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  • How to Extract Data from an Old Hard Drive
Technology Articles > Hardware > Hard Drives and Burners > How to Extract Data from an Old Hard Drive

Best Way to Extract Data From an Old Hard Drive

If you have a stack of old hard drives sitting in the corner of your office waiting for the day when you can effectively extract data from them, you’re not alone. Most people have at least one hard drive that can’t be tossed out without saving some data. The question is, how do you remove that data without causing any damage to yourself or to the drive? Take a look.

Enter the Hard Drive Adapter Cable

Select an adapter/converter cable that makes mounting a hard drive simple. The converter type that you want to buy should include both an adapter and power supply, so that you don’t have to scramble to figure out how to power a drive (some of the cheaper ones do not come with a power supply option, but these are a lot harder to use, since it means finding your own power source).

After setting up the cable correctly (this shouldn’t be too hard, and you can follow basic instructions), you can then plug the adapter into a USB port on your computer, plug in the adapter, and then flip the power switch. Once you’ve connected the adapter and turned on the power supply, the old drive should show up in Windows in the form of a removable drive.

Possible Trouble Spots

The biggest issue that people run into when trying to extract data from a drive using an adapter is an OS that isn’t compatible with the drive. If this is the case, the adapter will not work, and you’ll have to find a computer that can read the drive. The other problem that you may run into is a drive that is damaged, and cannot be read. If the drive is damaged, it will be hard to extract any details from it.

It’s also possible that your computer may flash a quick ‘you don’t have permission to access this data’ window when you click on a folder inside of the drive. If this happens, just hit the ‘continue’ button. One click of that button should allow you to access the folder without issue. The other possibility is that the adapter is not set up correctly, but this is an easy fix (just read the instructions as they pertain to the drive you are working with.

The Cost of an Adapter (and Where to Buy One)

You should be able to pick up an adapter that includes a power supply for around $30 (more if you live outside of the U.S). You can find these adapters at Amazon, NewEgg, Staples, and some other stores. Just make sure that you get one with a power source, and don’t let a salesperson talk you into an option that doesn’t include a power source (otherwise, you may have to scramble a bit to work it all out, and who wants that?).

Removing data from an old hard drive isn’t as complicated as it might seen. It’s not advisable to go digging around inside the drive to extract data that way, and an adapter is really the simplest solution to this issue. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a note here.