Connect laptop hard drive to desktop computer

Yesterday my laptop failed to boot. Everything appears to be normal but each time I turn it on it hangs on Windows screen with a running bar. I cannot boot my laptop to the desktop. I tested the hard drive and it passed the test. I think that my hard drive is fine and the operating system is corrupted. I have very important files in my documents and I need to recover, transfer them to the desktop computer as soon as possible. How can I connect the laptop hard drive to a desktop computer?

It is nice that your hard drive passed the test. I think you have very good chances that your data is still good and you would be able to transfer it to the desktop computer. Here are some tips for connecting a laptop hard drive to a desktop computer:
1. You can use 2.5” hard drive adapter and connect the laptop hard drive directly to a desktop computer through the IDE connector on the system board. The desktop hard drive would be connected to IDE1 so you can connect the laptop hard drive to IDE2. After you boot the desktop computer the second hard drive would be detected and you can access it as a regular HDD. Now you can recover, transfer all needed files from the laptop hard drive to the desktop hard drive.
2. You can use an external USB enclosure for laptop hard drives. I think that would be the easiest and fastest way to access your data. You can find an external USB enclosure in any computer shop and it would cost you about $20-$30 or buy it on ebay for $10. After you remove the laptop hard drive, place it inside the enclosure and connect to the desktop or another laptop computer via the USB cable. It is not necessary to install any drivers for the enclosure if the desktop PC runs Winodws 2000 or Windows XP. If the desktop PC runs Windows 98, then most likely you’ll have to install a driver for the enclosure before you can access the hard drive. The USB cable and the driver usually supplies with the external enclosure. Now you can access the laptop hard drive as a regular drive on your desktop/laptop computer.

135 Responses

  1. Laptop Freak

    You cannot transfer data just using a regular USB cable. You have to use a crossover Ethernet cable and setup a network in order to access files on one PC directly from another PC. If you don’t know how to do that, then I would go with an external USB enclosure.

  2. i want to transfer movies for my regular computer to my laptop, but i dont know how to connect them directly. I also wanted to know how to connect the laptop to the tv, is there a usb wire with 3 imports, is that what i need.

  3. Hello,
    My laptop crushed, but the C Drive survived. I connected it to another computer via USB. I am able to view and access all the folders. I was first unable to access “My documents”, but found way to do it by taking ownership of the folder.
    HOWEVER here is my problem, .. even though I can access “my documents” folder, and see all the files in there, including the size, etc, when I double click to open any of them, they do not work. It does not matter if it’s a picture, a notepad file, or other documents, music, etc. .. as if though they were encrypted or corrupted (i did not have a setting for them to be encrypted)
    Any help would be great.. thank you.

  4. Can I use a plain ol’ USB cable to connect my laptop to my desktop to transfer files? My CD-ROM died, so until I get a new one I need to transfer large amounts of data somehow. I also don’t have means to make a wireless network or LAN metwork or whatever it’s called… So, I was just wondering if data transfer is possible with just a USB cable. I tried just pluging them together, but I don’t get anything popping up, so I need help.

  5. Laptop Freak

    Regarding the error “Page Fault in Nonpaged Area”. I think you might have a faulty RAM. According to the maintenance and service guide for HP Pavilion ze5385us notebooks, you can access both memory slots from the bottom of the laptop. Here’s what you can try. If you have two RAM modules installed, remove them one by one and test the laptop after each removed module. If you have only one RAM module, move it from the slot A to the slot B. See if playing with RAM modules can help you successfully boot the laptop. Download Memtest 86+ utility (Link on the right side) and run the memory test to find out if you have a faulty RAM modules.
    To test the hard drive you can use Hitachi’s drive fitness test (link on the right side) utility. It’s a free HDD test utility that works on most hard drives.
    You mentioned that the laptop cannot pass Windows logo, so I assume the Hitachi drive is not completely dead and it spins when you install it into the external enclosure, right? I don’t know why Windows cannot detect the Hitachi drive; there shouldn’t be any compatibility issue. I have an external enclosure that I use with many different drives and never seen a problem. Take a look at the Hitachi drive, may be pins have a jumper (allows to set master/slave/cable select manually)? A generic USB enclosure usually has 2 USB connectors on the end that goes to a PC, so the hard drive gets enough power. What about your enclosure? If it has 2 USB connectors on one end, make sure both are connected to the PC. For some laptop hard drives getting power from 1 USB port would be enough, for some you must connect both USB connectors.

  6. My laptop recently crashed and I can no longr boot it up. I have an external 2.5″ harddrive (Firelite) that I use for storage. I took out the existing Toshiba harddrive and replaced it with my laptop harddrive (A Hitachi) and tried to connect it to my PC to transfer the files and recover my documents. But Windows is not detecting the harddrive, so I can’t transfer anything. It should be noted that the original external harddrive (Firelite/Toshiba) is driverless, so that could be a reason why it is not picking it up.

    If it’s any use, the error i’m having with my laptop(HP Pavilion Ze5385US) is that it wont continue the boot past the Windows logo and instead gets stuck in an infinite rebooting loop. Here’s the error that flashes on screen for about half a second before it reboots:
    “Page Fault in Nonpaged Area”

  7. Laptop Freak


    Now I wonder if I can remove the hard drive and transfer the data to my laptop.

    It depends. If the old hard drive is dead and will not spin at all then you cannot recover data yourself. You’ll have to use a clean room recovery service – very expensive service. If the old drive doesn’t work because it has bad sectors or corrupted OS, you can attempt accessing the drive via an external USB enclosure.
    Remove the hard drive from the old desktop computer and install it into an external USB enclosure for 3.5” hard drives. After that connect the enclosure to your laptop and see if the laptop can recognize the drive. If you can access the hard drive, transfer all needed data to your laptop.
    You can find a 3.5” USB enclosure in any local computer store or on the internet.

  8. I have a compaq series 5000 desk top that had a problem with the hard drive. Someone told me i need a new operating system and it is better to get a new computer. So i bought a compaq laptop. Now i wonder if i can remove the hard drive and transfer the data to my laptop. I am not sure if it will connect or work.

  9. Laptop Freak

    You mentioned that you have an external hard drive for the laptop. Do you know if it has a laptop 2.5” hard drive inside or a desktop 3.5” hard drive? If the enclosure has a 3.5” HDD, then you can remove the hard drive from the desktop and install it inside the enclosure. Otherwise, you’ll probable have to wait for a new desktop and then attach the old drive as a slave and recover all personal files.

  10. I have the opposite problem (sort of). The screen for my desktop, which is now several years old and in need of replacement, is broken. Rather than buy a new screen I am thinking of getting a new computer.

    I was wondering whether it is possible to access the old harddrive to recover music and pictures without having to wait until I can get a new desktop / new screen. I have a laptop and have just purchased an external harddrive for my laptop – can either of these be used?

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