How to Access Files on a Windows 10 with Old Hard Drive.
You’ve found an old hard drive from another computer and are desperate to know what’s on it. It can be fun to walk through memory and find old data you’ve completely forgotten about, but getting old drives to work with new Windows 10 computers can be tricky.
This article will show you how to access files on your old hard drive using a Windows 10 PC.
What Type of Drive Is It?
Before you do anything, you need to determine the type of hard drive that you have access to. The drive will most likely be one of two types. Older drives may use the IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) PATA (Parallel AT Attachment) standard with a connector that looks like this:
More modern drives are likely to have this SATA (Serial AT Attachment) connector:
Depending on the type of your computer, you may need data cable and power cable converters for these types of drives in order for your computer to talk to them.
You can also have a 3.5 “or 2.5” drive. Smaller 2.5 “drives do not require special connectors if they are SATA, but if you have a 2.5″ PATA drive, you will need the correct adapter as the pinouts for these drives are different from desktop versions.
These 2.5 ” PATA notebook drives use a dedicated 44-pin connector that is physically smaller than the desktop version, so keep that in mind when looking for hardware to connect to your system.
Connect the Drive Internally
If you have a desktop computer, the easiest way to access files on your old hard drive with a new Windows 10 computer is to install it as an additional drive. You don’t have to do this all the time, just remove the side panel of your desktop and connect it using any available free power and data cables. Just install the disc when the computer is turned off!
If you have a computer without IDE PATA connectors for such a drive, you need to purchase a PATA to SATA converter. Also, keep in mind that IDE PATA drives have a jumper system on the back, where you have to physically move the jumper to select one of the following three options:
- Master: to which the terminal drive is connected PATA connector on the cable.
- Slave: where the drive is connected to the secondary slot in the middle of the ribbon cable.
- Cable Select: where the drive is trying to figure out which connector is automatically enabled.
If you are using an adapter to connect to SATA, either Master or Cable Select will usually work.
If you are using a laptop, we do not recommend installing the drive inside (assuming you have a compatible bay) unless you really want to use it all the time. It’s too difficult to open your laptop to install a disc that you will only be using temporarily. Instead, you should consider external connectivity.
Connect the Drive With an External Adapter
Whether you have a desktop or laptop computer, using an external adapter is the easiest way to connect your old drive to a new Windows 10 computer. The most common type converts a drive connection to a USB connection, providing both data and power in one convenient package.
USB to SATA adapter
There are two types of connectors for external USB storage. One is a fully enclosed enclosure that converts an internal drive to an external drive for long-term use. Another type of connector completely removes the case, leaving only the cable and connector. This is ideal if you need to check multiple drives or you only want to access the drive for data transfer.
If the Drive Doesn’t Show
If you are trying to access files on an old hard drive and the drive does not appear as expected, there are a few basic troubleshooting steps you can take to fix the problem:
- Is installed correctly jumper on IDE PATA drives?
- Make sure the data and power cables are properly inserted and not damaged.
- Is the disc spinning or making no noise at all?
Sometimes external USB drives won’t show up simply due to drive letter conflict or other fairly simple reasons. Our article “External hard drive does not appear on Windows or OS X” has a few tricks you can try.
Taking Ownership of Files
Once you plug the drive into your computer correctly, it will appear on your system like any other drive. If it is a format that Windows understands, you should see all files and folders stored on the disk.
However, you may run into an issue where Windows tells you that you do not have permission to access files and folders on the disk. The solution can be as simple as granting administrator rights if required, but in some cases you need to take ownership of the files. This is a Windows security feature that prevents one user from accessing or tampering with files belonging to another user.
Don’t worry, you don’t need elite hacking skills to pick this particular lock. It only takes a few minutes to change the owner of a file or folder. Go to the “How to change the owner of a file or folder in Windows” section and you will have immediate access to these files.
Signs the Old Drive Isn’t Working Properly
When stored for a long time or when used for a long time, the mechanical hard disk may fail. If the drive appears alive but data transfer takes an incredibly long time or makes a loud click, it could be a sign that it is on its way to the hard drive’s afterlife.
If your hard drive contains vital information, you can spend some money on professional data recovery. In addition, the book How to Extract Files from a Dead Hard Drive has some ideas on how to retrieve data from a dead hard drive.
Remember to Check Your Boot Order
If the disk that you removed from the old machine turns out to be a system disk. It may happen that the new computer tries to boot from the old disk! Obviously, this won’t work very well, so if it does, you should change the boot order to ensure it boots from the correct disk.
This is mostly a problem when installing to an internal drive. If you’re using USB, just wait for Windows to boot before plugging in the drive.
Dispose of Drives Properly
Are you going to use them after you restore data from the old disk? Some older drives may still function as a repurposed external drive or additional internal drive. However, most of them will be outdated or too old to be trusted. This means that you probably want to throw it away.
However, before you do that, be sure to read Hard Drive Cleanup in 4 Easy Steps. As well as 5 tools that can permanently destroy your data for every major OS. To make sure you don’t accidentally leave personal information where no one can find it.
Also, don’t throw your disc in the trash can. Do a quick Internet search for your nearest e-waste recycling facility and take them there.
How to Access Files on a Windows 10 with Old Hard Drive
How to Access Files on a Windows 10 with Old Hard Drive