How to download files from pc with no USB port (hence, no flash drive access)?
April 25, 2006 3:05 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to transfer a number of scanned family photo files from 2 old pcs which do not have USB ports. Is there any other way to move these files without using a flash drive or internet upload other than spending hours copying to diskette?

I've been lucky with one of the old pcs - I was able to install a usb controller card, and downloaded to a flash drive. I wasn't lucky with the 2nd old pc. When I tried to install the usb controller card (reusing the same one from the 1st pc - if that matters), it wasn't recognized. This old pc also is not connected to the internet. Any suggestions, or am I doomed to diskette backup? Thanks
posted by crepeMyrtle to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Move the hard drive from the old pc into a new one. Or alternatively, from the 1st old pc to the second old pc. A USB-9-pin convertor won't help you here (in case anyone suggests this) because the conversion would need to be going from computer -> accessory, not the other way around.
posted by onalark at 3:17 PM on April 25, 2006

From 2 old PCs to where?
posted by Neiltupper at 3:17 PM on April 25, 2006

You can connect the old computer and new computer with the parallel ports.

on preview, slaving the drive is a good option as well.
posted by nadawi at 3:18 PM on April 25, 2006

The HDD transplant option would give the fastest transfer rates, and not require finding/installing drivers on the old PCs. You could also install the (old) drives into an external USB case, and plug that into your (new) computer.
The other option is connecting the machines via ethernet, but that might require purchasing a bit of equipment that you may never use again (ethernet cards for the old PC's, and a hub, switch, or corssover cable).
posted by unmake at 3:24 PM on April 25, 2006

If the second box has ethernet, you can use a crossover cable to connect it to any other machine with ethernet and create an ad-hoc 2-computer network. Doing this with the 9- or 25-pin ports is also possible.

Probably the easiest solution is to get an external hard drive kit. Remove the old HD, plug it into the External HD kit, plug that into a newer box via USB, and viola.
posted by ChasFile at 3:26 PM on April 25, 2006

zip drive?
I can't imagine a secondhand zip drive costing all that much these days. Maybe someone you know has an old one and some disks lying around. I had an old one that was parallel
posted by mule at 3:58 PM on April 25, 2006

Yeah, simply sticking the hard drive in a free spot in a properly connected computer is probably the fastest, simplest method.

The crossover cable thing is also possible, though it could be a pain in the rear to configure. Similarly the parallel / serial connection idea.

The other option is to buy a cable that has an IDE connector on one end and a USB connector on the other (like this, or a standard external enclosure that you can put a drive in and use for storage in the future.

Another option, if you're at all comfortable with Linux, is to use a Linux boot CD. Knoppix will work well, and if it is a very old computer you can boot to the command line by typing "knoppix 2" at the boot prompt. Linux should be able to recognize hardware that an old version of Windows can't. However, if you don't know your way around Linux somewhat, this is probably not a realistic option.
posted by musicinmybrain at 4:30 PM on April 25, 2006

a friend of mine used yousendit to transfer a bunch of files from his old computer to new computer. It took many days. Pando seems like it might be a quicker solution since it uses bittorrent technology so you can start downloading before it's done uploading.
posted by any major dude at 4:30 PM on April 25, 2006

sorry, I need to read more carefully. Ignore my last comment.
posted by any major dude at 4:32 PM on April 25, 2006

Also, about the USB card not being detected by one of the old PC's: you could try removing any other (unnecessary) PCI cards which are installed, or shuffling them around; their may also be some BIOS options relating to Plug N' Play to fiddle with. Installing Windows XP might also improve hardware detection.. The external USB case is still the best solution, IMO.
posted by unmake at 7:19 PM on April 25, 2006

Your least invasive option is to use either a parallel or null-modem serial cable & a program like laplink or fastlynx that's designed for this sort of thing. If you don't have the proper cables, most online retailers sell them as a package with the software. It costs a few bucks but it's a lot less messy & risky than taking the hard drive out of the old PC.
posted by scalefree at 8:00 PM on April 25, 2006

I'm going to second the IDE to USB cable as the easiest (and cheapest) way to get this to work (as mentioned above by musicinmybrain). You can buy one of these cables from eBay for less than $10 these days.

Also, if you're crafty with this cable, you don't even have to unscrew the HDD from the case! Just put the old PC close to your new PC, open it up, yank the old IDE cable and plug in the new IDE to USB cable. Turn on the old PC (which provides power to the drive) and then plug the USB end into your new PC. Voila, one accessable external HDD!

Best part about this is that, once your done, you can replace the IDE cable, put the old PC back together and it's as good as new (sounds very James Bond, doesn't it? Can you imagine sneaking into a business and doing this with your laptop and a $10 cable? Sneaky industrial espionage!).
posted by ranglin at 11:19 PM on April 25, 2006

Thanks for all the suggestions - I'll look at my set up again and see which option looks most do-able.
Thanks again!
posted by crepeMyrtle at 5:50 AM on April 26, 2006

oh, and forgot to answer earlier question by Neiltupper: I am moving these files from the old pcs to a new laptop.
posted by crepeMyrtle at 5:51 AM on April 26, 2006

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