hard drives

Will I be able to access my photo backups after I get a new Mac with Thunderbolt?

Episode 1407

Michelle from Northridge, CA
Thunderbolt Port

Michelle has been using USB to back up the photos on her Mac, but the new Macs have Thunderbolt now. Will she be able to still back up her photos? Leo says those new Thunderbolt ports can take USB using an adapter. So this isn't an issue. Leo says that thumb drives are notoriously unreliable, though. She might want to invest in an external hard drive instead. It's good that Michelle has three copies of her photos, but it's important that she gets one off-site. Leo suggests she take one of the copies to work.

What's the difference between a traditional hard drive and a solid state drive?

Michelle from Northridge, CA

Episode 1407

Leo says that all traditional spinning hard drives are basically the same. They're basically like record players, but instead of vinyl, they use spinning metal plates. Those plates are magnetic, so they can be magnetized. They also have read heads, at least one per platter, which are like the needle on the record player. Except instead of reading the grooves in vinyl, they're reading the magnetic signals coming off the spinning platter. Because it's a computer, everything is recorded as 1's or 0's, and it's very easy with magnetic material to have a charge or no charge.

Should I replace my hard drive with an SSD?

Episode 1406

Jim from Las Vegas, NV
SSD

Jim has an HP Pavilion laptop and he thinks his hard drive is about to fail. Should he put a solid state drive in it? Leo says that SSDs are much faster than spinning hard drives, and are more reliable. The question is, can the Pavilion support it? Ideally, he'll need a SATA 2 drive. SATA 3 would be even better if it supports it. Then there's the question of whether he can install it himself or would he have to pay for a tech to do so. It'll have to be in ideal shape and size than the existing hard drive. If all that works, then he should absolutely get one.

Can I still get a laptop with a CD drive?

Episode 1402

Kathy from Tustin, CA
Dell Inspiron 15 5000

Kathy wants a new computer with a built-in CD drive. Leo says that they're getting fewer and farther between, and both Microsoft and Apple have stopped making them. Dell's Inspiron has one, and Acer and Asus both have it. Is Costco a good place to buy them? Leo says that the advantage of Costco is both their return policy and their extended warranty. But they may be discontinued models as well. So she'll want to be sure that isn't the case.

How do I make room on my hard drive?

Episode 1401

David from Vacaville, CA
WinDirStat

David's hard drive is filled and he used WinDirStat to see what's filling it up. He sees that there's 25GB of "installer" files. Can he get rid of those? Leo says he suspects that those files are hot fixes for Windows and he can't really delete them because it could make his system vulnerable. Leo suggests running Windows' Disk Cleanup Utility. It's not too aggressive and will clean out temp files, download files, etc. Just press the Windows key and type "Disk." Another thing to look for is previous Windows installations.

How can I clone my old hard drive?

Episode 1398

Bill from Winnetka, CA
SSD

Bill's company has a third party server running Windows 8 Pro and SQL server. He wants to update the hard drive to an SSD, but there's latency issues. Leo says that since he's running proprietary point of sale software, the logjam could be there since they are concerned with piracy. It may mean that he can't just clone the drive and then restore it to the new one without having to reinstall that POS software. But ideally, each drive will come with a drive cloning utility that will make a direct copy that he can run. Once he does, then he can swap them out.

How can I get data off an old hard drive?

Episode 1389

Jevon from Lyons, GA
NewerTech USB Drive Adapter

Jevon has a new computer and he wants to know how to transfer his data from the old hard drive to the new computer? Leo says NewerTech makes a universal drive adapter so he can connect the drive without a housing and get the data off it. It's bare bones, but it will power it and turn it into a USB drive that he can browse and copy from. Or he can grab a hard drive enclosure that will enable him to connect to it as an external drive.