Laptop Hard Drive Upgrade

Laptop Hard Drive Upgrade - Introduction

Do you need a laptop hard drive upgrade?

Is your laptop hard drive becoming full to over brimming?

With all of the programs, photos, mp3s and video etc that we store on our laptops and notebooks these days it doesn’t take too long before we may begin to find our laptop hard drive struggling to cope, especially if yours is getting a little old now and only has a 10GB or 20GB hard drive installed!

You may be forgiven for thinking you are stuck with what you’ve got but that’s not necessarily the case.

Most laptops and notebooks can be upgraded and a laptop hard drive replacement really isn’t that difficult to do when you know what you are doing.

After a memory upgrade we would rate this as the next most useful and performance transforming modification that you can perform on your laptop.

Laptop hard drive in its caddy

Laptop Hard Drive Upgrade - Selection

If your laptop is younger than say 2003 then a laptop hard drive upgrade should be perfectly possible.

Most laptops and notebooks use the 2.5 inch size hard disk drives rather than the lager 3.5 inch desktop PC types.

As for desktop PC hard drives, the faster and larger drives will cost you more so you will need to decide exactly what your requirements are. 250GB hard drives are readily available at a reasonable price and would give you a really good performance boost to your laptop.

Drive rotation speeds are available in 5400rpm and 7200rpm. You should consider the 7200rpm drives if performance is important to you but do bear in mind that these drives can be a little noisier and thirstier on your battery life.

Note that if your laptop is old enough to be running Windows 98 then this operating system will only support up to 127.5GB size drives.

Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 will not suffer from this limitation but you should consult your laptops manual to check that the BIOS is able to recognise your hard drive if you have an older model laptop running say Windows XP for instance.

Check the interface type on your existing hard drive – it will most likely be the IDE type interface but newer models have started to use the more recent SATA type interface which isn’t compatible with IDE and note that there are no converters available so check first.

Laptop Hard Drive Upgrade – Data Backup

Before you go ahead with your upgrade you will need to back up all the data on your existing hard drive.

Use your laptops USB port or your wired or wireless network connection to transfer all of your important files and data to a safe place that you can easily retrieve this from after you have finished your laptop hard drive replacement.

A fresh operating system install on your new hard drive will speed up operation of your laptop and have it back running good as new!

Should you choose to go along this route then please visit the following pages to find details of how to install the operating system of your choice.

How to Install Windows XP

How to Install Windows Vista

How to Install Windows 7

Do make sure though that you have backed up all your files and data – better still, turn that old hard drive into an external back up drive by housing it in an external 2.5 inch USB ported enclosure – a ready made portable drive for you after you’ve finished transferring your files and data!

When you come to re-installing your operating system ensure that you have any restore disks or your Windows CD to hand if you are not upgrading to a newer operating system.

Remember that your laptop may have the system backup software filed away on a hidden partition on your old drive – check the manufacturers manual to see if you need these files to perform a system restore.

When re-installing Windows you will also need to ensure that you have all the drivers that are required – install these on a USB flash drive for easy access during installation.

Laptop Hard Drive Upgrade – Hard Drive Removal

How do you get to your laptop or notebooks hard drive?

Well, most laptops will have the drive hidden away under an access panel on the bottom of the laptop or hidden in a drive caddy slotted into the side behind an access panel.

Some may require you to remove the whole of the laptops back cover to access it. You should refer to your user manual for help with locating your drive.

The access panel will usually have one or two screws that require removal before you can gain access.

Laptop hard drive cover screw

Removal of the panel may also require you to unclip it from tiny plastic catches.

Laptop hard drive cover catches

Remember that removing and replacing your hard drive may invalidate any warranty that you have left on your notebook or laptop so please be aware of this.

When you remove your hard drive you will see that it may be enclosed in a disk caddy or tray.

Laptop hard drive in its caddy

The drive will be held in place with a number of screws which you will need to remove in order to swap out your old hard drive with your new hard drive.

Laptop hard drive caddy screws connector

Laptop hard drive caddy screws base

Now, note that your laptop hard drive may have an IDE adapter fitted if it is the IDE interface type and you will need to remove this for re-use with your new hard drive – ensure that you have purchased carefully. Laptop hard drives are typically 69mm wide and 9mm or 12.5 mm deep.

Laptop hard drive adapter removal

Some of the more recent drives available are of the SATA interface variety so take great care to ensure you purchase one with the correct IDE or SATA type interface that matches your current drive.

When you remove your IDE adapter, if fitted, check carefully its location on the hard drive connector – your drive will have extra power pins fitted that are not normally used and you will need to replace your adapter carefully otherwise you could easily damage it by misalignment of the connector pins.

Note that more recent laptops with the newer SATA interface use two L-shaped connectors for the power and data connections – check very carefully.

Laptop Hard Drive Upgrade – Fitting your new drive

So, remove your old drive carefully and replace with your new drive, carefully lining up the adapter if there was one fitted and replacing all the screws.

Re-fit your drive caddy assembly into your laptop and secure with the screws and access cover that you removed earlier.

Now, you will need to boot up your laptop with your manufacturers restore CD or your new Windows operating system CD.

Once you are up and running you can re-install all your files and data that you carefully backed up earlier.

Laptop Hard Drive Upgrade – Troubleshooting

If your laptop doesn’t recognise your hard drive then you should re-boot and enter the BIOS at start up and set the hard disk drive settings to auto detect your new drive – your BIOS probably has the old drive settings still loaded.

If your hard disk size is not reported correctly in ‘My Computer’ this is probably due to the BIOS not supporting your new hard disk drive size – check the manufacturers’ website for a BIOS update.

If your laptop doesn’t recognize your new drive at all then check that you have replaced any IDE adapter correctly and not misaligned the pins.

Hopefully you are now the proud owner of a rejuvenated, responsive notebook or laptop with cavernous storage for all your music, video and data files!

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