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Upgrading Laptop Hard Drive, External Enclosure Problem

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#1 randy1954


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Posted 06 October 2006 - 02:00 PM

I am having trouble upgrading my laptop hard drive (Windows XP Home). I will first give a complete account of my troubles, and then pose my questions.

My Troubles

I have Acronis True Image software which allows me to clone my current hard drive, so I decided not to buy a laptop hard drive upgrade kit that includes cloning software and an external enclosure. Instead I purchased an external enclosure that was more to my liking than is offered in the kits (CoolMax HD-211 Combo USB/Firewire). I had two problems that the Coolmax support has not responded to:

1. I installed my new Toshiba MK1032GAX 100GB drive into the enclosure. The drive seems to fit nicely, but two of the drives connection pins that are slightly off to the side are free (they do not fit into the enclosure pin receptacle).

2. Coolmax didn’t respond to my inquiry about issue (1), so I decided to go ahead and connect the drive to my laptop via the firewire port. Windows XP Home seems to have set up the drive ok, as it shows up in Device Manager as working properly. However, I cannot see the drive in “My Computer.”

A FAQ on the Coolmax web site (FAQ 1 below) says this will happen if the drive is not formatted prior to being put in the enclosure. This brings up the question of how one would format the drive prior to having any connection. Another FAQ on the Coolmax site (FAQ 2 below) says this:

“You could format your HDD through Doc / Goldmine, etc. You also can create two or more partitions during this procedure. Then, follow up the installation guide to install this external hard drive. For Windows 98, please install the enclosed driver or download the driver from website. Plug & Play.”

3. As I had no idea what Doc / Goldmine is, I decided to see if Acronis True Image could find the new drive and clone my old drive onto it. Using the “Create New Drive” in Acronis True Image, Acronis did find the drive, but said there was an error reading some sector of the drive. I asked it to retry, and at that point Acronis froze and Windows disabled the drive. I reinstalled the drive and tried Acronis again, didn’t get any error messages, but the wizard freezes after it finds the target (new) drive (for cloning) and Windows disables the drive.

My Questions for the Forum

1. Does it make any sense that it would be necessary to format the new drive prior to putting it in the enclosure? If so, how would I do that?

2. Should I be concerned that two of the new drive’s connection pins do not connect to the enclosure’s circuits?

Thanks in advance for your help.

-----FAQs on Coomax Web Site-----------

FAQ #1
Question: When the drive is connected to the external enclosure properly and the computer recognizes the drive in the "Devices Manager". But, why "My Computer" does not show up this external driver?
Answer: Please make sure do you format hard drive properly before you install it into external enclosure. Check with your USB or Firewire PCI / PCMCIA card.

FAQ #2
Question: What's the procedure to format the hard drive before install it into external enclosure?
Answer: You could format your HDD through Doc / Goldmine, etc. You also can create two or more partitions during this procedure. Then, follow up the installation guide to install this external hard drive. For Windows 98, please install the enclosed driver or download the driver from website. Plug & Play.

-----End of FAQs -----------

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#2 Enthusiast


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Posted 06 October 2006 - 11:36 PM

You need an adapter to use a pcmia drive on a usb or ide cable and then use Windows to initialize and format the drive in disk management.
You shoulod be abole to get one for $20 or less.
Being that it's for XP use NTFS, not Fat or Fat32.

Edited by Enthusiast, 06 October 2006 - 11:37 PM.

#3 randy1954

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 11:53 AM

Thanks Enthusiast for your response. It was my understanding that my external enclosure would give Windows full access to the drive—it is the “pcmia drive on a usb or ide cable” that you allude to. That is why I was confused by the enclosure maker’s (coolmax) FAQ saying that the drive must be formatted before it is put in the enclosure.

It turns out the FAQ is wrong. I was able to get windows disk manager to format the drive (as Enthusiast suggested) using the external enclosure connection. I do not know why my earlier attempt to get Acronis True image to format the drive did not work. However, after disk manager formatted the drive, Acronis did reformat it to prepare it for cloning. So now all is well.

For anyone who is following this exchange, this is what I learned:

1. Windows will automatically install an internal hard drive that is in an external enclosure, but it will not be accessible in “my computer” until it is formatted.
2. The external enclosure connection does give Windows disk manager (and presumably any other utility) the ability to format the drive.
3. As my intuition suggested, and contrary to the FAQ reproduced in my original post, the idea of formatting a new hard drive before it is in an enclosure is ridiculous, as a computer must have a connection to the drive before any software can direct the formatting operation.

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