Ventilating an external Hard Drive Case

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In this project we're working on ventilating a Hard Drive case.

So if you're asking how to Ventilate an external Hard Drive Case? Let's take a look.
The case houses an external IDE hard drive and interfaces it to USB 2.0
The case comes with a small fan, but I'd say it's just for looks, as it only has micro-slots for the air to come out of. There are slightly bigger holes in the front for the air intake, but not by much.

So what's the deal? The hard drive gets hot! There's no airflow.
Our mission - to ventilate it!

Non-vented vents (5.38 kbs)
The project involves routing out the fan slots to increase the non-existent air flow.

Let's get to it!

Tools needed (7.04 kbs)

Tools you'll need:

The side straps is all that holds this case together. Removing them is to be a careful matter, they snap off, but we don't want to snap them. If you carefully pry between the fan and the case, the pins holding the fan will pop out. Your mileage may vary when applying this procedure to your case.

Once the case is open we'll remove all the guts but the power switch & plug, this includes the hard drive for ease and safety (I started without removing the hard drive, but found it had to be removed to cut the tapers in the slots with my router/grinder). So mark the plugs or make a drawing of the color codes, trust me, you'll forget how it went when you go to reinstall it, what seems obvious now will have you questioning it later.

The hardest thing, after the case side straps, is getting the fan out. This case has the fan mounted with plastic pressure pins that just press into 2 protruding case mounts.
Use a thin narrow flat bar or blade and place it between the fan and the case at the point where the fan has a mounting plug (where they should have used screws). You might elect to replace these plugs with screws when you reinstall the fan, a small screw should work in the holes, be very careful your screws are not too large or you'll break the protrusion, and then you'll be a happy camper :-(
These pins should pop out with a little twisting force on the bar. Be careful you don't lose them as they'll POP out.

With the fan removed, take a marker or pencil and mark (or trace) where the metal plate meats the plastic case. This will be your guide when you cut the slots out.

If you're not use to cutting holes this small with your cutter you should do some practicing on something laying around that you can destroy. This takes a steady hand and an understanding of how the cutter and bit act on the plastic of the case, if you've got sharp deep groves in your bit (like mine does) it can get away from you and take out more material than you want.

Take it easy and slow, you can do the edges with a file if you prefer, then you'd just need to open a hole so you can get the file into it. If you don't have a Dremil™ type tool and wish to use a drill bit & file, then you can just cut a series of holes on the slot wide enough to get your file in it, to finish up job. This technique can produce better looking results as a router can easily gouge out too much material if you're not really careful (I know).

Cutting the slots out (16.2 kbs)

To the cutting room -

On this External HD case they have a foot under the fan (great design), so you can't cut that out, and you don't want to make it too thin around the foot or you'll take the strength away from the weight bearing foot. But you can still get good airflow by simply opening up the slots that are under the fan. Or you could just cut one big hole and use a screen with your fan. I decide to do it the hard way as usual.

The slot extends out beyond what the fan sees, there's only limited benefit by opening them up more than where the fan sits, I opened them up a little as to aid in the distribution of exiting air because of the low clearance on the bottom that you're blowing the air into and to make it look symmetrical (if that didn't make sense, don't worry about it). There is 1 whole slot that I didn't touch as it's not under the fan, it's just for looks, as was these tiny slits called vents.

Make sure you remove the metal plate, it will dull your bit if & when you hit it, and you'll want to remove more material from the slots than you can get to with the plate in place.

Case marked for fan impression (5.81 kbs)
After removing the metal plate you can see your marks and know what material to remove. Here you can see I already started cutting the slots.

case cutout from inside (6.32 kbs) case cutout from outside (4.41 kbs) non-vented vents before we started (5.32 kbs)
Inside & outside views of case after cutting, and before.

Before you put things back together -

Clean the case of burs
Clean the fan

Cleaning the Fan (8.68 kbs) Assortment of brushes (11.3 kbs)
Cleaning the fan with a mascara brush. Don't throw out those old brushes, having several kinds of brushes on hand is helpful.

After you get it all in, and before you put the case top on, plug it up and power it up to see if the fan is going to work. Mine made a lot of noise because of an alignment problem, because of the shotty mounting (pins). I had to press on the center a few times and get it centered, then if quieted down.

guts (11.7 kbs)
The guts in the case (metal shield removed).

Next up-

I'll finish up on the front plate and the cosmetics in a later update.
We're going to put a filter in the front to keep the dust out (and yes, you have dust).
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Last Updated: 4 Apr 2016