This may or may not work. Much depends on the partition type of the XP drive. If your laptop has XP, this is not an issue. The external enclosure will have its own controller. It may or may not be able to access the information on the drive. The ones I have work, however. If you have access to another XP machine that you can temporarily connect the drive to and transfer your wanted files, this is another avenue you can pursue. The external is a crapshoot.
I have a desktop that recently died (motherboard) and since I mostly use my notebook anyway I thought I would just convert my desktop's internal 80GB HD to an external drive that I could connect to my laptop USB using an enclosure. I just want to make sure that I can take the HD with its OS (XP) and all the files/programs and plug it in and read the data on it with no problems. I have only seen/read about people using blank, naive drives for this.
I have some data/music/files on the HD and still really need them, so I don't want to reformat/erase it until I can at least transfer them to the notebook HD. If I do need to wipe the drive, any comments on the best,easiest and cheapest way to retrieve my files first would be welcome.