[UFO Chicago] Old hard drive question

Neil R. Ormos ormos at ripco.com
Fri Dec 16 16:14:18 PST 2011

Eric MacAdie wrote:

> I have three desktop machines that no longer
> turn on. My laptops are working fine. So I am
> done with desktops.

> All three of my desktops have hard drives with
> data on them. If possible, I would like to get
> the data off them. Is there a way to hook these
> hard drives up to laptops and copy data off of
> them?

If the desktop and laptops are commodity hardware
(i.e, Intel 8086-derived CPUs and originally built
to run some version of MS Windows) of relatively
recent vintage--say 1999 or later--the simplest
solution, IMO, is to buy or borrow a so-called
"external hard drive enclosure" that connects to
your laptop or most other computers via one of the
commonly-used external peripheral interfaces, such
as USB, eSATA, FireWire, or the like.  USB is the
lowest common denominator, but there may be
reasons to pick something else or to pick an
enclosure that supports multiple interfaces.

Select an enclosure that matches:

  (a) the size(s) (typically 3.5 in, but could be
      2.5 in or other sizes); and

  (b) the interface(s) (typically SATA if newer,
      "Parallel ATA" if older, but could be SCSI
      (less likely) or other interfaces (even less
      likely unless very old))

of your disk(s).  

I offer this URL:


as an example of the class of solutions proposed,
but I haven't used this particular one, nor do I
know whether it will work with your disks and

If you prefer to buy locally, you might expect to
find similar enclosures at Tiger Direct/CompUSA,
Micro Center, Fry's, Best Buy, etc.

If anything is older than 1999 or something other
than commodity hardware, you'll need to furnish
additional details to get a useful response.

--Neil Ormos

More information about the ufo mailing list