Disk Enclosures For Mac DIY Backup Drives

Below we feature several recommended 3.5”, 2.5” and mSATA drive cases for those wanting a build-it-yourself Apple compatible backup drive solution. They can be paired with the HDD hard disk or SSD solid-state drives and modules of your choosing.

Apple Compatible USB 3.x USAP Enclosures

For those wanting peak performance, particularly for USB SSD DIY drives, you want a UASP supported chipset in the disk drive case. UASP - USB Attached SCSI Protocol transfers data far more efficiently than previous generation, Block Only Transport 'BOT' protocol USB 3.0 drive chipsets.
UASP USB 3.0 Drive Case

Tool-Free 2.5" SATA Enclosure

USB 3.x Enclosures which support UASP can result in solid-state drive transfer rate increases of 30% or more. UASP doesn't help hard drives much since the rotational delay and access lag times of the mechanics are the limiting factor, not the efficiency of the data transfer protocol.

Apple Compatible USB 3.0 Enclosures

If you're not building a SSD-based Mac backup solution, an ordinary USB 3.0 enclosure may be all you need for your hard disk mechanism. Of course it will still be backward compatible with USB 2.0 and even USB 1.1 computers and ports if needed on older computers and hubs. That said: With price differentials of UASP supported enclosures and non-UASP almost negligible, you should think to the future and simply buy a UASP enclosure for Mac backup needs down the road.

USB 3.1 Type-C USBC Enclosures

Akitio USB-C Drive Case
USB-C SATA Drive Enclosure
2.5" SATA 3 Type-C Enclosure

With the introduction of the new 10Gbps SuperSpeed+ specification and USB-C ports on new Mac computer models being rolled out, we're seeing the first Mac compatible USB-C drive enclosure products just starting to hit the market. USB-C disk cases are already shipping that support select m.2 PCI-e SSD modules for 1200Gbps+ data speeds, or small mSATA SSD modules for Speeds rivaling SATA III 6Gbps solid-state drives in a much smaller form-factor. All thee new USB 3.1 Type-C enclosures support UASP protocol for optimal Read/Write performance.

Apple ThunderBolt Drive Enclosures

If you've tried shopping for one, you know the ThunderBolt disk enclosure market for single drives was never very robust. Most 10Gbps 1st-generation ThunderBolt drive cases are high-end multi-drive arrays. Only a few low-cost, single-drive ThunderBolt DIY enclosures were ever made available. Single drive ThunderBolt enclosures or adapters range in price from $90 upwards - Literally 4-8 times the cost of a UASP supported USB 3.0 or USB-C enclosure. G-Technology's ruggedized ThunderBolt case your best option.

G-Tech ThunderBolt 2.5" Drive Enclosure
ThunderBolt 2.5 Inch SATA Drive Case
Ruggedized With Integrated Cable

Apple ThunderBolt 2 Drive Enclosures

The transition to 2nd-generation 20Gbps ThunderBolt 2 chipsets and ports on most Macintosh desktop and MacBook laptop models is complete across Apple's product line. Many drive manufacturers have updated the chipsets in their offerings to PC and Mac ThunderBolt 2 drive enclosures - most of which are multi-drive RAID storage arrays to properly take advantage of the massive and increased bandwidth available.

ThunderBolt 2 and UASP USB 3.X Drive Dock
Dual Drive ThunderBol2 and USB 3 Dock
Combo Interface + 2-Drive Support

Other DIY ThunderBolt 2 enclosures that are available are all typically 2/4/6+ multi-drive cases. Beyond hard disks, many are using 2.5 inch SATA III SSD's and PCIe SSD modules. They are rather pricey (as are all ThunderBolt peripherals in general.) Enterprise and Professional Graphics, Audio and Video editing studios are a much smaller marketplace for bandwith intensive data storage needs, but generally aren't deterred by the higher pricing.

Apple Combo Drive Enclosures

Combo interface disk enclosure options are still widely available embracing older, legacy interfaces like USB 2.0, FireWire 400 / 800, and eSATA. Expect FireWire enclosures and drives to phase out as legacy demands shrivel - although many DV Digital Video editing rooms have a remaining investment in drives, cameras and tape editing decks with FireWire 800/400 ports.