A while ago I asked this question on hardwarerecs stack about what kind of USB adapter would let me ATA Secure Erase a PATA hard disk. I still have never found one, and the good people over at that stack couldn't help either. PATA is surely retro, but I couldn't find the page on this stack that tells you what you can ask and what you can't (maybe me being dense, but still)

So, is that an acceptable question on this stack?

  • 1
    Don't feel stupid; it's here but we haven't written it yet so it's not actually useful. I vaguely remember coming across a similar scope question; I'll see if I can dig it up.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:08
  • No luck. On the bright side, that means that this isn't a duplicate.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:46

2 Answers 2


PATA is on-topic.* What's trickier here is the "what kind of USB adapter" part. There are arguments for and against this being on-topic.

*My assertion had no consensus behind it. PATA may not be on-topic. See Is PATA considered retro?


  • These questions are going to be asked loads, and it's a big help to get them answered.


  • If these questions ask where they can get things, they might slowly evolve into shopping-recommendation questions.
    (Shopping-recommendation questions are bad because they tend to get answers that are only relevant for a specific area during a specific period of time.)


So, on balance, I'd say that these are on-topic, but only if they don't ask where such things can be purchased. Asking how to find where they are purchased is fine, but asking for a specific shop or a link to eBay or Amazon isn't.

  • I'll rework it slightly and ask it
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 12:01


  1. I will stay with this answer to the question as asked here, not the one in RC, as that one is clearly Off-Topic

  2. I ignore, the fact that the question as asked above (in meta) is a broad 'what to buy' aproach (related to many actual offers) which again makes it by default Off-Topic. It provides no explanation/specification why it is a special case, like explaining why not any generic USB bridge will do it (USB itself also being by default Off-Topic).

IDE/PATA is per se not on topic, as it's still actual technology. Drives are still sold with PATA, even new drives are fited with PATA. Same for mainboards with IDE/PATA. Just bought one last summer, as I still want to keep my LS240 drives running. There are PCIe adapters for IDE/PATA available, as well as USB-IDE/PATA bridges.

To be on topic a quition needs to have a clear RC related target. This clearly includes issues like (non-exhaustive list)

(in general, "old" refers here not so much to age, as outdated, no longer manufactured/sold and no longer maintained)

  1. Problems with a certain combination of (old) adaptor/mainboard and (old) drive.

  2. Informations of specific protocoll issues/enhancements of special no longer manufactured and maintained drives.

  3. Hardware problems with (old) adaptors/drives in their retro environment.

  4. Documentation Requests for such drives/adaptors/mainboards.

  5. Drivers for (special) drives for a retro environment.

  6. Shoping recomendations for spare parts for no longer produced/general availible hardware and/or software (I know this is controverse - but here the crowd mind is needed)

Other Issues are rather borderline and do need a case by case evaluation, like

  1. Connecting an old drive to some odd machine. While this is in general off topic, if the machine is odd enough, curiosity/cooless of the solution may outwight this.

  2. Connecting an old drive to an actual machine for continued usage

  3. Connecting an old drive to an actual machine for data recovery

  4. Looking for (non standard) drivers for modern OS to use old drives.

Ofc, especially point 2/3 is only on topic if there is no standard, common available off the shelf solutuion available.

In this case for example, a quick look at a random hardware dealer shows that there are PCIe cards for IDE/PATA available at ~30 Euro, or even better SATA bridges at ~12 Euro, so it's clearly Off-Topic, because the issue covered by off the shelf hardware available in todays stores.

At this point it could be argued in favour for a question where the OP has tried adaptors and they didn't work. But that is an issue of these adaptors, and not genuinly RC related.

At that point we are touching the 'shoping recomendation' issue (in general!). I want to stress it again, when it's about rather obscure combinations (not here) and something no longer supported by standard means of shoping, recomendations are fine. After all, at this point, they are no longer asking for opinions (the best / cheapest/ etc.) but to aquite a part at all. I feel that this king of 'shoping question' is quite well on topic.

And even if we would accept such a rather Off-Topic question, sufficient information is a must. A detailed description of what didn't work and why is needed to analyze the issue. That must include exact specifications of the drive in question and all adaptors that didn't work, otherwise any recomendation is just a random bingo game.

Information is cruical when asking for an answer. Not just out of repect for the people offering their time to solve your problem, but even more so to enable a relevant answer.

  • By "OT" do you mean on-topic or off-topic? This is a good answer; I understand where you are coming from now. However, PATA seems to be considered on-topic at the moment. Edit: I don't know where the idea that PATA was on-topic came from... Sorry.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 14:37
  • Could you answer this question with the PATA-off-topic stance and reasons? I'll do PATA-on-topic, since I'd already successfully rationalised that to myself (though I'm finding that harder after reading this answer).
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 15:05
  • OT id Off -Topic as by standard, but let me edit this to make it clear.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 15:58

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