Mac Mini saves the day — for a Windows user


I live in a house divided. I use both Mac and Windows, but my spouse is strictly Windows. Recently, I upgraded her aging PC with a new video card for better Windows 10 support. All seemed to go well — until I realized I’d booted the system but not plugged in the old PS2-style keyboard. The simple act of attaching the keyboard made the PC shut down and refuse to restart.

Because none of my repair attempts worked, and it would be some days before I could purchase a new machine, I took a flyer and attached the PC’s hard drive to my Mac Mini via a StarTech SATA/IDE-to-USB 3.0 adapter (more info). I then held down the Option key during startup to select the boot drive.

To my great surprise, the Win10 system not only booted, but ran relatively well. My spouse was able to access her files and applications until we were able to pick up a new laptop (at Costco). For better or worse, she decided to stick with Windows. (For professional and personal reasons, I stayed neutral in the decision.)

The temporary setup indicated that it was running under Microsoft’s Windows To Go technology (more info), which I understood only worked with the Enterprise version of Windows. I can’t say whether my setup violates the license agreement for a consumer version of Win10. I used it as a temporary solution. But it might be a way to boot a Windows system that you need to use occasionally.


  1. Linda

    I am 85 years old and my mac mini is over 15 years old and still serving me, even though I can't upgrade (downgrade?) to El Capitan and I am threatened every day with the fact that I cannot be upgraded unless I invest with rather substantial dollars in new hardware and software. Well I've already invested in new hip hardware and cataracts, and my craneal software still works sufficiently, and I will last as long as I can with my faithful little macmini. I have old versions of Microsoft office and they work fine. I don't see anything important that all the new machines and operating systems and apps do except interrupt your life with advertising and tell you how should think and organize and play silly and/or demonic war games, and format your documents and eventually your life. Beware! Google is the ultimate "big brother."

    • Jim Smith

      You are awesome, Linda!

    • Tim

      Linda - you're very wise. If it ain't broken, don't fix it! (just back up your data)

    • Nicely put, Linda. As long as the trusty mac mini works, no need to upgrade. I have an ageing iPad 2 which I unwittingly allowed it to upgrade to the iOS9 and it is slow. Pity is I can't roll back.

    • Jane ALLAN

      Well now, Linda, you make me think. I am on the brink of upgrading to El Capitan......I fear loss of apps, printers, etc. Should I bother? I am nearly 70. How long will I last? 74 is my guess, so why should I be bamboozeled.......... Mind you i like the idea of a split screen.......

      • Well Linda, why are you so pessimistic about your life expectancy. I am 80 and hope to live a few more years!

  2. Bubba 7

    I bought some used computers recently that had the Windows 7 COA. I loaded windows 7 on them, registered them with microsoft successfully, and successfully upgraded all but one of 5 to Windows 10. The failed upgrade may have failed because I removed a defective cd rom burner during the process. I let the upgrade run overnight but it didn't work and stalled at 99%. I may try a different hard drive, load 7 again and try the upgrade again. Still, for a 20$ Dell, I think I'm ahead of the game.

  3. Rodger

    Interesting. Do the two laptops have the same processor?

    • Tracey Capen

      Beyond Intel, I can't say off hand. Will have to look into the specs.

  4. Peter Hutchison

    It sounds like the PC system didn't have enough power for the extra load from the new graphics card. Also, some graphics card have an extra power cable to draw power direct from the PSU. What rating of PSU does the PC have?

    • Tracey Capen

      It was a low-end graphics card. Tried a new and more than adequate power supply I happened to have on the shelf. Sufficient power isn't the problem.

  5. Neville Dalton

    Glad your wife is managing Win-10. I allowed the "free upgrade" form Win-7 to Win-10 but then couldn't find anything AT ALL as the interface is a total puzzle. Where do I go for my files and programs etc., etc.? Not only that but a significant number of important (to me) programs wouldn't run - though "they" said they would...... After 40 years in computer-related work (from BBC-B, Commodore, pre-Windows DOS etc.) I'm going to have to go on a course!!!!! What a bunch of crap!

    • Jane ALLAN

      I HATE windows 10. I had a perfectly good old computer on 7. Upgraded and since then cannot boot it.... no more windows 10 for me - it sucks..........

    • Tracey Capen

      Running older apps can be a problem with Win10. But the interface is really not that much different than Win7. In fact, it's closer to Win7 than was Win8.1.

  6. Richard Weiss

    So the "Windows to go" thought the HD was a thumb drive on an enterprise machine? When your wife gets the new notebook and gets her stuff on it, you should keep that drive in the network for emergencies.

    • Tracey Capen

      I could set it up on a virtual machine, as I have other older systems. But Win10's licensing is changing, which could complicate things.