Article | Jan 2009 | M.McKennedy
The old family PC decided to call it quits! It started with two dead fans…and ended with a blown motherboard. Hoping the hard drives weren’t affected – I purchased a RocketFish hard drive enclosure and guess what…neither hard drive was recognized by Windows Vista – at first…
It’s something we all dread….the old computer starts making funny noises, the scent of overheating electric parts becomes a regular part of your day and finally the damn thing just won’t turn on! Years and years of data – family photos, financial data, work related documents, custom settings are at risk (unless of course you are one of those strange people that keep maticulous backups – which I am not) – hoping the hard drive(s) aren’t dead you purchase an external hard drive enclosure (allows you to pull a hard drive from the old computer, insert it into a case and connect to another computer via USB or some other connection type). I purchased a RocketFish with hopes of being able to transfer six years worth of data from two hard drives (one hard drive had the Windows XP operating system on it, the other was used strictly for backing up) to a new HP laptop running Windows Vista.
Inserting the actual drive into the enclosure was simple. A few screws, a couple of connectors and the hard drive was in place. The instructions said that the external drive must be set as the ‘master’ (this is set using ‘jumpers’ on the drive itself) as opposed to ‘slave’ in order for a system to recognize it. I got the kit together, powered the RocketFish up and connected the USB cable to the laptop and the hard drive enclosure. After several minutes of Windows Vista’s attempts at installing the necessary drives I see the error that says – installation failed! I open the RocketFish instruction manual again and see that it says, if the installation fails, you should reformat the drive! This was not an option….the damn thing had to work! I had some backed up files but not nearly enough.
I began browsing online forums, doing Google searches etc…you know, the standard when you don’t know what the hell is wrong with a computer. I found that many others had the same sort of issue but could not find a concrete fix for my particular problem. That’s when my built-in troubleshooting mechanism kicked in…I thought to myself…what part of this process can I manipulate? There was really only one choice..the jumpers! I took the hard drive that was used for backing up, pulled the jumper off completely (in otherwords it was no longer the ‘master’), put the case back together and plugged it back into the laptop – and within a minute or two I was browsing the external drive, none of my data had been lost!
Now it was time for the second drive, this is the one that had the operating system on it. This is the drive that held the rest of my family’s files (which I didn’t backup too often, and neither did they). I followed the same logic, just pull the jumper off completely and all would be well! I pulled the other drive out, inserted the new, reconnected everything and powered the external drive up. I watched optimistically as Windows Vista installed the drivers. I couldn’t believe how easy the entire process was. Then an alert popped up…installation failed! Crap! I thought to myself! Sure I could live without the files on that drive but why should I have to? I removed the drive from the enclosure, put the jumper back in place (as the master), reconnected into the same UBS port, started everything again but no luck – failed! I wasn’t giving up though…I disconnected the drive yet again and plugged it into a different USB port, turned everything back on and….SUCCESS!!! All of my files were accessible!
The lesson here is…don’t always follow the instruction manual. If I did, I would have reformatted both drives which would have erased everything! Step back and look at which variables can be affected by you. In this case the variables for me were the jumpers. Now that I think about it the whole thing makes perfect sense. The drive used for backups did not have to be set as the ‘master’ because it wasn’t the master. The drive that needed to be set as the master was the master in the previous configuration! Logic…I really do love logic!
Summary: If your hard drive was not the master in the original configuration – don’t set it as the master when it becomes an external drive using the RocketFish hard drive enclosure. If the hard drive was the master in the previous configuration – set it as the master when it becomes the external drive.