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Help with hard drive transfer?

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Hey guys, you've been so fantastically helpful in the past I was hoping you might be able to help me with this, even though it's OT.

A few days before Xmas the old desktop (Gateway 700XL) suffered what I assume was a motherboard failure. I was working on a photoshoot for a client (thankfully I operate from an external hard drive) when all input and output went dead--no keyboard or mouse response, no monitor signal, no sound, etc. I un/re-plugged everything and restarted everything numerous times, but I figured it was the motherboard and left it at that. It was an older machine we expected to die within the next year or two anyway.

We got a new machine (I'd needed one for myself anyway, after my laptop died last summer from hard drive failure)--a Gateway FX6840 with i7, 8GB mem, 1 TB hard drive, ATI 5750 graphics, 64-bit win7 home premium. I hadnt planned on another Gateway, but I liked the reviews and it actually had a graphics card that wasn't total crap. (Hooray for finally being able to game again!) Let me know what other specifics you need on it; they don't have a handy features guide for it like they did with the older model.

I had most of the documents and things from the old desktop backed up on my external, but because of the holidays I hadn't done a backup that week or the week before (ugh, I know, right?), so there are a few things on there I'd like to salvage if possible. If it's not recommended, we can make do without.

So. I'm just wondering what the best way to go about it is? Since I can't get any input or output response from the old desktop, I don't see how a data transfer cable would work. The new desktop does have a swap-hard-drive bay, but I don't know if that would be a good idea? The old hard drive does have Win XP installed on it, so would I have an issue starting the new computer (Win 7 Home premium)? I'm also not sure about compatibility? The old was 32-bit and this new one is a 64-bit, as well. Essentially, I've never actually installed a new hard drive before let alone an older one with data on it already...

Or is this a job for a pro? (And if you called me an idiot I wouldn't be terribly offended.)


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Greetings :welcome:

Doing this should be fairly simple, but considering that your old PC uses an IDE hard drive, that's where it might be tricky, I see from reviews online (this detail isn't mentioned in Gateway's official specs) that your new system does not have any IDE ports, so plugging it in internally is out of the question. No big deal, as it's technically easier to do it externally, but it's not as cost effective as it means you'll need to purchase an additional bit of hardware.

Basically all you need is an external hard drive enclosure that is compatible with your old hard drive. That will enable you to plug the drive into one of your new computer's USB ports so that you can grab any files that you need off of it Note: You will NOT be booting from your old hard drive on your new PC, so XP compatibility is a non-issue.

My personal recommendation when purchasing such an enclosure is to buy one that is compatible with both types of hard drives (IDE and SATA), that way, even if your new computer breaks down one day, you already have an enclosure to put its drive in to use as a backup for your data or to do file transfers.

I found a reasonably priced one on Amazon here but that's not your only option. Newegg has several slightly more expensive ones here that allow you to plug the drive in like putting bread in a toaster (just make sure you're careful when plugging your drive in no matter which option you should choose). The advantage of the ones on Newegg is that they allow you to plug in any size hard drive, i.e. both 2.5" drives (which are used by smaller computers, such as laptops) as well as 3.5" hard drives (used by desktops).

I also must commend you on all of the info you provided about what hardware you have and what you're trying to accomplish, it made finding the appropriate specs/details quite easy without having to do a ton of research :).

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Thanks! That's so much simpler than I'd been thinking, which is a relief. =)
You're most welcome, we're glad to be of service :)
And thanks; I try to make it as easy as possible for you guys. You're like virtual superheros or something. :welcome:
Hehe, I don't know about superheroes, but we do try to make ourselves useful :).

I've had to do exactly this on more than one occasion (I used to build a new PC for myself quite frequently) so it's an experience I'm quite familiar with.

Just be careful not to bend any pins on the hard drive when putting it into the enclosure/adapter and carefully follow the instructions included with the enclosure. It's not too difficult at all, but you don't want to damage the drive trying to get your data from it :).

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If you don't want to invest in an Enclosure, use one of these, this way it can be used on all of the hard drives, IDE, Sata. 3.5", 2.5", might come in handy for other projects/problems


Yep, those work too (I have one myself), but I figured the OP (original poster) wouldn't want to have an exposed hard drive lying around unprotected and the enclosures etc at least offer a semi-secure place to store it (though an anti-static bag would be a good option too as long as the drive was placed somewhere secure).

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I understand, was just showing another option, they may not want to use the drive after the data is pulled off, and can be used with most hard drives they may encounter down the road. I can't live without mine.

Yes caution is advised when handling any hard drive.

my 2 cents.

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