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Changing Hard Drives

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#1 ashleyp


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Posted 05 August 2005 - 10:30 PM

I'm pretty much a novice at working on computer parts. I've installed RAM a few times, but not much else. I now need to get data off a couple of hard drives in a computer that seems to have died. From what I know, I need to get another computer that has the same operating system and put the hard drives in it. I know nothing else. Can some give me some instructions on how to "drop" a hard drive into another computer? Help is much appreciated.

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#2 Herk


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Posted 06 August 2005 - 07:01 PM

Hi, Ashley,

It's not terribly hard to put a hard drive into another computer. Most drives are IDE or ATA (same thing), and hook up to a ribbon cable and a power supply.

If you have a computer with Windows 98, it won't be able to see the files on an NTFS computer like XP. However, an XP computer can see the files on a Win98 computer. So, here's what you do, generally speaking:

Take the hard drive out of the old computer by pulling the cables from it. The power cable can be tight, but it will come out with some wiggling. Take out the screws - usually four screws unless the computer has some type of mounting system.

Then put the drive in your other computer. Turn the computer off, of course. First, move the jumper on the back of the hard drive to "slave." The main drive in the computer is set at "master." The second drive's operating system will not be used. Some drives are a bit cryptic about where the master and slave orientations are, and you may have to find information on Google if you can't find it on the drive.

In the new machine, there should be a ribbon cable going to the hard drive. This is where it gets tricky: most IDE-type computers only have room for four IDE devices. There is a primary IDE and a secondary IDE. Normally, the main hard drive is hooked to the primary IDE at the end of the cable, and there is one more hookup further down the cable. CD-Roms and the like are hooked to the other cable. There are many variations on this, such as cheap builders who only want to use one cable and put both drives on the primary slot.

Hook the drive to the second slot on the cable, hook a spare molex plug - the little white one with the edges rounded on one side - into the power supply. There should be an extra one in there, but if there isn't, you can get a "Y" splitter to make two out of one.

To finish up, you usually have to get into your system's BIOS. That's the little memory storage that starts the computer up and it has to know where to find the drive. There are various methods to do this, depending on which type of BIOS you have. Most often, it's hitting the Del key during startup. Before you do any of this, you can start your computer and see if you can spot a message that says DEL to enter Setup or something similar. Some BIOS' have a different key.

Once in there, you should look in the setup options for something that detects your hard drives, and you want it to detect a secondary drive. Once it's found it, it should appear on a list below your other hard drive. Once you get that far, you need to save your changes and exit.

Now, your computer should start up normally, but when you go to My Computer, you should find a drive letter has been added. You can go to that drive using Windows Explorer and copy and paste things to folders on your regular C: drive. You cannot move programs, only data. Programs have to be installed from their respective CD's or other sources because they make entries in the registry as well as adding files.

If things don't appear as I've described them, it's possible that you have a different type of hard drive, such as a SATA drive instead of ATA, which uses much smaller cables and only has one drive per cable. In that case, post back with more questions.

Once you've finished getting the data from the old drive to the new drive, you can remove it if you wish, or continue to use it for storage if it's in OK condition.

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