Our Helproom Editor helps a reader solve a problem with the USB connector on his PC or laptop.

QUESTION I am trying to transfer photos and files from my PC to a USB flash drive before I get rid of the computer. However, when I plug in the USB flash drive the computer switches off. Do you have any idea what's going on?

HELPROOM ANSWER This sounds like a hardware problem. When connectors in a USB port accidentally touch and short out, it can turn off your PC's power supply. The problem could be caused by the USB connector on your PC or by the connector on your USB flash drive.

If you have another USB port on your PC, try using it to see whether the same problem occurs. Also try the flash drive on your new PC to check it is working correctly.

If your PC has no other USB ports, you could buy a plug-in USB card. However, since you'll be disposing of the PC it's not really worth spending money on fixing it.

A worthwhile alternative may be to remove the hard drive from the old PC and buy a USB caddy or drive enclosure so you can connect it to your new PC and copy over the files from there. You can then keep the drive as a backup device.

You may find it useful to organise all the files you want to copy into an easily accessible folder – perhaps called something like 'C:\MY OLD FILES' – before you remove the drive from your old PC.

See all How to articles. Get free tech support in the Helproom Forum.

Visit Windows 7 Advisor and Windows 8 Advisor for more Windows advice. Or email our Helproom Editor for bespoke advice.