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. Shrawan Kumar


    Can i connect my external CPU to my laptop monitor… Actually i am having a laptop and i am planning to get a desktop CPU but i want my laptop screen should work for that external CPU… So that i will not purchase any Monitor… i will swap between laptop CPU and Desktop CPU…. but the monitor will be only one that is laptop screen….

  2. Laptop Freak

    Milton’s suggestion didn’t work for you because he linked you to a wrong page. :) I fixed the link.
    You don’t have to change user rights, you have to take ownership of the My Documents folder.

  3. Laura/FI

    Hi, I have the same problem as scott: my laptop crashed but the HDD works fine. Now i connected the HDD to my work laptop with a USB-connector, where then the HDD works as an external hard disk. I had on my old laptop a password with my user profile, and now i cannot access the folder on the old hard disk X:/my documents/USERNAME as i get a reply ‘access denied’. Milton’s suggestion of changing user rights does not work, as i am logged on my work cpu with a different username.

    Any ideas?

    # scott Says:
    February 7th, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    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?

  4. Hi,
    I have figured out what was wrong with the hard drive and currently I am transferring file (folders infact) to my office desktop :D :D
    My USB enclosure has just 1 USB cable. Actually I came to know that I had this software Roxio GoBack on my old hard drive which was failing the desktop to display the hard drive in My Computer. I had a feeling that my hard drive is not damaged. So I made the jumper setting of the old HDD to master again(I had previously changed it to slave) and rebooted the computer. As soon as it rebooted, I pressed F12 to enter the BIOS set up, where I selected the USB controller to boot from. Once I did this, my old HDD came into action as I could see Roxio GoBack software. Pressing Spacebar, disabling it and clicking continue, desktop asked for a reboot (this was expected as windows registry in my old HDD had some problems). I went to BIOS set up again to change the boot to hard disk of desktop. and shut the computer down to change jumper position of laptop HDD to slave again. Starting the computer and logging in, I could see my hard drive in My Computer (I was ecstatic at this moment!!). As mentioned in the previous post (thanks to Laptop Freak), I gained the ownership of the folders I wanted and now the transfer process is on its way!!!

    Roxio Go Back software is a disaster!! Better remove it before it creates more problem! (My advise) In last 5 years of installing this software, I used it just once which did not create a restore point where I wanted it to restore to!! I guess it has never helped me!

  5. Laptop Freak

    First of all, try rebooting the desktop PC. In some cases you have to reboot computer after you attach an external hard drive.
    Most likely your external USB enclosure cable has two USB connectors on one end. Make sure both USB connectors are connected to the PC so the hard drive is getting enough power.

  6. Hi,

    I just tried connecting my laptop HD with USB enclosure with my desktop (windows xp pro). The baloons on the bottom right state that the drive is ready to use but I do not see the corresponding icon in My Computer. I checked device manager and Disk management, and both show that the device is working properly and healthy. In Disk Management, It mentions the details of the Hard drive but when I right click it, the options for Open and Explore cannot be selected. Please advise me what to do now. This hard drive has roughly 5 years of my work on it. Thanks.

  7. Laptop Freak

    If you connect this hard drive to a computer with Windows XP, you shouldn’t have any problem transferring personal files, unless the hard drive has some kind of mechanical problem.

    Its hard to understand that the Desktop will have access to the files which originally require administrator password to log into.

    In this case you’ll have to take ownership of the files on the external hard drive.

  8. I have a Toshiba Satellite 1905-S301 laptop. Few weeks back when I started it, a dialog box opened up saying there is some problem with the registry. I have tried connecting my laptop hard drive using USB enclosure to my new Mac Book Pro, however it mentions that the disk you inserted was not readable by this computer due to unrecognizable filesystem. My question is if I connect this hard drive to Windows XP pc, will I be able to transfer the important files then? Its hard to understand that the Desktop will have access to the files which originally require administrator password to log into. I seek some advise on this. Thank you.

  9. Laptop Freak


    but I’m still missing Outlook data (calendar entries, email, etc.) and similar data from the Timeslips billing program.

    You’ll find Outlook data in .pst file. Scan the hard drive for .pst file and back it up. After that import .pst into the new installation of Outlook.
    Cannot help you with the Timeslips program, I’m not familiar with this software.

  10. I recently lost the motherboard on my Dell Inspiron, but the hard drive was intact. So far I’ve been able to retrieve all documents, but I’m still missing Outlook data (calendar entries, email, etc.) and similar data from the Timeslips billing program. If I connect the hard drive to my desktop using an external enclosure, will I be able to export the data I need from the laptop HD? No recent backup files were already available, so that’s essentially what I’m trying to make from the old drive. The programs have all been reloaded on the desktop.

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