General Question

hug_of_war's avatar

Can I get information off my hard drive without installing it in a new computer?

Asked by hug_of_war (10735points) July 11th, 2015

So took my dead macbook pro to the apple store, where I was told it would cost $800 to replace my logic board. So that’s not happening, and I bought a used laptop to get me through the next year of grad school.

But, the hard drive should be okay, so I’d like to know if I can get stuff off of it without having to rip the had drive out of the new to me computer, which I really don’t want to do.

Hard drive has some school stuff that would be annoying but not a big deal to lose, however; it has some personal documents I’d love to save if possible.

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14 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

You can remove the hard drive from the old macbook and connect it to the new machine with an inexpensive USB hard drive adapter.

Here’s one at Amazon” for illustration.

It might be more complicated than that. I don’t know how your drive was set up, so their may be security/permissions issues.

But the physical connection is easy.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes, Hard drive enclosure, costs about $15. USB connection

Coloma's avatar

Great question, I have been wondering the same thing. I have been too lazy to back up my hard drive and recently wondered the same thing. If this computer dies suddenly can I retrieve my stuff from the hard drive. Thanks for asking! I think I am just going to start emailing myself the most important items and the rest can gp. I really don’t need 600 pictures of my pets anyway. lol

jaytkay's avatar

@coloma I think I am just going to start emailing myself the most important items

There’s a really great way to handle that. It takes some upfront work, but once you set it up you will be wondering why you did not do this before.

1) Install Dropbox
2) A folder is designated Dropbox folder
3) Everything you save to that folder is backed up

I can’t recommend it enough. You can get similar service from Google and Microsoft and others (I use all of them).

But the short answer is get Dropbox. It’s free. It’s simple.

majorrich's avatar

Hell, for that matter, if you were running osX you very well might yank your hard drive out and put the old one in the new laptop. It work with linux. and osX is pretty much that.

johnpowell's avatar

Keep in mind that if you go the USB route and didn’t get a new Mac it will be some work to get the new computer to see the drive since OS X use HFS+. But it is doable. Just ask for help if you need it.

And note in Ubuntu the drive will be read only. But that is probably enough.

jaytkay's avatar

if you were running osX you very well might yank your hard drive out and put the old one in the new laptop

Good point. If the machines are similar enough that is the simplest way to go!

hug_of_war's avatar

I’m not confortable replacing the hard drive, it was easy enough to take out but I’m really not good at that kind of stuff. I didn’t need to be careful in removing it. Both the old and new computer are from the same year and running the same version of OS.

jaytkay's avatar

I’m not confortable replacing the hard drive

The software aspect is not a problem. If the transplant does not work, you simply swap again.

If do not want to dismantle the new machine, then don’t do it.

I would do it. But I’ve been dismantling computers for 20+ years.

I understand “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

johnpowell's avatar

Here is what I would do if you got a similar Mac to replace your old one.

Buy a cheapo external enclosure for your old drive. Plug it into your new one and run Migration Assistant. It is in your Utilities folder. It will pull all of your old apps and data to the new Mac. Ideally your new computer will end up Identical to your old one.

From there ensure all data was transfered properly.

Then use CCC to clone your new drive over to the old one. This will make a bootable copy of the drive of the new computer. Since you are in grad school I would imagine data loss would be a massive disaster. This way if the hard drive in the new computer dies you can hold down option when you boot the computer and it will boot from the USB drive so you can get right back to work with your computer at the state it was in of your last back-up.

Seriously folks. Your hard drive is going to die. It isn’t a if thing, it is a matter of when. So figure out a way to make bootable back-ups.

ibstubro's avatar

I would buy an external drive and take both it and the old PC to my computer guy and he’d put everything on the old hard drive onto the external where I’d be able to access it at will.

Do you have an option similar to that?

talljasperman's avatar

I don’t understand your question. If you want to delete your hard drive taking a sledge hammer to the hard disk will suffice. Other wise you can save what you want to a USB drive.

Coloma's avatar

@jaytkay Thanks! Never heard of Dropbox, I’ll check it out. :-)

johnpowell's avatar

Keep in mind Dropbox only mirrors files. If you delete your local copy it will be deleted from dropbox too. You can’t toss a bunch of shit on it and remove your local copy to free up hard drive space on your computer. It mirrors a folder on your local computer.

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