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. This is exactly the site I was looking for. Reading all the above messages gave me a few ideas for my problem.

    I dropped my laptop (HP) with all my kids pictures saved on the HD. The laptop WILL boot up, but everything is VERY slow – takes 30 minutes to copy 1 small picture to flash that use to take 10 seconds. I have 100’s of pictures. To make matters worse…some pictures say they can not be copied (something about system redundancy).

    Does this sound like I damaged the RAM or something more serious. Any ideas how to fix? If not, sounds like I need to do what you all are doing:

    Try a HD enclosure transfer to desktop via USB.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you so much!

  2. now what if the files are in your desktop portion of the harddrive and since you cant get to them from the original computer will you be able to acess them from an external device or will you need special skills please help me contact me here or my email

  3. I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to you for making this info available and easy to understand. My laptop ended up with a corrupted registry, and none of the possible fixes worked. So Dell told me my only option was to reformat the hard drive and lose all my data. Or I could pay $250 – $350 for someone to “rescue” the documents and pics from my hard drive before reformatting.

    I tried your solution and it worked like a charm! I used an external USB enclosure for my laptop hard drive and saved my important files onto my desktop hard drive. It was easy and fast, just as you said it would be. I encountered no problems of any kind.

    I am SO relieved to have this nightmare solved. A thousand thanks!


    hello i purchased a 2.5 dd enclouser im using my hd from my lap top. i want to recover the files from this drive but it keeps telling me to state that i have to set the drive to master.on the hard drive the master
    has no pin covered the slave does im talking about the little white four pin plug how do i set it to master? thanks a head of time.

  5. Laptop Freak


    above you said connect the IDE adapter cable to IDE 2 is that on the motherboard

    Most likely right now you have a DVD drive connected to the IDE 2. You can temporarily unplug the DVD drive and plug your adapter with the laptop hard drive instead. In this case you’ll have only one drive (laptop hard drive) attached to the secondary IDE channel and there shouldn’t be any conflict between drives. The laptop hard drive will be detected and recognized by the computer.

    or is that the same IDE cable that is connected to the hard drive on my desktop the cable has a second connection point on the cable.

    No it’s not the same cable. The desktop hard drive is connected to the primary IDE channel. If you connect the laptop hard drive to the same cable there could be a conflict between drives. You can avoid the conflict and make it work if you set the desktop hard drive as a master and the laptop hard drive as a slave, but you’ll have to find a small jumper for the laptop hard drive and then find out with pins you have to short in order to set it as a slave drive. If you connect the laptop hard drive to the same cable with the desktop hard drive without configuring drives, most likely both drives will be conflicting each other and one of the drives or both of them will not be detected.

  6. Ok I have a dell Inspiron 1200, the Hd crashed, so I bought a new one, about a week after the HD crashed, the cd/dvd drive also crashed so I have no access to the cd drawer.

    I have access to a IDE adapter and think I am going to use it however I need a little more of an explanation on what to connect to in my desktop to have the desktop see the laptop’s HD, above you said connect the IDE adapter cable to IDE 2 is that on the motherboard or is that the same IDE cable that is connected to the harddrive on my desktop the cable has a second connection point on the cable.( I think that is used for a slave ) I have not opened the tower yet and maybe should have looked before asking but I thought I would ask anyway.

  7. Hi again ….
    in my task manager, the system process is always running at 99% and my system is getting real slow .. any idea what the problem could be and how to fix it …
    My ram is fully functional ….
    I have repeatedly changed my hard disk …

    Any ideas????

  8. Thanks so much man .. Big Help ……

  9. Laptop Freak

    You’ll have to take ownership over the folder and files you are trying to transfer to the desktop computer. Apparently a lot of people experiencing the same problem trying to transfer files, so here I explained how to take ownership over folders and files.

  10. Hi ..
    My laptop OS crashed suddenly .. I have no recovery cd’s . I have some documents that i need to transfer real urgently, so i connected the laptop hd to an external case and tried copying it to my desktop. But it says access denied cause my documents ere passord protected on my laptop …
    Is there any ay to go around this???????
    Please Help …..

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