How to add a second SSD to a laptop optical bay

A longtime reader asked me recently about putting an SSD into a laptop optical bay. The idea has crossed my mind–the extra storage is increasingly more useful than the optical drive as time wears on. Thinkpad warriors have been doing this for a long time, though IBM’s caddies were a bit pricey.

It’s not an expensive project anymore, and it’s not limited to Thinkpads either.

So-called universal caddies that fit most brands are cheap–well under $10–so it can be a cheap project. Do a dual SSD setup, or put the old hard drive in the caddy for additional storage while the SSD lives inside the main unit.

Then you can put the optical drive in a sub-$10 USB enclosure so you can plug it in on those occasions when you need it.

This isn’t something I’ve done myself, though I’ve thought about it from time to time. It’s not my normal habit to link to products I haven’t put to my own use, but this may solve a problem for some.

Based on the reviews, some people who have purchased the caddy found they couldn’t boot from it, or experienced slower-than-expected performance. Since most of the reviews state it works fine, I think the problem is most likely due to certain laptops having limitations on the SATA channel connected to the optical drive. Unfortunately the only way to determine if your particular laptop has that issue is to search Google to see if anyone else has noticed such limitations, or try it yourself.

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