My primary HD is an ide drive, the mother board has sata ports, I recently was given an external drive, a nexstar3 with and eSata bracket. in it is a seagate sata2 1.5TB drive. The usb works fine, but I do not know how to enable the eSata port so it will see the external drive. I am using XP pro, on an AMD mother board Any help would be great.
To connect a eSATA external device to a computer there are basically two options. IF your mobo has a dedicated eSATA controller built in, you should consult the mobo manual for how to Enable that controller and port. Then, I expect, you will have to install a driver for that mobo device from a CD that came with the mobo. (It is also possible that, long ago as you installed drivers, this driver also was installed and never used yet.)
The other way is you install the adapter plate that came with the external drive. Its cable plugs into any SATA port on the mobo. It basically converts the standard SATA connector to one for an eSATA cable. It depends on having all of the features of eSATA already provided by the standard SATA port built into the mobo. In most cases that works just fine; in a few cases there are a few features of eSATA missing this way, but many users will never know because they don't need those anyway.
If you go the second route, the next issue is that Win XP by itself does not know how to use SATA without a driver installed. This is no biggie, but it may be new for your machine if you have not been using the SATA ports before. Now, assuming you will be using this drive just for data and not as a boot drive, you probably have two simple options.
The straightforward way is to use the drive as a true SATA unit, which will require two steps. First you set the SATA port to Enabled and set its mode, then you install the proper driver in Windows XP. For this you need the driver (surprise!). If you still have a CD of software, tools and drivers that came with your mobo, check how to use it to install drivers for your mobo devices. But even better is to go to the mobo manufacturer's website and download the latest version of drivers for your mobo and win XP. Which ones of the SATA ports? Well, the best choice is AHCI. Go into BIOS Setup. That means usually holding down the "Del" key while turning on your machine. After a few preliminary POST items the screen will suddenly show you the BIOS Setup opening screen. If you have your mobo manual handy, look up how the details are done. Basically you should look for the place where your SATA ports are set up. If you have not used SATA before, they may be Disabled and you need to ensure they are Enabled. (Sometimes this is done one port at a time, sometimes all at once.) Then look close by at SATA Port Mode settings. You usually have choices like IDE (or PATA) Emulation, native SATA, AHCI, or RAID. Choose AHCI if available, or maybe native SATA as a second choice. This setting should match the driver you install. Save and Exit the Setup system and it will finish booting. Now use the standard Windows tools for driver installation to install the related driver and reboot.
The other option which is easy, especially for people just installing Win XP to SATA drives (this is NOT your situation) is to have the mobo use the SATA mode setting in IDE (or PATA) Emulation mode. This basically has the mobo limit the port a little to make it behave just like an older-type IDE drive which XP fully understands, and there is NO additional driver installation necessary.
Either option should allow your mobo to deal with the eSATA unit connected to the regular SATA port, or connected to the dedicated eSATA port if you have one. Thus Windows will be able to see the device. You may still have to Initialize it (that is, do Partition and Format operations of the drive) if it does not come with that already done. On the other hand, if the unit came with a CD of utilities, that may well have a tools for this step, so read its manual or on-disk documentation for this.
Your method is correct but there appears to be a twist to this.
The drive needs to be powered on prior to powering on the computer or else Windows XP (and perhaps later versions of Windows) will not detect the drive. This is not the case in variants of Linux (i.e. Ubuntu 10.04, perhaps earlier versions work as well, I have not tested them) where the drive can be mounted anytime and safely removed much like a USB or Firewire external drive. I am still trying to find a solution to overcoming this problem despite using the latest AHCI related drivers for my Intel 965 board (DG965OT).