If for some reason your notebook fails to boot and you need to access data on the hard drive (I assume there is nothing wrong with the hard drive itself), you can use an external USB enclosure. This method is very simple and could be very useful when you need an emergency access to your data on the hard drive.
First of all you’ll have to buy an external USB enclosure for notebook hard drives. These enclosures are inexpensive and usually you can buy them in any local computer store. You also can find a wide variety of external enclosures on the Internet. Make sure to buy a correct one, enclosures for ATA and SATA hard drives are different (the connector inside the case will be different). Usually the enclosure includes the case and the USB cables.

External USB enclosure

Now remove the hard drive from the laptop. For this example I’m using an ATA hard drive.

Notebook hard drive

Open up the enclosure case and connect the hard drive to the connector inside. After that insert the hard drive into the case.

Assemble enclosure

After everything is assembled, you are ready to connect this device to any working computer (notebook or PC). The enclosure cable usually has two USB connectors on one end, make sure both of them are connected to the computer. You don’t need any external power supply for the enclosure because the hard drive gets power through USB ports. If the computer you are connecting the enclosure to runs Windows 2000 or higher, you will not need any device drivers. As soon as you connect the enclosure to the computer, the external hard drive should be detected and recognized automatically. After that the external hard drive will appear in My Computer and you can access it as any other hard drive in the computer.

Connect enclosure to computer

If you are getting “Access denied” message when you are trying to access your files on the hard drive, you’ll have to take ownership of a file or folder

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My previous post explains how to connect a notebook hard drive to a desktop PC via IDE hard drive adapter.

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148 Comments

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  1. 108
    Steve Says:

    I have a question I fear I know the answer to. I have just had to replace the hard drive on a relatively new Dell latitude. I have been down this road before, but had a little warning. My problem is that I have some e-mails, buried in Outlook (not exported into files) which I really would like to access. I don’t believe Outlook on a USB drive can be opened. They must be stored as a file, w a name in Outlook. Anyone know a way I can access them? names?

  2. 107
    Amanda Says:

    Hey i am having the same problem as Tim and Derek…. i have a Dell and the adapter is covering it… Do i literally just pull the plastic piece off?? i really do not want to break the hard drive.. any advice?

  3. 106
    cj2600 Says:

    Derek,

    Do you have a part number for this external HD enclosure? I have looked everywhere for one that specifically fits a Dell Latitude X1 laptop hard drive.

    You don’t have to search for this particular enclosure. Is it a 1.8″ hard drive you have installed in your laptop?
    Just google for “1.8″ enclosure usb” and you’ll find it.

  4. 105
    Derek Says:

    Do you have a part number for this external HD enclosure? I have looked everywhere for one that specifically fits a Dell Latitude X1 laptop hard drive.

  5. 104
    cj2600 Says:

    Derek,

    Is there an adapter to plug the hard drive from a Dell Latitude X1 laptop into a usb port on another laptop? It has a female IDE connection of some sort.

    You’ll have to use an external USB enclosure. Install the laptop hard drive into the enclosure and connect to the USB port on another computer. The hard drive will appear in My Computer.

  6. 103
    Derek Says:

    Is there an adapter to plug the hard drive from a Dell Latitude X1 laptop into a usb port on another laptop? It has a female IDE connection of some sort.

  7. 102
    Adam Says:

    I had the access problem and rebooted with the enclosure plugged in.

    XP ran the checkdisk program and fixed the security problem along with a few other indexing errors that occurred when the hard drive crashed.

    After the checkdisk scan, I had no problems accessing the enclosed hard drive.

  8. 101
    ximan Says:

    Hi.I have a dead ACER ASPIRE 1642 with a damaged power connector and i want to take the data from the disk.But i cannot find what type of external usb enclosure i have to buy.I mean what type of hard disk has an ACER ASPIRE 1642?
    Thanx!

  9. 100
    Tim Says:

    Hello again. I just put together my laptop HDD and the HDD enclosure but when I plugged it into my computer Windows XP automatically ran the add hardware wizard and says I need a USB to IDE bridge driver. it couldnt find the neccesary driver with windows update and the enclosure never came with software. I also cannot access the drive in My Computer. Do you know of any way to get this to work without a driver or know where I can get a driver? I have contacted the Hong Kong based company that I bought it from but hey go figure, they were no help. Anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated. If you need more info or specs please let me know.

  10. 99
    toolio Says:

    I have pulled my hard drive from my Pavillion 6000 series laptop.
    Once I put it into a case and connect to my desktop via USB, will I be able to access the emails from my former Inbox (MS Outlook)?

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