Mounting An Old Hard Drive Using An External Enclosure

by on November 15, 2007

Q: I just replaced my HP Compaq nc6120 running Windows XP Pro due to screen problems. I was unable to backup my hard drive before I replaced the laptop so instead I just took out the hard drive. I was planning on just popping it into a 2.5 external USB case and copying over the files I need.

Unfortunately when I did this it did not work as planned. I plugged it in to the USB port and a message popped up in the notification area, “searching preconfigured driver folders” and after that I checked to see if the drive appeared in My Computer and it was not there. I tried doing the same on a Windows XP laptop and it still didn’t work. I tested the 2.5 USB by putting in a different hard drive and it worked. I figured it might be because I’m using a HP 6910p running Windows Vista Business x64 (which I am very displeased with). It doesn’t seem like it is a problem with Vista, but with the drive itself. The drive had been working excellently and it didn’t sustain any damage when I removed it from the nc6120.

A: Since you’ve tried the external hard drive without success on an XP machine as well as a computer that is running Vista, I agree with you that Vista is not the source of your problems (although I am unhappy with Vista too). The fact that using a different hard drive in the external enclosure results in success further supports that idea.

There are two main categories of hard drives, ATA (also called IDE) and the newer Serial ATA. My research of specs for the HP Business Notebook Nc6120 indicates that the nc6120 uses the older ATA interface. ATA hard drives depend heavily on master/slave settings. Since you took the hard drive out of your old computer, the hard drive could be set to slave or cable select. You want to set the hard drive to master. There should be a diagram on the hard drive itself that tells you how to select master mode using the jumpers (little blocks on the back of the hard drive).

Hopefully I have been helpful!