Psychologists’ Tech Tip: That old zombie computer

They're coming to get you Bahr-barah

My favorite laptop of mine crashed it’s final crash a little over a week ago; it has a headstone now that reads 9/17/2010 to 2/23/2016. I bought a used motherboard off eBay and switched out the motherboard but it did not come back from the grave. However, I can still look inside it’s brain and breathe at least some life into that zombie computer.

This made me think about a cheap and helpful tech tip for psychologists. Of course the hard drives on your dead computers or just the computers you don’t plan to use anymore can’t just be tossed out or donated; you have confidential files on there which people could discover even if you deleted them. They could bring those files back to life like zombies. Sure you could use fancy programs to try to permanently wipe those files or try to reenact a scene from The Walking Dead (or Office Space) to physically destroy the hard drive (thus crushing the brain if you did it well enough)– but another option is to reuse the hard drive; make that zombie drive work for you.

For next to no money you can turn the internal hard drive of your laptop or desktop computer in to an external hard drive. What does that mean? If you have the technical knowledge of knowing how to work a screwdriver (that is basically all you need) you can take the hard drive out of your computer and place it in an inexpensive “hard disk drive enclosure.” For example, clicking here will give you the search results on Amazon for hard drive enclosure (remember if you buy something through Amazon from the blog I receive a small percentage which goes towards off-setting the cost of the blog). Be sure to buy a  hard disk drive enclosure which is made for a laptop if you’re using a hard drive that came from a laptop (vs one that came from a desktop). The one I’m using for the hard drive from my old Dell studio 1555 laptop was an Insignia USB 3.0 Laptop Hard Disk Drive Enclosure and it works fine (there may be better or cheaper ones out there).

Basically you plug your internal hard drive in to this case and it becomes an external hard drive which you then plug in to a different computer’s USB port with a USB cable (most likely included with your disk drive enclosure purchase). You can use other ports but most of us have USB ports available.  So, instead of worrying about whether you should wipe or destroy that old hard drive or how many computer’s you’ll end up having stored in your basement, why not put that hard drive to good use? You can plug it in for more storage space, to access all those files you already had on the old computer and/or use it as another way to back up files.




Todd Finnerty, Psy.D.

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