Building Your Own Cheap External SSD Drive For Your Mac

If you want something faster than an external hard drive, and better than a USB Flash drive, you can build an external SSD drive with an SSD and an enclosure. I built a 256GB USB 3.1 external SSD for less than $70 that works great on my Mac. Learn how to build your own.



Here are the two items I show in the video:
SK Aluminum M.2 NVME SSD Enclosure
Silicon Power 256GB – NVMe M.2 PCIe Gen3x4 2280 TLC SSD

Comments: 14 Responses to “Building Your Own Cheap External SSD Drive For Your Mac”

    Terry
    12 months ago

    Thanks Gary. Is the SSD you are using sold as an “internal” drive or “external” drive? Or doesn’t it matter ? ( I’m assuming it doesn’t)

    12 months ago

    Terry: You can see it with the link above.

    Terry
    12 months ago

    Hi Gary, have a 256gb SSD in an OWC Thunderbay 4, would a USB C external drive be faster? Another Terry

    12 months ago

    Terry: Thunderbolt is faster than USB 3.1. “USB-C” is not a connection type but a port — you probably mean USB 3.1.

    Godfried
    12 months ago

    Can you use this also with IPAD 2 6th Gen – 2018

    12 months ago

    Godfried: No. That has a Lightning connector, not a USB connector.

    More
    12 months ago

    Can you make this external drive a boot drive, or will it just be a data drive?

    12 months ago

    More: It can be a boot drive if you have a reason to use that. I’m using the exact one I show in this video as a Big Sur beta test boot drive now, so I don’t have to have Big Sur on my MacBook for every day things.

    Ed Adams
    12 months ago

    I have a mid2011 iMac running off an external Elgato 256gm SSD on my thunderbolt 1 port works great but too small. there are no external thunderbolt drives available anywhere. can you give a solution using your hint for a 500 GB SSD with a thunderbolt exclosure?

      12 months ago

      I’m not sure what else you can do. Go with USB I guess. But what speed USB does a 2011 model have? 3.0 is my guess. Probably better to put your money away for a new Mac rather than nurse along a 9-year-old model.

    Ramon
    12 months ago

    Pretty cool tip that I did not know about. If you do need a Big drive Amazon still sells the one I bought a few months ago for my Mac mini 2014. The speed boost is spectacular with boot times from 3 to 4 minutes down to abt 20 seconds.

    Crucial MX500 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078C515QL/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_api_i_bsioFbB5Q9NR3

    Darren
    5 months ago

    I’m considering doing this for the following reasons: 1) just for the fun of it, 2) as a learning experience, 3) to have a bootable backup for my 2017 iMac, 4) to potentially make my otherwise not very useable 2009 MacBook Pro somewhat useable again. Can I boot the 2009 MBP from this SSD using an older version of MacOS? Do you see any issues with doing this?

    5 months ago

    Darren: Reasons 1 and 2 are excellent reasons. As for reason 3, the problem is a 2009 MacBook maybe have a pretty slow USB port. Check that. If it isn’t USB 3, then booting from an external drive will be painfully slow.

    Darren
    5 months ago

    Thanks Gary. I just bought the SSD and enclosure for reasons 1 through 3 above. Unfortunately the 2009 MBP is USB 2. I might try swapping out the internal 320 GB HHD for an SSD, just to have an older laptop to play around with. BTW, I enjoyed hearing your story on the TEH podcast this week. Stay warm.

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