How to Read an Internal Hard Drive


Accessing data from an internal hard drive should not be a complicated or time-consuming task. With the help of a hard drive enclosure, you can convert your internal hard drive into an external drive--giving you mobility to move your drive from computer to computer without having to install any software. Find out how to select an enclosure that's compatible with your hard drive and access the data.

Things You'll Need

  • 3.5- or 2.5-inch hard drive enclosure

Choosing a Hard Drive Enclosure

  • Select a hard drive enclosure that fits your hard drive's data type. Purchase an IDE enclosure if your internal hard drive is equipped with a wide IDE data port on the back. Go with an SATA enclosure for drives equipped with the smaller SATA data port (see Resources). Your hard drive's label should display which type of data connection your hard drive uses.

  • Choose an enclosure that matches your hard drive's size. Use 3.5-inch enclosures for desktop computer hard drives and use 2.5-inch enclosures for laptop internal hard drives.

  • Choose the connection for the enclosure-to-computer connection--either USB or firewire cable. Choose firewire if your computer is equipped with firewire ports. A USB cable will work with about as the same speed and efficiency as a firewire cable. However, firewire slightly edges out USB cables in external hard drive applications.

Setting Up the Hard Drive

  • Open the hard drive enclosure. While hard drive enclosure styles vary among manufacturer, the concept is still the same--unscrew or unlatch the sides or back of the hard drive enclosure, open it and then insert the internal hard drive.

  • Plug the back of the internal hard drive into the data and power contacts located at the back of the hard drive enclosure.

  • Close the hard drive enclosure around the internal drive, and replace the drive's latches or screws.

  • Connect the newly converted external hard drive to your computer with a firewire or USB connection--plug one end of the USB or firewire cable into the port on the back of the external hard drive, and plug the opposite end into a USB or firewire port on your computer.

  • Plug the AC power cable into the power port on the back of the hard drive enclosure, and power on the device. Your computer will auto-recognize the external hard drive as a plug-and-play storage device--giving you access to the drive's data.


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