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Retrieving data from multiple IDE drives

I've owned close to a dozen PCs over the past 10 years, between the ones I owned personally and as a part of my interest in a now defunct company. Some of the machines died, and I gave others away, but I've kept all the IDE hard drives. Now I need to retrieve data from many of those drives, but none of my current machines can handle more than a drive or two at a time. I've seen external drive cases for SCSI drives and I was wondering if the same was available for IDE. And, if so, are there any models you can recommend that can house at least four drives at a time? Thanks in advance for your help.

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When you say that your current system can only handle a drive or two at a time, are you referring to the disks being physically located inside the server, or is the server only able to address and access a drive or two at a time?

If your server is not able to address or access more than a single disk drive or two at a time, then adding expansion chassis enclosures may not be the answer. If, however, the number of disk drives that can be attached to your server is limited to what can be physically installed, then you could benefit from using some expansion enclosures. However, unlike SCSI bus cables that can stretch out several meters in length, IDE cabling is more distance restrictive.

Your situation is a good illustration of the expression, "you can't get something for nothing." You have the disk drives, but in order to use them, you may have to address some hidden costs. I've been down this road: While it's nice to have all of those disk drives, it can be a hassle to actually use them.

When all is said and done, I would, based on my own experiences, go and get a new inexpensive high capacity disk drive, and copy the contents of your old hard disk drives one by one to this newer larger capacity disk drive. Then give those old disk drives a retirement party and put them to rest. (Be sure to properly delete the data on them).

This was first published in September 2004

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