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Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Very Basics of getting files from Dad's old computer to his new Mac (or Windows or Linux box)

With Father’s Day and graduations coming up, you might consider the Dad or grad a new Mac computer! As a Mac partisan, I would say that is an excellent idea.

Of course, the problem arises: How does data from the Dad or grad’s old computer get onto the new Mac (or Windows or Linux box)? This depends on the age of the old computer and the condition it’s in.

If the computer runs well and comes with an Ethernet port or USB ports, then you can just network the old computer with the new computer through the Ethernet ports or hook up an external USB hard drive to the USB ports to copy the data. (See next article for how to network a PC to a Mac to exchange files).

If the computer runs well, but lacks Ethernet or USB ports; it’s a well-maintained, but definitely antique computer! If the floppy disk is a 3.5”, just copy the data onto floppy disks. You then need to purchase a USB floppy drive and plug that into the new Mac. You can get them at Frys Electronics,

Amazon, Newegg, or at They cost about $25.00.

If your lovable old computer has only 5.25” floppy drives, you have a problem. You cannot buy a USB 5.25” floppy drive. I’m sure would sell them if they had ‘em. They do offer a service to transfer old 5.25” floppies and ZIP drive disks to a flash drive. This is expensive and you may want to go to the next option.

The final option is to remove the hard drive from the computer and hook it up to a USB to hard drive adaptor. YouTube has several videos on this subject. I recommend this one by Mr. Fix-It. He explains the difference between a SATA drive connectors and an IDE drive connectors.

Where can you get these adaptors? You can get them at Frys Electronics, where you’ll find them in the same area as the hard drives. You can get them at and Mr. Fix-it recommends Other on-line computer retailers have them, too.

So, those are your options for getting data from a really old, pre-USB, pre-Ethernet computer.

One final tip. If you have to open up an old computer, it will contain an AMAZING amount of dust. So don’t open it in the same room as the new white carpet. Take it outside and bring a can of compressed air.

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog

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