Question from Brad L.: I have a really old Dell Optiplex 745 desktop computer that I absolutely love.
This machine has an 80 Gig hard drive and it’s recently started giving me problems.
These past few days when I turn on the PC the hard drive makes clicking sounds for about 5-10 seconds, then it finally starts booting up.
I know it’s the hard drive that’s doing the clicking because I removed the cover and listened to it.
Anyway, it’ll eventually boot fully into Windows but it seems to take longer every day. In fact, this morning it took over 7 minutes.
I ran all the malware scans you recommend in this post and they all came up clean. It took about 15 hours total to run them!
Do you think the hard drive is going bad? And if it is, how’s the best way to copy my files from it.
I don’t plan to fix this computer because it’s so old but I would like to save my files if I can. It has Windows 7 on it.
Rick’s answer: I’m sorry you’re having problems with your cherished Dell Optiplex 745, Brad.
It is indeed quite old in tech years, but that particular model has a reputation for being rock solid (the hard drive issue notwithstanding).
To answer your question, the hard drive in your Dell is already “bad”. It just happens to still be partially working, which of course is a good thing.
What you need to do is plug an external hard drive or large USB flash drive into an open USB port and copy the files directly from the hard drive to the external drive. Just follow the steps below.
Important: You’ll want to work quickly while copying your files. The old drive could stop working altogether at any moment, so time is of the essence.
1 – Plug the drive you’ll be using to receive the recovered files into an empty USB port.
2 – Open Windows Explorer and navigate to a folder that contains some files you want to keep.
3 – Open another instance of Windows Explorer and navigate to the external drive that will be receiving the copied files.
4 – Go back to the first Windows Explorer window and select all the files you want to copy onto the external drive. If you want to copy all the files in a given folder, you can just select the folder itself.
5 – Drag the selected files or the selected folder onto the external drive.
6 – Repeat steps 2-5 for the other folders that contain files you want to keep. (Don’t forget about any files that might be residing on the Desktop.)
That’s all there is to retrieving your files from the bad drive.
When you’re sure that you’ve transferred all the files you want to save onto the external drive you can decide what you wish to do with the Dell computer. Here are a few suggestions:
1 – Replace the bad hard drive with an SSD and then install Linux on it. That would convert your old Windows machine into an excellent Internet computer.
2 – Sell the old computer on Ebay or Craigslist. It won’t bring very much, but anything beats nothing!
3 – Take it to a recycling center.
I hope this helps, Brad. Good luck!
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