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I plugged in an old drive via USB and Windows Explorer doesn’t see it. How should I access its contents?

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.

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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.

Do this:

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