2009
01.18
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…

RocketFish - click for larger view

RocketFish - click for larger view

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.

Jumper - click for larger view

Jumper - click for larger view

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.

Be Sociable, Share!
  1. you rock, I followed what you did and you just saved me a ton of aggravation, thanks!!

  2. thanks Joe, i’m glad this post helped!

  3. I bought hat same enclosure and ended up in the same situation, My problem though was that my blown computer was from nine years back. I saved my 80GB hard drive so when I finally made another computer, I would be able to to transfer the data I saved on to my new hard drive. Well that didn’t happen until about four years ago when I finally built another computer that had a 500GB SATA drive. I had to change the jumpers to get Windows XP to recognize that my 80 GB was going to be the slave. After I transferred my data, I unplugged and stored the 80GB because it was still a good drive. Well this year I decided to bring back my 80GB out of retirement because I needed an external had drive for my notebook. I bought the rocketfish because it has a really solid design. I placed in the hard drive and started it up, but Windows Vista didn’t recognize it. It wasn’t until I looked at the jumpers and thought really hard that I remembered that when a hard drive is jumped from it’s primary state of when it was first used, it causes conflict. So I set mine to CS which it was at nine years ago and it was recognized without a problem. I’m glad someone made an article about this because jumpers tend to be frustrating at times, especially if a person didn’t know where the jumper was set to begin with

  4. exactly Cary, I got a bit frustrated when I wasn’t able to figure it out and that is exactly why I put this page together. I am glad that things worked out for you.

  5. Hi. Thanks for this article. I am having the same problem. I tried what you suggested and still cannot access my drive. It shows up as drive K. Did you ahve to changed anything on the computer you were hooking up to? I am trying to move files from the old hard drive to the newer computer. I took off the jumper like you did. Did not work so I put it on as master. Still no luck. Not sure what else to try. Thanks for any advice and by the way, great photography!

  6. Hello Rann,

    I didn’t have to make any adjustments to the computer. It was a simple switch of the jumper that did it for me. If you figure out how to resolve the issue you should come back and post your solution for others to see.

    Oh, and thanks for the compliments :)

  7. Kudos to you! I was unable to read the hard-drive that I installed into the RocketFish until reading your post. I removed the jumper and had to remove and replug the USB cable. After doing that, the auto play ran and the disk drive was viewable. It assigned a drive letter that was being used already, so I went to disk management, assigned an unused drive letter, and low and behold, I was able to copy my files from drive. Needed to do this because a fatal blue screen error is forcing me to restore my operating system.

    Thanks much.