How Do I Move My Desktop Computer Without Breaking It?

I try not to move if I can avoid it, so I stayed in ultra-expensive Silicon Valley, working remotely for Lifehacker, instead of living like a king in an accessible small town somewhere. When I move, I take particular care of my desktop PC because I have a lot of expensive things that I don’t want to break or leak. And I definitely don’t want to find myself unable to turn on my computer for any reason when I have reached my final destination.

You’ve probably guessed what I’m getting at by answering the 911 Tech Support Questions and Answers this week. As Lifehacker reader Jay writes:

I recently moved my family of four from Kentucky to Missouri. I carefully packed my 10-year-old Windows desktop and left it for the movers to bring it to our new home. When I plugged it in, it sounded like the hard drive or graphics card fan was humming like a marathon smoker and nothing was showing on the monitor.

I tried to buy one of the adapters I recommend. I took out my hard drive and stuck it into the machine. There were files …. But not a single photo of my children from 8 years ago. I tried some free software to see if it worked … Nothing anyway.

What am I doing wrong? Or what went wrong?

How do I transfer my desktop computer? Very careful

My guess is that some combination of your packaging process, combined with the methods the carriers used to move your desktop PC from point A to point B, caused you technical problems. Before I move on to some techniques you can use the next time you move, let’s talk about damage next time.

First, you can probably recognize strange sounds inside your PC. Remove the side of the case and bring your ear close to your system components. If your graphics card fan is making an unpleasant sound – which makes me wonder if this is the problem, since now you cannot get the image displayed on your monitor – you will find out.

And since you’ve already pulled out your hard drive and plugged it into a separate adapter (probably something of a SATA-USB deal), put your ear to it too. Can you hear the clicks? Grinding sound? Anything that doesn’t sound a little bit? If so, I would not believe your hard drive will last much longer, and it’s time to think about a replacement.

But first of all, I would take a little time to create a complete image of this disk, which you will use to find data, not to scan the disk itself. If things are not going well, consider this drive as your last data source. You will want to work with a backup of its contents whenever possible. (Actually, a copy of a backup, since you always want to have at least one complete, untouched backup of its contents.)

However, it’s odd that your hard drive doesn’t have the data it had before you moved. This leads me to believe that there is something wrong with this video card and not with it. And that might explain why there is no signal on your monitor when you boot your computer. If there is data loss on your disk and it seriously affects your operating system, Windows will not boot.

(However, you should still provide a reason why your system is unable to boot, and you should at least be able to boot into your system’s BIOS even if your hard drive has nothing. You may have multiple hardware issues on your PC, but without some hands-on research, it’s hard to know exactly what the problem is.)

About missing photos

However, you cannot find your old photos and this is a problem. As I mentioned, I would useMacrium Reflect to create a complete image of the contents of your disk, and then look at it in Explorer (on another computer, of course) to see what I can find. However, you can also use a more powerful data recovery tool like Ddrescue if you already suspect that your hard drive is not working. You will need another hard drive to clone to , but this is not a bad investment if you are concerned about the longevity you have.

If you go the Ddrescue route, this process should extract all data from your hard drive that the program can access. In short, if it is not on the newly created copy, it probably cannot be restored. If you are using Macrium Reflect to create an image of the contents of your disk, I do not believe there will be something that the file recovery tool can find after the fact. Instead, you will need to make a sector-by-sector copy of the original disk and then run the file recovery application on it, which I believe is what you could do on your Ddrescue clone you created . (It never hurts to try both, but I’d focus on Ddrescue first, although it doesn’t have a friendly GUI).

From there, cross your fingers so that you or your favorite file recovery app can recover the missing data. Regardless of the outcome, this is a great reminder that it is always important to back up your data elsewhere – ideally, one hardware backup that you control (such as a spare hard drive) and one cloud backup with which others will have to deal, in case your first method breaks / your house catches fire / insert another disaster here. When it comes to photos, there is no reason you shouldn’t send them to a free service like Google Photos , or even Amazon Photos or iCloud, depending on which platform and services you prefer.

Consider disassembling your computer before moving it.

Every time you move, I advise treating your desktop computer like a delicate piece of jewelry. I always move mine by hand, because I don’t trust anyone to do it for me, and because I’m at that point in my life when I don’t want to take it all apart if I don’t need to. So, I am very careful when I disconnect all external cables from my desktop PC; carefully take it to your car; surround him with other, heavier objects so that he does not move (or fasten him with a seat belt); and drive like I was a 16 year old teenager testing my driver’s license to my next destination.

If you don’t want to handle your system with a “white glove” yourself, I highly recommend that you disassemble it (if you can). Place important parts in anti-static bags (at least your graphics card, hard drives, and motherboard), seal those bags and wrap them with plenty of bubble wrap, then place those bags in a box that’s perfectly filled with other protective materials. elements (foam rubber, antistatic peanuts, cotton paper, etc.). You never have too much protection. Check this Fragile: Computer Hardware box for a little help, and hope no one else puts your weight on it.

(Take extra care to make sure your hard drives remain as secure as possible, as you don’t want any unnecessary movement to press on the insides more than they can handle.)

If you are building your own computer and have saved all the boxes for the hardware you purchased, this is a great time to take them apart again and repackage all of your components in them. If you are like me and you are getting lazy about it, then the antistatic bag + bubble wrap approach is your second best option (unless you have a harder case to use).

Then, when you find yourself in a new location, unpack your gear. Set up your friendly anti-static mat or wristband, repair your computer, plug in all your cables, and you should be able to boot without any errors. It’s a process , but much safer than just wrapping the entire tabletop tower in bubble wrap and stopping it; You never know how others will feel about your most precious computer hardware, and the last thing you want is for your components to experience stress that they might otherwise have avoided.

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