Why is the drive not showing when I connect my old hard drive to my new computer via USB to SATA cable?

June 13, 2013
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I have an old hard drive (from old Windows XP PC) which I tried retrieving files from by connecting to my new computer (running Windows 7) using a USB to SATA cable.

Once all cables were connected and I plugged in to a USB port, the new PC is not showing the drive at all. The old hard drive is on and spinning. When I look under my Devices and Printers, the USB to SATA cable shows up, but I still cannot see or access the old drive.

Am I missing a step somewhere?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Jim Chambers
    June 14, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Does your USB/Sata adapter have auxiliary AC power supply that is required for desktop drive? Some can only power a laptop drive from USB port. Some older Sata drives have a power connection like a Pata drive ( 4 pins). If this is the case, plug in a power connector from your computer's PSU as well as your adapter

  2. Oron Joffe
    June 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    A few possibilities to look into:
    1. USBSATA converter may be faulty or have a loose connection (check that it listed under "Universal Serial Bus Controllers" in device manager).
    2. The hard disc connection to the USBSATA adapter may be loose (check "Disk Drives" in the same place).
    3. Although the drive is spinning, it may not have enough power, so check that it's listed as a drive in "Disk Management". This is fairly common with 2.5" drives, particularly if they get the power from a PC, in which case you should try a USB "Y lead" or a separate power supply.
    4. Run "Disk Management" and see if the drive is listed, and what its status is. If everything else is OK (appears, formatted etc), it may well be a drive letter conflict, in which case you should right click on it and assign it a different drive letter.
    5. Finally, as the drive is your own, I'm guessing it wasn't encrypted, but just in case it didn't occur to you, could that be the problem?

  3. Leland Whitlock
    June 14, 2013 at 8:07 am

    If the old hard drive had an active OS on it that might be the issue. You can only have one active OS partition at a time. So the old hard drive is probably marked inactive. The best bet would be to boot up with a Linux boot CD and copy off the files you want and then you can format the drive with an extended partition to store data if you want to continue to use it. For reference some links below.

    http://www.multibooters.co.uk/system.html
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd163557.aspx
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825172.aspx
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc722475.aspx

  4. Phill Duplessis
    June 14, 2013 at 6:18 am

    Check Jumper and then again try to access it via Device Manager, that what the current file system and status?

  5. Jim Chambers
    June 14, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Temporarily install the drive in your computer to transfer the files. Use the power and data cables from the DVD drive for this if required.

  6. DalSan M
    June 13, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Have you tried changing the jumper settings on the drive itself from Master to Slave? You should see pins with white or black removable jumper connectors near the rest of the hard drive connectors. Somewhere there should be a diagram of how to set the jumpers for slave use.

  7. ha14
    June 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    1) Right-click on “My Computer” then Click on “Manage”
    or open Computer management from cntrol panel then administrative tools
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/what-are-administrative-tools
    2) Double-click “Disk Management” You will probably the old hard drive Disk
    3) Right-click in the left portion of that drive Disk
    4) Click “Initialize” and “OK” in the next dialog box. Wait few seconds and it should now say “Online” in the box.
    5) If there is no assigned drive letter, right click on the big space of your old hard drive then choose Assign drive letter or Change Driver Letter and Path

    • julian sinisterra
      June 15, 2013 at 2:49 am

      Thank you all for your suggestions. I have re-checked all connections to/from drive and USBSATA converter (which has its own power supply). the old desktop drive still does not appear under disk management or device manager. I also changed jumpers to slave with no luck. Next thing to try is opening up new PC and trying to install using CD/DVD cables directly and if not, then trying to figure out how to boot up with Linux CD.

    • ha14
      June 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      1. Go to run and type cmd then right click on it and choose run as administrator
      2. type DISKPART and hit enter
      3. type : LIST DISK.
      do you see your hard drive there?

    • Neil
      October 20, 2013 at 3:28 am

      "I have an old hard drive (from old Windows XP PC) which I tried retrieving files from by connecting to my new computer (running Windows 7) using a USB to SATA cable.
      Once all cables were connected and I plugged in to a USB port, the new PC is not showing the drive at all. The old hard drive is on and spinning. When I look under my Devices and Printers, the USB to SATA cable shows up, but I still cannot see or access the old drive."

      I have the same problem. Using Computer Management, clicked on Storage, clicked on Disk Management, the old hard drive (using a USB to SATA cable) is listed as Disk 1. When you right click you are given two options "Convert to Dynamic Disk" or "Help". Obviously, I am trying to recover the files that are on the old hard drive (which I wanted to run a virus check on before moving any files over to the new computer).

      Given that converting to dynamic disk is a one way road, I have not proceeded. If you convert to dynamic disk, does that fix the issue? are the files on the old drive then visible?

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