Tutorial: How To Slave A SATA Hard Drive Via USB


So a few years a ago I wrote a post on how to slave an IDE hard drive internally into a tower. While this is still very useful information, with so many people not having access to the internal tower or with people trying to use their laptops or even worse someone else’s laptop/desktop computer USB has become a more viable option. So here is a new revised How To Slave A Hard Drive blog.

First just like before we are going to need to remove the affected (nice word for broken) drive from what ever machine is holding it hostage. If it is a tower then the original How To slave a Hard Drive post will work just fine to get the drive out. If it is a laptop then please see the How To Slave a Laptop Hard Drive post.

Ok so now that we have the hard drive out of the machine lets move on to turning it into external USB storage, like your own personal My Book.

usb_chassis

Above you will see what I consider just your standard run of the mill USB enclosure. You can usually pick these up for 25-45 bucks depending on where you go to get one. Walmart, Bestbuy, and CompUSA all sell them.

Now there is going to be some way to open the box up depending on which brand you bought.

usb_chassis_open

One piece is the case and the other is what we need to hook the hard drive to. Lets grab the hard drive hook up piece or the GUTS if you like.

usb_chassis_guts

Now you can see here that I have an IDE cable but NOT SATA which now-a-days could be a real problem with out the proper adapter to go with it. Generally when they sell these chassis they are going to come with everything you need in order to be able to plug in any hard drive type i.ex. IDE, SATA, LAPTOP IDE, LAPTOP SATA. Make sure when you buy the enclosure that your drive is supported or that you get the adapter you will need in order to make it work.  Below see a picture of my adapter.

adapter_front

This is the side that plugs into the enclosure.

adapter_back

This side plugs into the SATA hard drive.

adapter_connected_chassis

Here we see that I have connected the IDE to SATA connector to the internal power and IDE cable on the enclosure.

sata_connection_hard_drive

This is the underside of the SATA hard driveand where we will need to connect the IDE to SATA adapter.

connecting_hard_drive

Now, i take the end of the adapter that will fit in to the hard drive and connect the drive to the enclosure.

enclosure_done

When you are done it should look something like this. Now if this is for Hard Drive recovery purposes then I would advise not stuffing it back into the case part of the enclosure. If this is for you to use as an external hard drive there are a few things I would like to say.

  1. Make sure it has a good size fan in it.
  2. It should be made of aluminum
  3. The chassis with the mesh covers are awesome, excellent for airflow!

Ok so taking the idea that I am using this to recover my data I now need to connect the USB cable and the power. Buying one with its own external power is a good idea because then you are not dependant on the port to power the drive.

usb_cable

Once you plug it in you should hear the oh so familiar USB device connected BONG sound. If this is just an issue that the drive tried to boot and can not then it is likely you will have full access to the data on the drive. If not then you will more then likely need some kind of data recovery software or maybe even to have me Remote in and fix the drive for you. Either way I hope this helps, and post a comment if you need clarification on anything.

Comments

  1. Hi Jacqui Best,

    I read your tutorial on “Tutorial: How To Slave A SATA Hard Drive Via USB”. I think this will fit my situation, but, I need clarification if it will actually work for me. Let me explain. I have two pc’s, one using the OS Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and one with Windows Vista OS. The pc with Win XP, the Motherboard went out. I took the SATA HD from it and connected it to the next free SATA connector in my Vista system. It is working fine as Drive Letter K in my system. I left the pc open, with the drive connected to make sure it actually would accept it. I can take off the front panel and put it in a empty expansion bay and then put the side and front panels back on. But, I mainly just want to access the data (documents, photos, videos, etc.). Instead of going through all of that, would your tutorial work for me? If so, then I can go and buy the Standard USB External Chassis, that can be used with originally a Internal SATA HD, for the sole purpose of retrieveing the above mentioned data. Using the external chassis instead of a free SATA connection on my motherboard, would my Vista pc accept it this way even though there is the Windows XP os on it? Appreciate any comments you may have that will clarify the easiest way to go about this. Thankyou.

    • Richard,

      Yes this is a perfect situation to use the above post. The only thing I would caustion you about is to make sure you are fully booted in to VISTA before you connect the drive since some of the newer BIOS will try and boot from USB devices and that could cause an issue. Hope that helps!

  2. Hi Jacqui

    Thank you for your reply confirming that this tutorial fits my situation as I described in my reply to your tutorial. Now, could you clarify one more thing for me? Could you paste the following link and go to the walmart website and tell me if this is what I need?

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Startech-USB-to-SATA-External-Hard-Drive-Docking-Station-for-2.5-or-3.5-HDD/14291553?findingMethod=rr

    Again, thankyou for your assistance; I awaiting your e-mail.

    Richard (lbcbbank@aol.com)

  3. i have read your tutorials yet, i have something i have not seen covered. i have a 2.5 laptop sata hard drive that i have mounted in a usb chassis from a windows 7 x86 system. when i hook it up to my windows 7 x64 system and use windows disc management to find the drive it shows up unallocated. and tells me it must be initialized before continuing. when i try to it fails saying the device is not ready. so i can not see the data on it. it shows the drive in device manager and i can bring up properties for it. when i populate the volume it shows info about size but nothing on volume. i have down loaded your demo of recover it all but it is not seeing the drive. not sure what to do now, any ideas?

  4. I am trying to slave my old desk top hard drive using an external case and USB cable but it isn’t showing up on my computer and causes that window to lock up. I can go to the disk manager and it shows up there but cannot access the drive. how can I get my files off of this hard drive?

    What I want you to do is go in to the disk management utility and see if the device is showing up there. It is likely that the problem is one with the file system so there for in “MY COMPUTER” the drive will not be reflected. The way you can get to disk management is by right clickong on my computer and going to MANAGE. You will see “Disk Manager” in that screen. Now from here if the machine is seeing the drive but not mounting it with adrive letter we have alot of options for getting your data off. Just let me know what the next step is

  5. I have an 320GB external SATA HD which I have been using as my backup and storage disk and it was giving me some Delayed Write Failed and E:\$MFT errors. After getting those errors, I was unable to access the files on this drive. The USB Mass Storage drive was being recognized by the computer but it was not being mounted to a drive letter.

    I used an adapter to connect the SATA drive through my IDE USB case, as you showed in this article, and the drive is now being recognized by the computer.

    However, the drive is slowing everything on the computer down (except my browser) and although I can copy and paste to and from it, that process has become extremely slow, meaning I cannot use it as my main storage or backup drive in this condition.

    What do you suggest I do in order to restore the drive to its former state?

    Thank you.

    • Cindy,
      This is not something you can make a come back from. I would get my data off of that asap! They drive is displaying signs of failure and I believe soon you will be unable to use the hard disk at all. If It is still in warranty I would look in to getting an RMA# from the drive maker and sending it back to them for a replacement. Hope this helps!
      -Jacqui

  6. Hi,
    I am building my own computer soon and am wondering if you can use a usb hard drive instead of a sata hard drive, because i only have an 80gb sata hard drive but have a 500gb usb one.
    Thanks

  7. Hi

    I am doing some research to be able to use my failed hard drive (From Dell XPS laptop, the hd is Samsung) to use as a slave in order to retrieve a bunch of really important data. This article is really what I was looking for.

    Somewhere I read that you have to physically do something to the hard disk to make it a slave. Otherwise, the computer will recognize it as a master. Can you please explain that part for me, please?
    Thanks.
    RAZZ

    • Raj,

      With SATA you just have to plug it into the right port on the motherboard.

      They should be labeled SATA0 SATA1 SATA2 etc.. with sata 0 being the first one. Your boot drive is more then likely plugged in there so I would guess any other port will work.

  8. Hi Jacqui,

    My hard-drive crashed last August and I was hoping to retrieve my data. I just lost all my contacts on an old Palm Zire 71 and the only other recovery would be to get the data off my hard-drive along with my documents.

    What do you recommend?

  9. Jacqui,

    I have a Maxtor III One Touch external HD that suddenly wasn’t recognized by my computer. I’ve since removed it from the case and put it in a new case. While all seems fine (I get the noise that indicates it’s being recognized by my computer) it still does NOT show up as a drive.

    In Disk Manager it appears as “Disk 5″. I try to initialize it but keep getting a “cyclic redundancy” error.

    What to do?

    • Jacqui Best says:

      KJW,

      “cyclic redundancy” error (or CRC) is bad reads from the drive. This is a physical fault with the hard drive and cant be fixed with software or just slaving the drive.

  10. Just a quick question – I have an external hard that I use to store pictures. It is not working. I get a message to format it. A friend suggested a usb slave kit to try to remove the pictures. Any thoughts on this? I am not comfortable doing a lot of hands on stuff with the hardware but have family that are.

    • Jacqui Best says:

      Billie,

      I would say that youre friend is right it is a good idea to hook up externally and then from there you may have to run data recovery software but in the end it should save you a couple hundred bucks.

  11. Hi Jacqui

    Thank you for your wonderful explain,
    Hope you an help me
    I have a laptop with win7 ultimate [(First HD= A) has divide to C:\, D:\, E:\ AND F:\ ] and i want to connect another 2.5 Sata HD to it, this (the second=B) has also win7 and it also divide it as C:\ , D:\ and E:\
    both of A and B has data.
    Now first is there any problem or how to do that with two hard disk with two 2OS installed (hope am clear)
    Second does C:\ on B do anything to C:\ on A when then connected, and same for d,e,and f.

    I wish am transferring you the right matter, sorry for my hard time.
    Thanks,
    Billo

    • Jacqui Best says:

      Billo,

      As long as in the bios you pick which drive you want to have be the boot drive then your should be fine. One should not mess with the other and the same is true for the other non boot partitions. Hope that helps. -Jacqui

  12. I have a HP laptop and bought the second hard drive with caddy and cable. The OEM hard drive is working fine (most of your comments are related to non-working hard drives). I want to know how to slave the second hard drive while the first one is master? Do I go through BIOS? Either way, tell me more. I need help. Thanks

    • Jacqui Best says:

      Joan,
      If the hard drive has a caddy and a cable then it should just plug into the USB port of the drive. With SATA there really is no master slave, it is based on what you select as far as boot device priority in the BIOS as well as which sata port you connect the drive to.

  13. Hi Jacqui

    Lots of very helpful comments here but not sure if it fits my situation.

    My external hard drive failed, it plugs in via USB. It failed when I was copying files over to it and I think I may have copied too much, maxed it out and busted up the file tree?

    When I try to access the hard drive it tells me I need to format. I’m not sure if I can slave the hard drive as it simply plugs into my USB port. I do not think it is a physical problem. I have very important backups on there I would love to access, any ideas?

    Kind regards,

    Matthew

    • Jacqui Best says:

      Matthew,

      In this situation the drive is already a slave (kind of) so I would say try data recovery software on it. Something like Recover it all should work well.

  14. Heinz Neutzner says:

    Hello Jacqui,

    I’ve got a weird problem. I had to buy a new router (Linksys E3200) and after it was up and running on my network, I tried to access my LaCie 500GB Ethernet Mini (a Hitachi drive). The Explorer window of my Windows 7 PC wouldn’t allow me access (it didn’t even show up under the Network line).

    I have taken the drive apart and hooked it up with an external SATA to USB connector and that doesn’t work either. The drive appears to working (spinning), and when I plug it into a USB port is loads drivers as it should and even displays the correct nomenclature of the drive, but that’s as far as it goes. No drive letter appears and no access to any of the files is granted.

    I would sure love to get the data off that drive. Thanks for anything you can recommend.

    • Jacqui Best says:

      Heinz,
      Those NAS (Network attached storage) devices have their own file systems on them so the drive will not mount when connected directly to the machine. The only thing I can recommend trying is reloading the lacie software on the windows 7 box. Let me know how it works out!

  15. Jacqui,
    My HP desktop running WinXPpro just died (motherboard bit the dust). I removed the 2 hard drives (had mirrored RAID) and ordered a USB-SATA adapter. Is there any way I can plug this into my other Win7 machine and use one of the old drives to run XP (as a separate boot drive) this way so I don’t need to get all new programs?
    Thanks for your help.

  16. Pierre P. Bonasso says:

    I have a HD which I would like to slave. There are 4 positions for the jumpers. At the moment the jumpers are in a position labeled: “Cable Select”. The other positions are:
    - “Device 0 (Master)”
    - “Device 1 (Slave)”
    - “Device 1 (Slave) Present”

    Which one should I select to make the HD slave in an other PC.
    Thanks Pierre

    • Hi Pierre,
      You can leave the jumper on CS. This jumper setting will automatically detect where it is on the cable and set itself to that designation.

  17. Vinod Rowmuria says:

    Hi Jacqui,

    Thank you for this useful post.
    I have one issue. It seems that my ‘Standard USB External Chassis’ system is not working as I am not able to see my HDD in my laptop’s file system. What could be the problem? One thing to mention here, I lost my jumper, so I am connecting the HDD without the jumper. Could that be a problem? Please help.

    Regards, Vinod

    • Hi Vinod,
      You should still be able to see your hard drive. Just to make sure you can look on the front of the hard drive and find another jumper and set it as cable select or master. However, if your hard drive is still not recognized in the computer the hard drive itself may be failing.

  18. i have a 500gb WD external hard drive. i was using it as a backup for my old laptop running xp. i now have a new laptop that runs windows 7 and when i hook the harddrive up it says the drive must be formatted then warns that all data will be erased. how do i recover? will the docking station work? ive already removed the drive from the western digital enclosure. im about to go buy a new docking station. are there any tricks i should know? all i want to do is transfer files to the new laptop. thanks!

  19. Hi guys,

    I am connecting a sata 2.5 external enclosure to my laptop but it is not being recognized at all. The red light on the enclosure turns on and the hard drive inside it sounds lively enough but it is not appearing anywhere in My Computer or Device Management.

    Has anyone experienced a similar problem or have a solution for this?

    Thanks,

    Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      Try looking in Disk Management. Disk Management is different then Device Management. You can right mouse click on your My Computer icon and select manage. When the dialog box appears there will be an option on the left for Disk Management. If it’s not there or you have already tried this only one of two things can be happening. 1.) The enclosure or usb cable is bad. 2.) The hard drive itself is bad.
      You can try another USB plug or enclosure or even plug the drive into a PC SATA port as a slave drive. If non of this works your hard drive is faulty.
      Thanks.
      Dave

  20. Hi:
    I believe my internal hard drive on my Dell XPS 420, Vista os, has died. Would I be able to slave the drive to my Gateway laptop? If so, would you please share your knowledge? I do not think I am very techy, so it will need to be very simply put. My Gateway has Windows 7 and no Office Suite. I desperately need to recover all of my Outlook files and folders for work.
    Thank you so very much for any help you are able to provide.
    Robin

  21. Hello,
    My pogo plug suddenly stopped working and I could not able to access data thru it any more. I am trying to access the pogoplug Sata drive from USB sata external drive docking station. I see many drive letters ( example, K thru P) on my laptop but I do not see any files or folders in them. I checked the properties by right clicking on the drive but I see 0 gb used on them. Could you please assist me here if I am doing anything wrong. Thank you.

    • Hi Jack,
      I am not sure what the problem is; however, if you go to Disk Management you should see the full size if the drive. If you do not see the full size of the drive the drive itself may be failing. In the case of a failing hard drive software recover will not work.
      thanks.

  22. matt telder says:

    Hey there I read your post and I have a dell studio xps laptop that the hard drive failed in Idk what kind of hard drive is inside it but will any of those external USB things work for it probably or do I need to open it up and find out what drive is inside it? Thanks

  23. Hi Dave,

    First of all, thanks so much for providing your comments and insight. This thread is one of the most helpful I have seen regarding use of SATA drives and usb enclosures.

    Two weeks ago my dell vostro windows 7 laptop power jack failed. I explored various options and decided not to have the power jack fixed when I could buy a brand new laptop for only $100-ish dollars more that what the pj would cost to fix. I was told by tech forum people that I could just pick up a SATA drive dock station and plug it in via usb to rescue my hard drive data and roll it to a new computer.

    I just bought a Toshiba Windows 8 laptop. I went to Best Buy for the dock drive, they didn’t have one but said a SATA 2.5 enclosure would do the same thing. I bought the enclosure (DYNEX) and installed my old windows 7 hard drive – which again, was functioning just fine up until my power jack failed recently.

    I plugged the enclosure into my usb 3 port. It made the “bong” noise the blue light came on the drive signalling the drive was powered on and available. However, it didn’t get assigned a letter and become available to browse . It shows up in the “devices and printers” window as USB storage, and shows up in the device manager under USB devices as USB mass storage. There is no option to browse it.

    I then did a little research and plugged it into my usb 2 port. Same thing, only this time it popped up for a split second in MY Computer as drive E, but then disappeared. It still showed up in the “devices and printers” window as USB storage, but this time when right clicking gave the option to browse drive. When I chose that option, drive E was the only thing listed there but was grayed out and unavailable. I safely ejected, and have no idea where to go from here.

    I got on the phone with the tech support at DYNEX, who told me the enclosure wasn’t backwards windows compatible, and would only work with a windows 7 computer since my old drive is windows 7. That doesn’t see correct. Best Buy Geek Squad told me I could pay $149 for them to explore the problem, but no guarantee fix and they didn’t say if they thought it was an os problem, like wrong drivers or commnication, or a hard drive problem.

    Is there anything I can do from here, or try as a fix before I have to spend another couple of hundred dollars, which I’m not wild about doing since I just paid for a new laptop? I would like to just retrieve my documents/pictures/videos/ebooks from my old HD.

    Any suggestions are super appreciated! Thanks!

    • Julie,

      I am not a huge fan of that particular enclosure so you may want to try a different brand or just getting a USB to SATA cable. Also have you pulled up windows disk manager and seen if the drive is showing up there? Right now it seems that the enclosure is seen but not the drive. Since the drive was working that again points to a problem with the enclosure.

  24. Hi Jacqui,

    I m having laptop’s hard disk of 320GB.

    1) it had bad sectors (later came to know)
    2) 4 partitioned volmues deleted unknowing. disk became fully unallocated.
    3) Unable to reallocate now.
    4) In EaseUS Data recovery partitioned space is showing but unable to recover it.
    5) By doing “complete search” only few data recovered.

    Now, whats the solution? I need my data

    Suggestions are Appreciated.

  25. Hi there,

    I appreciate your assistance to all. here is my case, please guide me through:

    My laptop was not booting, it needed windows 7 repair but that wasn’t working either, I took it to a store near me and they said that the WD HDD is damaged and it needs replacement, so I did.

    I also purchased the enclosure hoping for data recovery, if possible.

    I do get a clicking noise, so there is a good chance that it is a hardware problem, however, when I do to disk management, I can see Disk 2 but it is not initialized and unallocated. The size is wrong as well as it assumes that it is a 2 TB while as I remember it was only 500GB.

    is my driver dead, or there is still some hope into it?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Jake,
      Misreporting of size, clicking , etc can be signs of the drive having a bad green board. I would recommend sending to a data recovery clean room like ours in order to have the data recovery done.

  26. Hi,

    I’ve got 2 USB external HDD caddies 1 with 500BG and the other a 320GB when i try to connect both of them to a laptop it will recognise one then tell me that the other needs formatting. Is there a way that the laptop can see both? if i plug 1 of them into another laptop they both work fine and i can copy data over my network but i need them to both work on the same machine. They are both SATA USB. If i plug one of them in and then another External WD usb drive in that i bought as a “all in one” type thing that works with one of the caddies. Any ideas?

    cheers

    Will695

  27. saajan shah says:

    sir,if i connect 3.5 internal hdd to laptop by using SATA to USB2.0 connector then is it necessary to supply external power through adapter ?can’t we supply power to hdd using double USB2.0 cable to laptop. I have one connector(one male 1394 connector with two male USB2.0).can i plug 1394 male connector to 1394 female connnector (provided with some special casing) of hdd and two male USB2.0 connector to DELL D 630 ?

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