Clean out HD...without computer???


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[Dell Inspiron 560 desktop; MS Windows 7 Home; Windows Live Mail Essential; MS Word Pro 2003; Mozilla Firefox 17.0.1]

Hello, sometime ago I had to replace the HD, then I bought a new computer which had its own HD, and then I removed the 2 old HDs and gave the computer to a senior center. Now I'm left with 2 HDs...without computer, because I didn't know any better! One of them I don't know the condition, but the 2nd one is in good condition. I'd like to be able to give them to that senior center. My questions:

1. Is there a way to clean out these 2 HDs before I give them out? I have a narrow CPU and don't know whether I could put it inside to clean it out? Besides, I've never opened the CPU and am kind of intimidated. Hoping for another way to clean it out...

2. If the above is not possible, could I use one of them as external backup? If so, would I have to reformat it before using? Or still clean out? Also as an external BU, would it also backup all programs, etc.?

Thanks so much for any ideas. :)
 
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Core

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You can buy an enclosure for the drive and use it via USB. It is quite viable. I have some old hard drives which I use through USB for primarily backup purposes. Enclosures are inexpensive.

To avoid costs, you could also connect them to your motherboard by opening up your computer, but if you've never done this before you may find it easier to just use an enclosure. If I were you, I'd go the USB enclosure route.

Once they are connected, via USB or directly, you can low-level reformat them easily and either keep them as backup drives or indeed give them away. It isn't necessary to reformat them if you're going to use them as backup drives, although my recommendation is that you remove any data you need from them, reformat them, and then set up a backup system that uses the whole drive.

Two considerations:

1) If the drives are very old, they may use an IDE connection (wide grey cable) as opposed to a SATA one (thin cable, usually red). Modern computers don't support IDE drives (there is no connection for it on the motherboard) if installed internally, but you can still connect them via USB enclosure. I mention this because some USB enclosures only work with one connection type or another, and not both. So I would want you to buy the right kind. Also, desktop hard drives are usually 3.5" size, so the enclosure should be of the same size. Laptops use 2.5".

2) Most hard drives have the date of manufacture on the top of the drive. If the drive is 4-5 years old or even older, I would not recommend using it as a backup solution. Drives that old are nearing their end of life. There's little point in having a backup solution in which the backup media itself is unreliable. Although any drive of any age can head crash or develop other problems, it's considerably more likely with an old drive. Hard drive space is really cheap these days.
 
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THANK YOU so much Core for a clear and thorough explanation! I hastened to check the dates of my 2 HDs and....oh my goodness so this is how time goes by when we aren’t looking!!! They are dated 1999 and 2004! (My present HD is only 2 yo). Therefore I’ll buy an enclosure to wipe out the contents before I give them to recycle.

I looked for the least expensive since I’ll use them only to clean them out, so is one of these good enough? In this price these 2 were the only ones with 5 stars. I notice they are made of plastic or aluminum, is there a significant difference? Or since it’s not electronic doesn’t matter? Thanks to your alert to details, I also saw to it that it is 3.5” for the desktop. If you think these 2 are ok, I’ll buy the first one which has IDE. "No AC Adapter" means that it doesn't come with an electric cord?


ORICO PHP-35 -GN 3.5 " HDD Protect / Hard Drive Case / Protection Box / Protective Box
AC Adapter: No

  • Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 162x120x30 MM
  • Internal Interface: SATA / SAS
  • Model #: ORICO PHP-35-GN
  • Item #: 9SIA1DS0CF0369
Again thanks ever SO much for your excellent help!!! :) Adela
 

Core

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Unfortunately those two are both just protective cases with no adapter features. They're just meant for carrying your hard drive around, much like a case for a cell phone. It needs to have an AC adapter because the USB connection on its own is not enough to power a hard drive.

What you need is something like this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817388002

Frankly, since you're not going to be keeping the drives, I would just buy this product instead: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812705172

That one is almost identical to the one I have. It doesn't come with an enclosure, it just has the cables you need to connect a SATA or IDE drive to your USB port. It should have everything you need. If the drives were new enough that you would keep them on your desk as backup drives, then I'd go with enclosures so as not to have a bunch of cables on your desk and keep things neat. But since the drives won't be kept, it seems pointless to pay for the extra stuff just for the purpose of emptying them. Also, with the enclosure it is unclear as to whether it includes (or needs) an IDE cable, whereas with the adapter cable set you should not need an IDE cable as the adapter thingy is hooked up directly into the back of the drive. The set is convenient to have around anyway, just in case your computer frizzes out one day and you need to recover your data from the hard drive (it happens!).

It looks like a lot of cables and stuff but it's actually quite simple to set up.
 
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Oh dummy of me... :D Thanks again for further help! I will follow your good advice and get those cables as I agree that it’s not worth to pay + shipping just to throw away. It will take a little trial and error on my part, but it’s okay. I was hoping for something like this, just didn’t know it existed. A question though:

It doesn't come with an enclosure, it just has the cables you need to connect a SATA drive or an IDE drive to your USB port.
Is there a way I can know whether these drives are SATA or IDE? Or, being they are so old, they’re definitely IDE? I don’t see these names on the labels...

The set is convenient to have around anyway, just in case your computer frizzes out one day and you need to recover your data from the hard drive (it happens!).

Oh this is terrific! I often wondered how I’d go to the great forums for help in case my computer crashed!

Thanks again so much Core! :) Adela
 

Core

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Yeah, there is. It's the connectors. I'll add an image to this post. The top one is SATA (two small black connectors) and the bottom is IDE (long connector with prongs for data, four round-ended prongs for power).
 

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Oh thank you Core, I see now that both my HDs are IDE. When I get the wires I'll be able to make the connection and erase all contents. THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your help and patience! :)

P.S. I wonder what my present HD is since I hesitate to open the computer....
 
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TrainableMan

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If your HDs are IDE then it is old technology and they are probably very small (don't hold much data) compared to the Terabyte drives available today. Unless you need something off of them I would likely just run them under a very powerful magnet or use an electric drill and drill threw them several times in the center where the platters are to make data recovery unlikely and then dispose of them in whatever manner is used in your area for computer parts. They are of little value.

If you really want to see what is on them and then format afterwords then Core's idea to access them is pretty reasonable.
 
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Hello and thank you TrainableMan! Actually i don't have to see the contents, but I don't have a magnet and I don't think I want to "murder" them with a drill...which I also don't have...lol!!! So as you say, I'll follow Core's suggestions. Thanks again! But I'll pass this on to my friends too! :) Adela

P.S. I just found Dell's list of my present computer and it lists the HD neither as SATA nor as IDE:

750GB Serial ATA 2 Hard Drive 7200RPM
Then...is ATA as good as SATA? When I bought it 2 yr ago I thought 750GB was tons of it! lol!
 

TrainableMan

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"Serial ATA" is SATA. And 750GB is pretty good; unless you deal with a lot of videos it is probably all you need.
 
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Oh thanks again! I'm glad to know that 750 GB is good. I do receive many videos, etc. but not in excess. Thanks so much! :) Adela
 
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