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I need to back up the files of an HDD but the only way I can do that is to plug it into another computer's HDD input. The problem is, now the other computer will not boot. If I try to boot with safe mode, it gets stuck at disk.sys and restarts.

I just want to be able to copy the files over (possibly to a USB) and not really operate the thing fully. How can I do this? Thanks!

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 23 '12 at 22:04

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Are you trying to boot from the old harddisk in the computer, and access to other harddisk afterward? If this is the case: which HDD is set to boot first? If it is the drive from the other computer then you are likely to run into problems as you described. You can solve that by using the boot menu (hit the right key at boot time, e.g. ESC, F10 or F12) or by changing the boot sequence in the BIOS. –  Hennes Dec 23 '12 at 22:09
    
"I need to back up the files of an HDD but the only way I can do that is to plug it into another computer's HDD input." - Why the only way? You can always boot from a Linux LiveCD/USB or WinPE disc and copy your files off the drive. –  Karan Dec 23 '12 at 22:33

4 Answers 4

You probably want to boot a linux live-cd like parted magic ( http://www.partedmagic.com ). Parted Magic has the benefit that it copies itself completely to the RAM so you can burn CDs.

Anyway you can use nearly every GNU/Linux LiveCD to access the data on the hard drive from nearly every PC. (You don't even have to use another PC, just use the one you have problems with, without installing the hard drive in another one)

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It all depends on what types of hardware you have. If it is an older hard drive it will be an IDE or PATA connection and if it is a newer type it will be the SATA connection.

The older IDE/PATA style used a big 4 pin power connector (usually white) and a wide (about 2 in.) flat 40 or 80 conductor ribbon cable with 40 pin connectors.

The newer SATA style has a different style 4 or 5 wire power connector (usually black) and a thin (about 1/2 in) serial cable that only has 7 pins.

For either style hard drive there may be about 4 screws securing the hard drive in the case. For temporary copying, you don't need to mount the old drive in the new case. Just be sure that none of the electronics touch anything and the hard drive doesn't touch anything. I often let them hang on the wires or use a thin booklet or tablet under them depending on case configuration.

If you have the newer SATA connection on the old drive, then no problem. There should be an unused connector on the motherboard and an extra power plug. Worst case scenario here might be to unplug the DVD drive and temporarily plug in your old hard drive. If you really want to boot from it, then you could unplug the hard drive and plug in your old one.

Make sure to set your HDD to SLAVE correctly as explained here for an IDE Drive or a SATA Drive.

If the old drive is the older IDE/PATA then the new computer may not have a PATA connector and the power supply may not have the older style 4 pin power connector. If you don't have compatible connectors on the new computer, try and find a friend who does have a compatible computer to copy the data. Another option would be one of the kits that turn a hard drive into a portable hard drive using a USB connection

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Make sure that the compatible connector (SATA, IDE, PATA) connects and works with the other motherboard.

If you want to back up the data, and the hard disk is inoperable, it may be hopeless.

You should have backed up important data from square one.

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If you copy the master boot record for the disc you want to boot and use it on the other computer it should be possible.

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The computer is already succesfully past the boot record when you get a driver problem. –  Hennes Dec 23 '12 at 22:09

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