-step57. There are a total of eight clips that hold the case together; three on each of the long sides and two on the side opposite of the connector. Inside, the drive is mounted inside a metal cage.

disassemble-step68. Peel the four rubber bumpers off of the metal cage to reveal the mounting screws. Remove them and you’re home free.

I did some brief goofing around technical evaluation with the enclosure and interface adapter after I removed my drive, and found that Seagate isn’t engaging in any of the shenanigans that Western Digital does. The bridge boards in WD’s external drives have custom firmware that permits them to only work with specific models of WD drives; I tested an older Seagate 3.5″ drive, as well as a Hitachi Travelstar 2.5″ drive in the Seagate USB adapter and both worked just fine. You should be good to go if you want to throw an extra drive back into the Seagate casing.











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