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The drive is showing; what's unfortunate is it doesn't have a drive letter. So, you can assign it one.

I removed a 78 MB hard drive from my ancient 486 Toshiba laptop running DOS and attached it to a CablesToGo USB-to-IDE adapter which I plugged into my Dell Vostro 1320 laptop running Windows XP Pro - expecting to copy my files from 1995 to my new hard drive. Windows Explorer could not find the Toshiba drive. I ran "compmgmt.msc" > "Disk Management" from Start > Run and I could see the attached Toshiba drive (file system "FAT" instead of "NTFS") with no drive letter. Apparently an old computer, which would recognize the DOS files, wouldn't support USB so I can't go that route. Do you know of a way to recover my old data?

In this excerpt from Answercast #67, I look at the steps to make a drive show in Windows Explorer.

Recovering old data

Well, first off, FAT is absolutely expected instead of NTFS. The issue is of course the older file system. That's the file system that originated in DOS or potentially even versions of an operating system before DOS.

So FAT is expected; what's unfortunate is it doesn't have a drive letter - so, you can assign it one.

If it's showing up as FAT, it's probably ready to be recognized. All you really need to do is in disk management (where you are already at), you can right-click on it and assign a drive letter.

Pick the next available drive letter, and then, all of a sudden, you should be able to see the drive in the Windows Explorer - and be able to copy your 15, 16,... gosh, 17-year-old files off of that hard drive.

I have an article on it, "How do I make a drive show up in Windows Explorer?" We'll have a link to it in the notes that accompany this recording but that should get you solved right away.

FAT is what's expected and I fully expect you'll be able to get the files off that thing right to your Windows XP Pro machine.

Article C5996 - November 5, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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