That pile of old hard drives in your drawer — isn’t it time for you to clean them up a bit? One way to do this is to make a card case that makes it easy to store hard drive volumes as books on a shelf!

I built my first computer in 1999; I still have the original hard drive for this DIY gaming PC. build a gaming pc. assemble game and everyone has bought since then. Although my computer hardware has changed several times over the years, much of my personal data has remained the same. Video game saves, spreadsheets, book ideas, eBooks, and coursework are all along with paid work, photos, and videos in my hard drive archive, but to be honest, it’s all a bit of a mess.

Organizing the data on the disk is only part of how to deal with this 14 year old archive — first I need to be able to organize the disks themselves. The ideal solution appeared a few months ago in the form of BytePac cardboard discs.

Hey, did you say *cardboard* disk cases?

Released in 2011, BytePac kits are cardboard boxes with removable connectors that can be used to connect a 3.5″ hard drive to a PC via USB, as shown in this video:

So yes, I said CD boxes. It’s a brilliant idea, to be honest, although at $50 (£30) for one set (cardboard case and connectors) and $18 (£10) for three packs of cards per cartridge, it can be expensive.

However, if you already have the connectors you need, you can save on the price of a complete kit and order only three kits.

You might even feel especially creative, and get ready to build your own cardboard case from scratch.

Why build a case out of cardboard?

These days, it may seem odd that a hard drive fits in a cardboard box. While a device like the Icy Box might be more suitable for regularly replacing internal hard drives, the BytePac system is very far from being a kid building a «gaming PC» and offers several advantages over stockpiling hard drives out of sight.

uh-cardboard external hdd-bytepac

First of all, it brings order to a place where there was once chaos. A BytePac caddy — or a similar homemade caddy — can present your old hard drives on a shelf for easy access.

Meanwhile, the cardboard cover means you can list some of the important files that can be found on hard drives.

Perhaps most importantly, the cardboard disk enclosure is low cost, both on your budget and the environment. Only one set of connectors is required, the cardboard comes from renewable materials unlike crude oil, and the box can be recycled when no longer needed.

Putting BytePac Together

In fact, the BytePac itself can be assembled in minutes. It’s basically a case of opening the box, inserting the hard drive and connecting the cable from the drive to your PC.

AI-cardboard external HDD-bytepac open

With a foldable stand that allows air to circulate around the drive, you’ll find your device runs much cooler than when connected internally. If you use the full BytePac connector kit you will see where the cable should be added, although please note that this kit is for use with SATA drives (a faster connection type that replaced IDE some time ago) as there is no way to plug in a Molex connector to an IDE drive without setting up the carton.

ai-cardboard external hdd-bytepac-modification

This is worth remembering. If you are going to use the BytePac with an IDE/PATA drive, you will need to make some changes with a cutter. Arguably, if you’re up for it, you can also prepare your own BytePac-style cardboard hard drive case!

Can you build your own?

BytePac insists that you should send them your photos to show them how you built your own cardboard case — they are also pretty proud that they made each one from a single piece of card.

However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have cards in your house, does it? There are several ways you can create your own:

  • Use an old cardboard VHS cassette
  • Remember the old PC video game packaging? Now it’s time to dispose of that unnecessary extra card!
  • Book packaging from Amazon can also be used.

Once you’ve acquired the necessary supplies — and grabbed the required IDE/SATA — USB connector, there are several design aspects to consider:

  • The 3.5″ hard drive fits snugly into the BytePac. So you have to make sure your own box has enough space for the drive.
  • The BytePac design has room for a connector to be attached. You can work around this, depending on the size of the box you choose.
  • Air circulation and ventilation are very important. The BytePac uses a pair of panels front and back to support this, with a small kickstand to prop up the case at one end when in use.
  • For IDE devices, you will need to add an extra slot for the Molex power connector.

My BytePac style hard drive enclosure

Initially planning to build my BytePac-style hard drive enclosure from scratch, I finally decided to use Amazon’s DVD/CD/book package, getting a few over Christmas (and carefully examining each one as they dropped into the mailbox).

AI Cardboard External HDD Craft

It was a simple task to put the hard drive back in place, using the flip covers of the card to ensure the original content.

AI-cardboard external HDD-DIY-connector

After that, I cut a slot at one end where I could attach the connecting cables.

AI Cardboard External HDD DIY Feet

To allow air to circulate and secure the hard drive in place, I cut the flaps, bent them, and made a notch on either side of the drive, pushing the new tabs past the drive and through the cardboard, creating two small legs.

AI-cardboard external HDD-craft-complete

To secure the actuator in place by winding the closing valve, I cut a slot to accommodate one of the legs and ended up cutting a rectangle under the actuator motor to release heat.

Basically, I built my own hard drive case out of cardboard using the same principles as the BytePac. Although large and less than ideal for shelf storage (smaller packaging would be better), my DIY case does the job and works just as well as the original!

Cardboard for storage of hard drives — try it!

Whether you decide to buy your own or take advantage of the boxes offered by BytePac, you’ll soon see that drive cartons are great storage for your old hard drives.

The principle of sound, and the concept works. If you manage to create your own useful version, you should get an idea of ​​not only how easy/difficult it is to make, but also how ingenious it is. You should definitely try this.

You have seen my efforts above. Compared to real BytePac boxes, I think they are pretty good, but could you do better?

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