Back to Courier Columns Page

by Ray DeCosta

Q. I have a hard drive that came out of my old computer. How can I get my data off of it and copied to my new computer?

A. There are two types of hard drive connections (SATA and PATA) in use and they are not interchangeable. SATA is also known as a "serial" connection while PATA is confusingly called either "parallel" or "IDE." To find out which ones you have, just Google SATA and PATA and look at the various images - the difference between the two connections will be obvious.

Assuming you have the proper connections available, you can temporarily hook up the old hard drive and transfer your data to the new hard drive. You don't even have to install it inside the case - just set it down on something non-conductive outside the case and connect the power and data cables after removing them from an installed CD or DVD drive. Your computer should recognize the old drive and read from it without incident.

However, the chances are that you won't have the proper connections available. Usually, the old drive will have a PATA interface and your new computer will have only SATA connections. If so, you'll have to either install your old PATA hard drive in an external USB box or temporarily connect to someone else's old computer that has a PATA connection.

It's not a good idea to reuse your old hard drive for any critical data storage. It's been in operation for a long time and should be allowed to retire gracefully.

Published: Courier 1/2/11 - Page 5C