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Thread: HELP - trying to connect an old PC tower to a laptop or screen

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    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    HELP - trying to connect an old PC tower to a laptop or screen

    OK, I have an old Dell PC tower that I am trying to see what is on it to save some old photos, files, etc. The old PC monitor is broken so I need to hook it up to my current laptop or a TV or something to see the screen. Can this be done via USB? MY old PC does not have any HDMI inputs. Or is there an easier way to extract the files onto an external drive? I am not really computer savvy so any help is appreciated.

    I just want to try this before bringing it to the guy in town who will do this for me and charge a bunch.

    Danke.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    Since you're not computer savvy, that somewhat hampers some of the solutions I would suggest. The most obvious solution is borrow a buddy's older monitor so you can fire up your computer and get your files. I assume your PC has VGA outputs, so you need a VGA cable. You can also purchase a VGA to HDMI converter on Amazon for like $20 which would allow you to connect it to your TV. Most laptops do NOT have HDMI inputs, just output. Another option (a bit tech savvy) is to open your old computer, remove the hard drive, and purchase a hard drive enclosure on Amazon which essentially turns your internal hard drive to an external one. This is also about $20.

    But what I usually tell people (and they hate me for saying it) is that you can find better information researching tech problems on Google than coming to a music site full of posters whose technology savvy ended when the first VCR came out.
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    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    Since you're not computer savvy, that somewhat hampers some of the solutions I would suggest. The most obvious solution is borrow a buddy's older monitor so you can fire up your computer and get your files. I assume your PC has VGA outputs, so you need a VGA cable. You can also purchase a VGA to HDMI converter on Amazon for like $20 which would allow you to connect it to your TV. Most laptops do NOT have HDMI inputs, just output. Another option (a bit tech savvy) is to open your old computer, remove the hard drive, and purchase a hard drive enclosure on Amazon which essentially turns your internal hard drive to an external one. This is also about $20.

    But what I usually tell people (and they hate me for saying it) is that you can find better information researching tech problems on Google than coming to a music site full of posters whose technology savvy ended when the first VCR came out.
    Makes sense - I may try the VGA/HDMI cable thing.

    I did look this up, watched about 5 YT videos and read some stuff, basically all useless info or not what I was looking for. I knew Cozy would come to the rescue - thanks man!
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    You could probably buy the adapter from Best Buy and return it when you're done, and just say it didn't fit. Stick it to The Man!
    Last edited by JKL2000; 07-29-2018 at 05:01 PM.
    "Of course you are allowed to trumpet your profound ignorance by disagreeing with me." -- Facelift

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    You could probably buy the adapter from Best Buy and return it when your done, and just say it didn't fit. Stick it to The Man!
    Too bad the people who often suffer from that are the ones at the bottom of the ladder who are just doing their jobs. The corporate fat cats just keep getting fatter.

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Too bad the people who often suffer from that are the ones at the bottom of the ladder who are just doing their jobs. The corporate fat cats just keep getting fatter.
    As long as Chalkpie's pockets are a bit more full in the end, I'm ok with it.
    "Of course you are allowed to trumpet your profound ignorance by disagreeing with me." -- Facelift

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    As long as Chalkpie's pockets are a bit more full in the end, I'm ok with it.
    I hear ya. However, I work in a job where I handle customer returns every day, and I've seen quite a few where the customer flat out lied in order to just get a new replacement or a refund. It just doesn't sit well with me.

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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    As long as Chalkpie's pockets are a bit more full in the end, I'm ok with it.
    In that case, he should just get a new monitor then. Why stop at a cable or adapter?
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  9. #9
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    In that case, he should just get a new monitor then. Why stop at a cable or adapter?
    It's more of a hassle to put back in the original package.
    "Of course you are allowed to trumpet your profound ignorance by disagreeing with me." -- Facelift

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    And besides, there will be compatibility issues. He would need a monitor with the proper connectors.

    My advice: visit Goodwill or your local thrift store. Buy a used monitor for $2 or $5 with the connections you need, and give it back to Goodwill once you're done.

  11. #11
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    It's more of a hassle to put back in the original package.
    Fantastic answer
    Ian

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  12. #12
    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    Um. If it is an Old PC, probably running windows, with unencrypted drives, get an external drive enclosure and put the hard drive in it and plug it into a working computer.
    You will be able to see all of the files and copy what you might need to another one or just keep the drive as your "archive".
    Trying to get an older computer to boot the old operating system is sometimes more than a little frustrating.
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    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    You could probably buy the adapter from Best Buy and return it when you're done, and just say it didn't fit. Stick it to The Man!
    Where's your integrity?
    "If you want to see the true nature of humanity, just look at the internet."

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  14. #14
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    Where's your integrity?
    I'm sure he's being facetious

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    Howdy Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Shot in the dark, Are they both on the network? You could just copy the files over.
    Or if you already happen to support Remote Desktop or have a VNC server running on the desktop, you could get to it that way and move your files up to google drive or something. My ancient desktop's video card died a few years ago, so I just VNC to it.

  16. #16
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwoll View Post
    Um. If it is an Old PC, probably running windows, with unencrypted drives, get an external drive enclosure and put the hard drive in it and plug it into a working computer.
    There are many compatibility issues with old drives too - IDE, ATA, ATAPI, SCSI, FAT32, NTFS, HFS+, exFAT, ext4.... It may not be as easy as plugging the old drive into a new computer.

  17. #17
    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    There are many compatibility issues with old drives too - IDE, ATA, ATAPI, SCSI, FAT32, NTFS, HFS+, exFAT, ext4.... It may not be as easy as plugging the old drive into a new computer.
    Consumer grade Dell made in the last 15 years will be sata fat32, far less than a terabyte probably 300-500gig at most. A 3.5" enclosure with a usb connection requiring no drivers for a modern pc costs 15-20. opening the case and removing the drive is the hardest part. Then the box can be discarded without worry.
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
    -- Aristotle
    Nostalgia, you know, ain't what it used to be. Furthermore, they tells me, it never was.
    Mayonnaise on a hamburger is an Abomination.

  18. #18
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    Shot in the dark, Are they both on the network? You could just copy the files over.
    Or if you already happen to support Remote Desktop or have a VNC server running on the desktop, you could get to it that way and move your files up to google drive or something. My ancient desktop's video card died a few years ago, so I just VNC to it.
    Holy shit, I basically don't understand any of that!

    So, I have an old monitor at school with the VGA inputs, so I think I'm gonna borrow it and see if my old tower still boots up.

    Thanks for the info guys.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  19. #19
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Good plan.

    The chances of you having Remote Desktop or VNC or VDI or VPN on your old PC if you're "not really computer savvy" are slim-to-none, and Dave (in MA) should've known that.

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