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I have a 3.5" Western Digital My Book 500gb external hard drive. I gave it to a friend of mine, and he broke the USB port in it. I went to a nearby comp repair shop and had him solder the thing, and it didn't detect when it when I plugged it into my Dell Inspiron laptop. I recently saw about the 3.5" SATA to USB enclosure, so I went to check it. Strangely, when its placed in the enclosure, its not detecting in Windows. Also, when it was put as secondary (I'm guessing slave) to the shop fellow's desktop, it shows up in the BIOS and while starting, but then again doesn't show in Windows 7. The guy told me that I need to use a data recovery tool to get my data back.

P.S. Whe WD hard drive doesnt have an OS, just data. So my question is: Can I slave the drive to my Dell laptop and try to recover the data, and if so how? I would really appreciate it any help, thanks in advance.

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does it have a usb interface or a sata interface? you say you put it in an enclosure, is that enclosure for drives with a sata interface? – barlop Mar 29 '12 at 10:02
yes, the enclosure is for sata hard drives 3.5" and it connects with the half of my hard drive surface to convert it to usb which was connected to the sata hdd has sata interface, the enclosure provides a usb interface for laptop – AJ HDD Mar 29 '12 at 10:21
how about you get another usb-sata adaptor.. doesn't have to be an enclosure. With ATA hard drives and probably SATA ones too, Using a USB adaptors and plugging it in USB can sometimes be more forgiving when it comes to seeing data on a faulty hard drive. – barlop Mar 29 '12 at 10:28
is there a way to make the 500gb hdd a slave to my dell inspiron laptop (like how the shop fellow did with his desktop pc)? and then similarly, when he turned on the desktop, it showed up in the bios and startup screen but didnt show in windows....if i slave it to my laptop, what can i do to resolve that issue? i wanna recover my data and then format it for removing errors...i dont wanna lose the data – AJ HDD Mar 29 '12 at 10:35
@barlop, thanks a lot for guiding me thru this – AJ HDD Mar 29 '12 at 10:35

How new is this laptop? Does it have an eSata port? eSata (external sata) is the same as a regular internal SATA port, except that it has a internal connector. eSata has the same data protocols as internal SATA, and may yield different results.


Powershare eSAta port

internal sata --> eSata Cable

You will still have to find a way to power the drive. You can get a "toaster". OR if you have an old desktop computer, you can use a simple pin adapter. I have a SATA dock from Vantec, it hasn't worked yet, and it has great reviews.

Another option to power it would be, if you can salvage an old hard drive or CD/DVD enclosure.

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its a new model inspiron N5110 and yes it has a usb/e-SATA port on one are u saying i should connect teh HDD to this particluar port via sata cable only rather than sata to usb convertion? will that give me a similar setup as if connected this HDD to a desktop pc as a secondary HDD? – AJ HDD Mar 31 '12 at 15:33
@AJHDD What the heck is stopping you from connecting it if you have a SATA Connector on the laptop. Take a cable and DO IT. DO BOTH. Connect the thing in the ways that you can. And report back what happens – barlop Mar 31 '12 at 20:14

I would use the old enclosure (or the new one) to just power (laptops are not powerful enough for a 3.5" drive)the drive (if it's a 3.5" enclosure, it does have an AC power input), and then :

  • either plug it to your laptop with an eSATA cable (if it's a (eSATA)>(SATA power+SATA data)) just cut it with a knife in the middle so it fits
  • or dismount your laptop cover (recent Dell laptops: two screws under the battery, unclip the cover around the keyboard), remove your current HDD, plug your 3.5" HDD data cable (only data, we said we power the drive using the old enclosure), boot your laptop with a LiveCD, and try to access the data with software like "testdisk".

For the LiveCD, you could use :

  • if you know Linux, any distribution you know with testdisk installed
  • i'd use Knoopix, but this can be hard at the beginning if you don't know Linux
  • , looks really ease to use, made for windows
  • , full of software, made for windows

There is absolutely no reason for you to use a data recovery software if the USB port was damaged : this should not alter the drive integrity. What can be happening :

  • Windows is just dumb and cannot read your drive, then try with Linux to see if it detects the drive. At least Linux will give you more information (with dmesg, smartctl, blkid) about what's going and why isn't your drive detected if it is'nt.
  • Your friend that broke your USB port may have done some more damage to the disk, maybe it was spinning when it hit something, and the writing/reading head scratched the disk surface. Try to listen for noises indicating this problem. If the disk is still able to read its own data, the solutions above should make you able to recover the data. If not, you need to think about giving the disk to a specialized company.


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