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Recovering data from a 3.5" SATA HDD

OptyOpty Registered User regular
My desktop PC recently died but I need to access files that are on my hard drive for a trip I'm taking a week from now. Since there's not enough time to plan out and build a new PC in addition to all of the prep work I need to do for the trip, I want to get a USB enclosure to put my HDD in so I can grab what I need. Does anyone have any advice on what enclosures are the best for this sort of thing? Also, my HDD is partitioned into multiple drives using Windows 7, will the non-C: partitions still exist when viewing it through an enclosure or will I need to do something extra to make them show up?

Alternatively, is there any place I can take my HDD to and they'll just let me hook it up to a PC so I can grab what I need without needing to buy anything? I don't have any friends that I could do this with and I'm currently unemployed so doing it at work/with a work PC isn't a possibility either.


  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    Your two paragraphs are confusing. Do you want an enclosure that allows you to plug in a USB stick and have it pull everything off the hard drive? If so, I don't think those exist. Otherwise, any enclosure will do. You really only need the controller, so there are other options that don't employ a full enclosure. I'll see if I can dig up some links.

    You may have some luck talking to a data recovery/PC "mechanic" type place, but they will probably charge you a flat fee to pull off the data. Is there a chance you can travel with the drive and pull the files when you arrive at your destination?

    Any idea what died in the PC?

  • OptyOpty Registered User regular
    Yeah, I want to remove the HDD from its current tower and put it into an enclosure that lets it behave like a USB drive so I can pull data off of it. My main worry about that setup is that it won't recognize the partitions, but if there's no issue there then that's the route I'd likely go. If there might be an issue then I'll have to look into computer shops in my area and go the "mechanic" route.

    The problem with the computer is that it's shutting down on its own after a certain amount of time. The only possible culprits at this point are the GPU, CPU, RAM, or mobo, as outlined in my other thread here. I need to return the PSU I bought hoping it would be the solution to my problem and that'd be the perfect time to pick up an enclosure, so I'd like to know what you (or anyone else) recommends.

  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    Pretty much anything here will work. Yes, your partitions/file structure will be preserved.

    I recommend the Anker model.

  • OptyOpty Registered User regular
    Oh wow, I didn't even know there were standalone cables like that. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • GdiguyGdiguy San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    Yep, those work great

    The usual caveats about working with hard drives apply (you want it on a flat stable surface, you don't want to move it while it's powered on & spinning, be careful about static electricity / don't do it in socks on a carpeted floor)

  • OptyOpty Registered User regular
    All they had at Fry's was a Vantec brand cable and every time I connect it to my laptop it seems to choke due to the fact that it's got multiple partitions. I'm gonna have to go back and swap out for a more expensive dedicated dock I think

  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    That's.... odd. I wonder if the laptop is freaking out because it sees another Windows install.

  • OptyOpty Registered User regular
    When I plugged it in, it took a while to enumerate the partitions and then failed after a minute or so with Windows reporting that the USB device malfunctioned.

  • General_ArmchairGeneral_Armchair Registered User regular
    edited June 2017
    You seem to be on the right track.

    One thing to check would be to see if the device manufacturer has any updated drivers for operating the USB device. Just because it seems to work out of the box doesn't mean that they might not have an update that resolves situations that cause the device to choke.

    Also, how large is your hard drive? The hard drive docking port that I have has a maximum capacity of 2TB. You might want to check the fine print to see if the USB device is incompatible with drives over a certain size or perhaps drives with certain partition formats.

    Also, once this has all blown over, it's always a good time to review your backup plans. After-all, you'd really be out of luck right now if it was the hard drive itself that failed and took all your data with it. I really enjoy having external storage on my computer network. You can keep your most important documents synced to a shared folder so that any of your devices can access them, and network storage is great for backing up images of your hard drives so that you can quickly recover from hard drive failure. A NAS box is a more robust solution for network storage, but a large external hard drive and a router that lets you connect USB hard drives is a cheaper alternative. The recent ransomware scare finally convinced my parents to budget for the hardware that I needed to setup their home with network storage and automated backups of their computers.

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  • OptyOpty Registered User regular
    I went back and got a Sabrent toaster-style enclosure and it works properly, so now my data is happily being copied over to the 2TB hard drive I got on sale specifically for backing things up but I unfortunately hadn't set up yet.

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