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How-To > Upgrade Hard Drive
Upgrading your Laptop Hard
like cars. Theyíre outdated and lose their value as soon as
you leave the store. Itís not financially feasible to buy
the latest and greatest every year. Often itís not the
computer thatís out of date; the system simply needs more
space. More space gives your laptop faster access and better
reliability. There are two ways to upgrade the hard drive:
install a new system or clone the existing drive on to a
While installing a new system has definite advantages,
cloning the existing drive is the least time consuming. A
new system requires a complete reinstallation of all
programs. By cloning the existing drive, your system keeps
its current settings and programs while giving you the
benefit of a faster system.
Backup your Data First
The first step in cloning the existing hard drive is to back
up all the data. The data can be backed up to an online
storage site or to an external flash drive. Then the data
needs to be copied to the new hard drive. Unless your laptop
is really old, the drive is a SATA drive. There are several
brands of software to copy the hard drive. If you are using
a Seagate or Maxtor hard drive, the drives include the
software for making the clone. You will also need an adaptor
to connect the new drive to the laptop. The adaptors connect
from the USB port to the SATA drive and generally run about
Once the hard drive is connected to the laptop, you can
configure the new hard drive by installing the software with
the Windows install wizard. After the program is installed,
the laptop will need to be rebooted. Then the copying can
When setting up the copy, many programs allow for the
automatic transfer of data. This is essentially setting up a
mirror copy of the existing hard drive down to the exact
partitioning of the drive. While this can result in wasted
space on the new drive, it is the easiest way to clone the
existing drive. If the laptop has hidden partitions in the
hard drive, and many do, itís necessary to set up a manual
wizard. You will want to keep the data and copy as is in
order to ensure the existing drive is cloned.
Now you wait. The data is generally copied byte by byte.
This takes quite a while, often several hours. This is why
itís imperative that the laptop be plugged in before
beginning the cloning process. Itís doubtful the battery
will last throughout the entire copy procedure.
the new Hard Drive
Once the cloning is complete, the new hard disk can be
installed. Itís vital that you use the right tools. Be sure
the screwdrivers you use to remove the case from the laptop
fit the screws. These screws strip easily and since they
tend to be proprietary, itís difficult to find replacements.
Prior to removing the back, the laptop must be unplugged and
the battery removed. You donít want power running through
the laptop when you touch a screwdriver to the boards. The
old drive can then be removed and the new drive installed.
Be careful not to bend any pins or move any other hardware.
Once the new drive has been installed, replace the case and
battery. Then boot up the laptop.
The final step in the process is making sure the clone works
like the original and that all data copied. On most systems,
Windows has a utility that partitions the C drive to fill up
the unused space on the new hard drive so it can be used.
Windows 7 and Vista have utilities that make this step easy.
Older versions of Windows, like XP, tend to be more
cumbersome. Microsoft has online instructions that walk
users through how to use the partition utility. There is
also software designed to partition hard drives. Once the
disk is partitioned, youíre done.
A faster and more reliable laptop is yours for a fraction of
the price of a new one. A little research, a few tools and
time are all you need to get a laptop that keeps up with the
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