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HOW TO: Connect IDE/SATA drive to a recovery PC

Some data loss situations may require removing hard drives from the device you lost your data from and connect them to another PC for recovery. This procedure requires strictly following the instructions described in the article below.

NOTICE: Use of any information is at your own risk. We provide no warranties that the methods described below will work in your situation and that you won't cause hardware damage.


Getting started

Warning! The instructions below assume that you have basic skills at working with hard drives. Any physical damages to hard drives might cause permanent data loss. If you are not sure that you are skilled enough to work with hardware, please, turn to professional data recovery service.

Do-it-yourself data recovery makes sense when:

  • All the hard drives are intact;

  • Only one drive failed – for RAID1, RAID5, RAID6, RAID10 (0+1) only;

  • Two drives failed – for RAID1, RAID6, RAID10 (0+1) only;

  • More than two drives failed – only for hybrid storage systems (RAID60, RAID10, RAID51 etc.) and when you are sure there is enough redundancy.


The procedure of connecting drives includes such steps:




Step 1: Identification of the drive interface type.


This article gives information about older IDE (PATA) and newer SATA drives. To identify the interface type, you should disassemble the device and examine the drive:

  • Remove the device cover to access the hard drive. If the device uses removable hard drives in special bays, simply eject the drive from the bay;
  • Examine the hard drive holder: if the back panel is covered with enclosure, remove it;
  • Examine the back panel.
See the SATA/PATA drive examples on pictures below:

IDE Disk


Pic. 1. IDE (PATA) disk back panel.


In this picture:
  1. IDE data interface. Please pay attention to the small ward in the middle of the top of the connector. It is used as index for correct cable connection. Incorrect cable connection can damage the connector and the drive.
  2. Power supply interface. It also has a “key” form for correct power cable connection. Incorrect cable connection can damage the connector and the drive.
  3. Jumpers. These are used for identifying the drives’ order in paired IDE cable, as well as for additional IDE settings.


IDE Cable


Pic. 2. IDE (PATA) data cable.


In this picture the blue connector is used to connect the cable to the computer/device mainboard, while the black one is used to connect the drive. Please pay attention to the “key” in the cable that matches the slot in the drive connector.
IDE cables usually have two drive connectors: “Master” (at the cable end) and “Slave (in the middle of the cable, closer to Master connector).



SATA Disk


Pic. 3. SATA disk back panel.


In this picture:
  1. SATA data interface. Please pay attention to the “keyed” form of the connector.
  2. SATA power supply interface. Unlike IDE, SATA power cable is wider than SATA data cable. It also has the “keyed” form.


SATA cable


Pic. 4. SATA data cable endpoint.


SATA cable consists of two equal endpoints on a thin data cable. It makes no difference which end to use to connect the drive. Please pay attention to the slot form that matches the “keyed” form of the SATA drive connector.




Step 2. Choosing connection to host computer

Main connection methods include:


External adaptors.

This is the safest, but the most expensive method. You need USB/Firewire adapters for each drive to connect them to the host PC.
* If the host computer provides enough disk space, you can create an image of your disk and avoid using the adapter for this disk.

You can find external adapters for both SATA and IDE hard drives; some of them fit both interfaces:


IDE/USB disk adaptor


Pic. 5. USB-to-IDE hard disk adapter with external power supply.




SATA/USB disk adaptor


Pic. 6. USB-to-SATA hard disk adapter with external power supply.


Please note that some USB-to-SATA adapters have a pair of SATA interfaces, thus, to connect two SATA drives you need only one adapter.

Pay attention to external power supply: some adapters are powered via USB and don't match 3.5" hard drives used in NAS and desktop computers.



Mainboard connectors.

The cheapest but not the safest method to connect the drives. Besides, the mainboard can hardly place all the drives.

Before choosing this method, make sure that computer power supply provides at least 15 Watts of additional power per drive.

Please, also make sure you have sufficient quantity of data cables: one cable per two IDE drives and one SATA data cable per one SATA drive.

To check if the method is suitable, examine your motherboard connectors. To do this:
  • Remove cover holder screws on the back panel of your computer. removing two screws that hold left-side cover is enough (tower-type computer);
  • Open the left cover panel: pull it a little back and take aside;
  • Examine mainboard expansion slots.


IDE/SATA connectors on motherboard


Pic. 7. IDE connectors
.

In this picture at the right bottom you can see two IDE connectors marked as IDE 1 and IDE 2. IDE 1 is usually colored, while IDE 2 is usually black or white. Each IDE connector is capable of hosting two IDE hard drives.


SATA connectors on motherboard


Pic. 8. SATA connectors.


Picture 8 shows SATA connectors. They are usually black, red or orange and are numbered as SATA1, SATA2 etc. Each connector is capable of hosting one SATA drive.

Make sure that the mainboard provides enough free disk connectors. For example, for four disks of your NAS with IDE hard drives you need two free IDE interfaces on the mainboard: two drives per interface. For four drives with SATA interface four free SATA connectors are needed.

If the mainboard doesn't provide sufficient number of free connectors, use external adaptors or an expansion card. If you decide to free some mainboard connectors for extra drives, make sure you don't unplug system boot drive or RAID.


Expansion.

This connection method is quite efficient, but not 100% safe.

Before choosing this method make sure that computer power supply is capable of providing at least 15 Watts additional power per drive plus about 10 Watts for the expansion card. Expansion cards are available for both SATA and IDE drives.




IDE expansion card


Pic. 9. PCI IDE expansion card with two IDE channels
.

Please note that IDE expansion cards have one or more IDE channels. Each channel is capable of hosting two IDE drives. It is recommended to use one card for all drives.



SATA expansion card


Pic. 10. PCI SATA expansion card with four SATA channels.


SATA expansion cards have two or more SATA channels. Each channel is capable of hosting one SATA drive. It's recommended to use one card for all drives. But as multi-port cards are more expensive, you may consider using several cards to save money. Besides, there are no requirements to expansion cards for hardware RAID, thus you can choose an inexpensive one.

Expansion cards are installable to any free PCI (or PCI Express) slots on the mainboard.



PCI slots


Pic. 11. PCI slots on the mainboard.


Please refer to the expansion card installation manual for more details. Make sure if the expansion card kit contains sufficient number of data cables: one cable per 2 IDE drives and one SATA data cable per one SATA drive. You might probably need additional cables.




Step 3. Powering drives.

There are different ways of powering the disks for different connection types:
  • For external USB adapters, use external power supply from external adapter kit;
  • For mainboard or expansion card, use computer power supply cables.

Mainboard or expansion card require that the computer power supply:
  • Can support extra 15 Watts per each extra drive;
  • Have enough cables to power all the drives.


    IDE and SATA power


    Pic. 12. SATA (left) and IDE (right) power cables.


    If you need more power connectors for an IDE drive, use power splitters:


    IDE power splitter


    Pic. 13. IDE power cable splitter.


    For extra SATA power connectors it's recommended to use IDE-to-SATA power adapters/splitters:


    SATA power splitter


    Pic. 14. IDE-to-SATA power cable adapter/splitter.






    Step 4. Connecting drives.

    Before connecting drives, make sure they are not failed or damaged. Otherwise you face the risk of permanent data damage on the failing drive or cause damage to the hardware interface.

    • Connecting drives to external adapters:

      • Connect data interface of each drive to data interface of the adapter. Connector “keys” must be matched: key slots must combine with key lugs;

      • Connect external power supplies to drives; pay attention to “keys”;

      • Ensure sufficient airflow to cool the drives; it's not recommended to put the drives one on another or to use soft surface with good thermal isolation because this can cause drive overheat. If the drives get hot, it's recommended to use air coolers;

      • Charge external power supplies. The disks must start spinning. Wait until drives initialization is completed (this may take about 5-10 seconds);

      • Connect adapter USB cables to the host PC; follow the drives order precisely.


    • Connecting drives to mainboard/expansion card:

      • Power off the computer and unplug it from the power source;

      • Open the left-side cover of the computer case (for tower-type computers);

      • If you use an expansion card, install it to a spare PCI/PCI-Express slot. Read the card installation manual for more details;

      • Connect data cables to mainboard/card IDE/SATA expansion slots. Connect power splitters/adapters if needed;

      • For IDE drives: make sure that drive jumper (Pic.1) is set to 'cable select' (CS) mode. Table of valid jumper positions is available in the drive sticker;

      • Connect data cables to the drives. While connecting RAID drives, you should keep the correct order of the drives. To connect data cables, you must:

        • For IDE drives: connect the first drive as “master” of the first IDE channel, the second drive as “slave” of the first IDE channel, the third drive as “master” of the second IDE channel and so on (see description under Pic. 2). “Cable Select” jumper position ensures correct drives identification depending on the position on the cable.

        • For SATA drives: connect the first drive to the first free SATA port (for example, SATA3), the second drive – to the next free SATA port and so on.

        • Pay attention to connector key elements: key holes must match key lugs.

      • Connect power cables to the drives;

      • Ensure sufficient airflow to cool the drives; it's not recommended to put the drives one on another or to use soft surface with good thermal isolation because this can cause drives overheat. If the drives get hot, it's recommended to use air coolers;

      • Plug and charge the computer. Make sure that the operating system is able to boot. Otherwise revise BIOS configuration for boot device sequence. Read your motherboard BIOS manual for details.

    • After installation of additional drivers for external adapter, expansion card, hard disk drives etc. the system is ready for logical data recovery.





    Final notes

    If you are not sure that you can recover the data by yourself, it's strongly recommended that you take your device to a specialized data recovery laboratory to avoid data loss.



    Last update: 20.10.2016