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I'm currently only able to see my internal HDs for my MacBook Pro 13 c. 2009 by attaching them to a USB adapter cable external to my laptop. Drives are great - but either logic board or something else is causing internal failure problem. I don't want to spend any more money in repairs or replace just yet. So my question:

Can I just use a 320-500 GB USB memory stick to replace my internal drives? Are there any downsides like speed, reliability, etc. I know it's a pain to walk around with a stick poking out of my USB port but I am seeing 500 GB sticks for under $50 as opposed to shelling out the big bucks to repair the logic board or buy a new Macbook or Air. Any thoughts?

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Where are you seeing 320-500 gb USB memory sticks? I suspect these are SSDs not ones you stick in a USB port –  Mark Mar 6 '13 at 23:24
    
Even then, where are you seeing 500 GB of storage in any form for under $50? :S –  Dan J Mar 7 '13 at 0:32
    
Hi Mark -I just googled some examples before posting this. I can find only 356G sticks at the moment bbut I am pretty sure I saw them. This link is for a 256gb stick for less than $20 - unless I'm reading it all wrong. ioffer.com/i/…. I'd be happy to pay $100 for a reliable 500gb stick if it's as fast as my regular internal IDE HD. I'm just looking at avoiding an expensive repair or $1000+ for another laptop. –  John Mar 7 '13 at 1:27
    
The reviews on amazon suggest that ones for this sort of prices are fakes etc - but a confirmed working one would be great. Note the site you show has also 32G for $16 so that one does not look the correct price –  Mark Mar 7 '13 at 14:40

2 Answers 2

Yes, you can do this, provided your system will successfully boot from an external volume still. Failing logic boards don't always do this. Each time you boot you will need to hold the Option key down.

The speed will be noticeably slower, maybe even painfully so. The internal drive connects at 3000Mb/s. A USB 2.0 stick will connect at a peak speed of 480Mb/s with regular throughput being much slower.

The largest USB stick you're likely to find is 32GB or 64GB. A 320GB+ drive will be a full portable external hard drive, much bigger than a simple USB stick. And bear in mind above all else that this is not a long-term solution. Your logic board will only get worse over time, not better.

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Many thanks on that advice –  John Mar 7 '13 at 13:17

It may be worth checking the connections of the flat ribbon cables going from the SATA port on the motherboard to the HD. It is possible that one has become unseated. You can check iFixit for specific instructions, but checking the seating is a lot cheaper than a new laptop if it works.

Added: http://www.amazon.com/Kingston-Datatraveler-310-Flash-Drive/dp/B0039PBFNE If it is too good to be true, it is. It is unlikely that you have found someone selling a drive for 17.50 that is selling on Amazon from reliable sellers at 200-300 dollars.

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I'll double check - would be nice if it was a as simple as a loose cable. –  John Mar 7 '13 at 13:17

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