Trying to get old files from older HDD
October 27, 2009 5:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to get my old files off of an old Hard-disk. Old PC is XP newer PC is Vista. I removed the Hardisk from the OLD computer. I bought a USB to SATA/IDE cable. When I plug in the Hard-disk via USB, I hear the confirmation tone that you hear everytime you plug in a USB. I see a "ST340082 0AS SCSI Disk Device" in the "Safely remove hardware" icon in the tray. but I do not see the Drive. I can't really afford an External Hard drive. But I will eventually if I have to. Cna anyone help me please.
posted by Student of Man to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Windows is not assigning your drive a drive letter.

There are assorted ways to fix this, but depending on your external disk's partitioning scheme, they may fail mysteriously. Also, even once you've got your drive a letter, you are probably going to run into NTFS permissions issues.

The simplest, easiest way to get files off a drive like yours is not to use Windows at all. Boot an Ubuntu live CD. Plug in your external drive, and all its partitions will just show up on the desktop. Double-click them to open. Find your internal hard disk under the Places menu and open that as well; navigate into its "Public\Documents" folder, then drag and drop whatever you want from your external hard drive into that.

Ubuntu ignores NTFS permission settings, so you won't get any Access Denied errors as you try to copy things; the flip side of that is that all the files you copy to your internal hard drive will show up with Full Control permissions for Everyone once you start Windows up again. That's the expected setting for Vista's Public\Documents folder, which should mean everything ends up working surprise-free.
posted by flabdablet at 6:09 PM on October 27, 2009

If it is not assigning a drive letter this is easy in Vista. From Vista's Start Menu, Right click on Computer - Manage. Under Computer Management you'll see Storage, your disks should be listed under Disk Management. Right click on the new drive and select Change Drive Letter and paths. Choose a drive letter that is not being used.
posted by IanMorr at 6:20 PM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you're determined to do it the hard way, here's how to fix up your external drive's NTFS permissions so you can use it with your new Windows installation. The instructions are for XP; Vista uses the same permissions model, but there will be some user interface differences.
posted by flabdablet at 6:30 PM on October 27, 2009

I don't think the OP has even had the chance to run into NTFS issues. The drive is not showing up when trying to explore the drive. I had similar troubles when a Seagate external drive had problems with the enclosure. I removed the drive from the Seagate case (built like a tank) and tried the same solution as the OP with the adapter cable and, same problem, I never could get to my files. This is a problem documented all over the internet and you see few happy resolutions to the problem. Maybe the Linux Live CD is the way to go. I never tried it myself but just might now. Good luck!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 6:55 PM on October 27, 2009

I don't think the OP has even had the chance to run into NTFS issues. The drive is not showing up when trying to explore the drive.

Quite so. And as soon as that issue is resolved, then the NTFS permissions issue will almost certainly arise next.

If following IanMorr's instructions doesn't work, Windows is probably just not playing nice with the USB adapter concerned. Windows has a nasty tendency to refuse to recognize anything past the first partition on drives connected via some kinds of USB adapter. Some manufacturers (notably Compaq) ship computers with a hidden "system recovery" partition first, then the main Windows installation partition. Student of Man might simply be looking at a Windows/adapter/partitioning incompatibility clusterfuck.

Ubuntu will have no trouble with it, though, and it also doesn't care about NTFS permissions. That's why using the live CD is the easy way to do this job.
posted by flabdablet at 7:54 PM on October 27, 2009

It won't hurt to pull up "disk management" and see what there is to see. I just plugged a multi-partitioned USB disk into my box and indeed Windows only wants to show the first partition but I can see both partitions in the disk management info.

Ubuntu Live is a good solution but you could also just put the disk inside your new computer so that windows will recognize all of the partitions.
posted by Wood at 8:44 PM on October 27, 2009

Could be even simpler:
You said you bought a "USB to SATA/IDE cable"

If this is a 3.5 hard drive and not a 2.5 - are you also supplying power? Most "USB to SATA/IDE cables" come in kits with a separate power connector. Did yours? The USB/IDE cables can fully power a 2.5 (laptop-size) hard drive, but a 3.5 HD would require a companion power connector. Some USB cables provide just enough power to 3.5 HD that the controller board is able to recognize the device, but not enough to get it to spin up or do anything useful.

If all else fails, why not connect the old HD inside the new PC?
posted by emjay at 5:05 AM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yes, what emjay said. Make sure you've got the power cable connected as well as the data cable!
posted by TomMelee at 5:21 AM on October 28, 2009

Response by poster: Yes I have a plug and I plugged it in, I bought a CD-R which Windows immediately formats and upon burning Ubuntu, the CD has insufficient space (by a wretched 2 Megabytes). Just my luck. I tried Burning a DVD, however, the Ubuntu I downloaded was damaged during dowload or has bad integrity or errors once burned.

I don't know how to slow my write speed which I don't think is my problem anyway. Now I see why this Linux thing never caught on. I should've bought that 2-way USB with included software last year but I was afraid of the viruses my brother put on the old comp. I probably already lost everything on the drive anyway cause the old computer wasn't booting up a few months ago. Thanks anyway guys.
posted by Student of Man at 7:49 PM on October 28, 2009

Response by poster: I went to the Mom n pop computer store that I bought the USB-to-IDE cable from. The Power plug was busted! I wasted over 6 hours searching online! I need to quickly take my files off of this drive and erase it ! It's full of Malware because I gave my old comp to my mom who never used it But my little brother was on it everyday and absolutely trashed the drive. What's the best possible freeware (s) to srub this thing clean of viruses?
posted by Student of Man at 3:59 PM on October 29, 2009

upon burning Ubuntu, the CD has insufficient space (by a wretched 2 Megabytes)

What tool are you using to burn the Ubuntu image to disk? If it's only missing out by two megabytes, then either you've burned the downloaded ISO to the CD-ROM as a file, which won't work (you need to use something like Nero or InfraRecorder that knows how to burn a CD as an exact copy of an ISO image file) or you've bought a 650MB CD-R instead of a 700MB one. Every Ubuntu release, as far as I know, is built to fit on a single CD.

Also, you might want to use an md5sum tool to check your downloaded ISO file before making any more coasters.

I need to quickly take my files off of this drive and erase it ! It's full of Malware because ... my little brother ... absolutely trashed the drive

OK. Slow down. Breathe. Don't panic. Malware isn't magical, and it won't leap off your external drive and infect your new PC unless you run some program off your external drive before you've copied and cleaned the files you want recovered.

Unfortunately, Windows has another nasty habit: it likes to look for Autorun files on external media right after you connect them, and run them. If a worm or virus has left one of those on the drive (unlikely given that the drive used to be an internal one, but it has been known to happen) and you haven't disabled Autorun (either temporarily by holding down the Shift key while the external drive is getting connected, or permanently by fiddling with the registry) there is some chance that something nasty could get a chance to infect the new PC. I'd be surprised if your existing virus checker failed to catch it in the act, though. Also, Windows shouldn't need "your permission to continue" just to copy files off a drive; if it asks for that, you can be pretty sure there's some malfeasance going on.

The least risky method is to use an Ubuntu live CD to copy all the files you want recovered (and only those; don't go hog-wild) into a new folder inside your new PC's Public\Documents folder, then right-click the external drive's icon on the Ubuntu desktop and choose Unmount Volume, then unplug it, then reboot Windows and scan Public\Documents with your existing virus scanner.
posted by flabdablet at 8:55 PM on October 29, 2009

Oh, and if by "CD-R" you meant "CD-RW", which is the only way I can make sense of your "Windows immediately formats" comment: that's OK, you can still burn an ISO image to a CD-RW - it's just much slower. InfraRecorder will let you set a custom write speed, but it should do the right thing by default anyway (especially with a CD-RW - these are typically only good for 4x burn speed, which is dead slow by modern standards). Once burnt, it should boot and run at the same speed a CD-R would.

The upside of CD-RW discs is that when a burn goes wrong, you haven't made a coaster - just erase the disc (once again, InfraRecorder makes this easy) and try again.
posted by flabdablet at 8:59 PM on October 29, 2009

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