Moving data from an ancient laptop

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Reader Walt Pinkston, a friend indeed, wishes to help a friend in need with an ancient Apple laptop. He writes:

A friend has a really old Mac PowerBook 5300 and wants to transfer personal data files from it to a new iMac. There is no USB port on the old PowerBook. And I don’t know what OS is installed. It does have a SCSI port. Got any suggestions on the best way to move Quicken, Word, and Excel files and other personal data from this ancient machine on to something new?

Every so often I like to post questions simply to see what our readers come up with in the comments area. This is one of those cases. There are a few ways out of this PowerBook, but none of them are easy.

That PowerBook uses an HDI-30 SCSI connector. Search eBay and you’ll find HDI-30 to standard-issue SCSI cables. Get one and you might be able to add a SCSI-to-USB adapter to get to an external USB hard drive, where you could copy the data from the PowerBook and then move the drive to the iMac. I stress might because the PowerBook could just as easily ignore the hard drive.

The 5300 also has a PC Card Slot. Invoking the mighty might again, you might be able to find a compatible Ethernet PC card that works with this PowerBook. With that card, you could then set up file sharing between the two Macs and copy the files across the network. Again, Google, eBay, and (hopefully) some reader comments could be your other friends.

Finally, the PowerBook 5300 has an IDE hard drive. If your friend is willing to risk destroying what’s left of his laptop (and honestly, this is one of the worst laptops Apple ever made, so it’s no great loss), he could open it up, extract the drive, and use something like Newer Technologies’ USB 2.0 Universal Driver Adapter to attach the drive to the iMac. You can find some instructions for opening the 5300 here.

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