I have a Sata to USB adapter (thermaltake BlacX duet).
The device is recognized, the drives, either one or two at a time are recognized by DM and LDM but are not assigned a drive letter.
In Logical Disk Manager the drives are listed, they are marked as healthy, active, have the number of partitions expected, are formatted as NTFS or FAT32 as expected.
I cannot assign a drive letter. The only option is
Delete partition... or the very unhelpful Help.
I've tried this same combination in two different win xp machines. Other USB devices work fine. I've connected to back panel ports, front panel ports, powered hubs (on my dell monitor). The results are exactly the same. Safely remove hardware and device manager and Logical disk manager all show all the information and I cannot assign a drive letter.
The system is fully patched WinXP Pro SP2
I've read hundreds of posts about this issue and they all end with assign a drive letter in LDM.
Where did these drives come from? Were they internal SATA drives on this computer or one of the computers you tried the external USB device on?
One thing I'm thinking of is Permissions. If they come from another computer, they could have all the files locked to a user on that computer. Not sure that would keep them from getting drive letters tho.
If they come from a Vista computer, then that's the problem. XP won't read them and they'll need re-partition and format.
Can you try removing the partitions from one and re-formatting?
Sounds to me like the boot problems on that XP computer may be corrupted partitions or basic read/write info. So the partitions may be themselves corrupted and that explains what's happening in the external holder.
If you're able to access them to get the data off using that computer, I'd stick with that and get everything you can off. And of course make sure the data is readable afterwards on the target before moving on. You've got a rare 2nd chance right now to get that info off - I wouldn't worry about using the external unit at all, take the opportunity you've been offered.
Since you know the XP and these drives have problems with "something" I wouldn't even consider repairing the installation. I'd wipe them, re-partition and format then run tests to make sure they work afterwards. Including working in the external unit.
You didn't mention whether some other SATA drive worked properly in the external unit - I'd try that if one's available to make sure the unit is working.
BTW, that Duet unit sounds pretty nifty - and at a good price too. It's going on my list of gadgets I don't need but like!