questionscan i get a decent external hdd for $20 or less?

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problem is no one is manufacturing what you are asking for, mainly because there's almost no profit margin to be had once you get that cheap

best bet is to buy an external case, and then shop around for a bare drive.

you'll still end up paying at least $40 for that though.

I mean, think about it... you're asking for precision electronics to be manufactured and shipped around the world for $20? not a chance.

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I posted this deal
http://deals.woot.com/deals/details/5dcc98b6-eb39-49f4-a748-285d97e18e70/usb-2-0-to-ide-sata-converter-cable-electronics

What I have done is collect old 20-40 GB drives and use them for backing up my important data. I rotate the drives (I have a small stack of them).

vote-for4vote-against

I think the definitive answer to your question is "no", but if you're willing to spend a little bit more you can probably find what you're looking for.

120 GB for $30, free shipping, and mainly positive reviews - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822324046