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Testing old AT IDE Hard Drives on a Newer OS / USB to IDE Cable

Smack2k

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Is it possible to test AT IDE Hard Drives using current USB to IDE Adapters?

I have a bunch of older AT labeled Hard Drives (Conner / Seagate) and want to see if they are any good / have data on them / can be used but trying via the Current USB 2.0 to IDE Cable set I have they all spin up and I hear activity but they never connect or show up in File Explorer in Windows 7 / 10 as a mounted drive.

If that isnt possible, is there another way without having to put an entire computer together to test them?
 

rmay635703

Experienced Member
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May 29, 2003
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Wisconsin
My particular usb adapter is somewhat hit or miss with partitioning but it handles formatting perfectly

Even though the adapter is 2 years old Windows 10 doesn’t play nice but windows 9x work fine, never could figure that one out.
 

Stone

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No, not likely...

Here's the skinny:

•ATA: Known also as IDE, supports one or two hard drives, a 16-bit interface and PIO modes 0, 1 and 2. The enclosure will not support this type of IDE unless the enclosure is an antique model.

•ATA-2: Supports faster PIO modes (3 and 4) and multiword DMA modes (1 and 2). Also supports logical block addressing (LBA) and block transfers. ATA-2 is marketed as Fast ATA and Enhanced IDE (EIDE). Contemporary enclosures support this (ATA-2) and later drives.
 

Stone

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If that isnt possible, is there another way without having to put an entire computer together to test them?
You mean to say with all your computers you don't have one with a 40 pin IDE connector to plug into directly? :)

And you don't need a whole computer. A motherboard, PSU, VGA card, IDE interface and keyboard is all you need.
 

Smack2k

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I have the equipment, but didnt want to drag out one of the computers I have setup, take the lid off and change cables (lazy, I know!) or even drag out a MB, Cables, VGA, PSU just to test them....but it appears that is my option, so I will do just that!!
 

Chuck(G)

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It depends on the age of the drive as to whether or not that PATA-to-USB adapter will work. Later drives, sure. Early ones, maybe not so much.
 

Unknown_K

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Not sure any USB based IDE converters work with non LBA hard drives (under 540mb? forget when the switch was).
 

Stone

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They are not USB devices.

They plug directly into the computer's IDE ribbon cable. All they do is allow you to physically (and easily) replace IDE drives by sliding a tray in and out of its housing mounted inside the computer's drive bay(s) so there's no opening and going inside the computer. It's akin to changing a floppy disk except that you need to power down the computer to switch the hard drives. But you'd have to reboot the computer anyway when you switch the drives so you'd start the OS on the new drive. I might have read something about the later models that do allow hot swapping but if they do that would only work if you were replacing a drive with only data on it and not the OS. But it might not be an option since I don't see how the replaced drive could get initialized. Or this feature may be only for SATA drive racks.

I love it. My 233 tweener not only runs every version of DOS but also WIN95, WIN98, WINME and WINXP, just by replacing the HD and it only takes a few seconds. :)

And, of course, you can use the larger LBA drives too, just like you can in that same computer if you weren't using a mobile drive rack.
 

Unknown_K

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I know what mobile racks are, used them since around 2000 and I even have some SCSI ones (50 pin/68 pin). My reply was to the original question about USB to IDE adapters.
 

Unknown_K

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There are differences in the mobile racks, the pre ATA66+ ones only had 40 wire internal cables not the 80 wire cables we are used to now.
 
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