OK, yesterday I got one of those external housings that converts an old IDE hard drive into an external drive, accessible via USB, as another step toward determining what's going to be usable or not with those three old hard drives previously mentioned.
First, the oldest Maxtor with the dead boot sector? Turns out it's not even mine originally, it was salvaged from a computer left here by a former tenent. It's also no bigger than 2 Gb. So while there may be something on that drive I might want to access, I doubt it. Will probably re-format if that.
Second, the Maxtor I bought and put into the rebuilt PC for Ruthie? The one showing the STOP error messages? That one causes the PC to crash; recoverable once the drive is disconnected from the PC.
Third, the Quantum which was in the Gateway, where the IDE controller failed? That one is "found" by the PC, but shows as a 0 byte drive, and yields a message "Corrupted drive" when trying to access it. I may be able to recover this one by formatting it, but unless Ruthie tells me there's data on it worth sending it to a recovery facility, "It's Toast, Jim," if it can't be formatted.
Next on the agenda, loading drivers onto the old PC so as to be able to access/install on the SATA drive which is the newest of the batch. I might try accessing the Crashing STOP Maxtor configured as a slave on that system, then again, maybe not. All the data is over a year old now, and Ruthie isn't terribly adament about recovery. So the only thing worthwhile there is to try to recover hardware.
And in other news, The Sun Came Up This Morning.