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

    I think there is a chance to recover personal data from the hard dive by using data recovery software (something like GetDataBack by Runtime Software).
    I think it this case you’ll have to scan the hard drive for raw data. This is just a guess but if the data is important it’s worth trying.

  2. I got my old laptop harddrive connected to my new computer alright (using a usb connection) and I see it in the “My computer” menu but when I try to open it up to get my old files it tells me I need to format my drive. Is there any hope to get my stuff or should I just format it and all is lost?

  3. I had connected a usb cable from my laptop to desktop inorder to try and transfer files from the laptop to the desktop. The desktop immediately quit working as soon as the usb connection was made. Now the only thing working on the desktop are the fan and light. Can’t shut power on/off.

    Does anyone know if the motherboard is fried?

  4. Laptop Freak

    If it is a brand new hard drive then you’ll have to partition and format it. I think it could be your problem.
    Go to Control Panel – Administrative Tools – Computer Management – Disk Management. Can you see your external hard drive in there?
    You’ll have to initialize the hard drive, then partition and format it.

  5. Julian

    Hello I have a problem wih my external case.
    I have a ATA 80 gb 2.5″ and when I connect it to my laptop it does not appear in My PC, but it does appear the little green logo on the left hand side of the windows tool bar.
    What should I do? I have a Windows XP home edition

  6. Hi,

    My IBM T40 Windows XP operating system crashed and then kept on going into the blue screen. The hard drive is in the early stages of dying and has corrupted the operating system beyond repair. I was able to get a new hard drive, use the recovery CDs, and transfer my files using a 2.5″ USB adaptor. However, I am wondering if there is a way to transfer the wireless network settings from the old hard drive to the new one? Thanks.

  7. HI,
    Milton’s suggestion (22) does not work for me as the complete laptop, now accessible via USB, does not allow me to share the my documents. Any other suggestions?

  8. Laptop Freak

    You cannot run programs from the external hard drive, you actually have to install them on your new PC.
    Do you get any messages when you try accessing My Documents folder? Check out comments 21 and 22. Milton posted a possible solution in the comment 22, may be that’s your problem?

  9. Hi all,
    I figured out a solution to my problem! I simply had to take “Ownership” of the files on the removed Hard Drive. This Microsoft KB article describes the process:

    Good luck…

  10. Hello,
    I downloaded a virus recently and had problems with XP. So I bought an enclosure and followed the steps above to pull my files off my hard drive onto another computer. The problem now is that all folders are visible except “\documents and settings\milton…” where all my music and pictures are. I attempted to run the File Transfer wizard and it lists the subfolders “My Music, My Pictures”, etc. But, when I try to access them via Explorer it says “F:\Documents and Settings\Milton… is not accessible. Access Denied.”

    What do you think is going on?


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