Thursday, May 22, 2008

USB to IDE Adapter?

As a computer user, you need a way of transferring data from one computer to another. How many times have you needed to take the data from an old hard drive? What a hassle it is to open up the computer and add the drive just to get some data off it. There is a better way. It is called a usb to ide adapter.

What is a usb to ide adapter? First off, let me start by saying that there are usb to ide/sata adapters out there that support IDE and SATA drives, but for sake of brevity, I will refer to them generically as usb to ide adapters. Anyway, a usb to ide adapter is a device that connects to a hard drive or CD/DVD and allows you to access them via a computer's usb port. Simply put, it translates the IDE commands and data to usb format for the PC to access the device without installing it physically in the computer. That is pretty neat, isn't it?

How do I use this adapter? I am glad you asked. The adapter has an IDE connector on one side and the other side has a usb connector. You simply plug the IDE connector into the device you want to access. Hard drives also need to be set to master or single drive mode. You accomplish this by setting the jumper on the drive. There is a picture on the label that shows you where to put the jumper. Some Western Digital drives require you to remove the jumper entirely. Once you have the adapter plugged in, you must also plug the power cable into the connector next to the data cable. This is very simple because the connectors are shaped differently and mixing them up is not possible.

Once all the connections to the drive are complete, plug the cable into any available usb port on your computer. Plug in the power supply for the adapter. You should hear the drive spin up. There will be some gentle clicking and whirring sounds. If you are using Windows XP, you will hear a po-dink sound as the adapter is recognized. In the lower right corner, you will see messages like "Drive Found", or the model number of the drive will flash by. Eventually, if all is well, you will get a message saying that the device is ready to use.

Windows will assign a drive letter to a drive that is already formatted. From the file explorer, you can now copy and delete files. You can also reformat the drive if you want. Any regular drive function can be performed via the usb interface.

Your usb to ide adapter can also be used to diagnose problematic Windows installations. If you plug a drive into the usb to ide adapter that was used to boot a PC, you can now use disk utilities to fix the problems. You can also access files that would normally be locked by Windows. This allows great flexibility because you can modify/repair Windows system files and user data. Before doing any operations on system files, use your backup software to create a complete image of your hard drive just in case you goof something up.

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