Hard drive upgrade

tom porter

Feb 17, 2010
Hello,I have a western digital 80 gig hard drive that has run out of space, I would like to replace It with a larger drive, how big a job is this and what should I know about the compatiblity of the new drive?new drive
I suspect you may be planning to do a very common task for which the hard drive makers will be happy to provide helpful tools. The usual form of the tasks is to migrate ALL of the stuff on your current drive (Operating System, Applications, Data, Configuration Files, hidden files, etc.) to the new drive in such a way that the new unit can completely take over the function of your boot drive called C:, even without your old drive in the box. Your system works just like it did originally, except that your C: drive suddenly has a LOT more Free Space!

The process involved is called Cloning your old drive to your new one. Many hard drive manufacturers will give you free software to do this job as an inducement for you to buy one of their drives and make the switch. BUT they will only help you to make your clone copy TO one of their drives - they have no motivation to help you buy someone else's. So, if you buy a Seagate HDD, go to their website, download their package called Disk Wizard and install it on your existing old C: drive. If you buy from WD, their package is called Acronis True Image WD Edition. In fact, it appears both of these are customized versions of Acronis True Image, a very good third-party utility package that does a LOT more than just cloning. So be sure to get the full instruction manual file, too. If you buy from another HDD maker, check their website for a similar free utility package.

After you have the software installed and your new HDD physically installed and connected up in your machine, you boot into Windows normally. You then run the software utility. Here are a few items to watch for.
1. Be VERY SURE you designate the NEW larger unit as the DESTINATION drive - ALL previous data on the DESTINATION will be destroyed, so you don't want to set the wrong one. Then you set the SOURCE drive as your old unit.
2. A Cloning operation will copy absolutely EVERYTHING for you. You should check that it is set to make the new drive bootable (probably the default). Check the SIZE it plans to use. Many of these tools default to making the clone copy the same size as your original, leaving Unallocated Space on the new unit for later creation of additional Partitions that will be used as separate "drives" with their own letter names. I suspect you do NOT want that. Look for how the clone's size is set, and manually set it to what you want, probably ALL of the space available on the new unit.
3. If given a choice, select the NTFS File System for the new drive. (Only exception is if you know you need to use FAT32 for a special reason.)
4. In the Format operation stage, you have a choice of Quick Format or Full Format. Quick will do all that is needed and takes about 10 - 15 minutes before the actual cloning operation starts. Full will do that and then stop to do exhaustive testing of the entire surface of the new disk for errors, and this will take MANY HOURS before the cloning can start. On a brand new HDD this probably is not necessary, but it is an extra precaution if you can afford the time to just leave the system to the job and come back MUCH later.
5. Run the software. When it is done, you shut down, disconnect the computer from power. Open up the case and I recommend you re-connect the cables so that the new HDD is connected to the same port that the old one was. Moreover, DISconnect the old drive (you may take it out of the case or leave it in) both from data and power connections. That unit now contains a complete perfect backup of your system up to the point of cloning, just in case anything goes wrong.
6. Now, I said reconnect to the same port. If your original unit was an IDE (PATA) drive and the new one is SATA, that is impossible. But if they both are SATA, that's my recommendation.

There are hardware considerations you should plan for before getting into this.
A. Check what type of SATA drives your mobo supports. On earlier systems with SATA ports, the controllers were original SATA types that work at a 1.5 Gb/s communication speed. Later they were replaced with SATA II controllers that work at 3.0 Gb/s, and that is the ability of ALL new SATA II drives. If you happen to have an older mobo with original SATA ports, a new HDD is supposed to be able to figure that all out and slow itself down automatically to match the controller it is talking to. However, sometimes that fails and you must manually force the drive unit to slow down to the 1.5 Gb/s speed. For that situation both Seagate and WD have designed a system of a jumper on a particular pair of pins on the back edge of the SATA II drives they make. Many other makers have used this system, too, although some have opted instead for a software configuration tool. So IF you have that combination, make sure to go to your HDD maker's website and find the details of how to force the slower older SATA speed in case you need to do it to make the new HDD talk to your mobo's controllers.
B. There could be an issue with limits on hard drive size, linked to an item called "48-bit LBA Support". ALL SATA hard drives and their controllers have this, so the hardware part here is not likely to be trouble. HOWEVER, you also need this feature in the Windows OS. The first version of Windows XP did NOT have it, but it was added in Service Pack 1 and maintained in all Windows thereafter. So, IF you have Win XP original only as your OS, you MUST update it to the latest version, SP3, on your old HDD BEFORE you do the cloning etc. Otherwise your system will limit you to using a Partition no larger than 128 GB. If you have a previous Windows, may be even more trouble there. With Vista or Win 7 there is NO issue here.
C. Up to ALL versions of Win XP that OS could NOT use SATA drives without having a driver installed. So IF you have Win XP with ANY SP (or none) installed already on your old HDD, you will have to make a small adjustment. If you have Vista or Win 7, the adjustment is different. This is done in the BIOS Setup screens. To get there, usually as you first start to boot up you hold down the "Del" key, but watch the screen in case it tells you another key. After some of the normal preliminary info the screen will give you the main menu of Setup. You need to do two things now, and a final tweak later. First, find the place where your SATA drives ports are configured. (I am assuming your new drive is SATA). Ensure the SATA ports are Enabled. Now look nearby to a place to set the port's mode. You should have choices like "IDE (or PATA) Emulation", "Native SATA", AHCI", or RAID". IF you are running Win XP, set this to IDE (or PATA) Emulation so that you don't have to worry about installing extra drivers. But IF you have Vista or Win 7, set this to AHCI, which is a more advanced system fully supported by those OS's. Save and Exit from here to make those changes effective.
D. AFTER you have made your clone and start to change connections inside, watch for a setting on IDE ports. IF your old 80 GB drive was an IDE device and you are disconnecting it, it likely had its jumpers set to be the Master of its port. Every IDE port MUST have a Master, even if that is the only device on the port. So, if it was the Master AND there was another device on the same cable with it, by disconnecting the cable from the old HDD you have removed its Master. You will need to change the jumpers on the other device, probably set to Slave, to become the Master. (There's also the possibility that both devices had their jumpers set to "CS", in which case you can leave them alone.) THEN you should rearrange the wide ribbon cable so that the remaining device is plugged into the END connector (formerly in the 80 GB drive) and the middle connector is left empty.
E. With all the cables and jumpers adjusted, close the case, reconnect power and start the boot, but go immediately into the BIOS Setup screens again. Check that the old drive is no longer there and the new one is. Now look for where you specify the Boot Priority Sequence. You must make sure that the system tries to boot from the new drive and there is NO reference to the old drive. Many people will set their systems to try the optical drive as the first boot device, then the correct hard drive unit, and NO other choice after that. Set this up, then Save and Exit and boot into your new environment that has a MUCH bigger chunk of Free Space on the C: drive.

After you have run like this and are SURE it's all good, you can consider what to do with the old 80 GB drive. One option will be to reconnect it and then Delete its Partitions and Create a new non-bootable Primary Partition and Format that so it can be used as a data storage device. Or, you may have another use for it elsewhere.

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