Hard Drive Problems/Laptop HDD to desktop


QUESTION: Thank you for taking the time to review my problem. I realize that this may not be your area of expertise.

I have (had) an HP dv7-3163cl that used to work. One day I attempted to power it on, and there was no hard drive activity and the display never showed any sign of activity. I exhausted all options that I found on line to remedy this situation, but nothing worked. While I had most files backed up on an external hard drive, there are a few that did not back up. Also, there are a few programs that I would like to transfer to my new desktop. I was able to remove the hard drive from the laptop with the hopes that I could somehow connect it to the new desktop. After some research, I found this item:


I have also found enclosures that perform a similar function. My three questions, in order of importance:

1) Assuming the HDD from the laptop is operable, are either of the adapters a worthwhile solution?

2) I know I can navigate to specific files on the laptop's HDD, but can I transfer programs over as well using the drag and drop method I would use for smaller files?

3) Do you have any thoughts as to where I may start looking to repair the laptop myself (since I have nothing to loose if I fail)?

Thank you again for your time.

ANSWER: Hi John!

1. ("Either" adapter?) Yes, the adapter you linked to is a very good way to connect drives to a computer ... for testing, recovery, convenience, etc.  I have used this exact type of adapter many times, for many purposes.  This type of access/recovery, of course, depends on the condition of the drive.  From what you posted, there is no specific reason to believe it won't work, but if the drive was faulty, there could be a number of issues you may encounter.

2. You cannot transfer or copy "installed" programs from one Windows installation to another.  Certain registry entries are stored about installed programs and helper files are also installed with the program, making it impossible to simply copy installed programs from one install to another.  The programs must be "installed" in the new Windows installation.

3. Well, it is unclear from what you posted what the exact issue might be.  You said that there was nothing displayed on the screen either, which would mean that you have a non-hard drive issue with your computer.  It is most likely power-related (you should probably also not see any lights or fans activity either).  If you DO see lights or fans activity, then it is probably not power-related, but a motherboard failure, which could be any motherboard component, including the onboard video chip (which, if it is, it is 99% of the time, it is part of the motherboard) ... in any case, a replacement motherboard would be in order.  Another possibility would be the processor; they do not go bad often, but can be damaged if the laptop gets wet, shocked, or overheats.  Other components "could" cause it, but they are much less likely to be the cause.  You could open the laptop to start playing with stuff, but to be honest, you aren't likely to "fix" it yourself.  It will also be difficult to get back together :)

Feel free to follow up with any questions you might have.

Good luck!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: First, thank you for such a prompt response. I meant to say that I was looking at 2 types of adaptors; one that was just the wires, and the other that was an aluminum enclosure. You bring up another good point which is what to do with an additional external hard drive. I already have one external HD, and will likely never use all of the space. Can you suggest another use for my laptop HDD once I get the other files off of it? Thanks again.

Well ...

1. You could certainly sell it ... you probably won't sell it for very much (how much depends on the size, type, and speed), but a few bucks in your pocket is better than a drive laying around that you'll never use.

First, you can put a laptop drive in a desktop just fine, so long as you have (or get) the proper power and data cables to connect it.  Reading from/writing to an "internal" disk is MUCH faster than a USB-connected disk.  So, this gives us some other options:

2. You could mirror your Windows partition.  Depending on the size of your existing desktop drive and your laptop drive, you could set up a mirror in Windows, so that if one disk failed, the system would still have all the data intact and you would still be able to boot to the other disk.  This is more advanced, and requires you to make changes to the drive that are not reversible (without reinstalling).

3. You could move "high traffic" areas to the secondary internal disk, like the system page file (used when Windows does not have sufficient memory/RAM to use), a scratch disk (used by applications like Photoshop for temporary disk storage), or to run VM's from (VM = virtual machine - an OS running inside of your OS - running it on a separate physical disk greatly improves performance of both the host and the guest).

4. You could implement an "offsite" backup.  Having a local backup, like on an external drive, is great, but what happens if your house burns down, there is an earthquake or tornado, or it is burglarized ... the original data and its backup is now gone.  By backing up your data to that drive, you could store it at work, or at a distant friend's or family member's house.

Hard Drive Problems

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I can answer questions about server hardware RAID and general storage for servers and PC's - hard drive issues, troubleshooting, advice, specs, and information. While some apparent drive/RAID array failures can be recovered, I can only provide advice/recommendations in the event of catastrophic data loss. I don't assist in actually recovering from this type of data loss on this forum.


I worked as an analyst in Dell server support for 2 years, and have since worked with many Dell PowerEdge servers. I am currently employed as IT Manager. I am currently ranked in the top 5 All-Time in Server Hardware and Hard Drives in a very popular and large forum similar to AllExperts.

I have a BS in Computer Science and have earned the following certifications: CompTIA Security+, A+, Project+; CIW Web Design, Database Specialist; Microsoft Windows 7; Dell DCSE Server. I am also an expert in Windows 7, Servers, and Hard Drives (I don't normally do XP - not because I don't know it inside and out, but because I have "retired" personal support for XP, and I want to see it die :)).

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