GuideInformation Technology

Quarantine Project: Rejuvenate an old(ish) Computer

Two years ago, my brother gave my parents his old desktop computer since he had a new one and no longer had any room for a second tower. It was a second generation i7, which he had used for video-editing.  I had installed Windows 10, but the machine’s dying mechanical hard drive slowed it down to a crawl. My parents already had another desktop, so we put my brother’s machine in the basement, where it was rarely used.

Recently, the living room desktop started to have hard drive problems as well. Since my brother’s computer was newer and better, I decided it was the one worth revamping. I had a solid state drive from an old laptop lying around and figured it would fit perfectly.

Here’s a short guide to help you rejuvenate a desktop computer from the early 2010s.

What you need:

  • Desktop Computer from around 2010 or newer
  • A laptop or desktop solid-state drive (SATA)
  • A SATA to USB adapter
  • A USB flash drive (8 GB or more)
  • Another computer (to download Windows Media Creation tool quicker)
  • A screwdriver

Backing up your files

A failing mechanical hard drive is likely to stop working at any time. If you want to back up your files, access the drive while it isn’t used to run Window. As such, you should back your file from another computer by plugging the hard drive with a SATA to USB adapter.

  1. Take you old hard drive and plug it to the SATA to USB adapter.
  2. Plug the  USB cable to your PC.
  3. Go to C:\User\[Your Account Name], right-clique on the folder and select Properties.
    The folder’s Properties window will appear.
  4. Under the security tab, select the edit button.
    The Permission window will appear.
  5. From the Group or name list, select your account.
  6. From the Permissions for Authenticated User list, select allow full control, then select OK.
    You now have access to the old computer’s folders
  7. Copy the files that are relevant to you.

Replacing the Hard Drive

To replace the hard drive you need to open the case. You can use a desktop SSD or a laptop SSD as long as it uses the SATA interface.

  1. Unscrew the computer case side-panel and locate the hard drive.
  2. Unplug the SATA Cable and the hard drive power cable from the hard drive.
  3. Plug the SATA cable and hard drive power cable to solid state drive.
  4. Turn on the computer to make sure it recognizes the drive from the Bios.
  5. Unscrew the hard drive from its the computer case. 
  6. Screw the solid-state drive to the case.
  7. Screw back the computer side-panel.

Creating a bootable USB flash Drive

A  Bootable USB flash drive is a USB flash drive that can install windows from the bios. Always use an empty flash drive to create your Bootable drive..  Ideally you should also the Bootable USB flash drive using another computer to avoid putting stress on the old hard drive.

  1. Download Media Creation Tool here.
  2. Open the Media Creation Tool and accept the license terms 
  3. Select Create Installation Media ( USB Flash Drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC.
  4. Select the language and Windows edition.
  5. Select USB flash drive.
    The Media Creation tool will create a bootable installation of Windows

Installing a fresh copy of Windows

If you are working on a computer with a failing Hard Drive, cloning the Hard Drive to an SSD is not recommended. It is better to install a fresh copy of Windows.

  1. Enter the bios and put your USB Bootable Drive in first priority.
    Here’s a quick guide on Bios settings.
  2. Save your changes and restart the computer.
    The Windows Installation will begin.
  3. Follow the Window Installation’s Steps until you’re asked to select a partition.
  4. Select your Solid-State Drive and Erase all old partitions.
  5. Select create New Partitions and then Continue.
  6. Choose a WIFI network.
  7. Enter your Microsoft Account Log In info.


Most 2010s PCs, especially i5 and i7 desktops, have aged well and are far more capable than you think. In this case, my parent still can’t how fast this PC got after the refresh. If I added a better graphics card, this PC could run most modern PC games with flying colours. Keep that in mind before you throw away good hardware!

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