How to access 3.5" IDE HDD  from Dell Laptop?

Posted on 2004-10-26
Last Modified: 2012-06-27

I only need my laptop anymore, but have 20GB of valuable data on my old desktop computer. How could I easily access that data from my laptop? Are there some ways to connect a 3.5" IDE HDD to a laptop's PCMCIA or USB port?
Question by:vmmattil
    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    You can use :
    a network connection : straight Lan cable between 2 computers , setup in a network
    If you have a burner on the laptop, you can  burn the data on a CD
    You can hook the disk drive up on a desktop, by means of a 2.5" to 3.5" adaptor cable :


    Author Comment

    The netw connection is not a feasible alternative, I want to get rid of the desktop computer.

    A burner on the laptop doesn't help. The data I need to access is on the desktop computer, on a 3.5" IDE HDD. The desktop computer doesn't have a burner.

    The cable alternative is interesting, but I would need something in the _other_ direction. I want to connect a 3.5" HDD to my laptop!!
    LVL 9

    Expert Comment


    Transfer all files, folders, email, MP3s, address book, bookmarks, favorites, dictionaries, settings including backgrounds, screen savers, and internet connection settings. All this and more will be in place on your new computer
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    Let me make sure I'm getting this straight:

    You DO NOT want to use your desktop anymore
    You ONLY want to use your laptop
    You want to access the data on your old desktop via your laptop, WITHOUT having to have the desktop running.

    You're laptop probably supports USB 1.1.  It MIGHT support USB 2.0 or Firewire (IEEE 1394 - NOT to be confused with a printer port, also known as IEEE 1294).  You can buy a USB or Firewire enclosure and put the drive in that.  Then you can connect it to your notebook via built in USB or Firewire connections.  If you don't have USB 2.0 or Firewire (both MUCH faster than USB 1.1), then you can also buy a PC CARD that will provide one or both of these types of connections.  Total costs will be between $50 and $200, depending on exactly what your notebook can do (what make/model?).

    My notebook has firewire built in, so I don't necessarily recommend a specific USB2/Firewire card, however, here's one:

    For the enclosure, you can get most any one listed here:

    Though, I'D Recommend getting a Firewire DriveDock from - this device does not actually enclose the drive, but lets you connect it "free" of the enclosure via Firewire.  This is handy as you can swap any IDE/ATA hard drive onto it easily and quickly.  If you ever need more space, you can save money and time by just getting your cheap 'ol internal hard drive and connecting it to this.

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