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USB to IDE hard drive problem: how to use a USB to IDE connection kit

Connect your PC to a spare hard drive

USB to IDE connection kit

Our Helproom Editor explains how to use a USB to IDE connection kit so you can use a spare hard drive for backup.

QUESTION I recently bought a USB to IDE connection kit, so that I could back up all my photos and video to a spare 160GB hard drive I had lying about. I'm running Windows 7 and the driver was installed automatically. The kit is recognised in "Devices and Printers" and is shown as working properly. It shows up as "USB to ATA/ATAPI bridge".

I thought it would show up in "My Computer" and that reading and writing to it would work similar to how it does with a memory stick or SD card. I would like to format the drive and store folders on it, but have no idea how to proceed. Any advice will be gratefully received.

HELPROOM ANSWER It sounds like you're most of the way towards getting this to work, as it seems the USB to IDE adapter has installed correctly. The next part of the installation will involve correctly hooking up the IDE hard drive to the adapter.

Depending on how it was last used, you may have to adjust a jumper or two on the drive to put it in Master mode. Two cables will need to be used on the drive, one for data and the other for power. Make sure both of these are connected according to the manufacturer's instructions.

You should be able to hear and possibly feel the drive spinning into action once it's properly connected and the USB to IDE adapter is plugged in. If this isn't happening, it's a good idea to test the drive in another PC, if possible, to make sure it's not faulty. If you have another IDE drive available, try that too.

Once the drive is properly connected and has spun up, go to Control Panel in Windows and find Administrative Tools and then Computer Management. Here, look under storage and click on Disk Management in the left-hand pane. All currently connected drives should show up to the right, along with their current status. If you can identify your 160GB drive in here, you may find that it requires formatting.

If there are files you need to recover from the drive, copy them off beforehand or use recovery software such as Recuva or EaseUS Partition Recovery if Windows seems unable to read the drive.

Before proceeding, make absolutely sure you have identified your 160GB drive as you do not want to inadvertently erase data on any other connected drives.

Right-click on the 160GB IDE drive in Disk Management and look at the available options. You may be able to assign a drive letter, in which case the drive should become immediately accessible from “My Computer” under the drive letter selected. Otherwise you may have to delete any volumes on the drive and re-format it from scratch, after which a drive letter should be assigned automatically.

See all How to articles. Get free tech support in the Helproom Forum.

Visit Windows 7 Advisor for more Windows advice. Or email our Helproom Editor for bespoke advice.

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