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I have to dig into my wife's laptop to pull the hard drive out, to pull the data off since the rest of the HD is close to dying.

I am curious what I should expect to have to deal with to get data off the hard drive. I am assuming its a SATA drive. Do I need a special cable to connect a laptop SATA hard drive to the computer or should I be able to connect it to my desktop computer without issue?

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Its all the same connectors =) shouldnt have any trouble at all.

for convenience sake I opted for one of these:
http://cgi.ebay.com/USB-2-0-IDE-SATA-S-ATA-2-5-3-5-HD-HDD-Adapter-Cable-/180550148600?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a09a0a1f8#ht_3984wt_1141

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I recently saw one with a 50pin 3.3V IDE, apparently that is rare though. If you know what laptop it is then you could look it up possibly. But it's a good question of what does one find in there. common ones uncommon ones e.t.c. there is such a thing as mini SATA aka mSATA. there is slim-sata. Apparently http://techreport.com/discussions.x/17624 at the time of that article sept 2009 , slim sata was common, and at the time of that article, mini SATA was coming. There are cables converting between SATA mSATA mini SATA. If it was 2.5" IDE you'd want an adaptor to convert that to 3.5" and an adaptor kit(probably any good USB-IDE adaptor) to convert that to USB.

I suggest having a good USB-IDE adaptor and add a bunch of cables to the box and have other small adaptors about possibly put them in the box with it.

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Unless your desktop computer has a special 2.5 inch sized slot, you will need an external enclosure or dock. Some examples are as follows: http://www.newegg.com/store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=92&Tpk=external%20enclosures

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