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My wife has (had) a Windows 7 laptop (Toshiba Satellite with SATA HD), and last night one of our dogs jumped on it and completely broke the LCD screen. She needs to get some files off of the hard drive ASAP for a presentation she was putting together. I have an Ubuntu 12.04 desktop, and was told that I might be able to use an external enclosure HD like this one, but not quite sure how.

So I ask:

  1. Is this enclosure HD the best solution? Why couldn't I use a flash drive?
  2. How do I use the external enclosure to get data off of her hard drive?
  3. How do I get the files from the external enclosure device to my Ubuntu machine?

Thanks in advance!

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Is the laptop still running? Most laptops allow you to connect an external monitor. – Robert Harvey Sep 25 '13 at 21:05
up vote 5 down vote accepted

1) See if you can use an external monitor

  • Get an external video monitor
  • Connect to your laptop's external video output (see image below).

enter image description here

(If your laptop has an HDMI output and your TV has an HDMI output, you can alternatively connect it to your TV, use an HDMI cable).

  • You might need to press a key combination on your laptop to activate the external output. See image below, taken from my Toshiba Satellite:

enter image description here

2) If you can't use an external monitor:

  • Disassemble your computer. Do it very carefully, if unsure, seek professional help. Do not try to disassemble it completely, it probably has a separate opening where you can remove only its HDD. (see example below)

enter image description here

  • Remove the HDD, a laptop's SATA HDD looks like this: enter image description here

  • Plug the HDD in your enclosure's SATA connector. Your casing might be different, but it will have a SATA connector (check before buying!). It will probably need to be powered by an separate power cable, comes included.

enter image description here

  • Turn on your Ubuntu PC, turn on the casing with the HDD inside, connect the USB cable. It works exactly like a flash drive, only the icon is different:

enter image description here

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Holy moly! Best answer ever! – pnongrata Sep 25 '13 at 21:56
Haha, thanks @TicketMonster , I'd disagree, there are other users with way more expertise than me. I just tried to provide an answer with good level of details, that would be useful to many future visitors, in the spirit on – That Brazilian Guy Sep 25 '13 at 21:59
I'd add that if you can't find where the HDD is, to look for the service manual. Also, if its a NTFS drive that hasn't been cleanly mounted, you'll need to force mount it. – Journeyman Geek Sep 26 '13 at 5:13
An astoundingly thorough answer, easy to follow, and technically correct as well! I'm in awe. – Debra Sep 27 '13 at 4:11

When the Laptop is still running and beside the broken screen working, than you can add an external monitor and switch the screen to the external monitor. So you can use a USB-drive to export the most important files.

If the Laptop isn't running, than you can open the laptop and use the HD as an external HD.

Its not very easy, but it works.

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Thanks (+1), but what if that solution doesn't work/run? – pnongrata Sep 25 '13 at 21:11
Than you can still try to use the HD as an external harddrive. But a laptop isn't that "sensitive" expect the screen. – Christian Woerz Sep 25 '13 at 21:13
Thanks again (+1), but still, in the event that your proposed screen solution doesn't work (even though I understand you are confident that it will), do you have specific answers for the 3 questions above? – pnongrata Sep 25 '13 at 21:32
1. Yes, In my opinion its the best solution. Because you dont know, where to click etc. to put your files to the usb-drive because you haven't a screen. 2. You have to extract the HD out of the laptop and into the enclosure. 3. Than you can connect it to any computer like a normal external hd. – Christian Woerz Sep 25 '13 at 21:36
Thanks again @Chris (+1) - so to confirm: First, I remove the HD from the Windows 7 laptop, then I connect it to the external enclosure. Then I connect my Ubuntu machine to the external enclosure as well? If so, would Ubuntu just see the external enclosure or would it see both devices (the enclosure and the Toshiba HD connected to the enclsoure)? Thanks again! – pnongrata Sep 25 '13 at 21:52

Before I'd remove the hard drive & get an enclosure etc. -- assuming both computers are on the same network and it's only the laptop screen that's broken, I'd try to remote into the laptop. There are various versions of RDP for Linux systems, i.e. so you can remote from a Linux box into a Windows box.

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