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Would an USB encasement help? Any ideas would help. Thanks so much
For drives that are good and big enough to bother with I then buy a USB/Firewire enclosure.
I also have a universal connector for USB, but it's not as fast as IDE / SATA. I've had problems with the USB connector before. Perfectly good drives started throwing "delay write failures" when transferring large amounts of data via USB. I was doing a pretty hardcore diagnostic on a drive via USB overnight and in the morning it was a paperweight. Had to start over. :) Probably an extreme case though.
Some drives have other settings too. I'd try running a google search for the jumper settings specific to your drive for a detailed explanation.
If the machine still won't boot you may also need to adjust the BIOS settings. In most cases the BIOS will have a drive detection feature that may help, and you can set the boot order as required.