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IDE slave drive disappeared from My Computer.

I have an old (about 7 years old) IDE 40 GB hard drive that I use as a second data drive in my desktop PC. It’s worked flawlessly for years. For background, I’m working in Windows XP SP2 on a Dell 2400. I have the drive set in the “slave” mode via the jumper pins. When I originally installed the drive, my PC recognized it right away, automatically assigned it a drive letter, and life has been fine since.

Until the other day, when the drive suddenly disappeared – when I click on “My Computer,” only my main “C” drive shows up under Hard Disk Drives. It used to show a “C” and a “J” drives.

However, when I go into Devise Manager and look under Disk Drives, BOTH hard drives are there, with their unique ID numbers. So to some extent, my computer is recognizing this slave drive. However, there’s no way to get to the data on it.

I hear no obviously clicking or noise from the drive. The drive appears to be getting power since it’s warm (not hot) to the touch when the PC is on, and I feel a slight vibration when I touch the drive when the computer is on.

A few things I already checked:

* I changed the power cable and the ribbon cable. No help.

* I installed this slave drive in another similar desktop that I own. Interestingly, Windows XP automatically detected the new hardware and installed it. However, like on the original PC, the drive is visible in Devise Manager, but does not appear in My Computer. (No drive letter was assigned.)

* As a double check, I took the slave drive from this other computer and installed it in the original PC. It recognized the slave drive right away, assigning it the drive letter “J” in My Computer and allowing full access.

So, it appears that I ruled out any motherboard problems, cable failures, or Windows problems.

I would like to be able to recover the data on this slave drive. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do? Is there any recovery software that might work? Or, does this sound like a mechanical issue with the drive?

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  • markgross615 Sep 23, 2009

    The drive does not have an operating system on it, so would it still work as the "master?" Also, I'm not a full-fledged tech guy, so help me. What's "the second IDE channel?" Also, I know how to access BIOS, but what do you mean by "identify it in BIOS." Thanks.

  • markgross615 Sep 23, 2009

    The drive does not have an operating system on it, so would it still work as the "master?" Also, I'm not a full-fledged tech guy, so help me. What's "the second IDE channel?" Also, I know how to access BIOS, but what do you mean by "identify it in BIOS." Thanks.

  • markgross615 Sep 23, 2009

    As I mentioned, the drive does not work on another computer. Would connecting the drive w/a USB adapter bypass the controller?

  • markgross615 Sep 23, 2009

    As I mentioned, the drive does not work on another computer. Would connecting the drive w/a USB adapter bypass the controller?

  • markgross615 Sep 23, 2009

    Sorry if I'm not making myself clear. The 'bad' slave drive cannot be read in either computer -- not drive letter is assigned in either one. However, I have another drive that I set up a a slave, and BOTH computers recognize that drive and BOTH computers assign drive letters to that slave drive. If I set up the 'bad' slave drive as a 'master' using the jumpers, I would need to load Windows onto it, and I don't know how I could do that if I can't access it? Help!

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You might try to set this drive as master and connect it on the second IDE chanel. Identify it in Bios than boot XP.

Posted on Sep 23, 2009

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Sounds like the IDE controller has decided to misbehave, more than a drive issue. If the drive works in other computers I suggest you put the drive there, restore your data and work on the IDE problem.

Posted on Sep 23, 2009

  • Jaye Ellen Burke
    Jaye Ellen Burke Sep 23, 2009

    "... As a double check, I took the slave drive from this other computer and installed it in the original PC. It recognized the slave drive right away, assigning it the drive letter “J” in My Computer and allowing full access ... "



    While the drive is in this computer, can you copy needed information from the J: drive? The other computer, the one that does NOT recognize the drive to the point of assigning a Drive Letter is of interest to me. This computer is the one that I suspect the IDE Controller, usually built in to the Mother Board. This controller allows the user to access more than one Hard Drive, IDE type

    of drive. If you are capable of setting jumpers for Master Drive, can you load it with the OS files?

  • Jaye Ellen Burke
    Jaye Ellen Burke Sep 23, 2009

    Indeed I had misread your post. That's why I re-posted what I found. This "defective" drive, the one that can't be defined in either computer, may well be defective. If this is the case unfortunately the data is probably lost. Just FYI, though, older computers used the "IDE" or Integrated Drive Electronics hard drives. The IDE controllers were typically built in to the Mother Board; there would be two IDE connectors on the Mother Board, and each one has a Master and Slave drive possibility, leaving it possible to have 4 separate Hard Drives on any given system. IDE 1 Master would be the Boot Device, or C: drive. In your case though, the drive is not being recognized by the system (No drive letter) and therefore you're out of luck as far as data retrieval. You might contact one of those "Data Retreival" companies, and MAYBE they'll have some luck, but it's way past what I am capable of doing. Sorry.

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