Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Wed, Nov. 20

How to get data off of your old hard drive

Q: I have a hard drive that came out of my old computer. How can I get my data off of it and copied to my new computer?

A: There are two types of hard drive connections - SATA and PATA - in use, and they are not interchangeable. SATA is also known as a "serial" connection, while PATA is confusingly called either "parallel" or "IDE." To find out which one you have, just Google SATA and PATA and look at the various images - the difference between the two connections will be obvious.

Assuming you have the proper connections available, you can temporarily hook up the old hard drive and transfer your data to the new hard drive. You don't even have to install it inside the case - just set it down on something non-conductive outside the case and connect the power and data cables after removing them from an installed CD or DVD drive. Your computer should recognize the old drive and read from it without incident.

However, chances are that you won't have the proper connections available. Usually, the old drive will have a PATA interface and your new computer will have only SATA connections. If so, you'll have to either install your old PATA hard drive in an external USB box or temporarily connect to someone else's old computer that has a PATA connection.

It's not a good idea to reuse your old hard drive for any critical data storage. It's been in operation for a long time and should be allowed to retire gracefully.

Q: What is this "net neutrality" I keep hearing about?

A: Net neutrality is an example of technology-based policy issue. Internet services are classified by the FCC as "information services" (as opposed to telephone service, which is classified as a "telecommunications service"). As such, there is minimum regulation of the Internet.

Services such as the telephone, U.S. Mail, etc. are classified as "common carriers." This means that such services are open to all on a nondiscriminatory basis after a customer has paid the posted price and can be assured their message or package will be delivered with the same priority as all others paying for the same class of service.

Some believe the Internet has become such an important form of communication that it should be afforded some of the same protections as common carriage. Your internet service provider (ISP) is under no obligation to provide equal treatment for any sender or receiver except as described in the terms of service. Others feel that the Internet has evolved to its current state because there has been no regulation of services. Of course, there are many possible positions, ranging from highly regulated to the current situation.

The best way to find out more is the Internet. A Google search of "net neutrality" returns more than 19 million entries. The first few are interesting and useful. Better results can be obtained by searching for "against net neutrality" and "for net neutrality."

The Prescott Computer Society (PCS) is a PC-based users group located in Prescott. We hold several entertaining and educational meetings each month to show you how to get the most out of your computer.  For further information, visit us at Email questions for future columns to

Event Calendar
Event Calendar link
Submit Event

This Week's Circulars

To view money-saving ads...