An easy way to transfer files from a dead computer is to buy a USB hard drive enclosure. Our recent article reviewed the best way to backup files on a hard drive – to back them up from within Windows. But this is no use if your computer is totally dead.
Assuming you can’t fix the computer – the simplest way of transferring your files to another computer is to buy a USB hard drive enclosure (often called a USB caddy). There are 4 types of enclosure – make sure you buy the right one for your size and type of hard drive:
1. Laptop hard drive – 2.5 inch IDE or
2. Laptop hard drive – 2.5 inch SATA
3. PC hard drive – 3.5 inch IDE or
4. PC hard drive – 3.5 inch SATA
Laptop drives are an inch narrower than PC drives. IDE is an old interface whereas SATA has been predominant in the last 5 years or so – an IDE drive has two rows of pins whereas a SATA drive has two flat connectors. If you are unsure which type of interface your hard drive has, compare the it to the pictures of a SATA and IDE drive here.
How To Copy Files From A Dead Computer
- Take the hard drive out of the dead computer.
- Put it in the USB hard drive enclosure (example from Amazon) – follow the instructions that came with it.
- Connect the enclosure to the other computer via the supplied USB cable.
- The old hard drive should be automatically recognized by Windows and installed as a new mass storage device.
Just like when you plug in any USB storage device, Windows will allocate the next available drive letter (e.g. E: drive) to the enclosure
- Open (My) Computer to view your external hard drive storage and transfer any files that you want to the other computer.
e.g. copy your documents/music etc from the old hard drive E: and paste them into the C: drive in the other computer
- Once you have completed transferring files to the other computer, keep the old hard drive in the enclosure – you can use it as a cheap external USB hard drive for backups and transferring large files etc.