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About 5 years ago, I screwed up the config.sys on our first computer while trying to install a zip drive. As far as I know, the drive itself has been fairly safe and inert, and should have no major problems with bad sectors or otherwise.

The system was a DOS 5.0-based 486SX capable of running Windows 3.1 and all sorts of goodies. We have some valuable financial data that we've put off retrieving till now, both because we didn't have the knowhow or the resources to do so.

So right now, my mission is to get it connected as a slave drive in our brand-spankin' new Athlon2000 XP Pro-based system, salvage all the data, and hope that Excel or something is able to convert all the old database files we had on that system.

I had to do the same thing for the hard drive from a pentium 133, and it went off without a hitch--XP detected it and its two windows 95 (FAT16?) partitions, made it immediately available, and I just drag and dropped it all in.

The older hard drive, however, isn't being detected. I'm not familiar enough with technological trends to figure out what file partitioning system it was formatted under (FAT16, I'd like to believe, but is there a predecessor to that which would have been used circa 1992?)

If anybody could point out how I might go about actually mounting this drive and accessing its various file structures, and how I might port them to a newer hard drive using XP or command line instructions, I'd be most grateful.

When plugging it in, the hard drive powers up and starts spinning, so I'm guessing it's ok. If the fact that it's not detected suggests otherwise, let me know. I've already configured it to function as a slave drive, so that shouldn't be an issue. I'm also not sure if it uses plain old ATA or some other interface standard.

The drive is a Connor CP30104H. Specs are here: (http://www.seagate.com/support/disc/ata/cp30104h.html )
I'm fairly hardware-savvy, having built a number of computers, fixed a few and such, so feel free to throw around any modern terminology or standard windows operations without worry (assume, however, that I am a command line idiot)

Thanks!
 

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I'd start by connecting it to one of the IDE controllers by itself, and don't use an 80 pin cable, use the older 40 pin cable. The older drives didn't always play nice with another drive on the cable, so you want to eliminate that issue.
 

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Well, interestingly enough, after trying the exact same configuration that I'd tried before (Connecting as a slave on an ATA 100 cable) it showed up as an E drive. The whole time, it was easily detected by the BIOS, so it doesn't look like i'm going to run into complications there. When I connected it to a dedicated IDE (showed up as secondary slave...guess I might have set the jumpers wrong), it was also detected, but not assigned a drive letter.

What's annoying now is that though it has a drive letter and all, it's purported to be unformatted. I know for certain that though I accidentally rewrote some of the lines in config.sys, causing the boot to always be incomplete, I never ever reformatted the drive. Could this have resulted in any way from storage? It sat in the computer for a long time, was moved to a p133 and left sitting on top of another hdd (not screwed in though). For the last two months it's been sitting on a shelf, fortunately not gathering dust since I've made sure it's nice and clean.

Any thoughts on how to rectify this? Thanks for the helpfulness of replies thus far!
 

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Old drives frequently required you to manually set the drive characteristics in the BIOS, unlike most modern systems. I'd consider trying to find some info about the "typical" Cyl, head, track settings for that drive and try a few combinations. I'd also not attempt to write ANYTHING to the drive at any time! Writing with the parameters incorrect, even if it seems to find the drive, will surely render much/all of the data unreadable.
 

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You might download PC Inspector and install it on your normal drive...see if it can Recover the files and then copy/save where you wish.

When you installed it on the secondary IDE, did you change the jumper to MASTER?

If you install the drive on the original PC will it boot normally? If it is just files and not programs you are trying to recover would they fit on a few floppies (zipped)?
 
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