Hard drives released before the development of SATA (Serial ATA) used PATA (Parallel ATA) technology. PATA devices are commonly referred as ATA or IDE. ATA/IDE hard drives transfer data at speeds up to 133Mb/s (megabytes per second).
External hard drives allow internal hard disks the capability to connect to laptop and desktop computers through a USB interface. However, you don't need to install your IDE hard disk into an enclosure to connect it to a USB port. IDE-to-USB adaptors have an ATA/IDE interface on one end and a USB interface on the other. Some IDE-to-USB adaptors have a USB cable pre-soldered to the adaptor.
Remove the adaptor from its packaging. Insert the 40-pin connector on the front or side of the adaptor into the 40-pin port on the rear of the IDE hard disk. Turn the adaptor upside down and reinsert the connector if the adaptor fails to fit into the disk on the first try.
Remove the adaptor's power supply from its packaging. Insert the four-pin peripheral power cable into the appropriate slot on the rear of the IDE/ATA hard drive.
Insert the other end of the power cable into an available outlet. Insert one end of a USB cable into the USB interface on the adaptor. Insert the other end of the cable into a USB port on your computer.
Install to your computer any software included with the adaptor. Right-click "Start" and choose "Open Windows Explorer" from the contextual menu.
Double-click the drive letter associated with your IDE/ATA hard drive to access the files on the disk.
Don't handle your hard disk before touching a metallic surface to ground yourself. Static electricity can permanently damage the drive.