How to Build an IDE USB Adapter

Updated April 17, 2017

Integrated drive electronics (IDE) refers to interface hard disk drives used to connect internally to the motherboard. Desktop hard drives require a 40-pin cable to connect to the motherboard, whereas laptop hard drives require a 44-pin connector. Unlike IDE, the universal serial bus (USB) connects externally to the motherboard through a USB port located on the device panel. An IDE-to-USB adaptor allows you to connect an IDE hard drive to a computer through a USB interface.

Put on an antistatic wrist strap on your wrist to protect the IDE drive from electrostatic discharge (ESD). Remove the IDE hard drive from its antistatic bag.

Use a pair of tweezers to set the jumpers on the hard drive. Configure the hard drive as "Slave" or "Cable Select."

Insert the 40-pin interface on the side of the adaptor into the 40-pin connection on the rear of the IDE hard drive.

Connect the 4-pin peripheral power cable to the 4-pin connection located next to the jumpers.

Plug the power supply into a wall outlet. Plug the USB cable connected to the IDE/USB adaptor into a USB slot on the computer.

Install on the computer any software included with the IDE/USB adaptor.


Check the manual included with your desktop IDE hard drive to determine how to properly configure the jumpers on the drive. USB-to-IDE desktop hard drive adaptors won't connect to IDE laptop hard drives; 2.5-inch laptop IDE hard drives require an adaptor with a 44-pin connector.


Electrostatic discharge, a form of electricity, can permanently damage your IDE hard drive. Never handle computer hardware without first grounding yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Crosshead screwdriver
  • Antistatic wrist strap
  • Tweezers
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About the Author

Ruri Ranbe has been working as a writer since 2008. She received an A.A. in English literature from Valencia College and is completing a B.S. in computer science at the University of Central Florida. Ranbe also has more than six years of professional information-technology experience, specializing in computer architecture, operating systems, networking, server administration, virtualization and Web design.