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. 118
    cj2600 Says:

    Govind,

    My computer has sound problems ,also if i wear head phone ,so what shall i do

    First of all, try reinstalling the audio driver. It should be available for downloads from the manufacturer’s website.

  2. 117
    Govind Says:

    My computer has sound problems ,also if i wear head phone ,so what shall i do

  3. 116
    cj2600 Says:

    Kelly,

    I’m hoping someone will be able to help me out. I bought a NexStar TX external enclosure for my laptop hard drive today. It is showing up as a drive in My Computer but when I try to open it, it says it must be formatted first. Also it won’t open when I right click it either. It shows up under My Computer management but under file system it is blank. How should I proceed to get my files off this thing?

    Probably the file structure is corrupted.
    You’ll have to try scanning the hard drive with data recovery software. I usually use Get Data Back (made by Runtime software).
    This software works great and it’s cheap compare to other data recovery software.
    Make sure to use the right version: GetDataBack for NTFS or GetDataBack for FAT. Depends on the type of file system you had on the drive.

  4. 115
    Kelly Says:

    Hi there,
    I’m hoping someone will be able to help me out. I bought a NexStar TX external enclosure for my laptop hard drive today. It is showing up as a drive in My Computer but when I try to open it, it says it must be formatted first. Also it won’t open when I right click it either. It shows up under My Computer management but under file system it is blank. How should I proceed to get my files off this thing? It is a Vista hd in the external, trying to load on a computer with 98…not sure if that matters or not? Thanks in advance for any help :)

  5. 114
    cj2600 Says:

    Warren,

    I have placed my old (Windows Vista) notebook HDD in a NexStar-SX enclosure and connected it to my new (Windows 7) notebook. The enclosure appears to be working fine and it is recognized as a device on my control panel. However the old connected HDD is not showing up as a lettered disk drive on my new notebook. Can anyone help?

    Sometimes, after connecting an external drive, you have to restart the PC. Have you tried that?
    Take a look at your external drive in Disk Management (found in Computer Management). What does it say? Can you see file system (probably NTFS) shown on the drive?

  6. 113
    Warren Says:

    I have placed my old (Windows Vista) notebook HDD in a NexStar-SX enclosure and connected it to my new (Windows 7) notebook. The enclosure appears to be working fine and it is recognized as a device on my control panel. However the old connected HDD is not showing up as a lettered disk drive on my new notebook. Can anyone help? Thanks.

  7. 112
    Anna Says:

    Dear sir

    Thank you very much for your advice. It sounds simple. :)
    I think I can manage to do that.

    Anna

  8. 111
    cj2600 Says:

    Anna,

    I have an old laptop which is completely dead. The power socket is broken so I can’t switch it on anyway. I don’t have a desktop which I can transfer the laptop hard driver to. Is it possible to copy the laptop hard driver to a new external hard driver?

    The best way would be buying an external USB enclosure. After that you remove the laptop hard drive and install it into the enclosure. You can connect this enclosure to any other desktop PC or laptop via USB cables.

    I recently bought a netbook(only 1 GB memory capacity though.Is there any way I can use this netbook instead of using a desktop?

    Yes. You can connect the external enclosure with hard drive to the netbook and transfer files.

  9. 110
    Anna Says:

    Dear Sir

    I have an old laptop which is completely dead. The power socket is broken so I can’t switch it on anyway. I don’t have a desktop which I can transfer the laptop hard driver to. Is it possible to copy the laptop hard driver to a new external hard driver?( I am thinking of buying one if I need it.) I recently bought a netbook(only 1 GB memory capacity though.Is there any way I can use this netbook instead of using a desktop? I don’t know the differences between the external USB closure and the external hard driver. Could you kindly explain to me please?

    Please, help me.
    Anna

  10. 109
    cj2600 Says:

    Steve,

    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?

    The file name is Outlook.pst
    The location depends on the version of Outlook, but you can search the hard drive for “.pst” files.
    After you find the file, import it into new Outlook installation.

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