old computers

How can I get data off a really old hard drive?

VGA

Episode 1538

Tyler from Oklahoma City, OK

Tyler has a 20-year-old computer and he needs to get some data off the hard drive. He's having trouble finding a port to connect his video monitor to. He doesn't have VGA. Leo says he'll have to have a VGA port because that was the standard back then. If there's no VGA, then it could be a server. But he may be able to find an old video card to plug into it.

Leo recommends just getting a hard drive enclosure for it. He'll need an IDE model. Then he can connect it via USB to his current computer. That's far easier than trying to connect everything to it to see what's on it.

Can I sell an old computer?

Apple I

Episode 1501

Randy from Temecula, CA

Randy has an old handheld computer and wants to know if he can sell it. Leo says that most old computers eventually become worthless as far as the market goes, but if it's a unique item, like one of the first computers sealed in a box, then it becomes kind of a museum piece. That could make it worth something. The original Apple 1, for instance, is worthless form a computing point of view, but from a nostalgic, historical point of view, it's worth about $300,000 right now.

Check eBay under the completed listings. That will tell him what he can get for it.

Why won't my old computer boot up?

Hard drives

Episode 1457

Penny from Long Beach, CA

Penny has an old tower computer that she wants to get rid of. Leo suggests keeping the hard drive and donating the rest of the PC. She tried to boot it up to move the data off the hard drive, but it won't boot. Leo suggests that she check her keyboard connection. Sometimes a computer won't boot if a keyboard isn't properly connected. The BIOS battery or motherboard battery could have died. The hard drive may have gotten stuck. It's called "stiction." Penny should try taking out the hard drive and putting it into an external enclosure to see if she can still read the data.

Is my old computer worth anything?

Two Dell Dimensions

Episode 1395

Sandy from San Marcos, CA

Sandy has an old Dell computer from 2002. Is it worth keeping? Leo says if it's been in storage for 15 years, it's really not going to do her much good. It could be worth about $25 if she wanted to try and sell it, but it will be a hard one to get rid of because nobody can really use them. The same goes for floppy disk laptops. She won't be able to upgrade it to today's standards, either.

Can I still use an old computers running XP and Vista?

Windows XP

Episode 1386

Nick from San Fernando, CA

Nick has a very old netbook running Windows Vista. He also has an old Windows XP machine. Will they still be working if he restarts them? Leo says that they should. He may have an issue with authenticating Windows and the software he's using. XP and Vista also pose a security issue as Microsoft has declared them both "end of life" for security fixes. So Leo recommends not connecting it to the internet after authentication. Here are some things he can do to protect himself anyway:

Will my old computer die eventually?

Acer Aspire One

Episode 1377

Sak from East Point, FL

Sak is using an old Acer computer as a backup drive for his data. Will there be a point where it will die? Leo says yes. It always will sooner or later with age. The older the computer is, the more likely it will fail. He really won't want to rely on a single backup source. He needs two, preferably three. He should grab an external hard drive and copy all that data onto it. Then bring that off site.

1980s Commodore Amiga Running Heat and AC at 19 Public Schools in Michigan

Episode 1196

The heat and AC at 19 public schools in Grand Rapids, MI is run off of a 30 year old Commodore Amiga, according to a story from WOOD TV 8. The computer was purchased with money from an energy bond in the 1980's, replacing a refrigerator sized computer at the time. The computer system turns the heat and air conditioners on and off for 19 buildings and monitors the temperature. A high schooler programmed it, and whenever the district has a problem, they go back to that same former student.