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A dirt cheap data recovery solution


I didn't even think this thing would work, but it did.

2023 has been the year where I've finally decided to get off old media completely. This started with pulling data off DVDs and transferring that to flash (as in USB sticks and SSDs). It ended with getting data off a few old hard disk drives I had, but required buying a thing to do it due to my own stupidity.

A few months back I ran across an old power brick while I was cleaning out some things. I checked the connector and it didn't look like it belonged to anything, so I threw it out. Later on, I go to pull data off those old HDDs and realized oops, that was the power brick that went to the only IDE style drive enclosure I had. Yep, stupid.

Now I needed another IDE connector, so I scanned around and found this one:


(I have no idea what a "CDMBO" is. Probably a misspelling of "COMBO"?)

...which is one of several available, and bought it for real cheap since I knew I'd only use this a handful of times and then never again.

Did it work? At first, it didn't. I had 3 HDDs I needed to access. The first one didn't work, the second didn't work and the third did. It just happened that the third didn't have a jumper on it, so I took the jumper off the other two drives and then they worked. (Evidently, connecting a HDD with a jumper having the drive set "master" or "cable select" is something this doesn't like for whatever reason.)

As dirt cheap as this thing is, it was smartly designed. I had both 2.5" mobile HDDs and a 3.5" HDD to deal with. One side of the IDE connector the kit came with is for 2.5" drives that can be self-powered with USB alone. The other side is for 3.5" drives and requires the drive to be externally powered, hence the reason for the power brick you see in the photo at top.

It was lovely that this cheap kit came with everything needed to power up an IDE drive and get to the data on it. The only downside is there was no instruction manual whatsoever. Just a box of cables and a power brick. It would have been nice if there was at least a one-page card that gave instructions, but nope, I didn't even get that. I suppose that's what you can expect for as cheap as I bought it for.

It was also lovely that I didn't have to mess around with any software drivers. Once I figured out that all the drives needed to be jumper-less, it was as simple as plug-in-and-go and the drive showed up on the computer.

Was I able to recover anything?

Yes, but only from 1 of the 3 drives just because only 1 actually had recoverable stuff on it. After plugging it in, it initially showed as a formatted blank. I ran Recuva and it found a whole bunch of stuff that I was able to recover.

In the end, the recovered data I was able to archive made buying the cheap IDE kit worth it.

That sound

One last thing to say for now just because I think it's funny. Of the 3 drives, one was a really old 6GB 2.5" HDD from some laptop I had years ago. When that thing spun up, it made a drive noise I've not heard in a long time. I can't really describe it in words. It's a noise where if you remember how loud HDDs used to be back in the '90s and '00s, you instantly recognize that sound.

That sound isn't pleasant but at the same time nothing to make you run for ear plugs. It's just a sound that nearly all PC and laptop drives used to make that you never hear anymore.

Think of it as the same as hearing a dial-up modem handshake connection noise, or the noises a floppy disk drive makes when the diskette is being used, or even a telephone dial tone. That sort of thing. You hear that sound, and in your mind you're instantly transported years ago back to when you used to hear noises like that regularly.

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