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  1. #1


    Member Since
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    How do I get the data off my old Powerbook 170?
    I have an old Mac Powerbook 170 laptop computer I haven't used for years. I want to throw it out, but first I want to recover the data it has. Its battery is dead. I use Windows XP. Is there a company I can send the Mac's hard drive to, that will transfer the data that's on there to a few DVD discs that my Windows XP computer can read?

    Thank you

  2. #2

    robduckyworth's Avatar
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    If you take out the drive that was in it, you can buy an external USB IDE/SATA caddy to put the drive in to attach to another computer, then drag the files off that way.
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  3. #3

    dtravis7's Avatar
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    The only issue with that is the drive in the first gen Powerbooks is a Notebook SCSI drive and will not work in any of the cases out there now. I have my 170 and would never throw it out as it's a classic and works well for what it is, but I will see what I can figure out and get back to you.

    Can you tell me what version of Mac OS is on it?

  4. #4

    robduckyworth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtravis7 View Post
    The only issue with that is the drive in the first gen Powerbooks is a Notebook SCSI drive and will not work in any of the cases out there now. I have my 170 and would never throw it out as it's a classic and works well for what it is, but I will see what I can figure out and get back to you.
    ahh wasnt aware of that. thought it was one of the newer ones.
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  5. #5

    dtravis7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robduckyworth View Post
    ahh wasnt aware of that. thought it was one of the newer ones.
    Check that oldies but goodies thread where I posted my old systems. You will see my good old Powerbook 170 there! SCSI all the way!! The old 68k macs were mostly all SCSI. Great interface but hard to find anything for it today especially that would plug into a USB port. I might have a case here that is SCSI that does Firewire. Will check.

  6. #6

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Powerbook 170 is from 1991.

    @OP...one possible solution (depending on how much data you need to remove from the Powerbook 170)...is to remove the files you need via floppy disk.

    Then you will need a "somewhat" newer computer that has both a floppy drive and USB (probably late 1990's vintage)...then transfer the files from:

    1. The floppies.
    2. To the newer (late 90's) computer's HD
    3. Then to a USB stick.
    4. Then plug the USB stick into the newest computer you have.

    Another method to extract the files is...get them on floppies, transfer the files to a newer computer with a floppy drive...then e-mail the files to yourself, then download them onto your newest computer.

    The one big problem with the files you may be extracting from your Powerbook 170 is...being able to open the files. The programs or the versions of programs you need to open these files...most definitely will not be available on a newer computer. So you may have no way to open the files.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  7. #7

    dtravis7's Avatar
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    Nick gave some good advice. I was going to suggest a USB floppy for the newer mac and mac formatted floppies in the PB170 but if there is a lot of data it can be painfully slow but would work.

    What I do is take out the hard drive and put it in a external SCSI case and onto a newer G3/G4 Powermac with an Adaptec PCI SCSI card and get the files off that way then with the newer powermac you can do whatever with them.

    Another oldschool way was Null Modem. You hook a cable between the Powerbook 170's modem and a newer Mac with a modem and use a terminal program on each Mac and file transfer them. Also slow but it worked in a pinch! Grin

  8. #8

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtravis7 View Post
    Nick gave some good advice. I was going to suggest a USB floppy for the newer mac and mac formatted floppies in the PB170 but if there is a lot of data it can be painfully slow but would work.
    I've never had one of these (USB based floppy drives)...but that would certainly work...and reduce the complexity of the transfer process.

    My biggest concern (depending what sort of files we are talking about)...is being able to open the files. If these files are from the early to approx. the mid-90's...and then transferred to a much more modern computer (2000, 2004, 2008, etc.)...pretty much no application is going to be able to open them. So the whole transfer process may not be of any real use.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  9. #9

    dtravis7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
    I've never had one of these (USB based floppy drives)...but that would certainly work...and reduce the complexity of the transfer process.

    My biggest concern (depending what sort of files we are talking about)...is being able to open the files. If these files are from the early to approx. the mid-90's...and then transferred to a much more modern computer (2000, 2004, 2008, etc.)...pretty much no application is going to be able to open them. So the whole transfer process may not be of any real use.

    - Nick

    If its just text files or other standard files all should be fine but old Macs has a lot of strange file formats if I remember right.

  10. #10

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtravis7 View Post
    If its just text files or other standard files all should be fine but old Macs has a lot of strange file formats if I remember right.
    I was thinking of "Old" Photoshop files, Adobe Illustrator, MS Word, MS Excel (before there even was MS Office), MacDraft, MacPaint, MacDraw, etc.

    Like you said...old text files may be readable.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  11. #11


    Member Since
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    Thanks to everyone for all of their help.

    Dennis, you wrote, "Can you tell me what version of Mac OS is on it?"

    I have no idea. I don't remember.

    Nick, thanks for your ideas, but unfortunately I cannot use them. As I wrote above, the battery is dead, so I cannot turn it on. What's more, I cannot find a replacement battery for it in my country. So what I'm really looking for is someone I can send my hard drive to, by international air mail, who can take the data it has and put it on CD's or DVD's.

    Dennis, you later wrote, "What I do is take out the hard drive and put it in a external SCSI case and onto a newer G3/G4 Powermac with an Adaptec PCI SCSI card and get the files off that way then with the newer powermac you can do whatever with them."

    - this idea sounds great. So I need to take out the hard drive and then:

    * buy an external SCSI case (any one you reccomend? I've never seen one)
    * buy an Adaptec PCI SCSI card
    * find someone in my city with a G3/G4 Powermac, give him my case and card, and ask/pay him to do the file transfer to his computer, and from there to my USB drive or some CD's or DVD's.

    Did I understand you correctly?

    (By the way, these are old text files, so they should be readable)

    Thanks again for your help

    -Seth

  12. #12


    Member Since
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    I wish I could just get an external SCSI case, put the hard drive in it, and connect it to my Windows computer via USB. I don't understand why this will not work.

    Please explain. Thank you

  13. #13


    Member Since
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    I get it now. It's a different OS than Windows, so Windows won't be able to read its files.

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